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Yarn Tree
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Common Photo Mistakes

...and how to avoid them.

One of  tricks of great product photos is simply knowing how to avoid common errors.


Problem: Bug-Eye. The sides are not straight (left photo)

Solution: Move the camera further away (right photo)

Problem: Object is distorted.

Solution: For this type of head on photo, the camera needs to be exactly square to the object.

Problem: The objects slant off the picture. Notice how the left and right hand spool seem to tip outward, and how the top of the spool looks larger than the bottom of the spool. (left photo)

 Solution: Move the camera further away. (right photo)

Problem: Some numbers are out of focus. (left photo)

Solution: Try a smaller aperture (a larger f-stop). A smaller aperture will have an greater depth of field (a greater range of distances that are in focus). The photo on the right was taken with the smallest aperture (largest f-stop). The photo on the left was taken with the largest aperture (smallest f-stop).  Moving the camera further back will also help. Caution: using the smallest aperture will give you the largest depth of field, but the focus will not be quite as sharp.

Problem: The objects nearest the camera are distorted in size. (left photo)

Solution: Move the camera further away. This will also help get all the objects in focus. (right photo)


There is no right or wrong when it comes to lighting. The goal is to create the lighting that you want, not just accept the results you get.

Here is a simple pair of scissors with 3 very simple lighting setups.

This is a single 85 watt compact fluorescent bulb placed to the left. Notice the strong shadows and the texture in the fabric. The white highlights in the scissors are small, but sharp.

This is the same setup, but with the addition of a white shoot through umbrella placed in front of the 85 watt fluorescent bulb. The shadows are softer. The texture in the fabric is less. The white highlights in the scissors are larger, but have a softer edge.

This is the same setup, but with the addition of a second light and umbrella on the right hand side. The shadows are softer still. Even less texture in the fabric. More white highlights in the scissors.

Problem: Glare.

Solution: This is just light reflecting off the object. Move the lights and/or camera as needed.

Problem: Lens Flare.

Solution: Lens flare is light reflecting off of the inside of the camera lens. You can get flare if the lights are positioned so that they shine into the lens. This photo on the left is an interesting example. Lens flare is more common in sun light. Sometimes a photo with lens flare that shows up in the sky will be claimed to be a photo of a UFO (right photo).

Problem: Uneven lighting (the top of the object is brighter than the bottom)

Solution: In this photo the light was positioned too high. Because the light was closer to the top edge of the object, the top edge received more light. For a head-on photo the 2 lights should be placed equal distance on the left and right, about 45 degrees from the object. Each light should be positioned so that it is equal distance from the top and bottom of the object. The camera must be square to the object.

Needlework Retailer,117 Alexander Avenue, Ames, Iowa 50010. Phone: 800-561-5380 or 515-232-6507. Fax 515-232-0789. email info@needleworkretailer.com

For advertising information call Megan Chriswisser at 1-800-561-5380.

The Needlework Retailer is the only trade magazine devoted entirely to the counted cross stitch, needlepoint, and the needlework industry. Published by Yarn Tree 6 times a year and distributed free to retail stores in the US that sell needlework. Print subscriptions are available to others related to the industry in the United States for $14 for 6 issues; in Canada for $20 for 6 issues; other countries $43 for 6 issues. Online subscriptions are free. Sorry, subscriptions are not available to consumers.

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