Intro: How to Photograph for Instructables.
This is a guide on how to compose your photographs to provide the clearest detail and most useful information in your instructables, most specifically for small or detailed projects.
I am using my wifes point and shoot camera as an example, and shooting the instructable with my D200.
Software used in this XnView http://www.xnview.com/ the best free picture viewer and basic editor i have found.
Step 1: Set Up Your Camera.
1st of all a tripod while not required,is strongly recommended. If you dont have one you can always check out the great instructables on making one from a tennis ball & bits.
Camera settings, this part is optional and normaly simply leaving a P&S camera on the BS(BestShot) setting will be fine. However if you want that little bit of extra details go to whatever shooting menu your camera has and look for a mode that will be labeled something like: Macro, Closeups, Flowers, or in the case of this camera... "Food" (cos yknow we all want to take photos of dinner).
Set up your tripod (im using my oversized gorilla pod from my slr) pointing at the project. You will now want to find the minimum focal length (a fancy term for how close you can get the camera and still focus), move the camera close until when half pressing the shutter (on most digicams) to auto focus doesnt give you a clear picture, now move the camera back 5 or 10 cm and you will have the best distance to shoot your project and capture as much detail as possible.
Dont worry too much if your project doesnt fill the whole shot, we will cover cropping later.
Step 2: Focus
Most cameras can adjust the focal point, when you half press the shutter it will normaly highlight a small box somewhere on the display this is the point your camera is focusing on. try to make sure this is centered on your project, otherwise you will get a shot where something behind it is nice and clear, but your project is fuzzy.
I have seen quite a few photos of something hand held where the focal point was on the persons feet, giving a brilliant crisp shot of his shoes but just a blurry blob in his hand.
Step 3: Cropping
Perhaps the most useful aspect of digital photography is being able to crop (cut) your images.
Something you should be aware of is that when you upload a photo to instructables it is resized to a maximum width of 500pixels, this is to save traffic for the site, and because thats enough to convey the information needed in most cases.
What it also means is that with the average digital camera today you can cut away about 75% or more of the image and it will still be full detail when uploaded.
The example photos i took were originally 3264x2448 pixels, so using XnView i selected an area only about 500pixels wide, cropped it and uploaded it to show what kind if detail you can get with some very basic image editing prior to uploading.
below is the full size from the camera photo, and a cropping of the same image to show the wheel mechanism in greater detail.