If and when you take any photo, whether it is to record a favourite moment, to post on the web to share, or to advertise an item to sell on ebay, the recipient or viewer will make an instant judgement and may simply pass it over. There are lots of tricks to give you an advantage, the first is to keep it simple. DO NOT include distracting backgrounds or surrounding clutter as nobody wants to see images of your unmade bed, discarded clothing, childrens toys or dustbin! (Take a quick look at the photo's used to advertise items on ebay as the power sellers have usually got it right. Just take a quick look at some of the photo's on the private listings as many will surprise you). A plain coloured background such as a sheet. towel, wrapping paper for small objects work well and sometimes creative folds, ripples etc add atmosphere. Background colour should also be chosen to provide impact to catch the eye; but sometimes a contrast or alternatively a sympathetic balance whilst avoiding plain bland adds impact and presence. For medium objects find a plain wall, carpet, grass etc. Large objects such as cars work well if you can use a cliff face, forest,natural foliage, natural stone wall, sea, beach or skyline as the background. A photo taken in front of a dirty 30 year old damaged garage door, by association devalues your pride and joy. Again take your inspiration from TV adverts, which ones do you remember? because if you do the images did their job.
Quality. A sharp image properly exposed with sufficient detail again reduces doubt in the viewers eye.
Lighting. The hardest lesson for any photographer to grasp and understand. Natural subdued lighting is always the first choice. In most cases avoid bright sunlight as most photographs will then naturally contain superior detail and colour if taken in a shaded area or on a overcast day. Add highlighting by using light coloured reflecting surfaces to bounce light back onto the shaded surfaces. If you are photographing small items use the print pages of a hard backed book opened and stood on the opposite side of the inbound light as this should provide sufficient reflected light. Larger situations will need a little more effort. If you have to use flash try to avoid directly exposing the object straight on. If you have a flash gun with an adjustable bounce head then experiment with bouncing the light off of the ceiling or a strategically placed reflector. If your flash head is fixed then try a small piece of tissue paper over the flash to diffuse and soften the light. You will often find that you will be better off using a tripod or some other form of stable resting surface to reduce blurring and increase sharpness.
Last tip. Take lots of different shots from different sides and from different angles either looking up, or looking down on the subject. You will be surprised just how much more appealing an image can be, even when it is a pretty boring item. When the right angle can be found to guide the eye towards it instead of a flat in your face presentation viewers will take the time to look and will not just click the next button. Sometimes it is easier to move the subject around to achieve this, especially if your light source is from a fixed object such as a window.
Make sure your chosen image is properly exposed, sharply focused and with good contrast with plenty of detail and finally that the composition looks good to the eye as this will capture and turn the casual glance into an interested viewer. Ebay and other online sites restrict the size of image that they accept. Depending on your camera take each shot with each quality option available. If necessary you can also reduce the file size of your image on the PC, there is plenty of advise on the web to help you.
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