General websites, books, etc.
Your own photos
....used as record
... used with clay
....made into "sketches" or other special effects
Cameras --basic types
...SLR's... point-and-shoot cameras
......using film... using slides (transparencies) cameras cameras
General Info re photography
....fuzzy photos, glare & flash, etc.
Natural light set-ups
Artificial light set-ups
....types of lights & bulbs (fluorescent, incandescent-halogen, Ott-lites, other bulbs,etc.)
....whole room lighting
....light boxes, light tents, etc.
.........smaller... larger
Kludgy close-ups
Depth of field
Problems colors & printers
Photoediting (resizing images, lighten/contrast/color, fancy special effects, etc.)
(where to find) online services (including at social networking & photoediting sites)
......already on your computer
......purchased software.... free software downloads
SCANNING, scanners
Scanners vs. digital cameras
Other photo options



GENERAL WEBSITES on photographing small objects

online PhotoCourse on digital photography which covers lots of areas of photography, printing, etc.... much applies to any photography as well

Ganoskin's photographing small objects

Amy O'Connell's info on photographing small items (earrings/necklaces, etc.) :
propping tricks ...light box ..... slides... film ... camera

many topics, including Learn to Shoot Close-Up Objects and Jewelry

all kinds of info re taking photos with a digital camera and buying one

free software to allow you to crop, resize and compress an image (for eBay, a website, etc.) (what the software does)

discussion of how much to change the resolution, compress, etc., and in what order, for best results (eBay,websites,etc.)

Dale Lynn's discussion re the "color" of various kinds of ight and artificial light (temperature)... flash, incandescent, fluorescent, full spectrum, filters, etc.

"learning to see" composition: backgrounds (shadows, distractions, constrast), relative image size Kim2

info on slides, prints, film, processing, when photographing craft items Kim2
...both links from Dollmaker's Community College (substitute polymer items for dolls)

Over 70 posts on photographing your work: (newsgroup is rec.crafts.polymer-clay, use the word photographing)
Check the same archive search engine for the "Photographing your work" thread on alt.crafts.professional . . . Look especially for Mary Winters-Meyers post; cogent and thoughtful.

Books & Videos

someone in the newsgroup recommended Steve Meltzer's book, Photographing your Craft Work. I've read a lot of his columns in The Crafts Report. I know he's supposed to be tops in the field. Randi

Small Scale Photography --Video and Text Book: This text and video lecture combination gives excellent lessons on how to set up a home or studio photo booth to take professional quality photographs and slides of your small scale art work such as jewelry, ceramics, glass and so on. Taking your own quality pictures save you money and time. The system (less camera & tripod) costs less than $60.00 to set up.. JodyB.

Amy O'Connel's favorite book on doing your own photo set up is "Small Scale photography" by Charles Lewtin Brain available through Brain Press.


as a record

First of all.......DO take photos of the things you've made!! ....both to keep a record of them, and also to act as a reminder of all the things you've done (and may no longer have)
Don't take photos of your work only if you're submitting slides for entries or putting them on the Web!
--I try to take a photo of everything I make (since most of it gets used as gifts, auction items, things for school, etc.). They eventually get put into an album, which is very self-validating, and also surprising --"I made all that!?!"
--also good for reference later, for yourself or for others
--who knows?. . . one day you may want to create a website and then you'll have lots of fodder for it ! DB

using in clay pieces... or as inspiration for clay, etc.

There are many ways to use your own previously taken photographs (or those which you could take at any time) with polymer clay.

Any of your photographs can be used to make "transfers" onto clay
...there are lots of ways of doing this, and some of the techniques allow them to be applied to other surfaces as well --like cardstock, metal, glass, wood, etc.
...(non-densely-saturated areas of the photos will be transparent in the final result, or they can be made opaque, whichever you choose)

In order to be transferred, photographs must be handled one of several ways:
....transferred into digital format and put in a computer by scanning, or captured from any image on the internet or e-mail (which is otherwise copyright free)... these will be ink jet-printed onto certain papers for transferring with various media.
.........(slides are more of a problem but there are devices for scanning slides into a computer... also, though you would lose some detail, slides could also be projected onto a screen then photographed with a digital camera to capture the image digitally).
....non-digital images can be transferred directly such as photocopies of photos, drawings, text, whatever (must use toner-based copiers), and also those images already available on slick papers like photos in magazine and brochures.
...the photos can be manipulated in various ways before transferring... and/or after transferring and applying, they can be embellished in many ways with clay or other media

........for example, it might be fun to scan in one of your photos, then turn it into a black and white "sketch" in the computer, or use one of the other distortion methods available in most photoediting software; if b&w, these could be first colored with colored pencils, etc., before transferring as well . . or a sheet of metallic leaf could be placed behind (a transparent) transfer image before application, etc.,etc. . . .after reducing the size of some photos, they could be made into pages of little books or used as greeting cards . . you could take photos of textures or fabrics you wanted to use in your polymer pieces and turn them into transfers .... in other words, the possibilities are endless!
(...see Transfers page for all the transfer methods)

....many other pages here at GlassAttic will deal with other ways to play with transfers
....... for example, some of the framing techniques will be on the Frames page under "Pins & Pendants" ...books & bookmarks will be in Books,Covers ...greeting cards in Cards.... etc.. )
(see also Translucents-Glow-in-the-Dark Clays for glow-in-the-dark clay info (transparent transfers can be very cool on GITD clay), and also for info on photographing clay or other items under black light)

(...also, most? photos --at least those printed on "yearly school photo" paper-- can also be baked in an oven with polymer clay without becoming transfers, and not be damaged)

You can use your own photos as a pattern for creating clay "paintings" and scenes in various ways:
...polymer clay or liquid clay thinned with Diluent, etc., can yield thin-to-thick polymer pastes and paints, which can then be applied to clay or other canvases with brushes, fingers, palette knives, or other tools
.... or puzzle-piece clay images can be created fitting together pieces of flat clay (of diff. colors, and maybe textures) into a final picture which is the same as the original photo
...or photos can be used a patterns for "bas relief" or onlay
(.....see Paints, and Onlay, and Sculpting-gen > Bas Relief for more info)

...landscape and other " canes" can be created of your own photographic images
(see Canes-instr. > Landscapes)

Sandra gets inspiration for some of her pieces (not polymer) from photos she takes, using simulations of the images or just general patterns, colors, etc., in them

photos made into "sketches" or other special effects

You can take photos located on your computer and do all kinds of cool things with them (before turning into transfers or using any other way).

Various "filters" can be applied from Adobe photo software (Elements, etc.) and other photo software (or from Windows software?), but there are also free downloadable software programs and even some free sites which will do many of the same things (on their sites) with no download necessary.

free online (no download nec.):
...whole dumpr site can do all kinds of cool image-changing things (+ photo lessons) downloads necessary
...dumpr page for creating sketches
...dumpr page for creating puzzle pieces from photo

free downloads:
...Photo to Sketch 3.2 "sketch" function software,1000000376,39180842s,00.htm?r=1

TYPES OF CAMERAS--in general

IMPORTANT NOTE..... when buying any camera!! (but esp. digital)

Camera models (both point-and-shoot 35mm and digital). vary in the amount of close-up they can take!
....many cameras do have the capacity to do "close-ups" nowadays, but there CAN be some problems with just how close up the manufacturer considers that to be!! ....e.g., some may consider 2 feet to be "close-up".... some 12 inches ...some 3 inches, and so on.
... it's important to really press salespeople about the exact details before deciding on one to buy (often asking them to bring out the model's manual), because many of them will just say "oh yes, that camera has a close-up capability" but they won't know anything more specific
......(and unfortunately, they may don't even understand the difference, or they may just make up a number because they don't think it's important)
....the amount your camera offers will make a big difference to you later though, and could restrict the things you can shoot well ...IMO the closer, the better!) DB

"SLR" camera (single lens reflex)

--uses 35 mm film
--its lens can be removed and replaced with a diff. lens, either a fixed-length lens (normal, or for taking close-ups or enlarging images from far away) or "zoom" lenses which can go continuously between two distances, e.g. a 80mm-200mm zoom lens will capture an image anywhere between the enlargement of an 80mm lens and a 200mm one.
--has settings that CAN be made manually--like f-stops and exposure time; may also have some "programs" which automatically select settings
--has the ability to provide a *direct look* through the camera lens (using mirrors), rather than using a viewfinder
--the image seen through the lens is much larger (and prettier!) than one through a viewfinder
--usually bigger cameras than point-and-shoots

There is a difference between "close-up lenses" and a real "macro lens"
....My 35mm SLR has a separate macro lens which replaces the normal lens, and will focus down to about a half-inch, I think... it takes extremely sharp pictures if the camera is held still enough.... It will also correct the mild curvature that happens with wide angle ("close-up"?) lenses, but this isn't usually noticable (unless you're photographing more than one little bottle, for example --the middle one was straight, but the other two leaned slightly out unless the photo was taken exactly perpendicular).
.....I assume the term close-up lens means the
flat "filter-type lens" which just screws onto the front of an SLR lens.... these magnify the image and often come in sets of 3 strengths --+1, +2, +3 -- which can be also combined

The disadvantages to having an SLR and a macro lens are cost, of course: for the camera, for the lens, and for continual film & developing having to wait for the photos to come back so they can be scanned into the computer if you want them there

"Point-and-Shoot" camera

--uses 35 mm film or slides (some older ones still use 110mm film?, etc.?)
--may or may not have a zoom capability, but lens is not removable
--some may have settings which can override the default settings, but not as many options as slr's;
--look only through a viewfinder (which is usually higher and to the left of the lens), as opposed to looking directly through the lens via internal mirrors; viewfinders create more problems for close-up shots because of this, though many point-and-shoots will have a special frame inside the viewfinder which will allow a better approximation of what the lens is actually seeing
--image seen through the viewfinder is much smaller and not as clear as one seen through an slr (in fact, I usually look for the largest viewfinder possible when I'm shopping for a p-&-s!)
--usually smaller cameras than the slr's

(--reasonably good close-up shots can be taken even with point-and-shoot cameras that don't have close-up capability --not the $15 ones though --it's a little kludgy, but see below, under Miscellaneous)

using film

I then get the film (Kodak 200) developed at an ordinary photo shop . . .

Same for me but I usually use Kodak 100 film for tighter grain. I seem to be able to get away with it, shooting at 1/60th or 1/30 (or whatever is needed, if using a tripod) and getting sharp prints. (I don't stop all the way down, but do focus at a point 1/3 into the object to get the maximum depth of field--a trick I learned in my old camera club--see Depth of Field below.)

Like you, I generally get mine printed at my local developer, actually it is a machine inside a Long's Drug Store. You do have to be careful though of some of the 60-minute places--I've been told they don't all recalibrate their machines as often as is really necessary for the volume they're doing--and they're more expensive to boot. Check around, then stick with the place you like. They will all usually work with you on a particular print or two to fiddle with the color, etc., but it's a hassle to have to keep going back and/or insisting that it's still not right. Diane B.

using slides (transparencies)

see more on slides for submission, etc., in Business > Submitting Slides, etc.

info on slides, prints, film, processing, when photographing craft items

Some publications or juried shows may require a transparency image of your submitted item, rather than a print (or digital print); this is slowly changing, but still the norm for many of these situations (in the case of the shows/contests, they want slides so that a number of judges can quickly go through all the submissions at the same time, then begin eliminating/voting, etc.

It's important to think of our photos as works of art just as we think of our pieces. Karen Fl(
....see also above in "General Information" re the proper kinds of backgrounds to use for different kinds of shots ... "glamour," gallery, how-to's... especially for submission to books)

If you go to a company that specializes in photographing items for ad agencies, artists, etc. they will be able to photograph your work. Tell that that you want a color transparency (a "slide"). What this is is a piece of film that sort of looks like a the sense that it is not a negative image from which a regular photograph is made, but a positive image similar to a photograph but on the see-through material.
I make my living as an artist. I have all my original works photographed professionally and have them supply me with an 8 x 10 colour print and a transparency that is sort of 4 x 5 or whatever. I live in Canada so any prices i quote will be sort of meaningless to you, butI'll explain a bit about it anyway. The photo agency i go to charges me something like $18 for the colour print and $35 for the transparency. I can use the transparency to have other prints made at a later date (though the color won't be as saturated? DB).

