Want make an Instructable that is visually easy to follow? Has less people asking how its done 'because I cant see what goes on behind your hand'?
If a picture is worth a thousand words then a better picture is worth far more. Keeping that in mind, the better the picture is composed, the less you should need to write. To see an example that I have created, see my Instructable on how to tie a bowline knot here.
Step 1: Photographic Equipment
The quality of the camera can make a difference to the overall quality of the image, but there are some other factors that can make a bigger difference and that's what I'll be focusing on (pun not intended).
You'll essentially need three things.
- A camera with a built-in flash (or a way of remotely triggering a flash) and a countdown timer.
- A method of mounting your camera (tripod or bean bag) while you trigger the timer and get yourself into position.
- And lastly a flash that can be triggered either by another flash (slave mode) or cable or even a remote.
To take these pics, I have used a Fujufilm F470 camera and a second LumoPro flash triggered optically. As you can see, it's not the camera, it's the way you use it.
Step 2: Create a Clear Area
First you will need to start with a clear area. Often too much happening in the background detracts from the main subject and can really make it quite hard to make heads or tails of what goes where.
You can imagine how bad it would look if I used my dining table to make an Instructable. It's hard enough for me to eat there let alone anything else. So what you'll need to do is find a place in the house/shed or backyard with a clean background like a blank wall or fence. You then need to clear off a table, work bench or your back lawn and chuck all that junk in the corner or just bin it.
Now I couldn't bare to clean anything so I just got an old coffee table then stuck a baby's blanket over it. Voila, a clean area to take photo
Step 3: Now Focus.
OK, so your going to have to actually read the instruction manual that came with your camera. Because I'm not here to show you the basics of how to actually focus. But what I will say is remember these basic (and obvious) rules.
1 Focus in the actual subject. I've seen many photos that are focused on stuff behind the subject.
2 Keep your finger off the lens. not only does it look bad, if you get finger prints on the lens then your photos are going to be blurry.
3 Mount your camera. This will eliminate camera shake. I'll explain how in the next step.
Step 4: Mount It
So you want a photo with both your hands in it? OK easy. Chuck your camera on something, a tripod, bean bag, a folded jumper, whatever. Just make sure it's steady and aiming where you want it. Now you will need to use the camera's self-timer, give it at least 5 seconds. This will give you time to run into the shot, scratch your bum and still have time to pose.
Step 5: Light It Up
The biggest influence on any photograph is the lighting, so get this right and the rest is a cakewalk.
If you're taking your pictures outside, choose a nice overcast day to get some nice even light, if that's not possible because it is a cloudless day, find some shade to avoid the harsh light.
If you're doing it inside then you're going to need a way to light it. The easiest way would be to use a flash. You can use the flash that is built into the majority of all cameras, but this can produce some bad photos with harsh shadows that can detract from the subject.
What we're going to do is get our flash and sync it with our camera. You can do this in many ways, remote trigger, sync cable or slave mode (yes you might have to trawl the internet for info on how to do this). Put your flash somewhere other than on your camera. I put mine on my dinner table 45 degrees to the left of the subject. Now aim your flash at the ceiling or an opposing wall to bounce the flash at your subject. This will result in some nice shadows and even light, you might have to practice this before you get it down pat.
Step 6: Make It Obvious
You will need to now get the subject ready to be photographed. It doesn't matter if it is an action shot. What does is that it is clear to see what it is you're doing. So chuck that camera on a tripod or other and turn the camera timer on and get into a good position so you can point or hold and point at things without blocking the view.
If you can't point out what you want in the photo, don't worry, just add some arrows afterwards. It doesn't have to be 100% photographed.
Oh yeah, and put the subject front and centre. It's no good having heads half cut off.
Step 7: Summary
Now, I wouldn't regard myself as a photographers a.. hole. But I do have an interest in photography and am glad to have imparted these tips as to how to you can make your next Instructable look great and simple to follow.
Put all steps together and you will have some nice photos for your next Instructable. You can even use your newly found skills to photograph better pictures for your next ebay item. You might even attract a higher price. Who knows.