Thursday, January 7, 2010

Photo Shoot

In winter the conditions for photographing pots are brief and fleeting at my house. Except for the smallest pots, I shoot in the south-facing living room during the perhaps three hours (at most) of daylight that the sun not at too acute an angle to cast even light. I hang the backdrop where my TV usually sits. It's kind of a hassle to get all set up, so when I do it, I try to shoot a lot of work. 

I used to only get pots photographed once a year. I'd set aside one or two good pots out of each firing, and then choose about a dozen to take to Peter Lee, when I was in St. Paul, or, later, to Jay York in Portland. I would still use a professional to take the shots if I were still applying to art fairs, but just for Etsy (and Craftgawker!), I find I can take an adequate photo myself. It's all in the right tools:

The graduated gray background I got for around $45 from Photo Tech, Inc. The camera is relatively old, an Olympus c-750, 4.0 megapixels. Five or six megapixels is standard in cameras made now, but I find that this serves just fine for my purposes. Importantly, it has a remote setting, so you don't have to touch the camera to activate the shutter.  Until I learned how to use it, every single pottery photo I took was ever-so-slightly out of focus. You can get them on Ebay for a couple hundred dollars. After destroying two of the cheapest available tripods in a few months just through ordinary use, I finally, just today, went the next step up: $3 more. (I told you I am cheap, didn't I?) This one is so much better! The legs adjust infinitely and it has a teeny-tiny bubble level under the camera, so you can make sure you are shooting, well, level. 

I spent the entire sunlit part of the day shooting today, formal shots and a few in-use, which always look contrived to me, but they are kind of fun to set up. Here are a few of my results:


DirtKicker Pottery said...

Dang!! Those are fine photos.

Sister Creek Potter said...

Yes, very nice photos. You are only using natural light? No other lighting? I'm having trouble getting the light right. And a big problem getting true color reproduction.

Lori Watts said...

Thanks, Dirt Kicker! I still need to work on positioning the paper correctly (you should be able to see the darker part of the background) and eliminating reflections on the glassier pieces...Maybe with reflecting boards. I don't know.
Sister Creek -- yes, this is just sunlight. That's the only thing I can use that doesn't have a blue or yellow cast to it.