I Like This II

Sometimes, rather than discussing specific photographic techniques, it can be fun and informative to study and comment on a photo that “just looks right.”  If we spend enough time looking (and I mean really looking), we can begin to see all the individual components that add up to a really great shot.

Here’s another of my favorites, this one from Kaelin Design, a shop specializing in beautifully crafted, hand forged jewelry:

Kaelin has an interesting story about what she went through to get this shot (but that’s for her to tell).  As for me, I just get to analyze another great photo.  So, why do I like this shot enough to do an entire post about it?  The answer, I think, is that the photo is just as artistic as the the earrings themselves.  It’s not just a picture of something Kaelin happens to have for sale; rather, it’s an extension of those earrings.  It’s like getting two works of art for the price of one!

But as I described in earlier posts, it’s all the little things that add up to one successful composition.  Here’s what I like:

  • The rotation of the image — Is it necessary?  No, it’s not.  Does it make a difference?  Absolutely.  If you are skeptical, check it out for yourself.  Grab a copy of this image and rotate it about 30 degrees clockwise, which sets the background surface horizontal.  What do you think?  Still a great shot?  Oh yeah, but it’s not nearly as interesting as the original.
  • The color scheme — Look closely, it’s not black and white.  These are the real colors, folks, with just enough tint in the silver to give life to the earrings.  And the black background works perfectly, adding interest without competing with the subject.
  • The background texture — The simplicity of the swirl just begs for a textured background.  Sure, a flat background would work – it just wouldn’t work nearly as well.
  • Depth of field #1 — Remember how I said that I like the textured background?  I wouldn’t like it nearly as much if the entire frame was filled with it.  I don’t think that you would either.
  • Depth of field #2 — Perfect positioning of the earring in the background, along with great utilization of a 60mm macro lens at f/5 provide a really cool look.  The in-focus earring complements its out-of-focus counterpart, and vice versa.
  • The cropping — Due to the 30-degree rotation, this image really has to be cropped in a 1:1 aspect ratio like you see, and the positioning of the earrings in the frame is spot on.  It’s a simple, yet very effective, technique.

I hope that you enjoyed analyzing this photo as much as I have (and maybe even picked up a  few tips along the way).  Next time you see a shot that you really like, take a good, long look and see if you can put your finger on what makes it special.

Until next time … Happy Shooting!

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Don’t Make a Rookie Mistake

Have you ever noticed an Etsy listing where, if you clicked on one of the photos to get a better view, the display size of that photo actually gets smaller?  I have — quite a few times.  In fact, I happened across a few forums lately where the author was asking “what’s wrong with my pictures?” or for advice about how to get “crisp, clear photos.”  And of course the nice folks who were trying to help gave the typical advice about using the “little flower setting” on the camera or building a light box or, my favorite, using image editing software.  It turns out the biggest problem was simply that the uploaded photos were just too darn small.  Rookie mistake, nasty consequences.

I wrote in some detail about image size here, but as a reminder, here’s what Etsy tells us:

The minimum size for your photo should be 570 pixels wide. We retain the aspect ratio of your original, so the height is variable.

We recommend using an image that is around 800-1000 pixels wide. Using an original image of this size lets shoppers use the Zoom button to see the larger image.

To illustrate how image size affects viewed image quality, I thought I would demonstrate using some simulations.  I chose examples that are noticeable enough, but not necessarily extreme (although there are a few of those out there).  Below you’ll find four separate sets of images, all set to Etsy’s 570 pixel default width.  The top photo in each set is how your “un-zoomed” Etsy image would look if your upload was 800 pixels wide (when zoomed, these top images would naturally get larger and still look great).  The bottom photo in each set shows the corresponding image if your upload was only 400 pixels wide (when “zoomed,” these images would get smaller but sharper).

So take a look, see what you think, and remember to pay attention to those image sizes!

Until next time … Happy Shooting!

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Great Photos – One Step at a Time

Okay, this post is going to be extremely short and not very informative.  No, don’t unsubscribe — I promise that there’s more great information to come!

You see, the “theme” I’m using for the layout of this blog forces me to do some really weird stuff to get that “featured” image on the home page.  Sometimes I can use a photo that’s part of the post itself, but other times I just want to put something unrelated up there.  That’s what this post is — a “dummy” to let me do that.

But while I have your attention, here’s a reminder to send in some more questions for my Q&A posts.  There are still a few that I haven’t had the opportunity to answer yet, but the more the merrier, so keep ’em coming.

Until next time (when I actually have something useful to say) … Happy Shooting!