5. CHOOSE A BACKGROUND
You can use colored paper from a craft store to
complement the dominant color of your collectible,
but I prefer a smooth gradation of color.
I achieved this by opening a full-page document
in Photoshop and creating a gradient fill using the
Gradient tool. I printed the gradient with a low-cost
inkjet printer and slipped it under the sheet of glass.
Although a printed gradient is less than perfect,
its imperfections should disappear when it’s out
of focus below the glass.
6. DIAL IN COLOR BALANCE
Deactivate the flash on your camera and set the
white balance to match your light source (check your
camera’s instructions if you don’t know how). If you
can get good color balance right from the start, this
will save a lot of trouble later. Use the lowest ISO
number to reduce sensor noise, and since this may
entail a time exposure, you should use a tripod.
7. ADJUST YOUR LIGHTING
For a shiny object, sometimes you need to place a
light almost in front of you, to get good “bounce”
from the reflective areas. However, the light will
also tend to reflect in your transparent panel.
Trial and error is the only way to achieve the best
result. You may need to tilt your object relative to
the camera, in which case you can tear off a small
piece of duct tape, roll it into a little sticky ball, and
hide it behind your object.
8. ADJUST THE APERTURE
If your camera has an aperture priority setting,
choose the widest aperture. This throws the
background out of focus and may also make
your collectible look more 3-dimensional.
9. UPLOAD AND ADJUST
Upload your pictures into an image editing program
such as Photoshop. If you see highlights on your
collectible reflected in the glass or polycarbonate
panel beneath it, use the Clone tool to cover them
with background color.
If you want to change the background, use the
Your object will seem to
float in space instead of
sitting on its own shadow.
SETUP: Light from the
softbox and umbrella
looks yellow in this
photo, because it was
taken with additional
daylight from a skylight.
Even a utilitarian gear-motor looks better if
it’s carefully lit.
Magic Wand tool to select it, then open the Hue/
Saturation dialog box. You can also blur the background to hide any remaining imperfections. Finally,
crop your image and adjust the resolution.
Your finished photo may not be up to the standards of a Sotheby’s catalog, but compared with
most pictures on eBay, it will be a work of art.
Charles Platt is the Upload section editor for MAKE.