Your Own In House Studio in 6 easy Steps

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Need nice looking product photographs for your personal websites, amazon or ebay auctions? With a little know how and the following tips, you won’t be needing any expensive camera, lighting or a studio. And certainly you won’t need to call any professional photographer to help you. Follow along as I take you through the steps of how I get one of my client’s product, website ready.

If you’re more visual you can watch this video instead of reading!


My client is from Ultimate Archery HQ, and their main line of product deals with outdoor archery, like compound bows, crossbows and English longbows. Now, because of the detail that these types of products have, it’s really hard to capture it correctly if you don’t get everything right.


Step One

Make sure your product is very clean. This is one of the easiest steps, but somehow it’s the step that everyone misses. Today’s cameras can really bring out the detail of a product. That means if there’re any dirt mark or smudge, it will show through the photo. Just because this is an outdoor product, doesn’t mean customers wants to see them dirty.

Step Two

Be outside for the best lighting. You’ll be in luck if that day there’s an overcast. If its not an overcast day, go to a more shaded area. Some place that’s open to the sky, but not directly under the sunlight. You never want to have sun shining down directly facing your setup.

Step Three

Get a plain white paper and put your product on it. Make sure to get a big enough sheet so your product doesn’t overlap the white paper. As for my example, I had to use two very big white papers to cover my crossbow.

 Step Four

Use a tripod, this will help with stabilizing your shots. By using your hands, your pictures can get blurry. If you don’t have a tripod, use a book, stack up high and place your camera on top.

Step Five

Move around your products, getting your camera at the correct angle with the right distance is key. Generally: far enough and zoomed in would be ideal. Having a flat undistorted perspective is better then an artistically distorted close up. As for my crossbow, I had to get a pretty high angle because of the length of the item.

 Step Six

  • Getting your camera’s setting correct is also very important.
  • Make sure the flash is turned off since you are using natural light
  • Setting your white balance to shade or cloudy will help you when you are outdoors
  • Setting your aperture settings. All SLRs and DSLR Cameras and even some compact cameras should have this setting, but if you do have a compact camera that don’t have aperture mode, you can try using macro mode.

Try out these tips I’ve outlined above and you’ll be on your way in creating beautiful product photos.

The Best Video Camera for Weddings

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We have had the opportunity to try out a number of different types and styles of video cameras over the years and just recently got a hold of the Sony Professional HVR-A1U CMOS. This turned out to be a great video camera to have to get all of those important wedding moments. In fact, it is so good that we felt compelled to give it proper accolades right here.

There was very little training needed to figure out the workings of the camera. In less than an hour I had the whole thing figured out and was ready to start shooting. Other cameras I have worked with in the past required a degree in mechanics in order to figure out just how to zoom in on the wedding cake. The instructions were clear and easy to understand, not like some others I’ve seen that have rivaled the size of “War and Peace.”

Despite the small size, the picture quality of the video camera was amazing. Crystal clear images and sound that made editing all of the footage a breeze. There was no buzzing in the background or fuzzy faces in any of my shots. It even has the option to take stills while recording which is a great perk I can add to my wedding videography package price. Plus it’s light compared to other cameras I have owned, which is a big deal for me considering that some weddings I shoot go on for hours.

The only downside I found was that the stock battery it came with did not provide me with enough time to make it through a wedding. Upgrading to a stronger one was not a problem though and well worth the expense to get to use the camera. I also invested in some Sony 63 HD video cassettes to go along with the camera and a professional tripod for when I am recording the ceremony. There is also no built in flash, but since I am mainly shooting video this is not an issue. I already have the lighting equipment I need.

While this is considered to be a professional camcorder by Sony standards, they have still managed to make it very user friendly as well as affordable. This is the best camera I have ever encountered in this price range.

Other features that stand out is a large 16:9 widescreen, making it easy to focus on what I am recording while still looking around to see what my next shot is going to be. The microphone stalk is extended too, making those table interviews so much easier to conduct. I have had to use hand held mics in the past, and you know what happens with Uncle Stan, one too many martinis and a microphone in his hand.

I don’t typically extol the virtues of products publicly like this, but this really is a video camera worth talking about. Whether you are using it professionally or just to shoot a youtube video, it is going to easily serve your purpose.

Using Light to Capture Reality

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When shooting live video, the quality of your picture is going to depend heavily on the amount of lighting you have. The more natural light you use the better the pictures will look, but when that is not possible you need to know exactly how to place the artificial light source to get the most realistic picture.

Even with wedding videos you can use lighting tricks to enhance the images and make your video more compelling. How you use light will control the mood of your video. Since a wedding is a happy occasion you always want to project that good mood with bright lighting. You can also use lighting to direct the viewer to the main subject of your video. This is why we focus lights on the bride and groom during the ceremony. It sets them apart from the guests and other members of the wedding party, putting all the attention where it belongs.

One of the first steps in using light to capture reality is by controlling its direction. If you already know a little bit about videography than you may have heard the term three point lighting. This refers to the three main directions that you can source your light from.

If you direct light to the side of your subject, you are going to create a dramatic effect. This is a good tool if you want to create texture in your video as it allows the focus to be on the side of the target. This type of lighting technique has little use in wedding videography as we are more interested in creating a realistic look to our videos.

Back lighting is a technique that is used to create silhouettes. With a light directly behind the subject, you don’t see many of their features, only the outline of their form. While we don’t use this type of lighting often, we will sometimes use a floor back light that gives the bride an angelic effect.

The most often used lighting techniques of a videographer for weddings and other occasions is front lighting, as it best highlights the beauty in the face and looks the most natural. We strive to get this right during recording. Trying to add the right lighting during editing will enhance the picture, but not at the same quality then if you had used the light the right way in the first place.

Using natural light as much as possible will also add reality to the video. The soft hues of sunlight can not be replicated by a lamp and a smart videographer will try to use that softness as often as possible. You can see the difference for yourself if you watch an interior wedding ceremony and then compare it to one that was shot outside in the open. This type of lighting cannot be reproduced during the editing process.

To save yourself time in the editing and production of your videos, get your lighting right during the shoot. If you strategically place your lamps in front of your subjects and use natural light as often as possible, you will have no mistakes to amend during editing.