Quality Product Photography

When I used to work in the web design industry I used to build a lot of websites for people who were trying to sell products over the internet. In many of these cases the customer would provide their own products photographs and in a large proportion of these cases the photography that they asked us to use really was subpar.

At the end of the day, a customer browsing the internet really only had the product shots to go off. Obviously, they can’t hold the product in their hands and look at and feel the quality and suitability, so the photos really are key. If photos are poor, people are not going to have a good impression of your product and it’s going to cost you sales. Look at the top fashion sites and you’ll see what I mean – they’re shots are probably among the best photographs in the world for ANYTHING, let alone e-commerce.

What Goes Wrong?

Photos are bad for many reasons. And here’s a few of the main ones.

Low Resolution

Any image needs to have enough pixels to look crisp and sharp on screen at the size that it needs to be displayed. if the image was taken on a low res camera, or is a cropped section of a larger image, it may not look sharp on screen.

Bad Colour Balance

When you take photos indoors the camera has to guess what kind of lighting is in the room and adjust the colour settings of the shot accordingly, as different kinds of lights can affect the colour balance in different ways. If the colour balance was not set accordingly, or it has guessed wrong, the colours in the shot can display a strong cast, such as yellow, red or green.

Cluttered Background

Top product shots are usually taken on a white background, or as part of a properly designed photographic ‘set’. If your shots use neither of these they are more than likely not going to look professional. The shot really needs to isolate the product, or display it in an appropriate setting.

Bad Arrangement/Composition

A photo should display a product at an angle that shows all of the main features. If you’re shooting shoes you wouldn’t just take a picture of only the soles.  A photo should capture as much as possible too – you don’t want half of the product to be off the edge of the shot. Conversely, you don’t want too much background in the photo either.

Poor Product Example

If you’re taking a picture of a shirt it should be freshly laundered and ironed. If you’re taking food pictures the food should look appealing. If the items that you’re shooting don’t look at their best, you’re really going to struggle to make them look good.

What Can You Do To Improve?

There are a few simple things that you can do to ensure that your product shots look as good as possible. They needn’t cost the earth and they’re not hard to get your head around even if you don’t especially understand photography.

Decent Camera

You are going to need a good camera – I would suggest a DSLR. They’re not as hard to use as you might think – actually just as simple as a point and shoot – and they can be had for less than $100 used.

White Background

Shooting products on a white background will make them look a lot more professional. A curved piece of white card or paper is all that you need. You can bend it so that it is horizontal at the point that the product sits on it, and vertical as it steadily curves upwards to become a backdrop. There will be no corners or edges in your shot.

Good Lighting

Flash is the best way to light a shot, but it can be hard to understand and adjust for. The easy way is to use regular household bulbs on simple lamp stands positioned just out of shot. They provide continuous light so it’s easy to see what you’ll get when you press the shutter button. Make sure the product is lit evenly from all sides to prevent shadows and shoot away. A few adjustments are all that usually needed, and once you find a good White balance setting in your camera you’ll never have to touch it again if you don’t want to.

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Sticker Printing – So Many Options!

You would think that sticker printing would be a relatively simple subject! Alas, it is not. I’m sure there are many printers out there that wish it was, but unfortunately it is not! There are so many variables and different methods of manufacture that it is actually one of the most complicated areas of the print industry that there is, not just any print company with a big banner printing machine can turn their hand to stickers. Window stickers are one area where much confusion often lies due to the varying nature of the job. This type of sticker can be designed to go on either side of the glass, and can be viewed from either side too – as you can imaging, that does give rise to a certain amount of confusion right off the bat.

PrintDecals stickers can often be ordered thinking that they will be suitable for purposes that they really aren’t right for. Lots of times, stickers are ordered as replacement front panels for games consoles or machinery and other such uses. The problem here is that the stickers are often not durable enough to be touched and rubbed constantly – they will eventually lose the surface. A lot of people also order wide format printed kiss-cut stickers thinking that they will be able to have gold or silver foil colours, neons & fluorescents, and colours that are as bright as RGB screen colours. Of course, none of these are possible.