The reason I mention the price at all is only because other "professional photographers" who are not in the business of doing these artsy shots charge prices as if they were shooting a wedding for heavens sake. I've known people who have paid $90 and more for a single photo of their art work. . .nokomis1
...article for those of you thinking of hiring a pro photographer: nokomis1

Costs for professionals can depend on many things:
.....whether you're going to their studio or they're are coming to you for one. If they come to you, it should be more.
.....also where you live can influence costs. Photogs near Hollyweird can be way spensive sure to ask for samples of similar stuff before you buy.... Not everyone has talent for photographing "art." Kim

I have had photos taken by 3 professional photographers and the prices have really varied. It has been a real learning experience.
....The first time I used someone who assured me he did jury slides, only I later found out that he generally shot quilts (not close-ups). The slides were cheap ($75 for a whole roll of slides), but completely unusable. Scratched background, no depth of field. bleech
...The next time I used someone a friend in the guild recommended. He was much more expensive even though we had done a group deal. I think I paid about $150 for a dozen shots with the group rate. It would have been closer to $300 if I had gone in myself. Some were good, but he hung the necklace incorrectly, so they weren't very useful either.
...Finally I found a local photographer who would let me come and help arrange my items. I think it took us at least a couple of hours to shoot one necklace and two sets of beads. I paid $200 and received 10-12 slides of each, overall shots and detail views. The slides are fine, but not knock your socks off.
....The other option if the slides are really critical is to send your work to one of the big name photographers, Robert Diamonte, Hap Sakwa, George Post and Jerry Anthony come to mind. Libby

Just make sure --whoever you use-- that you very clearly communicate how you want your items to be displayed in the photos. Libby (see just above)

I you're in a big city, look in the yellow pages for a shop that does ad agency work or work for catalogues. Otherwise head on down to the very best professional photo supply shop that you can find and ask them for advice. Usually they'll have contacts with people who will know what you need done. nokomis1

check the ads in your latest issue of Crafts Report. You might have to check web sites or make a few calls, but there are a number of photographers advertising in there.

Also check your copy of the book 400 Polymer Clay Designs ---very photo has a photographer listed. Google them and see if you can find contact info, Irene

A suggestion to find a skilled photographer: the instructor at a college who teaches photography might like to supplement their income or have an outstanding student who can take the photos. Patty
....If you're trying to save some money, check out a college near you and ask the photography teacher which student(s) study this type of work. The student could earn a grade by using the school's studio and make a little $$. Community colleges have talented students with empty pockets. Kim
...You can also look for a photography club in your area and contact them to see if any of them do craft photography. We have a free weekly local paper that has clubs and organizations listed. .Irene professional photographer who takes slides (expensive but good....Julia)... can mail him your pieces

Be sure that whoever you use is experieneced in crafts photography, specifically in something similar to what you make. Irene

I didn't know this until recently, but you can get some pretty great looking slides from digital camera pictures. I was skeptical, but had to try it out when I took a whole roll of film to get developed for slides and they were awful! Cutting it close to deadline for jury slides, I asked if there was any chance they could convert some images I had that I liked from my digital camera. I was in luck! One Hour Moto Photo had the equipment to do it! Of course, it couldn't be done in an hour, but in about 4 days. I was very happy with what I got back. They were $6 an image, but that was MUCH cheaper than the rolls of film it would have taken ME to get it right. You might want to try out one image before you invest the 6 bucks each for a series. You just take them the disk. Call first, as I know only one of their local stores had the right equipment. **lori
...I've had a lot of digital pictures turned into slides and so far, they have been pretty darn good! Most of them were scans that I did. I have the name of a place in Utah that does them for me so if you are interested, e-mail me and I'll dig up the address for you. They only charge $1.49 per image and to date their work has been great. Dotty in CA CAN scan slides using a scanner that has a slide attachment. Many of the new ones have this and they really don't cost much more than a scanner without one. I love mine and have had to use it a great deal ...Dotty
...check out this site: ...they will transfer the image to a slide for a very good price. I would bet anything that these would at least be okay for jurying, if not for publication. With a large file it would be difficult for them to realize that it is digital unless they project it onto a large screen. A regular lightboard or slide viewer wouldn't give it away. Dotty in CA
...If you do a Web search on "digital images to slides" you'll find many places that will put your digital pics on slides. What the quality is, I can't say since I haven't seen any but it didn't look expensive, so I think it may worth a try to find out. Dawn
... it's pretty likely that any photo shop is using fairly low-grade equipment, mostly because they probably get little demand for doing that these days. By contrast, any publishing company will have a very high quality slide scanner that will generate digital images that can be run directly into the page layouts (for their books/mags).. . . professional scanners (regardless of technology) do a much better job than any home scanner on the market, mostly due to the quality of the CCD unit.Larry

. . . However, here is one idea to try. If you have a digital camera that is a 2.1 megapixal or higher--the higher the better, take the best quality your camera will take. Don't reduce it. Just leave it with a large file.. . . Dotty

I advise against any background other than a solid neutral color (not a bright blue, e.g.), or a neutral dark-to-light fade. Coffee beans or sand might be good for an advertising photo, but not for jurying. Such a photo would be completely different from all of the others and would look out of place. Irene
... In my case, the publisher wanted all of the how-to photos to have exactly the same background. Eggshell or off-white. Dotty

Make sure that the slides and the IMAGE are yours! Sounds simple enough doesn't it. But some photographers claim that you only own the slide and that the image belongs to them. If you use that image in a book or magazine, or an advertisement, you have to pay the photographer a fee. They can legally do this so make sure you have it in writing that you can do whatever you want with the slide and that the image belongs to you. They may want to reserve some right to it, which is okay, so that they can use it as an add for their work, or anything else they might want it for. But there should be no fee that you have to pay if your copy of the slide should go into a book etc. Dotty in CA

Unfortunately only a few book publishers have switched to digital photos. But one day they will all use them, at least I hope so. My publisher, Sterling, won't accept them, even high resolution. Dotty
...most publishers aren't set up to take digital photography. . . . the books I've worked on don't have a jurying process for the gallery images - the image an artist sends is the image that gets used (or not). So if it's not a good image, it's not used. Why no (preliminary) jurying process? Because gathering a bunch of submissions, viewing them, choosing, and replying to everyone is a lot of work. Then to rely on the people who are accepted to send better slides - what if they don't? What if they either space out entirely and don't get additional photography done or they do, but the quality is no better? Then there's a rush to find images to fill the space that was allocated to those images..
....Selecting images for the book (or selecting artists for shows) is done by projecting the images onto a large screen (this is more a final selection process than a preliminary viewing/"jurying"). If the images aren't all in the same format, it's a hassle to show a bunch of images on a screen, hand a bunch of photographs around among the jurors, and then all crowd around a computer screen to look at digital submissions. (Digital photos projected onto a large screen will often show up very pixilated.) Irene

(see above for slides link, and also in Business > Submitting Slides)

Video cameras

Now, many video cameras can take individual photos as well as video. I don't know much about those because I don't have one (yet!), so don't have much info on them.

There's also special software that can be purchased to freeze any frame of a video tape, then manipulate it to improve or change the image, and save or print it.
If you already have a video camera then you could also think about just getting a thing called a 'Snappy III' (also Snazzi?). This device is a video cature device that works with a software program you load into the computer. The nice thing about this as I use it is that I mount the video camera on a tripod and the work on a turn table. I can then activate the program to show in real time. Now I start moving the work and the lighting to the desired effect. Then I 'click' the single frame capture button on the computer. I then save off the file. You can also even save off an anamation file of the subject being turned around. (these files at the time I started were not compressed so were very large files. but how they are being reduced.) The Video capture device is a lot less costly than the camera. You can also take the video camera on trips and when you get home select the frames from the tape that you want. Lysle Shields


Digital cameras

--don't use film; use magnetic encoding instead
--usually used in conjunction with a computer --which reads the photo and displays it on its screen (these images can then be stored on the computer or on floppy disks, printed out, sent to another e-mail address, or uploaded to the Internet for webpages, etc.); they can also be taken to special services to create normal photographs or have the info stored onto floppy disks
--some have special monitors in addition to (or instead of) a viewfinder, which show a larger version of the exact image the camera is seeing
--often have some kinds of override for the settings
--require much less light to take photos than cameras using film.... usually don't need flash, and generally better photos without it
--often used in conjunction with "photo editing" software to improve or change the image

(--see above under SLR's for close-up lenses vs. macro lenses)

IMPORTANT NOTE, especially when buying a digital camera ...... the closer, the better!
amera models. vary a lot in the amount of close-up each is able to take!
....and this will make a huge difference when photographing small items (in other words, without a very close closeup function, you won't be able to get a very large image of your small item ...and your items will be out of focus if you try to get closer than your camera allows)
....many digitals do have the capacity to do "close-ups" nowadays, but there CAN be some problems with just how close up the manufacturer considers "close-up" to be!!
.......e.g., some may consider 2 feet to be "close-up".... some may consider it 12 inches ...some 1 inch, etc.
.. it's important to really press sales people about the exact details before deciding on a digital to buy (often asking them to bring out the model's manual), because many of them will just say "oh yes, that camera has a close-up capability" but they won't know anything more specific
......(and unfortunately, they may don't even understand the difference, or they may just make up a number because they don't think it's important). DB

Digital cameras come with varying numbers of features and capabilities, often depending on price.
...the simplest cameras are basically "point-and-shoot type," are less expensive, offer a fewer number of features, and may have a less sharp lens
...medium-priced ones will have more features, cost more, have better lenses, and take longer to learn to use
...really high-end ones will allow you to have loads of features (and can be quite a learning curve!).... e.g. exposure features like "f-stops" or something equivalent, capability for using tungsten lighting (from indoor lamps, etc.) more specifically, have interchangeable lenses?, sharper lenses, cost more, and be are usually bigger.

Desirable Characteristics in a digital camera (for me, anyway) .. (written several years ago though!)
--small size, light weight (although this creates more shake in closeups! --usually I can handhold my regular camera down to 1/30 of a second)
--some kind of "flash card" capability (so wires were not necessary to connect the camera to the computer --mine fits in a special floppy disc)
--an "optical" zoom, rather than digital zoom
--a viewfinder, as well as a viewing screen
--large, bright viewfinder
--least wide-angle lens, if no zoom
--extreme close-up capability (mine focuses down to a very satisfactory 4" or less in its closeup mode --be sure and check this "closest distance" for each camera!!--sometimes the salesperson will say something that isn't quite true! --see just above)
--high resolution mode (mine has 3 modes: one takes 39 photos, one takes something like 18, and the highest resolution takes only 9)
--camera that could use the nickel metal hydride batteries (or whatever are the names of the ones that don't have a "memory" --maybe all digital cameras can use them?)

The major things to consider when buying a digital camera are:
1. Your price range!
2. What are you going to use to for so that you will know what features are important to you? How easy is the camera to use? Go to a camera store to have someone demo the ins and outs to you. Then, buy the camera where it is priced the best. Research pricing online. Macro for close up work, Zoom to get close, optical lens, resolution, frames per second. Batteries? How many picture modes?
3. Check compatibility with your current computer system or are you willing to upgrade your computer too.
..... going back to how you connect your camera to the computer for uploading the photos. Does it have cables to Parallel, serial, or USB ports? Card readers and what kind of port does it require? Floppy disks? . . . Susan L.

lots of info about digital cameras, brands, how to use, and photography
... (click on Cameras, Top Tutors, or Photography)
all kinds of info re taking photos with a digital camera and buying one
(see photo sites at top of this page for much more general photography help, including digital)

I have also found that the better a digital camera's low light capabilities are, the better too (without flash)
. . . . I frequent a website that does in-depth testing on all digital cameras to a degree beyond my capacity to understand... they take pictures with each camera under many lighting sources and settings and report on them, as well as showing the resulting photos. That particular camera I had mentioned was cited as being particularly good at low light photos and it is. That site is : and is a very good place to explore if you're in the market for a camera as well as listing many places on line you can order them and customer reviews of those places as well. -- Dawn

I have an Olympus C3040..... it was pricey, but I got it for a really good price on Ebay (new! Don't buy used). I had a Sony Mavica with disk before that.... the Olympus has better clarity but the Sony was good for general stuff. Alexa
I got a Minolta Dimage Z1. It's got a zoom like a 35mm slr even does video too.... the color comes out beautifully. It was $325, with 3.2mb and 10optical/4digital zoom. I'm quite satisfied. Irene
Those pictures with my project (polymer clay embellished pot) in the June Arts and Crafts are all digital!!! Taken with my Ricoh, not my Mavica, but my Mavica was working right along side for setup and web photos..syndee
…check out the Nikon Cool-Pix 800. That is the camera we finally settled on and we have been getting some great pictures with it. You can take photos as close as 1". We tried that close once but the detail was so massive that we backed off to 18" to take pictures of canes; and even at that we have to reduce the pictures by about 50%. The camera cost about $525. on Photopoint ( Kat
We bought the Nikon CoolPix 800 a few months ago and I have been extremely pleased with it. It is very easy to use both to take regular snapshots and to take pictures of my work. I did go buy an extra memory chip,(48K,if I remember right; the camera came with a 8K memory chip which would only store about 16 pictures. This 48K takes 96 pictures. There are chips with even higher numbers, but they get expensive. I paid a little over $100. for the 48K. If you want to see a very amateur at work with the Nikon, look at my Photopoint site. Almost all of the pictures were taken with the Nikkon. Kat Photopoint site @
If I had any money, and a USB port, I would go for the Nikon Coolpix. It has a focal length of .8". Everything I want to photograph lends itself to macro--plants, insects, artwork...Jane
My Olympus didn't have many features, but for closeup work it was fine. My Kodak camera has digital zoom, high resolution, and 3x optical. I got it from UBID for $189.00 The same camera is selling retail for $299.00. Yes it's refurbished, but it still came with a one year warranty. Whereas new my Olympus came with a 90 day warranty. Go figure! The Kodak was very lightweight and I could put it in my pocket. The lens cover on the Olympus slides over and the camera turns on. The lens cover on the Kodak is a soft plastic lens cap attached by a cord that you put on and off. But that it also means that you have one less thing to go wrong mechanically. Susan L.
I needed a camera with macro focus for taking pictures of my jewelry. After some research, I bought a Fuji Finepix 2400 Zoom and am CRAZY about it. It has more resolution than I'll every need, great macro capabilities and also has an optical zoom, which is good where I live for taking wildlife shots. I paid $278 at Beach Camera's web site and bought extra Smart Media cards and a reader for a great price at If you don't need the optical zoom, there is another model without it for about $40 less. ...Anyway, it's a GREAT camera without putting you into the poor house. Marti
I also use a Kodak digital and I am sold on their product. I plan to upgrade to one with the macro lens capability soon but I will most likely stay with the Kodak brand. The images it captures are so crisp and clear it has even beat out some of the better cameras on the market that my friends own. The good news is, the Kodaks are on the lower price end of the spectrum. DixiePixie
Some of the photos (at my site) were taken with our digital camera, an Olympus D-340L (some were scans of photos that had been taken with my old Minolta SLR or my point-and-shoot Pentax Zoom 70R film cameras). Diane B.

