Before anything else, I'd like to impart the story how I came up with this setup. When I redirected the focus of this blog to sharing my nail art designs, I realized that presentation mattered. I received a few nasty comments on how my pictures/hands looked and took it as a challenge to be better. I have friends which embraces photography as a hobby. They made me understand that good pictures are essential to a nail art blog. To date, I've invested in 2 cameras. Thanks to my mom who helped me buy the one that I am currently using. And thanks to friends who have been giving me photography tips.
I am not claiming that I am an expert on taking nail art photos. Perhaps this has been one of the reasons why I keep setting aside this post. But I'd like you all to know that I've taken inspiration from how other nail bloggers take photos.
Without further ado, this is my current photography setup:
Explaining the setup:
- I use 3 light sources. One on top, and 2 on both sides. This helps minimize shadows and maximize light so that I don't need to use a flash. In my opinion, using no flash is easier in capturing the true color of the polish.
I use a stand lamp for the top light source because I need that to be adjustable. My hands are not always flat on the table when I take photos of my nail designs. Being able to move the top light accordingly is a big help.
- I mount the camera in a tripod. Since my camera is slightly heavier than a digital camera, clicking the shutter using only one hand often results to a blurry picture. The tripod helps me keep the camera steady at all times. It is also necessary when I take photos of both my hands.
- I use an artist canvass sheet as my background. I personally believe that a plain background is best for taking nail art pictures so that the nails will always be the center of attention. I chose white because I think it would always play fair with any color. You may ask why not just use a white cloth. I have that too, but I prefer the canvass sheet because it is always stretched, meaning there are no fold markings. It is also not shiny. In my experience, it is hard to take photos with a shiny background.
- All 3 lamps are covered with a homemade light diffuser. Experience will tell you that lamps can cause strong glares during nail photography. To help diffuse the glares, I covered each lamp with a sheet of tracing paper.
Here's the setup again from another angle:
When do I take photos?
For nail art, I let my hands rest at least an hour so that it would appear more relaxed. Doing all that painting can make the veins in your hands more visible. Sometimes, I sleep on it and take pictures the next day after waking up.
For swatching purposes, I let the polish sit for a few minutes to dry before taking pictures. Sometimes, a polish may look slightly different when it is completely dry.
Since March 2012, I've been using Cari -- a Sony Nex 5n camera. It is a DSLT (Digital Single Lens Translucent) camera that is more compact than a DSLR but produces at par results. I actually wanted a DSLR but I find it too bulky for my frame. You can read my feature on the Sony Nex 5n here.
I use a macro lens for most of my nail art design photos as it captures details with more clarity. I also prefer manual mode so I can tweak the settings accordingly and depending on hand poses.
Before Cari, I was using Lara -- a Panasonic Lumix LX3. I still have it until now. I actually used her to take the photos I needed for this article. I have been alternating these 2 cameras for shoots, but have been mainly using Cari.
Oh, and yes, I name my gadgets. ;)
I hope this post was helpful. If you have any other concerns, please do not hesitate to use the comment section below.