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  1. #1
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    What are your bag photography tips?

    There are a lot of people here who post such great photos of their TB bags. That's something I often have trouble doing--either the color comes out wrong, or I'm standing in the way of the light and I leave a shadow in the photo, or something else looks wrong. So I thought I'd start a thread where people can share their bag photography tips. What do you do when taking photos, that you think the rest of us would like to know about?

    (To the professional photographers among us: For you, I recognize that this could come across as a request to share your years of experience distilled into a few paragraphs. That isn't my intention! My hope is that people who will enjoy sharing a few bag photography tips will do so, and that anyone who doesn't want to, won't.)

    I'll start us off with my one and only tip, which I learned from EmeraldYam here on the forums: if you have several pictures to post, you can make them into a grid or other side-by-side arrangement by using a free online collage-making tool like BeFunky. That's how I made the 2x2 and 3x3 photo grids in my recent Luminary review.

    So what are your tips for lighting, backgrounds, or anything else that helps your photography?
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by aedifica View Post
    a free online collage-making tool like BeFunky. That's how I made the 2x2 and 3x3 photo grids in my recent Luminary review.
    Wish I could have used this one for my L15 review, thanks for the tip! I can tell people what NOT to do, and that is, use mark-up in iPhoto and then put it in Pages to collage everything, THEN take a screen shot of the pages, in PAGES, THEN...resize and post! Ugh. I looked and looked for a free photo editor and collage program for the review and most of them wanted to advertise their logo unless you paid for it, and they were all on iOS and not OS.

    Great idea for a thread by the way, I am a hobbyist and probably the best photo tip I can think of is to find natural, indirect light for a photo. Outside or by a window, and avoid distracting backgrounds. I have lots of key places in my house, depending on the time of day, to photograph things. I sell sometimes on craigslist and eBay, so when I take product photos I just try to think about the things I would want to see if I were wanting to purchase something, and go from there.

  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anna2222 View Post
    Wish I could have used this one for my L15 review, thanks for the tip! I can tell people what NOT to do, and that is, use mark-up in iPhoto and then put it in Pages to collage everything, THEN take a screen shot of the pages, in PAGES, THEN...resize and post! Ugh. I looked and looked for a free photo editor and collage program for the review and most of them wanted to advertise their logo unless you paid for it, and they were all on iOS and not OS.

    Great idea for a thread by the way, I am a hobbyist and probably the best photo tip I can think of is to find natural, indirect light for a photo. Outside or by a window, and avoid distracting backgrounds. I have lots of key places in my house, depending on the time of day, to photograph things. I sell sometimes on craigslist and eBay, so when I take product photos I just try to think about the things I would want to see if I were wanting to purchase something, and go from there.
    I had no idea you used iPhoto and Pages for your review photos! They turned out really nicely, but it sounds like you had to go through a lot of steps. Still, the end product looked great.

    Thank you for that tip on lighting and backgrounds! I think that will be helpful. The problem with using natural, indirect lighting is that it requires patience--I want to be able to take my pictures right now! But you're right, they do look a lot better when I use that kind of lighting.

  4. #4
    Forum Member BigBadD's Avatar
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    Great idea for a thread. Particularly on some do and don't guidance on how to upload the photos to the forum. I have a few good photos in Mac Photos app, sometimes after a bit of tweaking with Affinity Photo app, but each time then struggle with the forum software to select the photo and upload it. Perhaps it's just me...

  5. #5
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBadD View Post
    Great idea for a thread. Particularly on some do and don't guidance on how to upload the photos to the forum. I have a few good photos in Mac Photos app, sometimes after a bit of tweaking with Affinity Photo app, but each time then struggle with the forum software to select the photo and upload it. Perhaps it's just me...
    The only time I've had trouble uploading photos, I realized eventually that they were too big. At first I could select those photos for upload but they wouldn't actually upload. Then I resized them so they were under 1 MB each and I was able to upload them without any more trouble. Is that the kind of problem you run into, or something else? If you're having a different problem, if you describe it I can probably help.

    To resize the photos, I opened them in Preview on my Mac, went to the Tools menu, chose Adjust Size, and picked a new size. I often choose 10 inches (for either the height or the width) because that's a significant size reduction while still being plenty big enough to make out details. Usually the photos I'm resizing start out bigger than 40 inches according to Preview! (I do have to wonder where that inch measurement comes from.)
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  6. #6
    Forum Member BigBadD's Avatar
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    Thanks, I'll try that. Maybe it is file size in some cases where I had an upload failed message. Got it to work yesterday but only after copying photo from Photos to desktop and then selecting photo from desktop - without any resizing, but not directly from Photos folder. Next time if any problems, I'll try to share particular issues.

  7. #7
    Volunteer Moderator bartleby's Avatar
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    From my experience I can only emphasize the importance of natural light especially to display the colors realistically. A cloudy sky works best for that purpose. When the sun is shining I use a white curtain to soften the light a bit. If the light is low I often use a tripod to prevent blurring as the exposure time will be longer. With artifical light it is much more difficult but sometimes you have no choice...
    Another nice freeware program to finish (e.g. resize) your photos is IrfanView (Windows only unfortunately). I usually resize my pictures to 1200 px width or heighth and save them in the .jpg file format with 80% quality which results in reasonably small files (around 500 KB) that still have a very good quality. If you don't want to hassle with finishing your pictures you can also choose a lower resolution or lower quality beforehand in your camera/smartphone menu. As long as you're not going to print an image you won't need the full resolution that most current cameras or smartphones have to offer but you get much smaller files. Just experiment with the different options a bit.
    ...spread joy in your neighbourhood
    current bags: Smart Alec, Guide's Pack, Guide's Edition S25, Luminary 15, Daylight Backpack, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, Road Buddy 36, Daylight Briefcase, Small Yeoman Duffel, bits and pieces