online articles about using digital cameras:

reviews of digital cameras (from Kathndolls):
more reviews (from Ann)

Each of the manufacturers also has a website, which will give you info about digital cameras or any of the other cameras they make (for Olympus, e.g., go to : and click on Filmless Digital Cameras). Diane , P.S. If you can afford it, go for the Nikon J

Digital Camera Magazines' Buyer's Guide

discussion forums... Ask the experts at Digital Camera Magazine

newsgroups for digital camera info and (SouthrnPen)
....Here are some of the resources I used to find help me choose what kind of digital camera I wanted for photographing my jewelry for the net, and for everyday use, too.
There's a newsgroup It's a HIGH TRAFFIC group, but skimming for advice on kinds of digital cameras can be done. I asked about choosing a camera for photographing my jewelry and received a few good answers. I also read posts by others who were asking similar questions.The Nikon CoolPix 950 and the Olympus 2020 are highly rated by the rpd-ers. News about sites that have great deals on these cameras (and on others) are posted here, and warnings from folks who had a problem with the vendor they bought from. A site that rates resellers is mentioned often, to help buyers avoid problems.Sites with photographs taken by "regular" folks are often mentioned, especially when someone gets a shot they think is great (They're usually right!) Ann


fuzzy photos?....a few things that might make a difference are:
....movement....If are you using a regular or digital camera, have you tried using a tripod? (I found I couldn't hold my new *digital* camera as steady as my SLR when doing close-ups, probably because it's so much lighter in weight). I found a really small, cheap tripod that's a unit of 3 (very short) bendable legs which screws into the bottom of the camera, for only $10 at my local (large) camera store--hadn't even realized it WAS a tripod until I read the package! --very handy. you have sufficient close-up capacity on your digital camera? (see Digitals)... or if you'ree using a 35-mm SLR, are you using a macro lens?
...Actually, lots of people just lay their items (even 3-D ones) on the window of their scanner, sometimes putting a box or something else over the back of the whole thing, then scan away! Those work very well, surprisingly, and are very sharp (see Scanners below). photoediting software, there is a Sharpen command that might help some, but I usually increase the Contrast for sharpness... no amount of those will help for really fuzzy images though! Diane B.

For any photography, photos will generally look better without flash
.... flash gives a harsh, flat effect ....unless it's "bounced" or shot though a translucent surface or more than one is used by someone who really knows what they're doing! cameras have an advantage here because they need much less light than film cameras to take a photo (just suppress the flash function for each shot, or at least put a tissue over the flash
....for the most flattering and dimensional shots, try to use either available light or a light box, etc. (with either digital or film camera)

"good shadows" produce a soft edge and give a 3-D effect
...bad shadows cause harsh edges, leave your image looking flat, and distract from your object. creativepro

There are diff. looks (and backgrounds) for different kinds of shots. . .particularly in books:
..."glamour shots" are the photos that show the end result of a project (instructions usually follow)...using props (other objects, fancy textures, etc.) is appropriate for glamour shots or for advertising photos, but it's not recommended for jury or book gallery photos ....also the purpose of that photo is very different from that of a gallery or jury photo; it's part of the how-to section (all of which we did with white, blue or gray backgrounds). . . Irene

As for correct exposure and correct color rendition, I sometimes cheat :-) and use my "18% gray card" under the object while photographing (purchase one at good camera shops). Then the camera automatically selects the correct exposure. . . Diane B.
........Amy's set up for shooting a suspended necklace using a gray card (this background will look graduated because of lighting that falls off with distance)

straight-down shot of an item (necklace) lying on a horizontal surface... item not suspended
....Amy's camera is held above the work on a tripod so that it will shoot straight down onto a table top (like using a copy stand)... the tripod legs must be almost closed to make it as close to 90 degrees to the table as possible, and the work as close to the edge as possible.

invisible ways to prop or hang earrings or other small items so they can be photographed as if floating
... one way is to suspend the item from a horizontal wire, then erase the wire with a photoediting program
... the other way is to prop from underneath the visible surface . . .Amy bends a wire into a spiral, leaving a tail which is bent 90 degrees; she then bends the spiral perpendicular to the tail, and hammers both parts of the wire flat . . . the tail is stuck through a tiny hole in the paper from the underside and attached to the earring back with poster tack, and the spiral then lies against the underside of the paper surface (prob. attached with more poster tack or tape) and will be unseen from the top
.....Amy's photo of shooting a suspended necklace using a gray card (looks graduated)

I used to do a bit of photography (Before-Child) and have played around with a lot of different things, including special effects and trick photography. So I know a little about a lot of areas, but unfortunately can't guarantee that everything will be completely accurate--however, there may be tips that some people might want to hear about, so here goes. (Another warning is that some cameras have changed in the last ten years, and I'm going mostly on what I know now.)
. . . I (used to) take all my own shots with a SLR, a macro lens, and natural light, and people often ask me where I get them "done," so they can pass pretty well (now I'm using a digital camera too). If you have a reasonably good sense of composition, you should be able to do at least some of your photography yourself (especially the smaller items --larger ones do get into more complicated setup and lighting.)
...If you don't have photo editing software, using film cameras rather than digital cameras requires more attention to exact lighting, backdrop, composition, and exposure, because problems can't be easily corrected after the shot is taken. On the other hand, photoediting software can only go so far in correcting some things like unsharp or very underexposed photos. DB

It's important to think of our photos as works of art just as we think of our pieces. Karen Fl

glare & flash

Flash is often way too strong when used at close range, and often "overexposes" things. Kim K.'s best if you can use extra light from elsewhere and not use flash at all, that will give the best shot
........this is easier with a digital camera because they require less light... or for a film camera, get more light or use a tripod + longer exposure)

Using a flash does several things to the photographed objects:
...Flash tends to make an object look flatter, because it eliminates any shadows on the front surface of an item
......if the item is lit by light coming from the side rather than straight on (best from 2 sides actually), slight shadows will result in the crevices of textured or dimensional objects and allow the object to look more 3-dimensional and the texture or details to show up
...Also, flash generally creates areas of glare or hot spots on areas which are smooth or shiny (reflective) on the front surface of an item

Does anyone know if there's a simple trick to photographing objects with reflective surfaces? Desiree flash would be my first suggestion
....cover your flash with a piece of 'tissue' (ie-Kleenex, Puffs, off brand...or T.P.(LOL)... I have a piece that covers just the actual part that 'flashes'...I just taped it on with office tape... I cuts down on the glare and also gives you a softer light! (I learned this trick from a professional photographer) ....I think that it helps to prevent that awful red eye too! Kim K.

tent your item with a material which will diffuse the light coming from the flash
... tent a sheet of tissue paper over your piece - it keeps out the hard-edged light reflections but doesn't cut down the amount of light that's actually hitting the piece.... smooths out the lighting to make it less directional.
... my favorite secret for overall lighting. ...a white sheet draped over your piece...will diffuse the light and you will have no glare. Kim K

( light boxes of all kinds and sizes can help in avoiding glare and hot spots, and some are fairly simple to make... see much more on those below in Light Boxes)

If you have a light source, either natural or artificial, shining on your shiny object you are going to get a "picture of that light" bouncing off of your glossy surface.
.... You need to illuminate your object with even, (and) reflected light. (Think of the photographers that you've seen with the big white umbrellas BEHIND them.)
.... I would recommend that you place your object on a medium-to-dark background, and that you stand with your back toward a white-or-light-colored wall (to increase the *overall* illumination)
.... make sure that no lights are shining directly on your object.
....If more light is necessary, shine it onto the white wall BEHIND you, and allow it to reflect onto the item you're photographing. (Check for your shadow and move if necessary.) could also reflect additional light with white posterboard sitting to the sides, but angled toward the front of your piece. Linda M.

The best way to photograph your objects of course is to do it before putting the final finish on, whether it's a glaze or buffing.

There is a dulling spray made by Krylon that will work. It's a little gunky and isn't permanent, so don't handle the object much, but it gets rid of those "hotspots" that a high gloss has..
.... A cheap way to achieve the same effect is to pop your object in the freezer for a few minutes. When you remove it, a thin layer of condensation forms and dulls the surface slightly (this effect is short lived, but can be repeated indefinitely).

you can (bounce the light from your flash) point your flash towards the ceiling or towards a piece of white board, it will eliminate the hotspot as well. Jacqueline

if you have, or can borrow, a "polarizing" filter (its job is to reduce glare and increase definition), use that over your lens, rotated to the position which decreases the glare the most
....(If you're borrowing one that doesn't exactly fit your lens, hold it to your lens while camera is on a tripod, have someone else hold it, or hold it on temporarily with Blue Tac --be sure to take these shapes into consideration when framing the item in your camera!) a desperate measure, you might try using polarizing sunglasses, or the flip-up type, though your resolution probably wouldn't be as great). Diane B.

If there are reflective surfaces on your subject, try to have your back to something dark (or not, if you want to intentionally highlight the reflection) --sometimes I try to hold an open black umbrella over my shoulder, but that can be a little tricky. Diane B.

There are also plastic(?) sheets which come in some frames for photographs which are anti-glare, I think.
....It may be possible to put that sheet between your item and the camera, but again it may not have quite the resolution that glass would have (is there perhaps anti-glare glass? ...ask at a framing shop.) Diane B.
....Jean says using anti-glare glass gave her photos a weird color, but could be corrected with a photoeditor??

You can reduce some of the glare in photoediting software, but sometimes it's hard to do because it's just a washed out area
....... start with lowering the gamma and contrast, I would think... though it might tend to degrade the image overall. Elizabeth
....many photoediting software programs have a "cloning" tool (or a clone stamp) that makes that easier. Jacqueline
........(the cloing tool allows you to copy a section of your photo, say beside the glare spot... then paste it over another area of the image, in this case the bare spot caused by the glare)


Possible SET UPS for Film or Digital Cameras


Wonderful shots can be made outdoors
...preferably on a slightly overcast day (deep overcast may not be good), or under a tree in the shade, etc., if the sun is out ...there's always more light outside than inside, whether the sun's out or not!
...the area should be well lit though --very late in the afternoon isn't usually as good
.. but
watch out for dappled sunlight.... you want the light to be as even as possible.
...there will still be some directionality to the light, so turn your item (or the item on a TV tray/table) around until the brightest light falls either on the front or slightly to either side of your item, simulating sun in the sky at any time but high noon. ...having the light hit from slightly to one side will increase the contrast and 3-D-ness of any texture and shape you may have.
...use a table or the ground for your item can use some sort of backdrop or not
.......if you use one, the farther away from the background your item is, the less that background will be in focus and distract from your item, leaving your item to be the star.
.......the background shouldn't be busy, of course, or textured, because that will often distract too ....a nice dark green hedge or shrub can work (not too close though).
f you need to bring in an actual backdrop, a piece of unwrinkled. fabric or art paper is good... if whatever you use will bend, place either of these in a curved L shape so that part of it is under and part of it is behind the item.... or if you have only a stiff background to use, you can place one under and one behind, and it's not usually too distracting
....or you can suspend your item and shoot it vertically (and not show what you're suspending it from)... or possibly lay flat it on a non-glare sheet glass or plastic so it will be held away from the background
...If you have a photoediting program, you can do wonders with most any photo that isn't actually blurrry or really far away. Diane B.

