Sunday, May 15, 2011

How I Photograph my Cards and Layouts - And YOU can too!

I've been asked several times how I photograph my cards and layouts, so I thought I'd share a quick tutorial on how I do my photographing.  Nothing fancy for me.  I usually do my scrapping/cardmaking in the evening, and don't always have time to take a picture of it in natural sunlight, which is really the best way to take a photo of your work.  So...looking for a low cost way to remedy the problem, I devised my own "light box" of sorts.  I've tried scanning my cards, but I find that scanning usually give the card a washed out look and the true colors can't be determined (nor have I ever been able to tweak it in Photoshop to make it look right!)
As you can see I've used a large cardboard box (approximately 12 inches wide) for my "light box".  I covered the inside lower portion with 12 x 12 sheets of white cardstock.  I'll probably cover all of the inside eventually, but for my purposes right now, the 12 x 12 sheets work just fine.  I turned the box on end and adhered the white cardstock to the sides, the bottom, and the back of the box.  The teal paper you see in the box is just pushed in the back and on the bottom and not adhered.  I change the color of that paper depending on what color card/or layout I'm photographing.  A white card will not photograph well with an all white background, so always use something with color behind and below the object you're photographing leaving the sides covered with the white paper.   
Then I turn my Ott light (which clips to the edge of my table) around and twist it so that the light is shining directly on the card/layout.  I just adjust the light until I have the least amount of shadow behind or beside my card.  For a layout, if you're working on a 12 x 12 size layout, it will just slide right into the back of the box and you can adjust the lamp accordingly.  If I had two lights, I would direct them on the subject from either side.  The white sides seem to be a great reflective surface and help to get a truer color in the photo.
 
 
But...it doesn't end there.  I use Photoshop Elements 8 (but I've done the same thing in Picasa which is a free program you can find here).  Using your photo editing program, adjust the levels of white balance.  In Photoshop Elements you can use the Auto Smart Fix button and in Picasa you can use the "I'm feeling lucky" button.  Picasa  and Photoshop Elements also give you the option to crop your photo to get rid of unnecessary background. 

I don't usually zoom in really close on my card, I use the crop tool to cut out the area I want to show, and doing that makes it look larger.  Don't crop too close to the card...it's good to leave a little area around it.

You do need to take a photo of the card/layout from a position below the light source because you don't want to get a picture of the lamp!

Hope this tutorial is helpful for you.  I've also given my blog a "facelift" to try to make it not look so crowded...still trying to decide if I like the new look! LOL!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Until next time....

Hugs!





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13 comments:

Kim Singdahlsen said...

Thank you - I am going to spend some time building a light box!

Lynn Biermann said...

Ohhh Susan thanks for sharing~ I especially love the idea using the colored paper! I need an Ott light! I have looked at them for a couple years now.. but this REALLY makes me want one! thanks for the tips! :)

Folly said...

Thanks so much for telling me about this post, and for sharing this tutorial! I definitely needed it. :-)
Michelle

craftattack said...

Thanks for the tips. But I think I need to buy a new camera, my old one is slowly but surely going home, sad! Valerie

Suze Bain said...

Thanks for this tutorial Susan. I particularly like your tip about backing with coloured paper, it really enhances the cards. x

Meggymay said...

Thanks for the photography tips, the box looks a great idea. I love your blogs new look. Yvonne x

Judy1223 said...

Susan, great tutorial. I think I need to get one of those Ott lights!

Simply a Bug Lover said...

Thank you Susan for this photo tutorial, I am going to rush away and rescue a box out of the recycling bin before it is emptied, and try this for myself. Sue x

Sandra said...

Thanks for the tutorial, Susan. At the moment I'm crafting on the kitchen table but am having my own craft room soon! Will definitely be getting an Ott light and hopefully a dedicated area for photos!
Sandra

Annette said...

Thanks Susan. I've read a few tutorials on making a home-made light box, but yours seems by far and away the easiest.

Bernadet Rodakowski said...

Susan, I've been admiring your work posted to the LIM challenge for some time now. Thank you for commenting on my latest submission.

Your lightbox idea is fantastic! I have the same Ott light, so I'll be sure to give it a try. Photographing projects to post is something I've really been experimenting with. I've just moved, so my seamless black and white bacgrounds, as well as my Ott light were still packed. So my last photo venture didn't turn out so well. I also am experimenting with different lighting arrangements, but am always seeking to improve and find consistency. Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas. I really appreciate you reaching out!

MaryH said...

Just found this tutorial. I am photography challenged, self taught with P.shop, and not getting really good photographs even when I do a card that I think looks nice. This tutorial was SO VERY helpful. I'll be making one of these boxes, and I will use all your lighting tips too! Thanks so much for taking the time to write up this tutorial. It was very well written I might add. Understandable! Do-able. even for dummies!!! LOL.... HUGS

Betty M said...

Thank you so much for this lesson, the pics of my projects usually look pretty bad so I am going to try this, it is free which makes it the best solution. Thanks

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