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by anna2222 View Post
    Wish I could have used this one for my L15 review, thanks for the tip! I can tell people what NOT to do, and that is, use mark-up in iPhoto and then put it in Pages to collage everything, THEN take a screen shot of the pages, in PAGES, THEN...resize and post! Ugh. I looked and looked for a free photo editor and collage program for the review and most of them wanted to advertise their logo unless you paid for it, and they were all on iOS and not iOS.
    I have the same ‘casting a shadow over my pictures’ issues as aedicica, but I do a lot of post processing. I use photoshop and Lightroom, but my daughter put me onto a great $2.99 app called Afterlight. It allows you to adjust light, enhance or remove hues, and add text to the image. I’ve been using it over my PC programs for a while.

    I’m interested in hearing what equipment people use for the closeups of bag interiors. Some of these are so crisp and detailed.
    Last edited by Traveltech; 02-24-2019 at 08:01 AM.
    Luminary 12 with a MCB Freudian Slip, Daylight Backpack, EDC Side Effect or Side Effect, zippered Large and Small Shopbags, Co-Pilot, Travel Tray, Snake Charmer

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBadD View Post
    Maybe it is file size in some cases where I had an upload failed message. Got it to work yesterday but only after copying photo from Photos to desktop and then selecting photo from desktop - without any resizing, but not directly from Photos folder. Next time if any problems, I'll try to share particular issues.
    The uploading of the photos to the forum is actually the easiest part for me, simply by exporting (shift + command + E at same time) from PHOTOS to my desktop and picking "HIGH JPEG QUALITY" and "SIZE LARGE". That always gets me a photo that is under 1MB, which has always posted fine. For example, a 2MB photo resized with these settings to 369kb. You would think the quality on the forum would be terrible at so low a res, but most of my photos get posted as under 500kb. Oh, and I pick my desktop as a destination because if I don't, I never know where it will end up!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveltech View Post

    Iím interested in hear what equipment people use for the closeups of bag interiors. Some of these are so crisp and detailed.
    my iPhone and natural light aimed into the bag from a window or open door, flash turned off

  11. #11
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    the first and most important thing (IMHIO): think about the quality of your light and the direction of that light.

    look for good/soft light from a single source. diffuse window light is your friend… as is open shade outdoors.

    (yearning to take a photo in the middle of the night when your only light source is the tiny LED flash on you phone? just say no! lol)

    look at your results, then make adjustments and improvements, as necessary.

    keep your background clean (ie simple and non-distracting). if possible, select a wide aperture to blur the background: background bokeh is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also draws the eye to your crisp, in-focus subject.

    have fun!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bb93fo57 View Post

    (yearning to take a photo in the middle of the night when your only light source is the tiny LED flash on you phone? just say no! lol)
    LOL! 100% agree!

  13. #13
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    I discovered another trick the other day. I feel like this is a solidly intermediate-level trick, because there must be a way to get the color *and* the focus at the same time, but: I was trying to take some pictures to show bag colors, and getting frustrated because the photos were so much lighter than the true colors. I had been holding my camera very close to the bags, 1-2 feet. When I stood back about five feet so the bags weren't the only thing in the photo, the colors were suddenly right! Some of those photos ended up very blurry, but the color was what I cared most about right then so that was acceptable.

    Next time I may play with the camera focus more--I was using an actual camera instead of my iPhone, so I'm not as used to its settings. (I got out the camera so I could play around with white balance settings, etc, but none of that helped until I got farther away from what I was photographing.)
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by aedifica View Post
    I discovered another trick the other day. I feel like this is a solidly intermediate-level trick, because there must be a way to get the color *and* the focus at the same time, but: I was trying to take some pictures to show bag colors, and getting frustrated because the photos were so much lighter than the true colors. I had been holding my camera very close to the bags, 1-2 feet. When I stood back about five feet so the bags weren't the only thing in the photo, the colors were suddenly right! Some of those photos ended up very blurry, but the color was what I cared most about right then so that was acceptable.

    Next time I may play with the camera focus more--I was using an actual camera instead of my iPhone, so I'm not as used to its settings. (I got out the camera so I could play around with white balance settings, etc, but none of that helped until I got farther away from what I was photographing.)
    I wonder if it would work to put a contrasting color right next to the item you're photographing?

    I find that my camera will try to correct what I'm photographing if 90% of the image is one color.

    I wonder if holding, say, a Solar Stuff Sack next to an Ultraviolet one might convince the camera to back off a bit, so to speak, with its helpful correction. Then you could just crop the one you don't want out but still get the close detail.

    I should say as a caveat that I use as many automatic settings on my camera as possible, and so sometimes I have to trick the camera out of whatever it think it should do. What are your bag photography tips?

  15. #15
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    Retired photographer here. If you really want to learn how to take better pictures with your camera or, more likely, your phone, find a basic photography course and sign up. 5ere are three basics that I emphasize in my classes: exposure, point of view, and composition. these are far more complex than can be explained here but getting help on the fundamental science and theory on just these three things will change how you use your camera forever. Better photos means people might actually look at them.

    For now, turn your phone sideways, landscape mode, learn how to touch the screen to adjust focus and exposure for your subject, don’t put your subject in the center, and, since your bag images are basically still lifes, carefully set them up and eliminate the spurious. Learn how to to shoot the picture you want and avoid post processing or editing.

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