If there isn't enough light in the shade, I take it into bright sunlight and tent (the item or the box?) with a piece of thin white material such as a handkerchief. Kim2

(natural-ight light box).... I have a white box with one side and the top removed
...I put the item inside the box... then I reflect as much light inside the box as I can (having a friend helps here... have them hold a piece of white poster board so that it reflects the sun back on to the item). Kim 2

Julie B. shooting her items on fabric/blankets, etc. on the ground outdoors
...note also in the photos she took this way that there is a deep shadow on one side of each item... could place a reflector of some kind on the shadow side (anything white with its flat surface pointing toward items) to tone those down (keep clicking > arrows till get to last photo)

Another way to photograph is to use a screen in direct sun
...I place the clay object on the hood of my car, and then I put a screen between the object and the sun.
.... screen is just a piece of frosted white shower curtain liner that I've stapled to a cheap wooden frame, 16x20 (or 20x24)
...If necessary, I also bounce light into the shadow side with a large piece of white or lite board/paper. syndee

Get (yourself and your object) under a white sheet. can do this outside in the full sun and it works great.
....If you need something to keep it off of you, drape it over a chair. Kim K.

No matter what you use, make sure that the background you see through the lens is reasonably consistent in texture, and more neutral than your subject (e.g., bushes can be nice, but you don't want part of a bush or something else that contrasts competing for attention with your subject).

If there are reflective surfaces on your subject, try to have your back to something dark (or not, if you want to highlight the reflection) --sometimes I try to hold an dark umbrella over my shoulder, but that can be a little tricky (also see above in Glare & Flash)

If you have dark areas or shadows you don't want... you can shine a diffused light from whaatever angle lightens them
.... or you can redirect the existing light into any dark areas on the item with objecst that act as reflectors (white cardboard pieces or boxes --or white paper can be taped to these--the whiter the better)
... these can be held at different angles by various kinds of propping, using an open pizza box or book, or clipping to a clothespin-and-bendable-wire-in-a-stand thingie, etc.

To keep the best overall focus, any set-up will work which keeps the front of your camera body exactly parallel to the front suface of the item you want to photograph.

Using a tripod can be very helpful, especially if you're shooting something small, or you don't have as much light as you'd like
....(if you don't have a tripod, you can use a stool/TV table plus a stack of books, or anything else flat).
ost people can hand-hold a shot of 1/60th of a second with a film camera , but getting closer than 3-4 feet from the subject or not having a lot of light falling on the subject can result in a fuzzy or a too dark image.
The solution for this is to have the camera absolutely still while shooting so that it can leave the lens open as long as necessary to get enough light without moving at all. You can also use your body as a tripod by bracing your body or your arms against a stool, tree, table, or your own knees. Breathe all the way out, hold it, then squeeze the button --don't punch it. Even better, use the timer on your camera, or a cable release.

You may be able to buy one kind of small tabletop tripod for only ~$ looks like just a black rod in the bubble pack, but I think its feet telescope out at the bottom end.

camera stands (you can buy one for $$$, or there may be some tripods with heads which can rotate 90º and also telescope out far enough not to see their own legs
... you could also put a stack of video tapes or books between the legs of the tipod to elevate the item, possibly avoiding the legs problem)
...or make a light box, or use outdoor light (see below for more)

Whether you're using a tripod or stack of books, etc., also try to use the self-timer if your camera has one. That will prevent any additional shake from pressing down on the shutter release button.
... Adding more light will often help the photo, but won't reduce shake problem (think of binoculars and how hard they are to hold steady). Diane B.

If you're going to photograph a number of things over time, you may want to set up something more semi-permanent.

For digital shots indoors, I sometimes I simply set the object up on my kitchen counter, with background paper under and behind it, then use my elbows on the counter as a tripod. I have natural light coming in from skylights, but reflectors (white paper, etc.) can be used if necessary. DB

Here are a few more cheap, quick and dirty possibilities:
1. sit camera on a stack of books or videotapes, and blue-tac the item onto a flat vertical surface (or sit on a tiny shelf there)..... could use a neutral-colored piece of paper glued onto the vertical surface for background
2. camera on a *tilted* stack of books; item laid on a same-tilt-angle piece of cardboard, etc.
3. camera on books; place the shorter of two boxes just in front of the taller one and drape all with non-reflective cloth (or curved paper); stand items on short box alone or lean against back box. DB

(see much more on lightboxes and backgrounds, see below)

esp. near a door or window

I use the floor just inside my sliding glass door
.... I sit the item on an 18% gray card (see below) or other neutral background, facing up (propping inconspicuously if nec.)
.... then use two tall, flat boxes (could use pizza boxes) covered with a sheet of white paper, as reflectors to shine the door's light back into the shadows on the object to be photographed. .....I either stand them together like a V, opening toward the door (with the object in-between), or lean them in, if possible, in a V or somehow against the legs of the tripod. . .in a hurry I just wing it without a tripod though
I'll try that, so if the items are on the floor, you are practically hovering over it when you take the shots? Do you just make sure that your shadow doesn't overcast the item?
...Yes, I am *really* hovering over the item when I'm taking the photo, trying to keep the camera as level and still as possible (looking straight down on the object usually works okay --exhale first though, and don't breathe while clicking).
....There is no shadow to worry about from my body because the light is shining in the doors *toward* me.
....When I do have a bunch of photos to take, I usually use my "camera stand" (which holds my camera on an arm exactly parallel to the floor) ...that adds total stability and is easier on the back for long sessions!
...I put a few photos of this setup and results on my Photopoint site (see link above--gone) (DB... add again)
.....So, the first photo is of my setup by the sliding glass doors (can't have direct sunlight or patches of sunlight shining through the door though).
.... You can see that I have two flat mailing boxes (or you could use pizza boxes with white paper taped on them) flanking the shadow side of the item to be photographed; the boxes can be tipped forward a bit for the best light reflection.
I just want to take one or two quick photos, I handhold the camera against my knees, hanging over the item (focus well, breathe all the way out, and sque-e-eze the shutter. I can handhold a SLR fine down to about 1/30 of a second, even with a macro lens, but doing that with a digital is harder because they're so lightweight (the focus will be affected both any movement and any variation in the optimal distance from camera to item).
....The other two shots are parts of a lesson I did once on making pop-up figures with polymer heads, for a kids class. They lost some definition in the transition, but you get the general idea. Hope this explains a bit better.
...You can use this same set up with standing objects, but you'll need the backdrop to extend up behind the object --adjust the reflectors as necessary.

Best to use a cable release or the camera's timer if using a very slow exposure with a tripod, due to lack of sufficient light.

You can use a table beside a window tooo --but again, no direct sunlight.

This can work really well for slides and other objects which won't be manipulated with photo-editing software, since the light is natural light and doesn't have to be compensated for.


There are different kinds of ways to shoot with artificial light .... some are more complicated than others.

Types of light & bulbs
(fluorescent, incandescent-halogen, Ott-lites, special bulbs, photofloods, etc.)

incandescent bulbs and halogen bulbs (which are also incandescent, but not usually referred to that way) both use a small heated filament to create light (filament is straight in a halogen and looped in an incandescent (also looped in the halogen"spotlights" used indoors?)
...halogens have a truer color (daylight, "full spectrum") than ordinary incandescent bulbs (like the ones in your lamps) because they can burn hotter, creating a higher "color temperature"...but they also create more heat in the surrounding area
...some halogens have a long life, some less long (like the indoor spotlights)
...portable quartz halogen 'work lamps' are now available at hardware stores for $15-35 dollars, and can be very good for open rooms (some may be too bright for light boxes tho)

fluorescent bulbs, including Ott lights & other compact fluorescent lights (CLF's) &, I think, Verilux, etc.? bulbs of various types, use a ionized gas (in a larger area)
...they can create different "colors" of light depending on the phosphors used
.....common fluorescents are usually greenish, but more expensive ones can be a truer "daylight" color
.....Ott lights usually have a true "daylight" color, and also show details well
.. they produce less heat because of the larger area of the gas and of the bulb, and waste less heat/energy
...they both come in portable units, or in not so portable ones
...they last a long time

special photoflood bulbs used to be used by photographers with film cameras (before digital camers) when taking photos indoors... the bulbs were used in special units with reflectors, often on stands
...photofloods are tungsten (incandescent), or these days more often tungsten-halogen
...they may be used with either daylight film or tungsten film, but may require a filter over the light or the lens to correct the light given off by the bulb depending on its "temperature" and which film is used
... the bulbs and stands for the reflectors and sockets can be expensive
(floodlight = diffused light... spotlight = concentrated beam of light)

Ott-lites (fluorescent)

NOTE: Ott Lights come in at least 2 versions... Natural Light .and True Color ...both are "full spectrum" lights, but. . .
.......the newer True Color line has somewhat truer color as measured by CRI (color rendering index) (95 out of 100) than the older Natural Light line (those are found at stores like Office Depot) (84 out of 100).
.......True Color has also redesigned reflectors to enhance color-matching
... (same problem?)
Be aware that not all Ott-lites have (come with?) colour correcting bulbs.... A friend got me an ott-lite at Office depot at a bargain price ($45 Canadian) last year. I tried it out but kept thinking colours didn't look any better, in fact they looked blue. Turned out this lamp had a (different) version of fluorescent bulb - to get the colour correcting bulb was another $40. Yikes. Liz

Best prices are a Staples or Office Depot. Trina (but they're not the newer True Color?)
...sometimes there are sales to
...I bought an Ott Lamp from Home Depot for @ $30... but it doesn't have a top handle. Since I carry mine to and from classes & Clay Days in my rolling workshop, no handle isn't a problem. I made a drawstring bag out of some scrap quilted cotton so protect it in transit. Karen S
I don't know if any other utility companies are doing this, but I got my Ott light for $25 through a catalog put out by our local electric company
... you can use your sales coupons from JoAnn (i.e. 40% or 50% off regular price) to purchase this light, even though it may be currently on sale. Debbie
I have three, well two now, Ott Lights. One just stopped working and I sent it back to the factory as it was under warranty. They claimed never to have gotten it, although I had a delivery confirmation. They also did nothing about replacing it--- I think it is a great light, but I think that they are a "really cheap-o" company to deal with. I got the lights from a rep at ACCI and he made many deals (and at different prices) to different people.
...Dec 2002: I purchased the new graphite-colored (dark grey) floor model, and after 3 uses it quit working completely (the bulb was fine). I returned it. . . the service desk person told me that they have had a *LOT* of people returning the graphite model for that reason, and that it was a huge loss for the chain. ....She also hinted that they might stop accepting them back as returns in the near future, and make the customer deal directly with the mfg.
..... I then got the older, light grey model instead and it's been working great so far.. Debbie

Ott-lites: .... (freestanding flip-open light ... and clampable, flexible light)

Ott-lite bulbs ?
...Save yourself some bucks here since the Ott lamp's secret is in the bulb not the fixture (maybe not true though).
.......If you have a fluorescent desk lamp that uses a standard 13 fluorescent bulb, just buy the replacement bulb for $9 or so and switch it out.
....... Office Depot has the 13 watt replacement Ott-lite bulbs for 8.99. We bought one and it fit in my swing-arm florescent lamp I got on sale at Staples for 14.99 also 13 watt. The cheapest Ott-lite I could find was 39.99. Christine
...HOWEVER.... putting an Ott bulb into a regular fluorescent light fixture isn't the same as using an Ott bulb in an Ott-Lite fixture, I've read, because of the (reflective?) finish inside the Ott-Lite.... It's probably the next best thing though. Randi
.....It may also be that using an Ott bulb that way won't give as bright a light, or give as long a life though.

How much less like "daylight" are the fluorescent Ott lights than halogens?
....I don't know exactly but I just took two photos of a dragon with the Ott Light and then my halogen work light and the Ott Light gave me a truer color. Also there seems to be fewer shadows with the Ott light but that might be because you can position the light right over the piece.
Also, being florescent, the Ott Light is much cooler. I have a feeling that when it gets into the heat of summer, the halogen light is going off and I will use my Ott Light more. I like the halogen light most of the time because it is in a swing lamp and it lights up a bigger area of the table, but that advantage will decrease rapidly when it gets really hot and humid<VBG Kat

Other bulbs

Verilux bulbs - ("full spectrum natural light")... fairly expensive bulbs
.....fluorescent bulbs of various types made to fit in both fluorescent and regular incandescent fixtures
.... I bought mine at Menards - don't know if Lowe's or Home Depot might carry them and they are available on some web sites.
.........the 24" fluorescent bulb cost me $4.99 and they are just wonderful - I couldn't believe the difference, it was just amazing. Two fit in the desk lamp I already had - so for $10 I got great light without buying a special lamp.
....(Ordinary incandescent bulbs) "are very rich in the color yellow, and cause the other colors in the spectrum to appear dull. Verilux shows colors accurately and increases the contrast between black and white, while reducing glare, eyestrain and fatigue." Terri C.