Machines such as the Gerber Edge exist to do short runs of this type of sticker (foil etc) but they still make a relatively expensive sticker. With some types, large runs are the only economical way to go about it. With large scale manufacture you have the choice of the full range of effects and possibilities for your stickers, and it’s much less likely that any particular method is going to be uneconomical.

If you’re buying online however, a good website should go some way towards explaining most of the options that exist when it comes to stickers. You could get a website designed by webdesign companies and then add a blog that explains every single variable that is possible. This could take you a while, and a lot of head-scratching, but you could end up with an authority site that attracts visitors just because you explain the situation so very well. This type of site is pretty rare, but if someone takes the time to write several excellent articles to go along with the e-commerce section, the results can be outstanding.

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Six Pack Facts

The internet is full of information and misinformation about health and fitness. One of the main subjects that I see being discussed all the time is abs, and the old ‘how to get a sixpack’. There is so much written about this subject that is wrong that I thought I’d take a little time to explain the situation accurately. I’m not selling anything (like so many people waxing lyrical about abs on the internet) so I have no axe to grind. These are the cold, hard facts.

Bodyfat

You can do as many ab exercises as you want, but if your body fat percentage is not below a certain point you will not get a six pack. You’ll need to get as low as 10% bodyfat to see all of your abs and get the full six pack (or eight pack!) effect. Above this level your abs will be covered by a layer of fat that is sufficiently thick enough to obscure the muscle that you need to be able to see to give the six pack effect.

Removing Stomach Fat

People seem to believe that doing stomach exercises such as situps will help you to remove fat from your stomach area. This is completely wrong. Any exercise will burn calories, and if you burn more calories than you eat you will lose body fat. It’ll come from all areas of your body evenly too, not just from the area that you exercise. When it comes to losing fat, situps are a pretty poor exercise anyway – you’re much better off with proper cardio training like running, cycling, rowing or swimming.

So How Do You Do It?

Two parts. Firstly, you’re going to need to lose enough weight to get to the 10%-15% body fat percentage mark. Eat less and exercise regularly and your weight will start to come down. Some bodytypes will get to 10% more easily than others, but it’s possible if you eat and train right. Once you notice your stomach becoming very firm you’ll know you’re getting close.

At the same time as losing weight you need to train your abdominal muscles so that they become bigger and more defined in themselves. You can do all manner of exercises for your abs but here are a few HERE

Motivation

Getting to 10% is not easy. Many people lose weight and get to 20% body fat and are really pleased with the way that they look. Getting to 10%, especially for some body types, is borderline underweight so you’ve really got to want it for the visual effect. There will be times when you feel like giving up, but if you really want it you’re going to have to push on. Maybe a fitness trainer will help you in the motivation department? It’s worth a try if you need a boost – lots of people are using them these days.

Conclusion

It’s just a case of getting skinny enough to see the muscle and that’s it. There’s really no magic to it at all. The problem is that unscrupulous people selling supplements and exercises courses on the internet want to tell you otherwise so that you’ll buy their magic milkshakes or whatever it is that they’re selling. They make it look so simple in that way that’s designed to part you with your money. Don’t listen to the crap though – everything you need to know about getting a six pack is right here in this article. Hope it helps!

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Business Printing

Business printing was once the cornerstone of the printing industry. Back in the day when everything was paper-based, every company had to have letterheads, invoices, compliment slips, business cards, brochures, pads, posters, printed banners….. The list goes on, and that’s not even including things like cheap flyers – having flyers printed is a relatively modern affair. Printing companies were founded on this business.

How has this changed? Well, the internet has altered the way a lot of businesses work. A lot of brochure printing and information that would have once been printed is now stored on-line and anyone with a computer (everyone, surely??) can view it easily. No printing needed there then. Invoices and statements are now often sent out via email and printed out onto plain paper at the recipient’s end if required. This further reduces the amount of business print out there, and because of this decline in the popularity of print, it seems that compslips are often ignored as well. Ironically, the newer flyer print has never been more popular!

