This instructable will show you do not need expensive equipment in order to improve your photos. The photos were all taken using my 5 year old Canon PowerShot.
Step 1: Materials Used in This Instructable
a. white poster board
b. floor space in front of window or daylight bulbs in a gooseneck desk lamp
c. colored card stock or scrapbooking paper (optional, but recommended for this lesson)
d. something to occasionally prop back of poster board up or lift it off ground so you can get below your object with the camera (I used scrap cardboard from a toy my son had just opened and happened to be beside me.)
e. an everyday camera or phone with camera
f. small non moving object to practice photographing (My son happened to have his Minecraft chicken figurine by our camera, so I used that.)
Step 2: Using the Poster Board As a Background
Place your white poster board on the floor in front of a window with natural light coming in. Place your small non moving object on the poster board. Get on the floor with your camera or phone in hand or place the poster board on a higher surface in front of the window. This can even be a large cardboard box.
Do not move the object. Move your body and camera capturing at least 9 photos from different views. I do not use a tripod as it’s not handy and often the natural photographic moment is lost. I do try to anchor my camera arm against something steady, even if it’s just tucking my elbow against my body.
You may find that you start to see other items in the background at certain angles, if this happens, use anything near you or your free hand to prop the poster board up in that area so only the white background in the picture. I used a scrap cardboard box insert as shown in the photo.
Step 3: Different Perspectives
Capture some pictures higher, some lower, straight on, and different sides. The photo shows my chicken collage of this step.
Review the photos you took. Think about which ones you like better and why.
Step 4: Nothing Compares to Natural Light and Backgrounds
Take your small non moving object and your camera outside. Place it on different surfaces and photograph it.
This time try keeping your object slightly off center in your viewfinder or camera screen.
Take at least 4 photos of your object outside. Here are my outdoor chicken photos.
Step 5: Artificial Backgrounds
Use pattern scrapbook paper instead of poster board as a background. The paper can be put on top of the poster board, photographing your object just like you did with the white poster board.
You can also fold the bottom about 1/4 of the way up such as this one.
Step 6: Creating a Scene
Play around taking pictures at various angles with the patterned paper in the background.
Remember to off center your object.
Take at least 4 photos.
Step 7: Use Color to Enhance Your Photography
Try colored paper as a background.
Observe how your objects coloring changes slightly depending on the color of the background and how different features can be brought out through the use of color.
Photograph your object using at least 4 different colored backgrounds.
Review your pictures and compare results.
Step 8: Props Can Add Interest to Your Photos
Try photographing your object with at least 4 different props.
No need to purchase props, use miscellaneous items from around the house as props.
Step 9: Play Around With Different Views, Observe, and Have Fun
So by now you are probably wondering what was the point of me taking 25 pictures of a Minecraft Chicken and recommending you do similar with an object of your choosing.
The skills you just gained through the above challenges, carry over to photographing anything.
Play around with different views, observe, and have fun.
Step 10: Remember These Tips
a. look at what’s in the background and clean it up
- Sometimes that’s as easy as changing your position, other times you may have to move something out of the way for a moment or move what you are photographing to a better background. An undecorated wall with nothing in front of it makes a good backdrop. You can use inexpensive PVC tubing to make a stand that you can clip a sheet, blanket, curtain, or tablecloth from as a backdrop and to hide objects that may clutter the photo.
b. natural light and backgrounds are best, daylight bulbs in a gooseneck lamp will do in a pinch
c. find an interesting perspective
- A lot of people photograph animals, kids, beaches, etc. Think of a way to make your photo unique.
d. steady your camera
- If there is a way to prop it on something that doesn’t move, do it. If you use your arm, try to steady yourself, and at the very least - tuck your elbow against your body
e. When you are photographing living things, timing is key.
- Often my best photos are the very first photo I take in that situation. Have your camera ready. Be watchful for something about to happen and alert for natural moments.
Step 11: Share Your Photos
Here are some photos I have taken.