...And I think there's one called "TruSun." My workshop has several ballasts (fluorescent fixtures) with Verilux bulbs in them. caneguru

Reveal light bulbs by GE... filters out the intense yellow in incandescent lite. I got some and put them in my hobby room and WOW what a difference. nitefalcon
...I was disappointed because my Reveal bulb lasted only MAYBE 600 hours or less (though the package says 750 hours)
...And at the higher cost per bulb, that can add up to an awful lot of extra money. (the Ott light bulbs I have in the lamps at my work area have already lasted a lot more than four times as long as the reveal bulbs did, and they still don't show signs of needing changing.) Kimba
...I like the Reveal bulbs much better than the Verilux....the Verilux bulb was very expensive too. Libby
...I have some GE Reveal bulbs that I use around my clay area. I will never go back to using a regular bulb in my work area again..... I do have an ott light that I use right over the area I do most of my work, and you know, I don't know that I can tell the difference between them. kellie
....Maybe GE sells a different product in Canada...mine are called Enrich and they say that the two bulbs will last 750 hours...... I use them at craft shows and in the room where I work. I think they're awesome! Michelle

Blues Buster bulbs (full spectrum light, achieved by using a special blue-ish? glass which removes the yellow and brownish spectrum colors) incandescent with special glass as filter, or fluorescnet?
.... for my playroom... I have two 100 watt bulbs in the ceiling and two lamps with 60 watt bulbs on my work table. ///Nice difference in the light, and since I use my work table for lots of photographs, it's good for the pictures, too.

These "Blues Buster" and Verilux and a couple of other brands of color-corrected bulbs re available in Lowe's, Home Depot, some grocery stores and Bed, Bath and Beyond that I know of. Probably other places, too. . Elizabeth

I use my multiple lights.... a portable Ott light, an old lamp with a GE Reveal bulb, and another old lamp with a Verilux bulb. The color in the pictures is much better than it was before. Michelle

Halogen bulbs & lights (incandescent)

Halogen lights are very similar to daylight. . . how are they different from Otts?
....halogen lights are incandescent (they use a filament, and are hotter), where Ott lights are fluorescent (and use ionized gas, and are cooler)
....... both can create a daylight color though
...I don't know exactly but I just took two photos of a dragon with the Ott Light and then my halogen work light and the Ott Light gave me a truer color. Also there seems to be fewer shadows with the Ott light but that might be because you can position the light right over the piece.
...Also, being florescent, the Ott Light is much cooler. I have a feeling that when it gets into the heat of summer, the halogen light is going off and I will use my Ott Light more. I like the halogen light most of the time because it is in a swing lamp and it lights up a bigger area of the table but that advantage will decrease rapidly when it gets really hot and humid. Kat

Whole Room lighting

portable quartz halogen 'work lights' are now available at hardware stores for $15-35 dollars, and can be very good for open rooms (may be too bright for light boxes though)

*Leigh’s foldable set up for digital photography (illustrated). .(takes bright clear photos)
--tri-fold foam coard board, cut in half horizontally; hinges reinforced with clear tape
--black knit fabric clipped to top of center board (wider than center panel, and pleated in center to allow for draping at bottom); back of white synthetic leather clipped on top of black fabric for second option
--2 velvet "jewelry boxes" under the fabric on the work surface (on one side, next to pleat); offset-stacked to allow for different levels to place polymer on; fabric draped around boxes
--Video Light on mini-tripod (to counteract incandescent lighting) a few inches from a large sheet of tracing paper suspended in front of it as a diffuser
--she also uses a gooseneck lamp to shine on the closest side panel (to offset the video light) & sometimes other pieces of foamcore for light reflection
You need a NON-Reflective cloth or paper as a background! …And I have a "video" light that I use as a flood lite, with a piece of tracing paper as a filter!!! Leigh

I set up with the Ott light (instead of the video light). . . The set up was working, but I had alot of shadows from the ott light, so someone lent me a second ott light
... ... if you take a look at the set up, it's like a three sectioned screen that fits on the table... I had one ottlight on one side and one on the other side,
... I Kept the camera settings pretty neutral, since hubby says it's easier to lighten a photo than to try to darken a glare!!! This really worked!!!
…Another advantage, I didn't have to use anything for a filter!!! Not much in the way of glare off the lights, only on very very shiny things, and then I just used a piece of parchment held in my hand to break the glare!!! ...

When I need to photograph my work, I use an old lamp with a GE Reveal bulb (incandescent), plus my portable OTT light (full spectrum fluorescent) and another old lamp with a Verilux bulb ... the color in the pictures is much better.
.....BTW I like the Reveal bulbs much better than the Verilux, which was very expensive too. Libby

I have a photo area made from white foamboard, which is covered with fine white silk (for a backdrop)
...and I have two 3-light floor lamps with 100w Reveal bulbs, and 2 one-light floor lamps with 200w in each
....(I turn off the flash of course)
... set the exposure to +1 (to lighten the photo), set the distance to closeup, and the sharpness to the sharpest setting ...and set the lighting selection to "tungusten" (indoor artificial light)...for some shots I also use a 7x (zoom) lens.
...I almost always ned to increasing the lighting in my photoediting software as well after I take the photo. dixie


Light Boxes (light tents, etc.)

These give soft and even lighting (no hard shadows and little glare) to the item being photographed
.... the light is reflected all around the item.... and also can be diffused by shining the lights through a translucent material
(light boxes usually make very good photographs)

good introductory material by Stephen Dow to the gen.concept of using light boxes... plus lessons on making several (2 pages)
...(see also some websites above in "General Information" near top of page well as also other places on this page; to find those, use ctrl + f keyboard command with the phrase light box)

types of light boxes, and making them

Light box set ups can be:
...any size (small to large -- most items photographed this way are reasonably small)
...complicated or simple to construct
...portable to much less portable
...made from many materials --"hard" or "soft" (stiff materials like cardboard, translucent plastic sheets, white foam, etc., vs. woven, drapable materials such as tissue paper, bed linens, etc.)... and translucent or opaque (lights will be on outside of box if using translucent sides)
...used with various types of light sources, usually one on each side
.......for digital cameras, regular incandescent lights or halogen lights (Ott lights, e.g.) can be person used sunlight on a bright day
.......for film cameras, special bulbs, special film or special filters for the camera will be needed to compensate for the yellowness if incandescent lighting is used
...used with diffusing material placed over the whole box set up...or over (or held in front of) the lights
(...used with cameras which have a close-up function, or sufficient zoom to "fill the frame:" with the item)

Light boxes also allow one to take photos in the late afternoon or at night, or when it's rainy or heavily overcast outside.

(see more good introductory explanations about lightboxes just above, at the link for


creativepro's Fast-and-Cheap set up... (tissues + tape + tripod + paper ... or pillowcase)
...put camera on a tripod (on floor?), camera pointing down item on white sheet of paper (neutral background & minimize reflections) on a tabletop (as close as possible to top of tripod's legs?)
...position camera over the object on table ...tape tissues to camera so they fall down around the item to sheet of paper light on tabletop and shine at tissue (toward tripod)
.......(must be able to focus fairly close with your camera, because of tissue length)
...or, use a white pillowcase or white fabric (for longer length and more even diffusion) (middle of pg)

a plastic translucent milk jug (gallon) with the bottom cut out, and the top (hole) enlarged for the camera lens for a small item (especially jewelry which may have reflective areas) is recommended by PhotoCourse
... position the bottle over the subject, and shine a pair of floodlights on the outside of it... the light inside the bottle will be diffused by the translucent sides of the bottle
gallon-size translucent plastic jug for water (deadzoom says milk containers are "too white"-opaque)
... the bottom of the jug has been removed, and 2" circle around the neck (or large enough to accomodate the camera's lens area or barrel is over the hole on top of jug... and self-timer is used to avoid movement's flash was used (see warnings about using flash above in Glare and Flash though)
...OR, a portable contractor's halogen light is used on the outside, shining through the jug walls to the item

I found a translucent white plastic salad bowl ( about 11" diameter)
.... I cut out a circle in the flat bottom of the bowl using a dremel attachment. I place a piece of soft gray card stock on my desktop for a background, place the item to be photographed in the center of the cardstock and then invert the bowl over the bead. I played with the position of the Ott light (halogen) outside the bowl , placed my camera over the hole and snapped the picture. This has been working really well in that it eliminates so much glare...... not all my photo's are perfect...but I do believe they are a lot better than taking them 'bare naked'... studioschiek

You can purchase a Cloud Dome light box (actually an upturned bowl shape)...could use translucent white bowl (see below)?
...the Cloud Dome is fine, but it makes for a very "flat" look to the photos (too diffused ...but could move light more to side). nf

Marty's light-box set up in a rubbery- plastic container (translucent)
Here's the best I can figure out from photo at that web page:
--translucent box lying on one of its long sides (now consider this to be the correct orientation)
--white translucent paper taped inside box (bottom, back and a little on top) --bead puttied onto white paper at an angle (so camera is higher than bead, pointed downish, but almost straight on angle-wise)
--(2?) white boards for bounced light placed to reduce *most* of bottom shadow, but not all (in front of box = half height of box, & also somewhere else?)
--large drafting lamp pointed at bead from above and in front of box-and-object (so that the light falls between the box front and the front reflector?

creativepro's various translucent, plastic, sort of cylindrical or rounded items ...cut & used horizontally
.... paint can liner (from hardware store) .....or plastic garbage cans.... or clear storage containers
(each item can be cut lengthwise, so that the remaining part will sit flat on a tabletop (like a Quonset hut)... he's left the top part of the paint liner intact (and handing off the table, presumably because that area is thicker and harder to cut)
....the curved top creates a seamless environment (almost bottom of page)

set up for lights (around the cylindrical plastic garbage can or paint can liner, just above
... (would be similar for other light boxes)
... 2 lights (100-watt incandescent bulbs in reflectors from hardware store), clamped onto chair backs, on outside of shade facing opposite sides of the light box, but placed at different heights to vary the angles from each light and "encourage soft shadows"

I use a large lamp shade (14" and square) with a white linen texture, and place it on a table (wide side down?)
.....I cut a mat board to fit on the small side of the shade (facing up?), with a hole large enough for my digital camera to peek through (3x3")
.....then just put lights around the outside of the shade
.....I put a photo-grey square underneath the shade (on the table) to use as a background, with the art work on top of it....voiila!!! Great shots with no shadow!!! And I can change the work quickly and easily. Kathndolls
..similar set up (with the camera on a tripod) ... Connie shapes some double-thickness white paperinto a cone-shaped "shade", which barely rests over a disk (covered with photo-gray paper... on which rests the item... the camera is positioned on a tripod upside down (the center rod has been removed and put back in from the bottom side of the tripod... not all tripods will do this though; some may have a lip or wider area to prevent the rod's removal)
....... the disk-and-shade sit on top of a plastic (paint or laundry) bucket to raise them up
....... she uses 3 ordinary lights (for digital photography anyway) placed outside the paper cone, which shine through it diffusing the light

..creativepro's similar set up with medium-size white lampshade + tissues + tripod
.....lampshade (small side up) is fitted down onto a tripod (legs out a bit).... camera is attached to tripod, then pointed down
.....item is placed on table (near edge, on a sheet of white paper)
....tripod is pushed up to the edge of the table, so that the lampshade surrounds the item
....tissues taped to camera, falling around lampshade, to reflect back any light escaping around camera (bottom of page)


someone had converted a huge Tupperware-type (translucent?) bowl into a light-box, too, cutting holes in the bottom .... one hole for straight-on shots, and one about 30 degrees down from the bottom of the bowl for more of an angle

lizboid's 90 qt. translucent plastic container, using a gooseneck lamp + 2 Ott lights (one to each side)... sheet of vellum over each light as a diffuser

a soft box is inexpensive and easy to make using PVC pipe (& PVC connectors made into a cube shape)
….I drape a white sheet over it, set up a background, adjust the lights, and then shoot with a closeup lense. Works great, right on the dining table! Dotty McMillan
....I use a shower curtain (white or frosted) which is can also be draped. Trina
....Dale Lynn's lesson on making a light box from PVC pipe, frosted and/or nubbly plastic panels, and (rubber-tipped) clips;
.....his lighting is from two "trouble light" units (have clamps on them) with ceramic sockets which can handle up to 300 watts
.... they are clamped onto the backs of two chairs immediately beside the box walls . . . discusses light color and temp. too
...Mine is a very inexpensive way to do it, and the box can be different sizes depending on the length of pipe.
.......The pipes for my PVC box are 24" long, plus I made 2 pipes at 12" long so I could take pics of smaller pieces and not have such a deep "box"...... I taped a piece of mat board on the back and use another piece, or some fabric, on the table.
.......I usually tape necklace chains on the PVC pipe to photograph.
.......When photographing inside, I use a light above and one on each side. The light goes through the sheet (over the box?) to diffuse the light. Judi
...Bill's lesson on making a light box with PVC pipe, and curve-draping a background fabric from the back +
....Daphne's PVC light box (at PCP yahoogroups photo files); she's hung her pendant from the two top pieces so it's free-swinging (don't know why she has the colored papers on the sides) (oh, and the cat found the hidey hole irresistible!) ( on Daphne)

creativepro's box "skeleton" + pillowcase + garbage bag
cut out (most of) each side of a tall box on it's 4 upright sides, leaving just enough to allow it to stand easily
...cover 3 of the 4 empty sides with white pillowcases (hold with duct tape)
...apply white paper to all exposed surfaces on the inside of the box (for seamless background and only-white reflected light)
...cover the remaining side front of the box with white plastic garbage bag (& tape)
...mount camera on tripod at height you'll want... then cut opening slot in bag for camera lens to fit through (2/3 down pg... A More Flexible SetUp)