One area that seemingly remains is card printing. There’s simply no quicker and easier way to pass your important contact details onto someone you meet – they’re a really functional item and therefore deserve their continued popularity. After all, it’s all very well having a website/Facebook/Twitter etc, but if you’ve just met a prospective client they won’t know how to find any of this. The humble business card is the important first step. These can link handily to a website, the likes of which you might find at a website designer in huddersfield.

So how best to make your card stand out among the throng? Well, there are many different variations that can be taken into account. Some of these include:

  • Lamination (gloss or matt)
  • Folding (to make a mini/booklet)
  • Die cutting (oddly shaped cards with cutouts)
  • Spot UV print

Sadly there is a problem with a lot of these interesting possibilities – they are only really suitable for large runs. What tends to happen is that a customer finds a card that they really like – it might be die cut to shape for instance. Then they take that to a printers such as Supaprint and ask for some doing in a similar fashion. The problem being they only need 250 doing…..

The die costs £40 to make. The die cutting will cost £40. That’s £80 to add to the cost of the cards, which might be £30. So in this case, the die cutting causes the cost per card to go from 12p to 44p. They NEVER go for it. If this was a run of 5000, the die cutting cost would be an almost negligible extra, and might be feasible.

There is a lot of this kind of thing in the printed banners industry – customers wanting large run effects on short run jobs. Disappointment abound!

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Football For Starters

It was only a couple of months ago that the guys at my work decided to start playing 5 a side football on a Tuesday night. I wasn’t particularly sporty at school, and certainly never played much football, but at 37 I have actually kept reasonably fit. Last year I was in the gym regularly losing three stone, so it’s not like I’ve never trained. That said, it was a while ago (a few months at least) and I haven’t been since.

So along I went on the first Tuesday to see what all the fuss was about. Now, a good few weeks and several matches under my belt I think I’m qualified to let you know what you might be in for. It wasn’t just me that was new to the game – there were quite a few others of varying ages, so I can let you know about how they got on, too…

Boots

We played on an outside, all weather pitch made of a slightly soft blue textured material so proper football boots weren’t needed. I had a look at all weather pitch boots in the local sports shop but they looked quite expensive for what seemed like overpriced trainers, so I didn’t bother. I play in a pair of Converse All Stars with a pair of thick football socks, and they seem to do okay for me. Your mileage may vary, as ever, but don’t think that you have to spend a lot – you don’t.

Warmup and First Match

Taking some tips from a certified trainer or someone that’s done courses in fitness might have been a good idea, but I decided to see how I’d go, despite actually knowing someone who’d trained with CMS in Huddersfield.For warmup I ran laps of the pitch for about 5 minutes and then did some basic leg stretches for another 5. At this point I felt totally fine and ready to go, so we cracked on with the first game. It was odd that everybody did really well first time out with no injuries to speak of. I was sore as hell for a few days afterwards though but felt totally recovered by the following Tuesday. I thought the second match would be a lot better, but boy was I wrong.

Second Match

I warmed up and stretched in the same way as the first match. However, when the ball came to me and I kicked it I immediately felt a thigh strain, and was out for the duration. First kick! It would seem that I really was still tight from the first match, despite feeling completely fine beforehand. My advice for the second match is to warm up for twenty minutes – probably twice as long as you normally would. Your muscles are going to be tight from the first match and you really need to stretch them out before you start. Take my word for it!

Moving On

It took a couple of weeks to get over the thigh strain – I could hardly walk for a couple of days. I missed two matches as I didn’t want to go back until I was totally fixed. I warmed up well and played the full match with no problems apart from a little rubbing on my left little toe. This has toughened up over time though, and I seem to be relatively injury free, although my colleagues seem to be taking it in turn to strain their knees and hurt their ankles during the matches….

Conclusion

Warm up. Warm up more than you think you need to, and then warm up some more. if you’re not very fit, all the warming up might have you tired out before you even start but it’s still better than hurting yourself.

