Etsy shop-nanigans

Oh hey!
It’s been a little while since the last update! Last week I had the misfortune of a torn eardrum, which is much more healed now and no longer a hindrance to my daily life. Chewing and swallowing is a little bit weird still but hey, nothing beats a good metal concert.

Seeing as I can never really sit still, I’ve been researching how to take fantastic product shots. Trying to sort out the right feel and direction for my art has been a perplexing journey that I feel I’ve only just found a happy-place for — and now I have to work out how to advertise it? Those words make the anxiety-riddled artist inside me tremble, but I choose to stride forward with my fingers in my ears.
Lalala I can’t hear you crippling fears~

Allright, overshare done —  so here’s my crash-course method of snapping product photography. I’m definitely still learning, but I think I’ve gotten some pretty tops results this way. Without further ado, here’s my set up; This is literally everything that I used in the shoot, bar my own two hands and my desk.
Mind you, my house is kind of a dark cave that’s pushed up tight next to the neighbours’ and has very small windows — my task would have been much cheaper and less stressful if I’d had access to some natural, free and lovely daylight. If you do have sparkling rays warming your abode, you might not need these tips! I might post in future about simple bouncing methods for daylight, but as I am lacking a source to play with I’ll leave that for another day.

Because I have no access to good light I used a pair of softbox lights which I picked up for around $100Au on Ebay, which feels like an absolute bargain. They’re flimsy, mind –  but more than good enough for the job! They’re tall thin tripods with heads that take 4x Fluorescent bulbs, and come with box shaped hoods to direct the light. There’s also a thin white cover to place over the opening in order to diffuse the light, which helps eliminate harsh shadows. You will ideally want daylight bulbs, which are bright white and not blue or yellow tinted in order to get an accurate colour reproduction. Make sure to check the ‘temperature’ range on the bulbs, it will tell you if you’re in the warm or cool range!
As for props, use whatever you have around that you like, I aim for things that suit my colour scheme and aren’t too crazy amazing so as to distract from your main feature item. I just used some cute looking bits and pieces that I have on hand at my desk like washi tape, coloured pencils and copic markers – even the string I use to package orders. I considered using pencil shavings too… hey, I find them pretty!


Set up one, and light bouncing basics!
When you point a lightsource at a light coloured smooth surface, it will bounce light back. It’s kind of like reflecting, except the surface isn’t a perfect mirror, so a lot of the light’s strength and concentration is dispersed.  Photographers use this technique to chase away unwanted shadows, and to leave a much more gentle lighting effect on a subject. For my first set up,  I thought I’d position my lights up to the ceiling, so it could bounce down off the white paint and lay gently on my work. It looked fantastic once I had the lights placed, but then I leaned over the work in order to photograph it, only to find my own self gazing back up at me!blogimages3
So what had happened?
I’m pretty sure that the lights being bounced off the ceiling meant that once I leaned over my work, there was a shadow that was created against the bright light of the ceiling and the underside of my face and the phone. That’s what you can see in the photo of my prints! It’s a dark, shadowy Georgie looming ominously. There’s also really bright patches on the plastic, because it’s glossy and reflective and it’s bouncing the light back up at me too strongly! It was at this point that I regretted having pre-packaged my whole current stock in order to make them look prettier. This problem would not have surfaced if I were photographing them in their natural matte paper state, but I still needed to continue so new method was in order.

For the second set up, I positioned the lights into the corners of the room, and slightly in front of my photo-taking position. This yielded far better results as the light was bounced at a more shallow angle and from in front of me so that it illuminated the underside of my phone and face just enough to eliminate the dark shadow on my prints. It also had the added effect of minimising the bright white patches coming off the packaging, which was fantastic. Over all this set up worked far better, I’m loving how crisp and clear the prints look through their plastic sleeves. No wonky shadows, creepy reflections or unruly bright spots to be seen!
Here’s some snaps from the second round so you can get an idea of the improvements. These haven’t been edited yet, but tomorrow I will be giving them a little touch up just to make sure the white of the paper shows up as nice and crisp as it does in real life. Flowergirls Sun and Snow will be up in my Etsy store very soon! You can get there through the link on my homepage if you want to come and check out the final products 😉

Much love,

Georgie <3
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