139. Set Up and Take a Picture
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
151 About Digital Pictures and eBay
134 Add Pictures to Your Auction
You don't have to be a professional photographer to take a good picture. All you need to know are a few basics, and you'll be able to take a picture that shows off your goods.
| | Choose the Right Place to Take a Picture
Find a well-lit, uncluttered spot and place a table there for photographing your item. Make sure that the table is large enough to hold the item and that the item isn't near an edge so that it can be easily knocked off.
Sometimes people steal pictures from other people on eBaythey simply take the photo used on another member's auction page and use it in their auction as if it were their own. This is a no-no. Not only does the picture not belong to those who steal, but it isn't a true representation of the item being sold because it was of someone else's item.
To make it easier for potential bidders to see a smaller item, place a solid-colored sheet underneath the item and put it against a solid backdrop. That way, the photo won't be cluttered, there will be nothing to distract the viewer from the item itself, and the item will stand out in contrast against the backdrop.
139. Set Up and Take a Picture
If you're shooting a large item (such as a car or a boat) outdoors, choose a location without a distracting background. Plan your photo shoot for early morning or late afternoon when the sun won't cast harsh shadows.
| | Use Proper Lighting
Perhaps the biggest problem with digital photos is that they can look dim because they've been under lit, so make sure that you light the item properly. If your camera has a built-in light meter or flash indicator, point your camera at the item to see whether a flash is required. If you need a flash, the item isn't lit properly. (Use the flash as a last resort to light the item; the flash can cause odd shadows and might wash out the item on film. Although the flash is the easiest way to light the item you want to photograph, it's not the best way.)
If you're shooting an item indoors, you have a choice of indirect or direct lighting. With direct lighting, the lights shine directly on the item; with indirect lighting, the light first shines against an object such as a white board, and that reflected light in turn illuminates the item. It's much easier to use direct lightingand direct lighting works better for most itemsso as a general rule, plan to directly light the item. To best light your item, light the item from two or more directions, and place your lights above and to the sides of the item. Move the lights around until the light is bestwatch that shadows don't interfere with a clear view of the item. The best lights to use are 100-watt halogen bulbs in clip-on lamps; that way you can easily position the lamps properly and you'll get bright, clean light.
For some items with glossy surfaces such as porcelain or polished metal, you should use indirect lighting. Use sheets of white poster board to surround the item and shine direct light onto the poster board; the poster board will bounce the light onto the item. You'll have to fiddle around with placement until you get the lighting right.
If you're taking outdoor photos, the item shouldn't be in direct sunlight. Frequently, slightly overcast days are better than bright, sunny days for picture-taking because you'll have fewer harsh shadows to distract the viewer.
| | Choose Your Camera Settings
For your digital camera, make sure that you take photos at a high enough resolution for the pictures to be crisp but not so high a resolution that the picture files are too large. Anywhere between 640x480 pixels and 1024x768 pixels is a good setting.
Unless you're an experienced photographer, use auto-focus and auto-exposure settings. Getting a picture in focus with the right exposure settings can be frustratingly difficult, and cameras with auto settings do a good job for you.
Also make sure that you've chosen the right distance settings, if your camera can adjust them. Some cameras let you choose a macro setting (useful when the camera lens is only several inches away from an object), a medium setting (for objects a few feet away), or a long-distance setting (when the object is more than 10 feet away).
Be careful when using your camera's flash. Some people tell you never to use flash because it can wash out details from pictures. However, if you don't use a flash, you risk getting dimly lit photos. Experiment with your camera's flash and see whether it harms or helps your photo.
Frame Your Picture
All your hard work up until now will amount to nothing if you don't frame your picture properly. Make sure that the item is large enough to be easily seen and takes up most of the frame. Center it for best results. Try framing it from different anglesdead-on, from the right, from the left, from above, and so onuntil you find the angle that shows off your item best.
Keep in mind that you can use more than one picture on your eBay auction, so you don't have to have a single best shotyou can shoot the item from multiple angles and post several of the photos.
Snap the Picture
If you have a tripod, use that; it will give you the best pictures because it's stable and won't move. If your item has a particular noteworthy detail you want to point out, such as a signature on a baseball card, shoot the entire card; then also shoot a close-up of the signature. In fact, take many pictures from different angles because you'll be able to pick and choose the ones you like best later.
Digital cameras let you preview the pictures before shooting, so preview them first. Additionally, you can review the pictures after you've shot them and delete any you don't like. You can then take more pictures until you have a batch you're satisfied with.
Transfer Pictures to Your PC
After you've taken all the pictures of the item, transfer them to your PC using the software that came with your camera or with other graphics software, such as Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop Elements. Create a separate folder for each item you're selling so you can easily find the pictures you want.