Amy O'Connell's set up for an adjustable light box, using wood and foam-core ceiling board, etc, with 3 photoflood bulbs, and translucent plastic sheets clipped in front of the lamps

lesson on making a box using 5 sheets of foam core board (from art store, etc.) taped together, with large notches to allow clamp-on lights to get closer to the subject

Steve S's enclosure set ups... one with various (disc) diffuser screens, etc.

can purchase an EZ Cube --collapsible light box

large cardboard box + piece of white fabric
--cut the top and front out of the box.
.....then tut the two sides on a curve from the top of the back, to the front of the bottom. The curve is arched (in)to the bottom back. The remainder is left only to support the back in an upright position.
--Drape the cloth into the box so that you have a curved piece of cloth without any folds or creases. You might have to iron out some folds place in the cloth when you bought/stored it. The nice thing about this is you can have several different colors of cloth each that will augment the color of what you are potographing
......(this is refered to as a 'white way' and is what is done in comercials that do not have any floor or horizon lines)....
--Place the camera on a tripod. Place the object on the cloth.
--(Get a flood light, three are better, if you can afford it.)
--Place one light in front of but slightly off to one side and up high (simulating the sun) and shining on the object. The light must have an area that lights the entire front of the object with the same intensity.
--A second, dimmer light will be placed to the other side and down low. This light simulates sunlight reflected onto the object.
--Then place another lamp shining on the cloth behind the object. Again this light should be of a relatively consistant intensity. This helps kill harsh background shaddows and is in effect simulating the sun shining on the back ground. Lysle

one elementary school art teacher's homemade set up for holding a camera directly above items (in her case, clay objects for animation) as one would with a copy stand (the camera can be raised or lowered by moving the slats holding the camera into higher or lower openings in the gridded plastic crate on each side,.htm

*Having a friend helps with some set-ups... have them hold a piece of white poster board so that it reflects the sun back on to the item
... or figure out a way to prop, hang, clip, tape, posterboard, etc. in the right orientation

For the digital camera, I use a (light from a) lamp bounced from some white card onto my object,
. . . and I put a "daylight" bulb in the lamp - I think it makes a real difference to the colour. I still have to tweak the images afterwards, but not too much. Shelley M.

Amy's 3 lights are diffused and softened by opaque plastic sheets clipped over them

makeshift setup, which sits on my desk: (gone)
..I use 3 large, flat, jewelry cases with glass tops (one case under the item, and 2 on each side angled inward)
......(as a diffuser in each of the cases, I use that white, cotton fabric with a thin texture (light will go through it)
.....or a couple of thin white scarves, or a thin sheet, or even thin white paper (tracing paper might work?) --regular copy paper wasn't quite thin enough to get the effect I wanted
.....the sides cases are propped up with a thick piece of gray foam at the back side (could show as backdrop too) Ott lights point toward (and a little over top of) the side cases.
...with this set up, I can shoot from the front ...or straight down from the top. Jai

(outdoor)....I have just a white cardboard box, with one side and the top taken off.
...I put the item inside the box and reflect as much light back inside as I can (with sheets of white things)
.... if there isn't enough light in the shade, I take it into bright sunlight and cover with a piece of thin white material such as a handkerchief.

If you're using a flash for your lighting, cut up an old hankie and attach a small square of it over the flash which will give soft, even lighting and reduce the glare. Kim2


Backgrounds are very important!
...the background shouldn't be busy, of course, or textured, because that will often distract too.

The farther away from the background your item is, the less that background will be in focus to distract from your item.

Doo't use any background that's reflective... it will be hard to keep it from being shiny somewhere, and distracting from your item.

some things to use:
...a piece of fabric (must be unwrinkled and non-shiny though so may need to be ironed) paper, cardstock or matt board, etc. (get those in many colors are art supply stores, craft stores, etc). DB
...sometimes a paper grocery bag, flattened smooth, is the perfect low-tech bg. Kim K.
...I like a
neutral gray charcoal paper(for drawing with charcoal?)
...I also use large sheets of good handmade paper, or wallpaper...we used all those for close up shots in my book, and also used colored industrial floor mats (you see 'em at the bank, the store, the hospital....everywhere there's a mat by the door, etc. ) ....they come in dozens of colors, and have an interesting texture --black, gold, pink, green, blue....these are really good at protecting the floor from raw clay, too. Sarajane
...for photographing larger things like a room box or whole doll's house, I use the want ads as my background. Because the camera isn't focusing on the background, it will come out a nice neutral grey. Janey, in MN (only if using a camera where the lens can be opened up wide or if it's far enough away from the camera?)

Amy also uses Color-Aid gradient paper (sold at art supply stores)
...could make gradient paper in some way? ... maybe create it on a computer, print out, and use for small items

I've use some very abstract colored papers I'd made with diff. watercolors as backgrounds for non-polymer things
...they also might work well for these backgrounds, as long as the area seen in the frame is very diffused in pattern

If you have a stiff background material to use, you can place one under the object and shoot downward
... or if you have two stuff pieces of background material (especially of the same color), you can place one under the item and one behind it (though you'll see the place where they join)... I do this sometimes with my 18% gray cards (a photography supply)

If the background material you use will bend, create a continuous background by placing draping it in a curved L shape so that part of it is under and part of it is behind the item, clipping or taping if necessary
the drop shadow effect adds a lot of drama to photos. nf
for a "drop shadow" effect, Amy uses a sheet of medium grey art paper attached to the top back of the box to create a curved ramp from the bottom surface to the top of the back surface, which will create a gradient background
...get a cardboard box about the size that reams of paper come in, anda nice sheet of neutral gray charcoal paper
........cut off one of the long sides of the box ( or at least cut it at the ends so it flops down flat)
........tape the charcoal paper to the top inside edge of the OTHER long side of the box so it curls into the box. Do not crease it! can place small items, including sculptures, in the box
.........just position the box so the daylight is coming in evenly (no shadows) and your camera is facing into the box and you are set to go. can also line the ends with white reflective paper if you want to bounce the light. Sherry B.

Stiff or bendable materials can can also be hung on the wall then curved down onto a table, etc. ... or just hung flat.

...choosing the best background (contrast, etc.),
...avoiding shadows when using a flash, etc.


To get the background even farther away from the item, you can suspend the item in some way
... this will prevent shadows falling on the background around the item
....can be a dramatic, and professional-looking technique

... lay (your item) flat on a piece of frosted glass that's raised up above the background paper (and shoot downward). Amy ... there will be light coming from behind the glass as well
...Matthew's cardboard box, with glass or plexiglas... he opens up the box flaps, and cuts out one side of the box (for light source)
......then cuts both remaining opposite sides horizontally from cutout-side to back side, 9" above box bottom.... then slides his sheet of glass or plastic (which should be wider than the open box) on top of the horizontal cuts (which will act as a shelf) a diffuser, he tapes a sheet of vellum to the top of his gooseneck lamp's shade, allowing it to fall across the front of the shade... then places the light and vellumt at entrance to the open side of the box, pointing inside
.......then lays his background sheet on the bottom of the box (below the glass)... shoots from the intact side of the box (across from lighte)

... If there's a way to hang the item (earrings by their ear wires, or a pendant by its cording, e.g.), hang it on a wire or rod, etc., held between two posts
......set up lighting and background, then photograph the item from the front
......(can move the whole setup farther away from or closer to the background, as you want)
( can also tack the item to a vertical background with Blu Tac, a pin, etc., but there may be shadows)

(...for outdoor backgrounds, see above under Natural Light)
(...for backgrounds for scanners, see below in Scanners)


A short lesson in "depth-of-field," something you need to know about unless your object is flat and totally perpendicular to the lens face (less important for digital cameras?).

"depth-of-field" simply means: how much of the "field" will be in focus, front to back

the "field" being the item you are photographing, as well as all the background which will appear in the photo (from your camera to infinity). (Think of it as distance AWAY from your camera --distance left to right makes no difference in depth-of-field, only front to back.)

For instance, if you shoot a photo of a dollar bill which is completely flat and standing on its long edge, facing the lens (completely perpendicular to it), the entire bill will be in focus (because it's all in the same plane). However, if you take the same dollar and lay it flat on the table lengthwise (sort of like an arrow pointing at the camera), only part of it will be in focus (the part in, or very close to, the *plane* which the camera is focusing on). E.g., if the camera is focusing well on George's face, then he will be in focus, but the long areas in front of and behind him won't be as much in focus.

(look on these pages to see an illustration of the effects of depth-of-field:

The upshot of this is just that shooting flat or not-too-deep objects is easier than shooting "fat" or deep ones. This will be true whether you are using a macro lens, the close-up lenses/filters, or the close-up feature on your point-and-shoot. The things you can do to increase the depth-of-field (and therefore have the maximum amount of your fat object in focus) are:

--have as much light as possible on the subject
--put the camera on a tripod or stack of books (to avoid camera movement while pressing down the shutter button)
(-also helps to set your automatic timer to take the photo, OR use a cable release )
(--if feasible, rotate the object some so that the distance from its front to its back is as short as possible, as it faces the lens)
--use the smallest f-stop possible (if your camera allows you to do this)

--if you can't do these things, then at least focus on the *most important part* of your object, a face for example, if it has one. That way, it will be in focus though other parts may be slightly out of focus.

the 1/3 trick

If you want your focus to be as accurate as possible, here is a little trick. The greatest part of your object will be in focus if you set the focus one-third of the way into its depth --that's just the way the lens works. For example, if you want the dollar bill to be as much in focus as possible, set your focus one-third of the way into the length of it--between George's face and your camera--not half-way, which would intuitively seem right.
(Hope all this info is more or less correct; please post corrections if not… Diane B.

Kludgy method for taking close-ups with a camera without a built-in close-up capability

Does your camera not have a "macro" (close-up) setting? Many newer point and shoots do, but "close-up" for each may vary between 2 feet and only a couple of inches! (make sure you check before buying!). If you don't have this capability, you probably cannot get any closer than 2-4 feet from your subject (depending on your camera), unless you buy an "add on" macro lens (SLR cameras only).
There's actually one more (kludgy) option for getting close-ups on a camera that won't normally focus closer than 2-4 feet. It's a relatively inexpensive set of "close-up filters," usually 3 per set, which screw into your regular lens area --they're made in various mm lens sizes (diameters) depending on your individual camera--cost about $25? They look like thin discs of glass bordered with a metal ring. Each one has a different magnification: they're usually called a +1, +2, and +3 (or +4). If your camera doesn't have screwing threads in the lens area, these filters can simply be held in front of your camera lens as you shoot the photo (with the now-famous third hand, or use a tripod, or hold them on with Blue Tac).
The instruction sheet that comes with the filters tells you exactly how many inches from the subject your camera needs to be to have the item in focus. (If you don't have a single-lens reflex camera, you can't go by what you see for focusing partly because you're actually looking through a viewfinder, not through the lens --though you must hold the close-up lens over the camera *lens* for this to work!)
(Anyway, this is how I used to do it before I decided I liked doing close-ups and wanted a macro lens, so it does work and it is cheaper than a macro lens or new camera.)


Problems... with COLOR & with PRINTERS

(see solutions for fuzzy photos above)

1] if you print pictures to a colour printer, there is a difference in the way colours are formed and recorded by a digital camera as opposed to how the printer works. The camera film works by recording the levels of red, green and blue and combining them to form a full colour picture [this is called RGB encoding.] However, the printer uses cyan, yellow, magenta and black on the paper to make the full spectrum of colours. [this is called a CYMK image, black is called "K", and no I do not know *why* ;)] The computer software [either in the graphics program or the printer driver software] has to convert betwen the two methods of colour encoding, and you will get some differences in the colours on the screen and that on the printer. Some printer driver software and graphics programs have settings to compensate for this -sometimes called "image colour matching". How good / effective it is depends on a lot of variables [which are unique for each system] and can really only be determined by experiment.

2] digital cameras seem to be far more sensetive to the "colour temperature" of the light than film cameras (???) [although colour film sometimes also has this problem]. What looks like "white" light to humans is actually "weighted" towards certain wavelenghts of light. For instance daylight has a lot of blue light, as does a quartz-halogen lamp like you would use for video work or as a security light on a front door. A tungsten bulb (ordinary indoor houselamp bulb) has more yellow light [and some orange/red] light, as does a candle. This may well cause the colour casts you mention. Mr R? (see OTT lights too in Tools?)

