Beginner using continuous light

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by PittDiva, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. PittDiva

    PittDiva TPF Noob!

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    Hello! I'm new to this board. I am trying to take pictures of clothing that I'm trying to sell online. I don't have good natural lighting in my house, so I bought a photography kit with one continuous lighting bulb attached to an umbrella on a stand. I'm using my smartphone (samsung galaxy s5) to take the pictures. I have NO experience with this at all. How can I angle the umbrella & light to get the best picture?
    Thanks for your help!
    Amanda/PittDiva



     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  2. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Hi Amanda, welcome to the forum. Well, one single light source isn´t all that much, but with an umbrella it gets better. Did you make up your mind on how you want to photograph that clothing? Laying on a table or mannequin wearing it. How big are those clothes?

    You need to be aware that every light creates a shadow. The bigger the light source and the closer it is to your object, the softer the shadow will be. And the closer the light is to the angle you are viewing from (the camera), the less shadow you will see in your image. So in your case I´d put the light with the umbrella pretty close beside to your camera, maybe even right behind the smartphone (it won´t block that much light if you are putting it on a tripod, etc.) for a nice soft look.
    But that depends a little on what clothes you want to photograph. If there is some structure in the material that you want to show, it is better to bring the light from the side.

    Regarding the smartphone: make sure to understand a bit about shutter speed, and ISO (Aperture not being that important for smartphones, but all three work together to determine the brightness of your image). Set the ISO of your smartphone to 100, the image quality gets worse, the higher you go with this number. To retain the brightness without rising your ISO, you can change the shutter speed.
     
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  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The Photoflex.com website here in the USA used to have several free, on-line tutorials on doing product shots, in their free lessons area. Really good tutorials on how to shoot small products. Clothes can be photographed flat, or on mannequins, or on people.

    An umbrella off to one side, coming in at a 30 to 45 degree angle, can create decent lighting, with SOME small shadows actually being helpful to show texture and how clothes are designed and made. Light that is TOO flat, and too straight-on, will make boring photos.

    Many lights are only marginally bright, but new, good phones can do okay if you keep the camera steady when tripping the shutter. get the umbrella set up, pick a shooting area, and start experimenting. Look on-line for tutorials; there are plenty of them.

    WHITE BALANCE could be an issue: try different ones, to make sure the White Balance matches the light you have. AUTO might be better than he Fluorescent WB setting; depends on the light, and on the smartphone.
     
  4. PittDiva

    PittDiva TPF Noob!

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    20161219_173650-1.jpg 20161212_155251-1.jpg I'm using a manequin to display the clothes, most are plus size or XL. I am going to get a tripod for my phone. Do I put the umbrella or the light facing what I'm taking a picture of? I know that this is a dumb question.
    I'll definitely check out photoflex for the free tutorials. Thanks for the info!
    As far as the camera settings on my Samsung Galaxy s5, what are the best settings? Also I have a light box for taking pictures of smaller items, but they seem to not look right. I don't know if it's the settings on my camera on my phone or what.
    I posted a couple of pictures that I took. The first is with the umbrella & the second is from the light box. Sorry that the first picture is crooked. I need to fix the manequin. (If anyone knows where I can find an inexpensive manequin, please let me know!)
    Thanks for your help!
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  5. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It's not actually a dumb question. Look at the top and you see that the light is brighter at the top, and gradually fades to less light as your eye goes lower. This is something that you should try to work on.

    Yes, you point the light at the object, but it looks like you may need more than one light to get the garment more evenly lighted. Your camera might be someplace near the light, or the light could be placed more to one side, but you'll need to judge for yourself how it all looks. If the light is right next to the camera, the light will be very "flat" - meaning your photo will lose the texture of the garment. It will look smoother than it really is.

    The photo of the sash (?) is pretty good, but showing it in a box is not doing it any favors.
     
  6. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would get some inexpensive white poster board and make a back and sides as well as a bottom and place the items in that area. The white board will reflect the diffused light and perhaps make the light more even.
    Not ideal but perhaps a cheap step up from what you have now.
     
