Generate your own Photo Library for your Blogs
So you started making some contacts (media contacts) by sending out emails on behalf of your tech blog, have done all the SEO correctly and now you need to show off the shiny new gadgets. The good news here is that you do not need a top of the line dSLR camera or expensive studio lighting to achieve some quality photos for your blog. In order to make your Do It Yourself Photo Lab you will need is any basic digital camera, a tripod, 3 empty coffee cans, wood, alligator clips, close line clips, parchment paper, 3 clamp lights and some 100 watt soft light bulbs (or equivalent compact florescent bulbs if you want to reduce heat and save on energy cost).Do It Yourself Photo Lab – The stage
Foam board is your best friend. It’s cheap and it’s available at nearly any craft store, Target, Walmart or Supermarket in America. I prefer to pick up the all white foam board, but if you’d like one side to have a color (possibly for future backdrops) then by all means go ahead. The key here is that the board is bright white because this board will be used as your backdrop and also used as your reflector to shine some of the light back towards the camera and add depth to your photos. You will need at least 2 pieces of foam board for this project – the first piece will be beneath the product and the second piece will be upright angled behind the product to reflect light back towards the camera.Do It Yourself Photo Lab – The lights
Head on down to your local hardware store and go to the lighting section. You will want to pickup a 3 or 4 pack of 100 watt Soft White light bulbs or the equivalent compact florescent soft light bulbs. In this section you will also find clamp lights — I recommend getting 8 and 1/2 inch clamp lights, the important step here is to make sure they are rated for up to 150 watts power just in case you want to add brighter lights down the road. In order to help keep the clamp lights firmly attached in your photo setup I recommend picking up a pack of A clamps (alligator clips). If you live near a Big Lots they sell 2 packs of Alligator clips in their automotive section for $3.00 a set. You will also need close line clips (those wooden clips used to hang clothes back in the day) and a roll of parchment paper (this will be your light diffuser) which they may or may not have at the hardware store. If all else fails you can head to the supermarket to pick up these items.Do It Yourself Photo Lab – The stands
Stick in a can, stick in a can – your light stands will be made out of empty buckets or empty coffee cans filled with quick set cement and a 6ft 1 x 2′ piece of wood. You’ll need to mix up the cement and fill the empty buckets or cans and then place the stick into the mix and allow it to dry for a couple hours (yes it says quick dry cement will harden in 5 to 10 minutes, but keep in mind these are buckets not a surface repair). In order to ad versatilty to your stands I recommend letting the stick rest up against the side of the can that way you will be able to put two stick in a cans next to each other and clip them together for a more rigid light stand (possibly to hang other items from besides lights). Your hardware store checklist – empty cans (metal or plastic), scrap wood (1 x 2′ pieces of the height you’d like your light stands), bag of cement (50lb bag),Do It Yourself Photo Lab – Putting it all together
Once you’ve assembled your stick in a cans you’ll want to clip on your clamp lights. The clamp of the clamp light doesn’t always make the best grip so either add a secondary clip with an alligator clip or add a towel around the 1 x 2′ before clamping on. For my lighting setup I made 3 stick in a cans — 2 for lights and a 3rd to use to lean my foam board against as a backdrop. If you do not have a good table to work with for this projector I recommend using a couple saw horses so that you have the flexibility to walk around your lighting and make adjustments easily. You will need to use the close line clips to clip on some parchament paper to the front of all your clamp lights. This will help diffuse the lighting so the brightness is spread over a wider area instead of being harsh and focused.
Lay down a piece of foam board and place your product on it. Place a second piece of foam board vertically behind the product. For the lights I angle them at 45 degrees so that both lights make the product the focal point and ultimately reduce as much shadowing as possible. Once the lights are on you can play with the foam board behind the product to see what angle gives the best reflection to bring out the highlights and details of the product.
Position your tripod directly between the two lights and adjust the image settings to manual so that you can adjust the lighting for florescent. You’ll want the camera to use a low ISO (around 100 if possible) so you’ll need to do some test shots to see what ISO is being used. If it is possible to adjust the ISO manually then set it to 100 otherwise just make sure your product as plenty of light and you are using a solid tripod to eliminate any shakes (at low ISO’s the slightest shake will result in image blur).This image was shot using a Canon SD780IS and all the items described above. After completing the shot I used Adobe Photoshop CS4 to adjust the white level. The total cost of the materials to build my photo studio was $70, but I have left over materials to build 3 more stick in a cans and I have 2 spare foam boards. On the plus side I now have lighting for both video and photography for less than it would cost to get one. A Do It Yourself Photo Lab is a great investment and I think the image above speaks for itself on what can be done with a basic digital camera and a one-time investment of $70.
Taking the right pictures and tagging them for Seo is just part of the whole SEO efforts to get a site ranking. Give it a try.