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Learn about still-life tents and find out how you can get authentic-looking product photographs to sell your items on eBay and other selling methods. Updated for Holidays 2013
Here are the tools you need to get professional-looking photos for your online auctions...and that will lead to faster sales and higher bids!
Increase Your Auction's Chances s with these Photography Still-Life Tents
Additional research by Jena Ardell.
Studies show that professional-looking product shots will net you higher bids when auctioning items on eBay. When it comes to smaller objects, a still-life tent is all you need to get the even, reflection- and shadow-free images you need to look professional doing eBay photography. In its Still Life Equipment department, Adorama carries a variety of still-life tents so you can photograph objects as small as a ring or as large as a laptop or toaster, depending on tent size. Tents range from 10 inches of shooting space to over 30 inches. Most still-life tents collapse into a small pouch or disc for easy carrying, weigh next to nothing, and can be set up anywhere. Some even come with lights and a tripod.
Ideally, two light sources should shine directly on the outside of the tent on either side. Some of the kits listed below come with lights, but some don't. Consider the Smith Victor Tabletop/Background Light Stand and Smith Victor Adapta-Light A4UL to provide illumination (you'll need two of each). The light bounces around inside the tent, bringing out wonderful details even in very dark items. You could, in a pinch, use a tent outside in direct sunlight; the sun’s harsh rays will be diffused enough to create good lighting in the tent as harsh shadows are eliminated.
If the Interfit outfit is too rich for your blood but you prefer a self-contained kit, the $29.95 Adorama DeShadow Box (right), which includes a 16x16-inch soft light box, halogen lamps, blue background sweep, and tabletop tripod. This is fine if you’re using a compact camera and just want something quick and easy...and very inexpensive. If this one's too small, there's also the Adorama De-Shadow Box measuring 20x20-inches, shown above, for $69.95. An Adorama Exclusive!
The Interfit 36-inch Pop-Up Box Still Life Tent Kit comes with a pair of 500-watt tungsten lights and stands. You’ll still need to supply your own tripod and camera, but at an Adorama price of $250 you’ll have basically everything you’ll need. (What’s up with the blue background? It’s a Chroma key. In Photoshop, select the blue background and use the paintbucket tool to replace it with white.)
The JTL DL-220 Web Tent Kit, available from Adorama for $369.95 is another great deal for beginners because it includes a still-life tent, a CamHolder, two Versalight J-110A Monolights and two light stands for $369.95. With some camera and/or tripod maneuvering, this versatile tent allows you to shoot from three different angles without moving the objects you are photographing.
The Lastolite 24" ePhotomaker Self-contained Still Life Tent is the perfect impromptu tabletop setup for on-the-go shooters and online sellers. It's lightweight, portable and can easily be packed for travel. It includes an Easybalance grey card; lights are an additional purchase. In a pinch, this $79.95 Adorama-priced surface can also be used outside in natural light or open shade. You can create a mini "cove" backdrop wherever you go! Also available in a 36" version for $112.95.
If jewelry, stamps, gems or other small items is your thing, you may be better off with a dome, Cloud Dome, a plexiglass light diffuser, available from Adorama for $149.95. It’s ideal if you’re shooting down on a small item. One light source shining on the side of the tent will provide sufficient illumination.
Here's another add-on if you photograph Jewelry. The MyStudio Jewelry Kit can be combined with any of the still-life tents listed above. It's a 12-piece kit that includes reflective black and white panels for different effects, a 9x12-inch black bounce card, white and black necklace and earring stands and bracelet holders, and an acrylic watch stand. At only $74 at Adorama, this kit will make your jewels shine online!
After you find your ideal still life tent, you're going to need something to hold your objects steady. MK Digital Direct's Standard Accessory Kit, $98 at Adorama, includes everything needed to hold small objects, like jewlery, in place with display stands, holding wax and composition plates; all of these are useful tools for a product photographer.