As for exposure and correct color rendition, I cheat :-) and use my "18% gray card" under the object while photographing (purchase at good camera shops). Then the camera automatically selects the correct exposure. Also, if getting your photos printed retail, that particular gray should allow the printing machine to know exactly how to replicate the colors--*usually* works anyway. Diane B.

Do you have access to Linux by any chance? If you do there is a great program that is as or more powerful than photoshop and its FREEE. Its called GIMP. It has a learning curve but so does Photoshop. For most of my stuff I use either photodeluxe or the program that came with my scanner but I started playing around a bit more and GIMP is VERY powerful and can do just what i was talking about with scripts.
P.S. There are a number of free programs for Windows also that can probably do what I was talking about if Photo Deluxe can't. (calibration for your particular camera for photo editing software). You just need to look around a bit.
***The other solution would be to get a Calibration Table from your local photo store. They are produced by Kodak and I think AGFA makes one also. Bascially, the idea is that the colors you see there are what are "correct" With Photoshop and possibly corel, you should be able to save adjustment settings. You can use that with and indoor and an outdoor shot. That way you can (1) see if the colors really are off, and (2) you can use it to adjust your setting to what is "correct" and then always automatically adjust your pictures. NF

Or you can fix the problems with photo editing software (see Photo Editing Software below)

PHOTO-EDITING & photo-editing software

Functions, Advantages

The great advantage of having your image in a digital form (whether it's taken in a digital camera, or created by scanning from a printed image) is that after you have taken the picture, you can very easily improve it greatly by tweaking it with photoediting software of some kind until you get just what you want. DB

....While photoeditors are not magic (you can't really rescue an out-of-focus image, e.g., except perhaps by making it smaller), you might be surprised at how good your shots turn out with a little help from the software! Pat

..most photoeditors will also allow you to resize the image in several ways
......this is important for making the image the best format and size for the Web too (...this generally means turning the image into a "jpg" formatted image, and also "compressing" it to make it "smaller" and faster to us)

...most indoor, digital shots will need corrections for brightness (usually brighter) & contrast (usually more) well as for cropping out unwanted background, etc.

...color balance ... it's easy to compensate for allover off-colors, etc in a photoeditor, which can be caused by types of lighting present at the time of shooting (fluorescent, incandescent, etc.), color being reflected off a nearby colored wall onto the image (or different kinds of film when using film cameras), etc.

... photoeditors also allow you to completely change or otherwise have fun with a digital image by using different functions, filters, effects, colors, etc.

... you also may even be able to salvage a picture taken on a non-digital camera which would be unusable otherwise.

Where to Find Photo-Editing Functions.... free, online

There are various places online which will allow you to resize images (make file size smaller usually) and many places now which also allow all kinds of editing for photos & even special effects
.....all will take images from your computer... some will take images from the web using a URL you provide for that image or from a photo-sharing or social networking site
.....after editing, you can save them to your computer, or send to bulletin boards, etc.) are a bunch of them from a Google search:,GGLC:1969-53,GGLC:en&q=photoedit+online,GGLC:1969-53,GGLC:en&q=resize+photos+free

resize + photoedit and special effects, etc.

Some services offer highly developed editing tools at their sites (most are free to use)
. . . and some of them are also used by photosharing or social networking sites (free if you've joined that site)

stand-alone services:
...Photoshop Express
.....(photoediting + photo storage)
.....can edit photos from your computer, or from Photobucket, Facebook, Picassa
.....28 video demos of all steps and features:
.....has 5 or more "preview" photos at top of screen for many of the editing options (choose one)
......can edit photos from your computer, or from Photobucket, Flikr, Facebook, MySpace, Picassa, etc.
......overview demo (at Photobucket)¤t=fotoflexer_overview.flv
........ or (same at YouTube)
...Picnik ... not need to register, or pay for their premium service, to use... just click Let's Get Started, then Upload Photo in upper right (not
......(resizing, cropping, brightness/contrast, color saturation, sharpen, "despeckle," add text/speech bubble, special effects, sepia, add borders, frames, mix with other photos)

photo-sharing sites + social networking sites which have on-site photoeditors (sometimes one of the above):
(list not complete, or maybe even accurate)
...Photobucket (uses FotoFlexer and ???)
...Flikr (uses Picnik... see just above)
...Facebook (uses Picnik... see just above)
...Google's Picassa

resizing only

.......and this page at their site is specifically for shrinking images down to avatar size
.......(for more on creating an avatar, see Groups-Online > Message Boards > Making Avatars)
...PhotoSize ...


free photo-editors with computer or with other software you may already have

MS Word
(View > Print Layout .....Copy image to your clipboard from wherever it is)
> Paste > drag a corner handle toward center of image till size desired > offclick
(copy new image and paste somewhere else --or Print, or Save As)
... can also use other tools to Crop, Lighten-Darken, increase-decrease Contrast, or draw on with various colors, etc.

MS Paint (Start menu > Program Files > Accessories > Paint)
> File > Open > select photo by browsing your computer
> Image > Stretch-Skew > (in the Stretch box) change percent number next to Vertical & Horizontal to a smaller number (to keep the same proportions, be sure to use the same percent for horizontal as vertical)
(copy image and paste somewhere else --or Print, or Save As)

> Save As (or print, etc.)
....or select a photo by right clicking on it, then click on Open with Paint (and continue as above)

Most scanners come with photoediting software included.
...fewer bells & whistles than a stand-alone, "real" photoeditor (though still useful for doing some important things to your images)

purchased photo-editing software

I use Picture Publisher, Digital Edition more often than any other .... It has everything that I want or need, is extremely easy, and isn't very expensive (I bought mine on E-bay, new.) feature I especially like is its auto white correction....for 85% of digital scans and photographs, this one click feature balances them up perfectly (for overall off-color casts, or also for brightness?).....the remaining scans can then be easily "fixed" by a few other simple features. Dotty

From online, check out Paint Shop Pro , a shareware graphics editor with most of the same features as Adobe PhotoShop, but at about a third the cost. They offer fully functional demos you can download and try out for 30 days to see if you like it. --Pat

...Paintshop Pro is also a very good program, but I've found it is geared more for drawing and developing graphics than my Picture Publisher Digital Edition. Dotty

Adobe Photo Elements is less expensive than Adobe's full Photoshop, often used by professionals, but has a lot of capabilities in addition to the basic ones

Adobe Photoshop is the highest level choice for photo-retouching, and pretty much state-of-the-art..... but is quite expensive
.....also it
has so many features that it can actually be confusing for the beginning photo editor. Pat
Adobe has also put out PhotoShop LE (Limited Edition) which is pretty inexpensive.
....I purchased it bundled with Adobe's PageMill (web page creator) for $99 (there was a $50 rebate on top of that, too, but I thought it was a deal even without the rebate. LE does a *lot* --more than I think I'll ever need. My only gripe is that it has only one level of "undo." IreneNC
Yep, this "light" version of PhotoShop often comes bundled with Adobe's other software (PageMaker, PageMill, etc.) I got by with it for a good long while before I was able to upgrade to the full version. But it's not available by itself.
.....Adobe was bundling it's PhotoShop 5.5 with a terrific utility called ImageReady (for free) at one time, which has just the relatively few functions needed to prepare images for use on the Web. It's a great little tool, and not available by itself. Pat

free downloadable photo-editing software

free... download software:
HP Image Zone....resize photos, alter the coloring, and more
Google's Picassa

other places for photo-editing

Kinkos/etc. and office supply stores usually offer these services (fee)

Places like Walgreen's, etc., often have little stand-alone kiosks where one can edit one' own photos (fee)

More on Selecting & Using Photo-editors

The main thing with editing programs is to spend some time looking at and using all of the things it offers
.. just set up any photo, and play with it.
...Try out the gamma (color, hue) correction, and see what that does, etc.
...Then try the zoom and go way in, then use the paint or pen tool to take out or put in something (pixel by pixel).
Do this some every day until it all comes easily and you can pretty much look at a photo and know what all to do with it.
....remember that you can back step (undo) if what you do looks bad. Most programs can go back one step, while others can handle more than one. Dotty

Even the simpler photoeditors have learning curves though... might be good to get a really simple one... because most of what we'll do with our scans is only to increase the contrast and lighten-darken them.

I finally got a good photo that did not have to be edited at all! (by doing in her camera what would normally be done with a photoeditor)
....I use a Nikon Coolpix 880 digital camera (expensive camera --other digitals may not have some of these features):
....I use these settings: macro is on... the "shake setting" (BSS) is on which won't let it blur.....florescent lighting setting (I set it at FL3)... metering is set to matrix....(no flash is used ...ISO is set to auto)
.....exposure has been raised to +1.7..... More Contrast has been selected under the image adjustment menu setup was 2 Ott lites on, and all other lights in the room OFF (this way you aren't mixing "yellow" indoor lamps with white lights together in the room)'s the a close up photo straight from the camera - no editing other than cropping it before uploading it:
... this is the first photo in I've NOT had to edit (brighten,sharpen,etc) after taking the picture
....all the photos of new work on my website http://www.michelejanine are shot with no editing other than cropping to fit where I wanted them to. Jai

Drawing "Tablets" & Pens

I have a Aiptek Hyper Pen to use with my photoeditor (Adobe PhotoDeluxe) but haven't got a clue how to use them together.
....As long as your pen is set up to work in Photo Deluxe, or any other photo editing program, you shouldn't have a problem. ...You just use it like a pen, but also like a mouse. It's just much easier to use than the mouse when it comes to making changes in a photo or graphic, or whatever.
....I also have an Acecat III digital pad and pen which makes editing much easier to do, so I can I go around the image of the piece with black or white depending on which one will look the best, using the pen…Dotty



Wayne's all-you-need-to-know about scanning (searchable!)*

Quick Start Scanning Guide: For Web Images
"Putting Photographs on a Web Page,"

First you might wan to find the "sweet spot" on your particular scanner (for most scanners, that's just about dead center on the glass). do that, place a plain white sheet of paper on the face and scan (set scanner at 72 dpi) .... now look at your monitor
.......where you see shadows is NOT the place to put your item!
Cheryl H.

techniques for scanning thick (or thin) objects ...& backgrounds

If you have a scanner, you don't need a digital camera for getting a digital image of many items, even if they're 3-D. ...Scanners actually do a satisfactory job of "photographing" the closer parts of a dimensional object (and that's often all you'd be seeing in most straight-on photos as well).
..... just place your item face down on the scanner glass, and scan.

Most of the scanners I have used have scanned objects up to around 1" thick very well in focus
.....(how much of the object is in focus seems to depend on the lens inside the scanner and its depth of field rather than resolution as such, IMO).

SUMMARY...There are several options for scanning items and for creating a "background" color behind your item (depending partly on the item's size):
--leave the lid open, and get a fairly black background)
--mostly close the lid, and get a grayish background
--place a sheet of paper over the back of the item, and get a grayish background though with shadows wherever the paper curves)
... or use a colored paper (....& if you can't get shadows right, use a darker paper so they won't show)
--whenever the previous options allow a open space around he scanner lid where light can get in (or out), a black or white fabric can be draped over the entire scanner (this will keep the scanner light in, or keep the outside light out, or will reflect back any light hitting the sides that might escape)
--place a shallow box, box lid, or frame over the item to get an even-toned background (of whatever color you've used on the inside back of the box)
.....may have to play with the depth of the box (by raising it with little feet, etc.) till you get any shadow that might result the way you want, or to avoid it the same thing with a neutral colored matte board, etc., placing the board on risers of various kinds to elevate it
--drape the item with some kind of fabric or stiff fabric like a carpet square ... this can produce good results or funky ones depending on exactly how it's done, and how much you want to play with it. Diane B.

Remember when choosing a background, to keep in mind that contrast is important!!
.... so, if the item you're scanning is medium-to-dark, a pale background is good... however, if the item is light, it can get lost on a light background. Triche

many examples of items which were directly scanned in various ways can be seen at Sarajane's website... some have fabric or paper behind them, and some have been scanned with a "rectangle frame" as described below, etc.

unusual backgrounds, or just "framings" in certain areas, can be created with rocks, beans, or any objects or materials the objects and/or materials wherever you want them on the scanner bed before scanning
...can put these totally so they appear to be totally behind or partly behind the object so they'll block parts of the object in the final scan, etc.(by placing the material on top of, or partly underneath, the upsidedown object on scanner bed), or dump all around object
...use a plastic sheet protector over the scanner bed if any of these things might scratch the glass ...or could make collages too
Pamelas lesson using small rocks to surround and "frame" a photo of people at the beach,1789,HGTV_3318_4009625,00.html

You can even scan 3-D sculptures. I do all the time, by simply laying the sculpture directly on the scanner
.....the areas touching the glass are brighter, but that's the only distortion.
......... if you leave the scanner lid open, you end up with a black background. create a gray or white background instead (depending on the closeness of the paper to the glass), gently lay a large piece of white paper over the piece
....You may not always get the point of view you want, but it does work. Judith skinner told me you can do it about two years ago and I've been keeping a record ever since. Katherine Dewey

I just lift the lid off the scanner, lay my stuff down on the glass bed, and then cover the entire scanner with a large piece of black fabric (to keep outside light from washing out the image, or creating lighter areas on one side or ther other, etc.).
for some, I also put a piece of paper between the item to be scanned and the fabric if I wanted a non-black background. Jules

I just place a piece of white printer paper on top of my item, making sure no edges will be included in the scan
......then I cover the rest of the scanner bed, to contain the light .... if the lid doesn't close well, I just leave it open as long as the scanner bed is completely covered. Joanie
....parchment and handmade-looking papers seem to work well for backgrounds too. Jules

I take the (stiff) black velvet pad out from the bottom of one of my jewellery trays, and position it face down on top of the jewellery... this scans a nice deep black, and sets off the pieces very well. ....less "clean-up time", too! Sue/gar
...or make your own stiff fabric backing with fabric attached to cardstock, etc.

