the papercraft lab

Photographing Your Crafty Projects with "just" a Point & Shoot Camera, Part 2 - Camera Settings

PhotographyAnandiRCComment

Continuing where I left off a few weeks ago with the posts on how to get good photos of jewelry, crafts or scrapbook layouts with your point-and-shoot camera, today I'm going to talk about settings to tweak on your camera.  

Nearly all point and shoot cameras have these settings. I just bought my 5 year old her very own digital camera for less than $60 and even it has all of these settings.

Discovering these made a world of difference to my own craft photography.

1. RTFM

This one I cannot stress enough. For those not in the computer industry, that means "Read the Friendly Manual". Um, yeah. :) Dig out your camera's manual and read all of it. If you can't find it, look it up online - most manuals are either posted to the manufacturer's website, or in PDF form on some other "electronics manuals" sites. Heck, I've found the manuals for my 20 year old TI-86 calculator and our 1990-something oven online, so your digital camera manual is there somewhere, I bet.

2.  No Flash Please  

As I mentioned in the last post, find the setting to turn off the flash and make it stay that way. You may have to tweak another setting to get your camera to remember your custom settings when you turn it off. A side benefit of this was that I learned how to turn on red-eye reduction for taking pictures of people so they don't look evil.

3. Flower Power - use Macro

This setting is usually depicted by a small tulip and it's either a separate "mode" on your camera or on many Canon cameras, it's a setting you can select within one of the other shooting modes. It helps you get closeups of small objects. 

Obviously, if you're photographing room-sized sculptures, you wouldn't use this, but for small things like jewelry and capturing detail on scrapbook layouts it works wonders.  I'm not sure from a technical standpoint what it's doing inside my camera when I set it, but I do observe that I can take really great, non-blurry closeup shots of items in this mode, and I can get much closer to the subject than in "regular" shooting modes.

4. Set a Custom White Balance

Setting the "white balance" was key for my pictures.  You're telling the camera to adjust for your lighting and get to a more true white tone, rather than that bright yellow tone you get from indoor lighting or the bluish tone you get from morning sunshine. 

My camera allows me to set it and save it, and it applies only when I'm in Macro mode so that it doesn't affect my people and dog pictures.

It's an easy process - you just point the camera at something white to "tell" it what is true white and the camera will compensate for the color cast of the light you're shooting in. It has made a world of difference for me, especially when I am shooting indoors with incandescent lights, which are really yellow.

5. Bump Up the Exposure

If your shots are still a bit on the dark side, you can play around with the exposure compensation setting. This can brighten your photos considerably.  Play around with the setting.  Too much will lead to washed out, glare-filled photos, but just a little extra can work wonders.  I keep mine on either the +1/3 or +2/3 setting depending on how dark my photography area is.

Super-secret tip (ok, not really):  You might want to invest in an extra rechargeable battery for your camera.  All of these photo sessions cause me to go through batteries like nobody's business and it's a real bummer when you have 5 new projects to shoot and post online but no working camera.

I hope you found these tips helpful. I strong believe you don't need a fancy DSLR camera to get nice bright photos of your work. Even after I bought my DSLR, I continued to use my Canon S90 point-and-shoot for photographing my handmade jewelry and papercrafts.

Read Part I of this article here.

Please share your fave camera settings tips in the comments!  We could all stand to learn something new to improve our photography, right?

See related posts at The Papercraft Lab