Obviously there are a number of ways to take photos of your nails; these are just some of the ways to achieve the basic concepts that I like to see in others' photos:
- even lighting,
- a simple, non-distracting background,
- and in-focus nails.
I use indirect window lighting. That means that I use daylight for my photos, and do not use any sort of camera flash.
On most days, I have to get up and take my photos before work, so that means that they are taken around 7am. I open the west-facing set of shutters in my room; the sun is not rising on that side so it is not beaming in directly. If the sun IS beaming in directly when you want to take your photos, angle the blinds upward so the sun is hitting the ceiling.
Angle your nails towards the window to get the most even lighting coverage. Depending on how you position your hand, you can end up with different shadowing conditions. Those conditions can effect the drama of the image. I guess this part is about personal preference, but I usually prefer evenly lit images to shadowy, dramatic ones.
Here are some different lighting conditions. All of these photos were taken at the same time of day, in the same location. All that is changing in the photos are the light sources or the position of my hand/the camera. The conditions on the largest photo are the ones that I use to take most of my photos.
|Click to enlarge!|
(photos show OPI Who the Shrek Are You? with Lynnderella Connect the Dots)
As you can see, changing something as simple as the lighting and its position can really change the look of a photo. Give some thought to what you want your photos to look like and then spend some time trying to achieve that!
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, you will need direct sunlight or a bright indoor light if you want to show holo polish. You will also want different conditions if you want to show glitter, or how a jelly looks with the sun shining into it. Just be smart and always spend some time making sure your lighting looks good, whatever it is.
I don't think there's anything as bothersome to me as when the background of someone's mani photos distracts from the polish. The main reason it irritates me so much is because it's the easiest thing in the world to fix!
If you are obtaining correct focus on the nails, the background will most likely be blurred out of focus; really, you could use anything solid!
The majority of my photos are taken using my black bedsheets as a background. For my delicate print mani, the background is a grey shirt I snagged out of my closet. I have also used my wooden dining room table as a background (see gradient). You could use posterboard too, if you'd like. As long as the background is vague and non-distracting, you should be good to go.
Here's my setup.
Yeah. It's an old, pilled up bedsheet. Pretty sexy, right? It looks light in this photo, but when the camera is providing an exposure based on my hand and not the background, it looks pure black.
Camera and Beginner Settings
If it is avoidable in any way, don't use a cell phone camera to take the nail pics for your blog.
There are a lot of great cameras out there that aren't too expensive and will get the job done for you. My preferred brand is Canon. The camera that I use is the Canon S90, it's a good pocket camera but has a lot of extra features that the casual user just wouldn't need. For most people, the less expensive lines like the PowerShot will suffice. Of course, other brands are great too! I'm just most familiar with Canon, so I can't speak much on others.
When taking photos of things from up close, you will want to use your camera's "macro" setting. I'm sure many of you already know about and use this mode; I'm going to talk about it briefly for those of you that may not be aware of it.
The macro setting will help the camera to focus better on things that are close to the lens, and will keep your nails from looking out of focus. It is usually indicated by an icon of a flower. Here are macro buttons on a few different camera models.
|(all images from Google Image Search)|
Turn on the macro mode, then position your hand so that it fills most of the photo frame. If you'd like, you can leave some room for cropping later on. Push the button halfway to give your camera a chance to focus on your nails, and then finish pushing it all the way down to take the picture. Here's an article to read if you are having trouble using your camera's macro mode.
If you need to, you can steady either of your hands by placing them or your elbow on a flat, sturdy surface.
If your photos look like they have some motion blur, try to increase the lighting in the room by opening the blinds more or turning on a light to use in conjunction with the natural lighting. More advanced users can try to go into their camera's settings and set their camera to photograph at a higher ISO, however, bear in mind that the higher you go in ISO, the more grainy your photos will turn out.