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Last week I wrote about a new series of tutorials that I will be launching in the coming months. As I wrote my first one (Image Sharpness – Part 1: Techniques to Eliminate Motion Blur) and was working on my outline for others in the series, I came to realize that there would be one common thread among all the lessons. Regardless of what I would be discussing, or what tips I would be sharing, or what techniques I would suggest you try, it always came back to the same prerequisite — you need to know how to use your camera. I don’t mean that you need to know how to turn it on and press the shutter release. I mean that you need to understand what features your camera has, what those features do, and how to adjust the settings to achieve the results that you’re after.
Every camera has a unique set of features, and every manufacturer has their own terminology and format for their user manuals. I don’t know what cameras you all are using, and even if I did I couldn’t possibly cover the wide variety in each and every lesson. I also don’t see much point in using the first page of every tutorial telling you how important it is to understand how to use your camera. So I’m asking that you help me to help you. If I instruct you to change your ISO from AUTO to 400, or your exposure compensation from 0 to +1, you need to know how to do that. I’ll explain why you need to change it, and give you some general guidelines on how to do it, but when it comes right down to pushing the right buttons or turning the right dials, it’s all you.
Since the manufacturers have already done their share, your homework is to spend some quality time getting familiar with your camera and user manual. Trust me, it’s time well spent, and certainly more productive than continuously re-shooting your entire inventory. So spend a cold, rainy afternoon with your favorite beverage and your camera’s user manual. Learn about the features of your camera, what settings can be adjusted, what they do, and how they affect the finished image. So much for “point and shoot,” right? Sorry, but there’s no such thing when it comes to product photography. And when it comes to learning how to use one of the most important tools in your shop, there’s no time like the present.
Here’s what people are saying about photography advice from greenpix …
“LOVE your site and the information you so easily communicate. It really is an artform in and of itself! Your posts have inspired us at our shop to take some pretty good looking pictures if I do say so myself. We’ve received lots of feedback and all are positive. Thank you again for all your hard work…We really do appreciate it!” ~Christine
“Great post, Greenpix, outstanding!!” ~Sue
“Greenpix is always spot on and very informative. I appreciate the attention to detail and the useful info. you bring each and every time. I also have to say ‘THANK YOU VERY MUCH’ for including my ‘Wagon Wheel’ pic in this feature of ‘Nice Folks, Nice Things’…Very unexpected, but very nice indeed. Your blog is one of the most helpful I’ve ever read regarding digital cameras and photos in general. Layman’s terms is one thing, but your clear concise wording is what makes it work so well…that and your very approachable manner. Keep up the great work.” ~Jeannette
“Cheers dude, love the posts, you’ve helped me so much already!” ~Joe
“Thanks a million! I have been wondering how to do that and you make it sound really easy. I can’t wait to try it out!” ~Brandeye
“Great post! It’s 100% useful to do this homework: take a really good photo and learn it step-by-step. What is right, what is wrong, what can be changed to improve the shot, etc. For an amateur and learning photographer it is extremely important. Thank you very much!” ~Natalya
“Wow, I have learned so much from this blog! Thank you for breaking down my tree picture for me. I had no idea how it looked as a histogram…I just knew that this particular photo turned out well. Thanks again, and have a great day!” ~Ellen
“This is an amazing post. I’ve followed my camera’s instruction booklet by selecting a white piece of paper to do this, but never had any luck. Now I know why. Thanks so much for taking some of the mystery out of photography!” ~Vicki
“Good info, much appreciated and many thanks to you.” ~Patty
“Thanks again for a very clear, concise explanation of something that can make our pictures even better. I truly like your step by step breakdown, it makes it very easy to follow and understand. Great pic by the way! Another excellent post!” ~Jeannette
“I am so pleased I found your blog. You seem to be answering all the questions I have been asking about taking photos with my new camera. As usual, it’s finding the time to go through it in detail and putting it into practice. I must set aside a day for ‘getting to know your camera thoroughly’ and work through your posts. Thanks so much for taking the time to pass on your knowledge and experience. Your photographs are awesome by the way.” ~Tialys
“It’s absolutely amazing what proper lighting can do – I bet the seller you helped is jumping for joy!” ~Liliruby
“My product photography has improved a lot the past few months, and still working on it with more reading. (Love your blog, Greenpix). But I am still lacking that emotional content. It’s also easy to get into a rut with using certain angles, your post made me think about that again. So I love reading posts where it deconstructs into elements with comments on why it works. Really useful post!” ~Jacqueline
“Very constructive, certainly shows how a simple procedure can really improve a product.” ~Ron
“Thanks so much for the article, so appreciated. I love the way you explain things, it makes it seem so much easier. I just recently got a SLR camera and am still struggling with AV, P etc settings and depth of field issues. Thanks so much, you are a real teacher.” ~Jeanne
“Very helpful! Short, sweet and to the point…my kind of blog!” ~Marge
“What an amazing photo…incredible!! I have just found your blog and so far have only read 2 of your articles but I already learned several things I am doing wrong. Your info is clear and easy to understand. I have struggled from day one with my photos and they have improved but they are a LONG way from being good. I spent the last year practicing and trying many, many things (including the infamous OTT bulb) but have gotten so disgusted with myself and ready to just settle for so-so photos. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and I can’t wait to read all of your previous posts as well.” ~Karen
“Wow. A lot of bang for my buck in this article.” ~Lara
“Thanks Mike – that’s incredibly helpful. Your suggestion to ‘meter on the sky’ I had never considered doing before, but it’s something I’m going to do in future. Your wife’s photo using the AE with multiple metering is also great – very natural looking without too much contrast or washout. It’s shocking how little of the digital camera’s features I actually use – for example, following your excellent advice about setting the white balance, I’ve just started to do that every time I use the camera. My latest product shots look very much better because of it.” ~Sally
“Simple, applicable, useful. Thank you!” ~Sue
“Thanks so much for the info, your advice is invaluable.” ~Leigh
“I am very impressed with your blog. You are answering complicated questions in terminology and directions that are very easily understood.” ~Maggie
“Wow! What a difference!” ~Anita
“Great article, definitely taught me some new things. Taking pictures of glass has been one of the hardest things for me. Now to apply to all my photos. Thanks for the help!” ~Jenny
“Great advice” ~Melody
“Simple, applicable, useful. Thank you!” ~Sue