Part One of this tutorial explained how I set up my space ready for taking my photographs, so now I am going to move on to how I set up my camera and actually take my photographs. This post will deal mostly with camera settings, so if you are not familiar with the menu system of your camera, or if a feature isn’t immediately apparent on your camera, it might be worthwhile consulting your instruction manual. It’s worthwhile pointing out here that not all digital cameras are going to have the features that I use, but my camera is pretty old, was very inexpensive, and the same features are found on my mobile phone camera. All cameras I have used have these same functions, so chances are good that yours will, too.
Ok, so firstly you are going to want to position your camera so that the whole frame is filled with the white of your backdrop. Ensure that no shadows from surrounding objects/curtains/wandering pets are finding their way onto the backdrop and position the item to be photographed within the frame of the viewfinder. Often that means that the objects are going to be quite close to the lens, so the macro (closeup) button is your best friend here. Most people will probably know where that is, but just in case you didn’t read your camera manual at all it usually looks like a little tulip. If you press this it will allow your camera to focus better at close ranges. Some cameras have a function that allows you to press it an extra time, giving you a super close-up mode, but for most subjects just normal macro mode will do.
Now would be a good moment to take a few shots of your item. I always say you should take loads as there are always some duds. If you don’t have a very steady hand then a tripod could come in useful. Or, if you are a cheapskate/lazy like me, a pile of books or something similar will suffice.
And that’s about it! The more you explore and experiment with the positioning of your backdrop and the brightness/contrast settings, the more likely you are to get a pure white background. Before long finding the right settings becomes second nature.
If your camera just won’t play ball, though, or doesn’t have the required settings, there is another option – as long as you have access to some photo manipulating software along the lines of Photoshop. I always think it is a good idea to get a good, clear photograph without having to use photoshop to improve things, but when you are in a hurry, or there are dark, dull skies overhead, a little photographic wizardry can save you having to put our photoshoot off until another day.
I’ll explain this second option in the third and final part of this tutorial.