We’ve all heard the phrase “A picture’s worth a thousand words”. I for one, love to see the pictures in this forum , “shaving porn” if you will. In an effort to encourage more members to grab their digital cameras and take some pix of their shave of the day, brush collections, razor collections, latest acquisition, or all of the above, we thought a short (or not so short as it turned out) digital photography primer might be in order.
Just as there are multiple techniques and combinations of products to get a good shave, the same is true of digital photography. The intent here is to provide some basic knowledge to allow you to share images of your shaving gear with your wet shaving brethren. I’ll list some of the fundamentals as well as processes I use, but I encourage you to experiment and find what works for you. The quality of my images normally depends on how much time I have and my mood at the time. In reality, most often they are nothing more than quick snapshots. The information here is not just for shaving photography but digital photography in general. What we’re really looking for are your pictures of shaving gear, not art! Our hope is you’ll follow the famous words of Nike and “Just Do It”.
Any digital camera will work. Whether you use the one of the smallest digital cameras like the Pentax Optio-S or one of the larger, more versatile digital SLRs like the Canon 20D, the end result will be similar. Either will serve the purpose but may need a little different technique. My comments will be geared to the point and shoot varieties but most of the techniques apply to both.
First, lets start with your basic camera settings that normally need attention before taking your pictures. First, is resolution, or recorded pixels. Under your menu option, you have the ability to adjust the settings from low to high resolution. For viewing on the internet, a low setting of 640 x 480 (pixels) is ideal. Anything more, and you’ll have to resize your image using your processing software that came with your camera. Most of the software that comes with today’s cameras should have an option called “downsampling” or “downsizing”. Check your instruction manual if you can’t readily identify it.
Another setting is white balance. In the world of film, most is considered “daylight balanced”. In digital, you have to tell the camera what kind of light you’re shooting in or you run the risk of pictures with a color cast. Incandescent lights will turn your images yellow and florescent lights, green. All cameras will have a setting of AWB – auto white balance - that will do a DECENT job of selecting a white balance for you. You will get better and more consistent results however, if you take control and set it yourself based on your specific lighting conditions. The options you would need most often and some popular in-camera icons (Canon) are:
Flash – typically a lightning bolt
Incandescent – light bulb emiting rays
Florescent – resembles a florescent tube
Shade – building with shade extending to one side
Different camera manufactures use different icons so you may have to consult your manual. Set your white balance to flash if you’re using a flash no matter what other lights are on in the room as your flash will overpower them. Set to incandescent if you’re NOT using a flash and using only a regular light bulb. Florescent if you’re shooting ONLY with that type of light. If you have a room with a lot of natural light coming through the windows but not shining directly on your subject, the shade setting tends to work well. You’re not looking for direct sunlight here, which causes harsh shadows but diffused light from the windows. Natural light can make for some wonderful pictures so don’t be afraid to turn off your flash. The watch-out here is that you will likely need a table-top tripod ( see below) or you run the risk of blurry images caused by camera shake. When using a tripod, it is advisable to set your camera to the timer mode. That way, when you depress the shutter button, it will fire a few seconds after you release it so as not to cause camera movement. Also, at close working distances, you will probably need to set your camera to the macro setting (normally an icon of a flower) or it won’t focus.
The last setting you need to be concerned with is sensitivity. Sensitivity is the digital equivalent of film speed such as 100, 200, and 400. The lower the number, the more light you’ll need. 400 is a great setting as you’ll need less light if using natural light and when using flash, it doesn’t have to put out as much light thereby saving battery power. The reason to use the lower settings is better quality, which isn’t a concern for internet viewing purposes.
Robert Capa once said “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Zoom in, or move closer to your subject. As you compose your image, run your eyes around the perimeter of the frame to see if there’s anything distracting in your viewfinder. Does it add to your photograph? If not, get it out of the picture by moving it or by repositioning yourself.
In our shaving gear, we often have a lot of highly reflective surfaces that tend to be problematic. One way to control them is to turn them at an angle to the camera, especially if when using a flash.
Frequently, I use an all black background which can really make my subject stand out. I attached a piece of black felt to a thin piece of foam core to have a solid backdrop and then just lay another piece of black felt down on the bathroom counter. It takes about 10 seconds to set up. You can accomplish something similar by using a towel and draping it across anything behind your subject. I’ve seen a lot of great pix using just the bathroom countertop and I use mine frequently. I either try to have nothing in the background so as not to draw the eye away from the subject, or use something that ties in to the image. I have a mirror that comes down almost to the countertop so I have to really be careful not to include it and it’s reflections. (The main reason I tend to use some kind of backdrop) This a typical set-up for me except that I use the DSLR.
Uploading your images
Once you have your image downloaded to your computer, you’ll need to upload it to the B&B gallery. Remember where you saved your image to on your computer so you will be able to find it. On the B&B site, click on the gallery button and it will take you to a page where you will need to enter the information for your image. Click the Browse button and locate your image on your hard drive, double click it, and the link will be added to the page. Further down the page is a you will be prompted to name your image. If it’s my SOTD, I’ll use the date as my title. If you like, you can enter a description of your image as well but I normally don’t. Next, you’ll be asked to choose a category. It should either be SOTD or Member’s Category. Choose one and click submit. Your image has now been uploaded to the gallery. Find your image in the gallery, left click on the picture and it will launch a larger version of your image as well as a few other fields below the image. Find the field that says “BB Image Code”. Highlight the link to the right by clicking and dragging across it, then right click and choose copy. Once you get to the place in your post where you would like the image to appear, right click, and choose paste. And there you have it!
Now, you have no excuse for not posting images at B&B. Let’s see some PIX!!!
*black and white backgrounds may be problematic for your camera exposure meter and may need some exposure compensation. Check your camera manual or PM me if you have questions.