I haven't tried making a tutorial before, so I thought I would take a stab at something I have been working on a lot myself: photographing items for ads & branding.
Now, I take a lot of photos for MCAC's Facebook page, promoting events, shows, etc., but I chose a simple project that can be used for any project. A lot of people wish to photograph handmade jewelry, crafts, vintage items, & various other goods for internet sale sites. Lots of people use sites like etsy & ebay to sell their wares, so having clean, high quality photos can help give you an edge. Nothing says professional like a crisp, white background, especially if you are selling items that are rather busy in & of themselves.
How to recreate that cleanly professional lightbox look at home? If you have a white sheet or sketchbook, a camera & a window... you could be in business!
I used a pad of tracing paper for this, but you may need a larger surface (like a white sheet) for larger items. If you do use a sheet, clamps may come in handy. You can simply clamp your sheet to the back of a chair or two to create a suitable "stage". Note that any sketchbook used should be bound traditionally (no spiral bound notebooks). This helps create that seamless look in the photographic background.
Open up your sketchbook/set up your sheet where diffused light from a large window evenly illuminates the surface area. Keep all your items for photographing handy.
Set your camera to a daylight setting (if you are manually setting your white balance, you want 5200-5800 on an average sunny day with window diffusion. Learn more about degrees Kelvin here!). You do NOT want to use your flash! If your items are small (like earrings or rings) you may also want to use a macro setting. For best results, open up your aperture (I shot these images at f/2.8, focal distance of 50mm). If you can't adjust your aperture manually, macro mode will probably be the best option, as you can focus on your item at close range, throwing the background out of focus (thus aiding in that lightbox illusion).
That's it! Take your photos & keep an eye on the changing light. Keep in mind that the images on your camera's LCD screen may look different on your computer screen. For example, today was rainy, so my images ended up with a bluish cast since I was shooting at 5400 Kelvin & probably should have adjusted to 6000+ Kelvin. Live & learn!
(The item in the tutorial photos is my eos lip balm in honeysuckle honeydew.)
When your settings in camera are correct, you can get nearly perfect results...
And these are perfect for use in completed advertisement images, such as this one that I made for MCAC using the above photos, my toothpick colorwheel photo, & Adobe Photoshop CS5!
Of course, I always tweak my images in Lightroom & Photoshop before posting them anywhere. Don't have those tools? No problem. iPhoto is handy, as is the standard photo editing software for Windows. You can also get Picasa for free online. I recommend Picasa for its ease of use & great features such as the grid/double exposure/mosaic generator.
I hope this helps somebody! Please let me know if you have any additional questions or just want to add something in the comments. If you try your hand at this project & post your outcome, I would love if you would post me a link, too!!!
xo Happy shooting!