Many people want to take good pictures of things. For instance, if you want to publish an Instructable, you would want to take superb photographs. Well, I'm on the low budget side of things when it comes to hobbies so when documenting things I really don't want to spend much on taking pictures. Well, if you're like me, or if you're not, this Instructable is for you. I intend this for beginners who are just getting started and need an easy and cheap way to go. However, if you are a more experienced photographer, I would really appreciate if you could comment with tips or anything to help "rookies" get started. Thanks and enjoy!
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Step 1: Stuff
I'll try to keep this simple. There are three steps to get a good picture, Stuff, Setup, and Snap.
Step One - Stuff
When taking pictures, Good Lighting is Essential. Nothing is worse than seeing a picture with bad lighting. Since we're on the cheap side, most times I use sunlight. Other than that, I use and ordinary 12v adjustable reading lamp. Positioned correctly, it almost doesn't matter what light you use.
Next, you want a good background. There are many tutorials on how to make a cheap light box or other things like that. You can use one but I don't. I don't want all that hassle. I use plain old white poster paper. It's very cheap, you can roll it up, and it's replaceable. You can use a wide variety of colors too. Make sure, however, that you use the paper kind, not the cardboard kind. In reality, If you're taking a picture of something small, you can even use printer paper.
You will also need stability. If you don't have a steady hand, which most of us don't, you can use a tripod. Don't have one? Don't fret, just make one! There are many Instructables on this site. In fact, I just published one, Instructables. Aside from bad lighting, nothing is worse than a blurry photo.
Oh and you'll need a camera too. Any old digital camera will do if used correctly. Don't have one? Use your phone. I've seen great pictures taken with phones. Like I said, as long as you have good lighting and stability, it's going to turn out great.
Step 2: Setup
So now you have all your stuff. What now?
Now what you need is a good setup to use. I use this one:
Find a nice edge of the room somewhere. If it's daytime, try for somewhere with good sunlight. If not, Try to look for a place with lots of light. Yes, we do have our lamp but it will only do so much. Next place your poster paper on that corner. Look at the pictures, you'll want the paper to be curved to create a corner-less effect. Place the object you are photographing on the paper. Next, plug the lamp and position it so than your object is well lit. Setup your camera tripod and you're done!
***Update: I now use a coffee filter as a light diffuser for my 12v lamp. I works great! It makes pictures seem like daylight***
Step 3: Snap
Now you can take your pictures. Depending on what you are shooting, you should probably use your camera's macro function. My camera automatically does macro when I get close to something. On most cameras however, you can activate macro by pushing the button or turning the settings wheel to the option with a flower.
Try to make good use of the camera's auto focus. Sometimes though, the camera might not be focusing well. If that's the case, you might need to take out the tripod and get close. Just make sure that you're stable so that the photograph isn't blurry.
Bear in mind, flash casts hard light and shadows that can sometimes be unpleasant when doing this kind of photography. Though sometimes it is good. Try taking a shot with flash and without flash so that you have more options. You might want to try to center your object too.
Take a bunch of pictures if you can, not just one, try different angles, flash, no-flash, different lamp positions, and different object positions. It's not like you're wasting film. When you go on your computer you can chose which ones you like.
Last but not least, read some of the comments down below. People will probably add great tips to help you on your way.
Look at the samples I took. Cheers!