Ever wonder how some of those professional sculptors get such brilliant shots of their work? It’s crazy, right? Their images are sharp, colorful, well lit, and seem to fill the frame perfectly. But how are they doing it?
Here’s part one of our three part write up on how to take professional looking photos of your sculpture on a budget:
1. Invest in a better camera. Yes, it will cost a little money up front, but it will pay dividends in the future. Your iPhone and even your little point and shoot camera probably take reasonably sharp photos, but because of limitations in their design they’re simply not built to capture the types of images you need to really set your work apart. More on this later. For now, look at investing in an inexpensive DSLR like Canon’s T2i or Nikon’s D3100 — both can be found on Amazon for less than $500.
These cameras, in addition to taking higher resolution photos than typical point and shoots, allow for more control over the creative process. There’s a learning curve, so don’t be intimidated, but we’re talking weeks, not months, and some of you will probably be taking brilliant photos right out of the box.
2. Get a better lens. Unfortunately, kit lenses (the ones that normally come bundled with the camera) are usually good at many things and great at none. One area they all tend to struggle in, however, is speed.
Quick camera lesson:
To understand the importance of speed you must first understand the concept of aperture. In laymen’s terms the aperture is the hole (formed by a bladed iris) through which light travels to reach the sensor. The wider the aperture, the more light hits the sensor. Consequently, the smaller the aperture, the less light hits the sensor.
Slow lenses, like kits lenses, are thus ill suited for indoor photography (where you’ll likely be taking photos of your sculpture), as they struggle to capture light from indoor situations. What you need, therefore, is a fast lens, and for that there’s really no better bang for your buck than Canon’s $100 50mm 1.8 II.
Nikon also makes a $100 50mm 1.8 lens, though by all accounts the Canon lens produces more pleasing bokeh.
With Canon’s 50mm 1.8 II you get a fast lens, with decent glass, at a great price. And best of all, you’ll be able to produce professional looking photos with pleasing bokeh. We’ll get into how in the second part of our write up, coming soon.