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  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    RE: "Do I put the umbrella or the light facing what I'm taking a picture of?"

    Depends on the type of umbrella: with a shoot-through umbrella type, the light bulb faces the inside, concave or "bowl" edge of the umbrella, and the rounded or rain-diverting, AKA the curved side, points toward the clothing. Shoot-through umbrellas are usually thin, white fabric umbrellas. These are very often used in flouorescent kits, or with speedlights, and these are inexpensive.

    With a reflecting umbrella, those usually have a BLACK, outer backing, and then the inside of the bowl is white, or silvery-whiote fabric, or maybe even a silvery, metallized fabric, the light bulb end of the light points into the bowl, and the light hits the inside of the bowl, and bounces BACK, toward the subject. With the reflecting ( also called a reflective umbrella ) umbrella type, the black side faces the camera, and the back end of the light fixture faces the subject, and the larger "bowl" sends reflected light back toward the subject.

    A third type is called the convertible umbrella: these have a removable black backing fabric, and can be used either as shoot-through, or as reflecting umbrellas.
     
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  8. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Hmmm - to be all honest with you: I think you need to practice a bit before you get images good enough to actually sell the clothes online. You can always put something online, but it has to attract the eye of the user to make him purchase the product. It is somewhat different in the used market such as ebay, because people like to see the real condition, but in case you are planning a webshop, or similar, I´d practice to get better images.

    First of all I´d work on the background - make it as even as possible, dennybeall is right - get a poster board that covers the whole area of your final image so that the product can stand out.
    Try to photograph it from a lower perspective than you did. For clothing, 90° (so straight from the front) works pretty well.
    Get further away with your smartphone. The wideangle lens of the phone gives the image some distortion. I´d get a little more room between your camera and the clothes to reduce that effect and later crop the image accordingly, the 16mpix of the s5 should give you enough room for cropping.

    Don´t forget to post your progress ;)
     
  9. PittDiva

    PittDiva TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the advice! I'm still trying to figure out how to use one shoot through umbrella with continuous lighting. I have looked for video tutorials and I can't find any that use only one light.
    I am trying to find a setup that I can use at night or a room with little natural light. The picture of the jacket was done with the use of the umbrella light (which I think actually came out better than the other pictures I did with the umbrella before) & the skirt (and the pictures below it) were done on a day that I could actually use natural light (it was a rarity!)
    Also, I realize that the dress form that I'm using is crooked & am waiting on a new one to arrive. In the meantime, I've been doing flat lays with the natural light. I really want to find a video tutorial on how to photograph clothing with one continuous light with umbrella so I can take night photos when I don't have any light to work with. Also, should I change the settings on my camera phone to get better pictures & how do I go about it?
    Thanks so much for answering my newbie questions.

    PhotoGrid_1483748920639.jpg PhotoGrid_1485725696795.jpg PhotoGrid_1485743506553.jpg PhotoGrid_1485805676710.jpg
     

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  10. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    The Jacket image is quite OK lightingwise. But several things need some improvement.
    1. The background: get the same background for all of your shots. Shooting on white is not that easy with continuous light and you need at least 3 good lights. You could get some cheap packing paper and wrinkle it for example - you´d get something like that
    2. The image quality. I guess it is due to the high ISO the camera is using. I don´t know about samsung phones, but try to set the ISO to the lowest possible value, put your phone on something solid (Tripod or similar at best, but a table in the right place would do too) and use the self timer for the image in order to not shake. If your camera doesn´t have these options in the native app, find one that does - there are many out there (maybe somebody can help, I´m not the greatest phone photography specialist). If you want to understand what you are doing, get familiar with the terms Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO
    3. Framing - don´t crop any parts - better leave a little space
    4. Your jacket is not arranged well on the stand - preparation of product shots is key. Same with the boots
    As mentioned, if you want to do this seriously - and selling products is quite serious ;) you should do some learning rather than just following the steps above.
     
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