Taking Pictures for the Web

Taking Pictures for the Web

Here I am opening my big mouth again waiting for the real photographers to come along and prove me wrong. But when you are trying to get products online quickly, there is really no time to wait around for a photographer or Photoshop expert to do everything perfectly.

I have taken over 1000 pictures over the last year. It's part of the daily grind at All About Doors. Some of the products have never been put online. This is the reason why much of our photographs get hotlinked and show up in Google images first, even though we have never really optimized the images.

I wrote this because I realized there is a lot of tutorials on taking pictures online and a lot pf photoshop tutorials, but nothing really basic. At least, nothing as basic as we do it.


The setup for taking the pictures doesn't need to be much. In fact, none of the stuff we use could be called cutting edge technology. For lighting, we have six tungsten desk lamps arranged around a long table with tissue paper taped over the ends to soften the light. For a backdrop, we use some blue paper we got at an auction. And the tripod is held together with duct tape. The camera we use is older than mine, the one I took this picture with.

Here are the tips:

  • Find the tungsten light setting for your camera if you are using these type of bulbs or your colors will be off.
  • Use macro mode if you are taking detailed close up pictures.
  • Don't use a flash. Use lights and a tripod.
  • Use manual focus for shiny objects.
  • Learn this menu in Photoshop: Image->Adjustments->Levels. I played around with a lot of things until I found this. It is a miracle for pictures that are too dark. Just slide the slider until the colors look right.
  • For scanned pictures of line drawings, first use Levels in Photoshop to take out the dirty spots. This may wash out the picture. Then you use contrast and brightness to bring the lines back up. The dirty spots will stay hidden.

Really that is about all. I wish I had known some of these tips when I was an Ebay seller.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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