5 Simple Steps to Building a Desk Studio

Ever wondered how magazines produce those appealing photos of product catalogs on pure white background? I always thought one needed super sophisticated cameras and a studio to do that.


This post will demonstrate that you can create these types of pictures right at home. See the photo below? It was taken using a humble Nikon D3000 with materials you can buy from your local bookstore or grocery.


How to Get This Shot

You only need a few things: a plain white illustration board, two bright white lamps, a camera (preferably with a mounted flashgun) and Picasa (download for free here).
1. The board. Tilt the board like a ramp in X-games. Imagine a letter "J". Then tape the upper tip to the wall, the lower tip, to your table. See illustration below. Be careful not to fold the board. Any crease will cause problems later on.


 
2. The lamps. Turn on your lamps and point them at a 45-degree angle towards the subject. If you're using a camera phone or a point-and-shoot camera, do not use the flash. Buy more powerful bulbs and bring your lamps closer. On the other hand, if you're using an SLR camera with a mounted flashgun, point your lamps towards the background. Turn on your mounted flash and point it upward. Set the aperture to around F/8.


3. Shoot! Take your shot. Try to keep the sides of the board from being visible on the frame. It will make it easier for you since you don't have to crop a lot later.

4. Crop. Copy your photos to your PC. Using Picasa, crop them so that the dirty sides are hidden. Stick to standard crops like Large Print and Small Print.
5. Brighten. Finally, use the Highlights tool to brighten the background until fully white. It's in the Tuning tab of Picasa. Use a blank notepad as your benchmark for whiteness.

You're Done!
The net effect is a studio-looking shot. I went on to use this technique on my daughter and got respectable photos. You can do it too! Use simple subjects first like your phone, TV remote or watch, just like what I did above. You'll be amazed at the results.

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