You can drape a white sheet or other fabric just over the piece being scanned (...also results in less clean up for the background later). Meredith
(e.g., use a white or a dark velour over the item )....and then close the lid.
....sometimes the reflection given off by the drape is just enough to get a really good shot
You may need to experiment though with the draping, to see if gently molding it around the item improves the scan
... don't use terry cloth though (...if you have to increase the size of your item later really looks awful like a bad plate of rice!) Kelly

using a box, a box lid, or risers
.....I placed an unopened package of clay on each corner of the bed
.... then I lowered the lid .....and placed a black t-shirt over the lid to keep the light out.
........(the blocks of clay keep the lid above the piece so it doesn’t rest right on it at all...then I also get fewer dark shadows around my piece.
.....I taped a pretty paper to the lid for a background. Denise
I used a stiff matte board (pale & neutral in color, for a background), which I then elevated by propping up either end of it with floppy diskettes (how many?) .
......(I try not to prop the matte board up too high because this creates more shadows.) Triche

especially for larger items.... .How did you scan the doll? I didn't know that was possible.
.... Well, I have a flatbed scanner so I just place the item on it, detach the cover ...then place the cover back on top of the item ...and scan it!! Sarajane H

It's even better though use a large box ...or make a rectangle frame
....I place a large box (white, or covered with paper) over the item (esp. for a large item like a doll)
…...the inside of the box scattters light all around (...creating a more even illumination and fewer shadows).
....or I make a rectangle frame out of 4 strips of cardboard or foamboard about 2-3" wide ... tape the edges together..... lay the doll down inside the frame
..... then I put the scanner lid or a sheet of cardstock or paper, on top of the frame to keep the light in.
.....scanning the doll this way (or any 3-D object) often gives a nicer image than photographing with a camera least with my camera and skills! Sarajane?

(using a rectangle frame or large box), the thickest piece I've scanned is the purple fairy puppet ... she's a bit dark, but not blurry!
.....beads do well with this method ...and even eggs . fact, most of the pics on the 50+ pages of my website are scans (only a few from color photocopies) & 98% were objects laid on the scanner. Sarajane H

You can save some clean up time later if you attach the pin to be scanned onto a white card (then onto the lid?). Results in less clean up later! Meredith

I actually scanned a 4x6" polymer box setting its corner directly on the scanner.
....I put a piece of neutral-colored paper on the opposite corner & held it there with my hand (kept my hand from being scanned, but allowed me to hold the box)
....then I draped a piece of fabric over the whole shebang.
...Everything on my site is directly scanned, too... so it's possible to scan 3-D items, it's just tricky. Irene

We came up with another cool way to scan 3-D items that won't lay flat ......(hers was jewelry)
... the top of her scanner is removable so we removed it, then we turned the scanner on its end ..... resting against a wall, it scanned straight up and down)
....we had taped the pendant to the top using a hang tag... and scooted the top piece real close the the scanner. Stephanie

When scanning metallic (or shiney) items .... I often tape the item to the top of my scanner
........then I hold the lid a bit off the scanner while it scans (does not take much of an angle, just 10 degrees or so makes a big difference)
....this lets the light really capture the glimmer that you can't get when laying on the scanner. Nanette

I know how hard it is to scan beads. They keep wanting to show their holes! So I string them with "illusion cord" and tape both ends of the cord to the sides.
....If you want the "loose beads look" leave some slack.... Then arrange your beads with the best sides facing the camera/scanner. Karen

for my thick sculpt of a boy with frog .... I wrapped the back side of the sculpt in a cloth
... then stuffed that in a glass bowl, with him face up... then I inverted the bowl so he was facing the scanner. Annette

I thought you were not supposed to leave the lid up while scanning because it can burn up the lamp in the scanner. Jan
....That's what I was once told, but I wrote to HP and asked them because I was really worried about it and they said it made no difference because the scanner was designed to scan a page of a thick book (which would keep the lid from going down), as well as thin flat items. Dotty

After scanning, I like to clean up the scan with a photo-editing program (a simple one comes with all scanners). Dotty (see "PhotoEditors" category above)

scanning resolutions ... scanner brands ... etc .

I use my scanner all the time, but the scanned image will often need take some cleanup work with a photoeditor afterwards . Dotty
(....forinfo on "photoeditors" like those discussed below, see above under "Photoediting Software")

Re "resolution" or dpi (dots per inch), the only time you need a high-resolution scan is when you're scanning "line work" for printing
... but if you're scanning for display on the web, a lower resolution is fine less expensive scanners are fine since the resolution of monitors is limited anyway
......color photos (bitmaps) do not require very high resolution either (because TV sets are not high res).

For type, and for other line work (as produced in programs like Freehand, Illustrator, or Corel Draw), which you're going to print, you want high resolution so that diagonals and curves dont' come out "jagged." Roberta

My scanner goes up to 900 for sending to the internet (or for e-mail), I scan at 100 dpi (minimum)
......but for printing out, I scan at 300. ...yes it takes a loooonger time (to scan), but is worth it. Sarajane
...I scan at 300-400 resolution... then in ( my photoediting software) Photoshop I resize the image smaller, and make any adjustments to the image needed. I think scanning at a higher resolution to start with, and then resizing later, might be your answer.
...... Elizabeth turned me on to a great little program called PhotoCrunch ( ($8 and a bargain at twice the price) that I use to compress the image to decrease the file size (not a full photoeditor?) Irene NC

It is also important the number you set your scanner to when you scan initially. For web display and email, I scan at 300 dpi.
....Then I use Corel Photopaint (or can use a photoeditor) to brighten, add contrast and maybe sharpen the image (only a touch of the latter or it gets too grainy).
....I then use a photoeditor to "compress" the JPEG images so that they are no bigger than 30K or thereabouts (being smaller means they will email fairly quickly and load rapidly if on a web page).
....I use this method for photos of polyclay items, how-to colour illustrations, and also for the things themselves simply laid on the scanner. Sue H.

After you've scanned, use a graphic program (photoeditor), such as Paint Shop Pro, Adobe PhotoShop Elements, etc. to
....crop the scan image to fairly close to the item (eliminate most of the background)
....resize to something fairly small, say 150 pixels wide (you may have to click "sharpen" once after you've resampled the graphic) it JPG format!! (if you'll be putting it on the web or e-mailing it)
...... jpg's the most common format for images on the web, and are compatible with all browsers
............(and when the image has more than a few colors) they are much smaller than GIF's !!! Cheryl Hahn

I never use the software that comes with a scanner. They don't seem to give me enough control. I use three others instead, Picture Publisher, Print Artist, and Photoshop 7. My favorite is Picture Publisher most of the time. That's the one I always scan into. It makes it easy to clean up and upgrade a scan. Print Artist I use for making greeting cards, business cards, stationary, envelopes, etc. But I often do the designs in Pic Pub, or Photoshop first and then transfer them. Dotty in CA

Keep in mind, browsers can only read 72 DPI, so don't try to scan at, say, 600 DPI trying to get a perfect image. All you'd succeed in doing is making a HUGE picture that will take forever to

For scanning, have your photos developed in a larger size. If I am going to scan a picture I always have it developed at Wal-Mart (They seem to have the best consistency in developed pictures and very accurate color.) and mark their 5" super. The larger size gives you better detail without any grain problems and you can always size it down and still have a really nice looking picture. Victoria

What matters for good color picture scanning is the number of colors you use.
....for example, a color photo scanned at 150 dpi with thousands of colors will look much better than a color photo scanned at 1500 dpi with hundreds of colors. It's the color variations that give the subtle differences such as skin tones, and so on. Roberta

I bought a Canon scanner myself a few months ago, I forget which model and it was terrible! It just didnt have the depth of field needed to scan 3d objects. I finally got it changed for an Epson which is great. Before this, I had another scanner that also didnt quite make the grade.
... Unfortunately, because scanners are not technically meant to be used as we use them, it is pretty hard to work out beforehand if a particulr model will be up to the job or not. Emma
....UMAX makes an excellent line of scanners....... HP scanners have been consistently reliable. Roberta

…if you have a scanner, you can scan negatives and using any program comparable to Paint Shop Pro that has a negativizing feature, "develop" the negative into a print. Using that, you can then do ink-jet transfers or print the image and photo-copy it for photocopy transfers. And if you have a bunch of old negatives hanging around that you haven't been looking forward to trying to identify...this'll do it! Kelly . . . others disagreed??

Scanners vs. Ditigal Cameras

As for the differences between having a scanner and a digital camera, it pretty much depends on where you want to get images ... what kind of images you want to have... and how much $$ you want to spend.

Scanners are cheaper than digital cameras. (most come with very simple photoediting software, but you might want a separate photo editor for improving both, so there they're equal). Scanners can capture quite good images of objects and can even handle somewhat 3-D images with a little propping, etc. (see for as what my scanner did with small polymer face slices --I did enlarge them a tad with software (website gone)). They can't take certain angles though or larger items. They are an essential route for getting any film photographs or other images (hand-drawn, from magazines/books, etc.) into a computer though, although I guess those could also be captured by camera first.

Digital camera characteristics depend a lot on which one you buy, their features, etc. They're definitely more expensive. (costs for both digitals and scanners are upfront and don't really increase except for down-the-road battery or light replacement.) Digital cameras will do some things that a scanner won't though, for example capturing images away from the computer (outdoors, at guild meetings, shows, etc.). Lighting, backgrounds, and camera angles can be manipulated much more with digitals. Large items can be captured, and people can be included.
The quality of digital images depends largely on the resolution of the particular camera you buy. The higher the better of course, but if you won't be enlarging the image too much or printing out an enlargement, the highest isn't really necessary.
The most important feature IMO is the close-up ability. Just how close can the camera focus on an object? one inch or one foot? Without any kind of close-up feature, most cameras must remain at least 2-4 feet from the object--that makes for a pretty small image unless your object is large. So called "close-up" features can vary from 2 feet down to about one inch --a huge difference! (be sure you find out for absolute sure; lots of salespeople really don't know the actual # of inches.) Its really necessary to get the closest focusing one can get, unless you never have small objects to photograph.

As for getting the photos on the Web, the time for both is approximately equal in general. Usually, I think, scanners are invoked through a photo-editing program, then the scanner must warm up, and steps gone through to capture the image, name it, save it to a file, and/or translate it into a jpeg for the Web. You can then compose an e-mail to (or anyone) and browse your system to attach the image. With a digital camera, after taking the photo you must transfer it to the computer. With mine, I remove the little Flash Card, slip it into a floppy disk, and insert it in the A drive; then using Windows Explorer I read the A drive and transfer the (unnamed) photos to a permanent or temporary file. I then open each one and give it a permanent name if I want to keep it. After that I can open my photo-editing software, browse for the image, manipulate it, and translate it to jpeg, then go through the e-mail process as above if I want to send it somewhere. As I'm writing this it seems that the digital takes longer, but I don't really notice any huge difference.

As to which one I use more often, it depends entirely on what I'm photographing. A digital comes in handy for all sorts of things (aside from clay). I use it for taking shots at the guild or at someone's house, or of many things my kid has done or participated in so that I can immediately put the images on Photopoint, or send with an e-mail, to grandma. With scanners you're limited to what will fit on your screen, be somewhat flat, and stay still. I use both a lot, so guess I'd say go for the digital too if you can afford it and you can get a real close-up feature (if you need that), or if you would use it away from home enough. Does that help? Diane B.



I took her to get her picture made at JC Penney's tonight, those ladies always get such a kick out of photographing my dolls!! (for larger items only?)

If you decide to use glass (over your work), take photos of your artwork without the glass in the frame. I had a professional photographer try to photograph over ten pieces for me and the glare prevented her from getting a good picture---and she is a top notch photographer and specializes in photographing artwork. At least she did not charge me! She told me that it is very common that artists do not install glass until after photographing. I tried the non-glare glass, but all the photos took on a weird color. Jeanne

see also: Misc. > Putting your Photos Online

(also see Translucents > Glow-in-the-Dark > Fluorescents for photographing polymer clay or other items under black light)
(see Trick Photography if you're interested in that sort of thing)