Wednesday, April 30, 2014

product photography ebook: terminology...I need some more input!

Thank you to everyone who has given me feedback thus far about my product photography ebook either on this blog or elsewhere! It means a lot to me that so many people have provided detailed input. With your continued help, I'll be able to keep pushing forward with this idea.

In my first post about the book, I threw out the suggestion of including a glossary / terminology section near the beginning. To recap, it's very easy for me to forget that a few years ago, I was unfamiliar with most basic photography terms such as white balance and aperture. I want my book to be accessible to new and veteran photographers alike. Many of you agreed that including a glossary would be beneficial.

As this book has a specific photography focus, I don't think that it's necessary to create a comprehensive glossary with every common photography term out there. Instead I want to detail terms that are relevant to product photography and provide product photo examples.

This is what I've come up with so far. (In no particular order. Bear with me.)

  • ISO. What it is, how to adjust it on your camera, ideal settings for product photography. Photo examples: different ISO levels.
  • White balance. Daylight, cloudy, tungsten, etc. What these settings mean, how to select the right one. Photo examples: different white balance settings. I'll also discuss how if you're shooting in RAW with a DSLR, you don't have to select a white balance in camera because you can select one post process (aka editing in Lightroom / Photoshop), which gives you a lot more control.
  • Macro. What it is, how to find the macro setting on point and shoot cameras, why you should use it for product photography.
  • Depth of field. As depth of field is closely related to macro and aperture, I'm not sure if I need to include separate photo examples for all three terms. Thoughts?
  • Rule of thirds. There are a number of common composition rules, such as leading lines, that I don't think need a lot of discussion in a product photography book. However, I think that rule of thirds is important for certain types of product shots. Additionally, getting used to thinking about the rule of thirds will improve your photography in general, which in turn, will improve your product shots. I'll include photo examples of how I use the rule of thirds for my product shots.
  • Bokeh. What it is, how you can use it when shooting with a shallow depth of field / using the macro setting. Photo examples of bokeh in product photography.
  • Noise. What it is, why you want to avoid it, how to avoid it with examples of clear versus noisy shots.
  • Negative space. Negative space doesn't necessarily have the same definition for product photos that it does for many other types of photography such as landscape and portraiture. However, it can be a big issue with product photos, and it's one of the easier problems to fix. Photo examples of unnecessary negative space.
  • Symmetry. Or lack thereof. I'll talk about the importance of centering a product or purposely making it off center (think: rule of thirds) with photo examples.
  • Aperture. Whether or not you're shooting with a DSLR and adjusting aperture settings, it's important to be aware of the concept and learn how to control your depth of field. I will include examples of different aperture settings and explain how they relate to depth of field (i.e. X aperture produces a shallow depth of field). You can see set of aperture examples at Playful Cooking to get an idea of what type of examples I'll provide for aperture.
  • Shutter speed. What it is, how to find the best shutter speed for your product photography if you're shooting with a DSLR with photo examples of different settings.
  • Exposure triangle. There are other names for this concept, but it involves the relationship of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. As I was putting this post together, I found a great diagram about the exposure triangle on Flickr. Learning this relationship is key to having complete control over your photos.
Finally, there are lots of editing terms. As I'm going to have a lot of explanation and advice about editing, I think that I can explain them as I come to them in the book. However, if there are editing terms that you think that I should include in the glossary, let me know.

Please leave your feedback!
What do you think of these terms? What else do I need to include? Is there anything that I need to tweak?


  1. This is a great list Rose. You've covered all the things I had mentioned earlier and what I want to know about them. My biggest thing is remembering which direction to go on the scale, with things like ISO and Depth of Field and it sounds like you'll be covering these.

  2. Dear Rose, I am sorry that my input would not be relevant, since I am a digital dinosaur!!
    though the idea of know the terns sounds useful. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  3. You've covered the big ones that I want to learn, as far as terminology goes.
    I'm happy to say that I'm saving up for my first DSLR, so this will probably come in very handy for me quite soon. =0)


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