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In Product Photography for E-Commerce, designer Dane Howard shows how to take professional-looking photographs that showcase products and build buyers' trust. Using a practical approach, Dane covers objects from collectible coins to real estate, and the lessons can be applied to just about anything that can be sold online. When it comes time to capture images in the studio, Dane discusses how to select a camera and other equipment on any budget. He shares his favorite tips and tricks for getting the most out of camera angles, backgrounds, and scene lighting. He reviews image editing basics, such as cropping and retouching photographs, and explains how to take a presentation beyond a 360-degree view with the integration of rich media.
Every digital camera has an Auto Focus feature. So focusing on your product isn't something you usually need to think about. But if you have a digital SLR or even a more advanced point-and-shoot camera, there is a focus-related tip to keep in mind. It's called the Depth of Field. Take a look at these two photos on the same object. You notice any difference? The photo on the left has a bigger depth of field. The area that's in focus is larger than it is in the photo on the right.
Now, that's the depth of field. It refers to the range of distance that's in sharp focus. So, what does this has to do with product photography? Well, sometimes you might want a large depth of field, like this shot. For example, if you're selling an antique or you want the entire item to be sharp and clear, buyers can have an accurate picture of what its condition. But other times you might want a more artistic look. Maybe you're selling handmade jewelry or you want a photo that has some kind of romantic, emotional feel to it. Well, it's a good time for a shallow depth of field.
This allows one particular part of the product to be in focus and the rest is in a nice, soft out of focus. This creates a really nice sense of placement and how you can control where the eye goes. So how do you control depth of field? By adjusting your camera's exposure controls. The secret here is to control the aperture. That's the setting that controls how much light the lens lets through. It's kind of like the iris of your eye. Let's see how to get the shallow depth of field. Now, to start, switch your camera into Aperture Priority mode.
In this mode, you can adjust the aperture setting and then the camera fingers out the right speed of the shutter. Next, adjust your aperture. A low number like 1.8 or 3.5 is what you want. That's what gives you a nice shallow depth of field. That's what they call selective focus. That's the only part that's going to be in sharp detailed focus. Now you'll want to experiment with your specific camera and lens. Every combination is slightly a bit different and every lens produces a slightly different type, or range of selective focus.
But the rule is the same, no matter what it's for. For shallow depth of field, use a low aperture setting. On the other hand, when you want a large depth of field, you want to use a very large number on your aperture, like 11 or 16. One more tip, the longer the focal length of your lens, the more control you have over the depth of field. For example, if you have a zoom lens, try zooming in, set the lens closer to its telephoto setting. You'll have more control over the depth of field than if you had it over wide angle.
This is just the attribute of the lens itself. The closer you zoom in, the narrow the depth of field. Keep that in mind. Now, all of this works best with digital SLR cameras. The lenses on point-and-shoot cameras are often too small to give you good selective focus. Still, if you have a higher-end point- and-shoot, you might be able to get some great results, if you use its telephoto lens setting. Every camera and lens combination is different. So you want to experiment with the equipment you have. But here's the bottom line. You can control as much that your product is in focus, just by adjusting the depth of field. A shallower depth of field gives an artful look and a large depth of field makes everything sharp.
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