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Want Your Very Own Website?

When learning about SEO, the number-one priority is always to have a clean, efficient, attractive website or blog to traffic. If you don’t have that, your efforts aren’t even worth it. That’s because it all comes back to web design. People want to visit functioning, attractive, seamless websites. Give them what they want by using these tips.

Keep the size of your web pages small. A lot of modern web pages are full of unnecessary elements, including huge images, Flash advertising, and lots of AJAX. Many people, especially those in rural areas and other countries with less-developed internet infrastructure, don’t have high-speed Internet and will have to wait forever for a large page to load. Simple imagery like you’d get from corporate logo design wakefield will be your best bet.

Make sure your text and background has the proper contrast. There’s evidence showing that white text on a black background is easiest for most people to read, but other colors are fine so long as they’re readable. Also keep in mind that people with visual impairments may not be able to read your site if the contrast is poor. Check to see if your site complies with various contrast standards using the tool at http://snook.ca/technical/colour_contrast/colour.html .

For multimedia presentations, take advantage of the new HTML5 standard. Although HTML5 isn’t quite as robust for animation and games as Flash, it has the advantage of working stably on mobile phone browsers, including those contained in Apple hardware. HTML5 is also quite a bit leaner than Flash, so load times will improve, as well. Companies that deal with graphic design Wakefield will be able to help you with this!

To help you attract a more professional crowd to your site, make sure you design your site with no spelling errors. When designing the site, utilize a spell checker and if need to, a grammar checker. If you have a site with poor spelling and grammar, people will not want to do business with you because they will think it is unprofessional.

Test your website in the most popular browsers and platforms to make sure that it displays correctly. Sometimes scripts that work in one browser may not produce the same results in another browser. So you may need take extra measures, like adding a function for browser detection, in order to ensure that your website will display properly under most conditions – design and print wakefield will make sure that this is done correctly.

It’s not that people browsing the web are overly picky or anything; it’s just that no one wants to visit an unattractive site that’s slow to load and that barely functions.

You can avoid the ills that befall many amateurs by following and implementing the web design tips you have learned about above.

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Best Prices For Print!

I get a lot of people asking us about print. Where to buy it, what to ask for and the best way to get a good price from whichever printer we end up recommending. Cheap advertising banners are often at the top of people’s list. They’re a common item in the world, yet people who end up needing some often don’t have a clue where to buy them or how much they should cost. Poster prints fall into the same category, as do rollups (roll up banner stands). These are common items – we all see them every day – but when we need to buy one we have no idea where to get them or what we should cost. I suppose we have no point of reference for these items as they are unlike anything we might usually buy, and that’s fair enough.

So how do we get the best deal on these types of printed products from printing companies? Firstly, you need to select a printer that is used to dealing in the kind of quantities that you want to buy. A banner printer that supplies huge numbers of banners (usually screen printed) to large customers is not going to want to print you one 6ft x 2ft banner. A company that does only printed stickers is not going to want to make you just three. It will be costly for them to do as it is outside their usual remit. They would probably charge you a premium – in effect the reverse of the quantity discount that applied to their regular large customers. The same goes for printing business cards.

Ok, so you’ve found your supplier. They’re friendly and ready to deal in the kind of quantities that you want to buy. How to get the best price? Firstly, find out of they have any special offers on. It’s always worth a try, and many companies DO have a special offer scheme that they promote through social media, email campaigns or even on their website, the likes of which you might find at web design manchester. If you’re a new customer you won’t get these, so it’s worth asking what’s going on. Secondly, ask for a discount! It can really be that simple and there’s no harm in asking. The best way to secure this is to offer to make sure that your artwork is finished and print ready. Many companies like auraprint offer FREE design and the use of an image library, but of course they still have to pay a designer. By doing the design yourself (and it must be 100% to the company’s requirements for print for this to work) you can save them some time and money which they might then pass onto you.

Get out there and negotiate!

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