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You put your all into that project; you worked very hard to get it exactly right. The last thing you want is to take a less than perfect photograph of it.
The most common cause of poor photography is improper lighting on the subject. Here are a few easy and inexpensive tips that anyone can follow to take quality shots that will really show off your work.
Get to know your camera. It’s not necessary to have an expensive camera with all of the latest features to take great photos. Even the least expensive cameras will have a way to choose the environment that you are shooting in, such as daylight, indoor, night-time, fast motion, etc. Make sure to choose the correct setting as different lighting conditions actually have different underlying colours.
This is vital, as you want the colours in your photograph to be as close to real-life as possible. Using the automatic setting on your camera is the best way to start. Allow the circuitry in the camera to read the room and decide on the appropriate settings for the shot. Most cameras have a setting for bracketing your photos. You will find a button with the symbol +/- on it. This means that you will take 3 photos. The first one will be at the setting the camera thinks is correct, the other two will be one light level less and one light level more. This ensures that even if the camera reads an environment incorrectly, you will still get a great shot.
Next you need to consider the available lighting in your environment. Avoid using flash from the camera. Flash is very intense and will flatten items in your shot, causing important details to be lost. Indoor lighting is also not the best option. While lamps and light fixtures can create warmth and a lovely glow to a room, they change the colours giving a golden or amber tone to everything in the shot. Lamps also create pools of bright light with dark areas surrounding them making it very difficult to get a properly lit shot.
The best light for most situations is natural daylight. Early morning or late afternoon light is the best option as it is not as harsh as mid-day light. If you find that the lighting is still too bright, try draping sheer white fabric over windows to soften it slightly. If the natural light from windows is not properly lighting the area you wish to photograph, you will need to use something to reflect that available light in the direction that you need it.
The least expensive and easiest option is white poster board. Orient the shiny side towards the window and angle the board until it reflects the light where you want it to go. When you get the board in the correct position, secure it in place. You can use more than one sheet and more than one window to get the lighting just the way you want it. Make sure that you use white board. Coloured board will reflect unwanted colour into the shot.
If there are no windows where you need light, the day is not bright enough, or you absolutely must take a night-time shot, place lamps outfitted with daylight coloured bulbs behind the camera. Remove the shades from the lamps and set them in front of the white poster board so that the light bounces off of the boards creating a soft, diffuse light on the area you wish to photograph. Setting the boards up at a 45 degree angle to the shot will give you nice, soft lighting and help to eliminate glare from shiny surfaces.
Invest in a tripod for low-light situations. Trying to hand hold a camera in these situations will cause a blurry, out of focus photo. There are many inexpensive tripods available and it will prove invaluable to getting sharply focused shots that showcase your work.
The last tip: take lots and lots of photos. This is the one thing that all professional photographers know. The more photos you take, the more likely you are to get the perfect shot.
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