Image Quality Matters
Many brands rely on social teams to capture organic images for posts on their platforms. Audience expectations and the nature of the social media have made less polished photography more acceptable, but that doesn’t diminish the value of capturing the right image.
For any business whose focus is selling a product, sound photography techniques make a difference. Understanding the basics of shooting photographs in manual mode is an easy way to take basic photography to the next level. Shooting in manual mode, with the correct light readings, the right focus and correct shutter speed can help your business make an ordinary product look like the best and brightest product on the market.
Your followers won’t know or care about how the image was created, but carefully crafted images generate a subconscious sensory reaction that results in a positive brand impression.
Automatic Versus Manual Mode
Shooting in automatic mode is quick and easy, but for a business whose sales revolve around showing a product in the best light, shooting in manual mode had distinct advantages. It enables the photographer to make colors pop, let more light into the lens, and capture an image at the precise exposure.
According to E-commerce website Bargain Fox, 93% of shoppers consider images essential when making a purchasing decision, so it’s only right that a business consider their product photography an essential part of their selling process.
Shooting in manual mode breaks down into three simple settings:
- ISO number
- Shutter Speed
Understanding these settings is the key to knowing how adjusting a certain setting will change the look of the picture. So, let’s dive into how each setting in manual mode works, and how manipulating those settings can make for the best picture possible.
The ISO number is simply a scale that determines how sensitive the camera is to light. ISO numbers range from 200 to 1600; the higher the ISO number the more sensitive your camera is to light.
Let’s imagine you’re shooting indoors, with a single light on in the room. You would use a higher ISO number in order to allow your camera to let more light into the lens (ISO 400-800). On the flip side, if you’re shooting outdoors on a bright sunny day, you’ll want to use a lower ISO setting, to limit the amount of light into the camera. In this situation, less light allows colors in the photograph to pop more. I recommend experimenting with different ISO numbers, because with practice you can tell what light settings deliver the best results in different light.
The next setting to focus on is the camera’s aperture. This determines the depth of focus. Aperture is also often referred to as the “f-stop.” Most digital cameras have a f-stop scale between f/4 and f/22. The lower the number, the tighter the area of focus. An image captured in f/4 will have a very tight focus on the subject while things in the foreground and background appear blurry. An aperture of f/22, on the other hand, will keep everything in focus.
Just like with the ISO number of the camera, setting the desired aperture takes practice. But, when used correctly, it empowers the photographer to control the visual emphasis within the image.
Lastly, we have the camera’s shutter speed. Simply put, shutter speed is how quickly the camera takes the picture. It’s a measure of how fast the lens closes and reopens when snapping a picture, which can be anywhere between 30” to 1/1000 (seconds).
Choosing a longer shutter speed allows you to create a motion blur which can be used to add energy or suggest speed. A shorter shutter speed enables you to capture fast moving subjects (think sports images) in sharp detail. Shutter speed for most digital cameras can be seen through the view finder with an adjustable wheel to set the desired shutter speed for any given picture.
Expect more from your photographs
Keeping these techniques in mind is especially helpful for businesses where product photography is crucial. The subtleties within your image can be the difference between a casual glance and a deeper impression. As with anything in life, practice makes perfect, so get out there and try manual photography for yourself! It can have a dramatic effect on the customer’s purchase decision.