Sunday, January 28, 2007

Photographing Seeds-Hack A Light Diffuser

This time of the year can be a little boring if you're strictly an outdoors gardener. If you don't have the benefit of having a houseplant collection to keep you occupied you're probably scrounging around looking for gardening related things to do. I found myself looking for a new project recently and decided that I wanted to take my seed cataloging to a new level. So I pulled out a couple of seeds and started snapping photos. I soon discovered that I wasn't happy with the deep shadows created by the sun and I don't have a home studio where I can manipulate things like a photography lighting set-up. But I do could something similar and pretty cheap.

So I found an opaque takeout container in the fridge, a sheet of white paper and some of my seeds. And of course a digital camera, I'm using a Sony Cybershot DSCW50 6MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom and created my own light diffuser.

I cut a crude opening on the bottom of the container where I could fit the camera lens through. I suppose you could remove the entire bottom if you wanted to but I just made an opening so the lens would fit through and I could rest the camera on it and use the timer to minimize camera shake.

The settings I used were:
ISO: 200
Metering mode: Spot
White Balance: Cloudy
Focus: Center AF
Those settings, a long with a little tweaking in Photoshop, created the pure white background that you see here and is common of catalog photography. Because the Macro mode on this camera is pretty good I had to go in and patch up the cracks and crevices in the seed coat in this Castor Bean seed that I couldn't see with the naked eye. Click the seed photo for a larger view.

I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing with all the photographs I'll be taking but perhaps I'll be using them to create a seed identification database or try to sell them as stock photos to companies that sell seeds. But you can do something similar to catalog all of your seeds, take photos of your plants, flowers or leaves. It doesn't have to be just gardening related you can use this technique to create professional looking photos of just about anything; maybe you sell jewelry or trinkets through your web site or blog or maybe you have an ebay store where you need to show photos of your merchandise.

If your looking for more tips for taking better photos of you garden read this blog entry.

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