I've been into photography for a few years now. Always been told I have the eye for it, and I would agree. I know what I want, but getting it exactly as I picture can be tough. I'm very trial and error when it comes to taking pictures, but there are those times when I just cannot figure out what's going wrong. For starters, I don't truly know what all the controls do, but I play around with them and try to get an image right. Works for watches, but not for other things that are time sensitive, like sunsets.
I've read up on some tips, and I quite well know that lighting is the biggest factor. However, I don't know what or how to stack/level or whatever you call it. I'm OK with F stops and learning that using longer exposures have created better images. For starters, I have a Nikon D3300 with the standard 18-55mm VR lens and that's all. I have a Ravelli tripod that goes up to 6 feet tall or so...and that's it. I've been able to achieve good results so far, but want to take my pictures to another level. I am aware that I'll need another lens or two - I want a 300mm zoom and a standard 35 or 50mm lens, but those will have to wait. What I cannot seem to find is any specific advice on what settings and controls will produce the results I want. For example, using a 3" exposure and F11 for waves crashing, with 100 EXP and WB set to Cloudy to capture misting (That may not be exactly right, but just the type of info I'm looking for).
I've recently learned how to take better lume shots, but any time the light is low - think 7am CST, I still get a lot of noise. But other times I don't. I edit either on my computer with standard Windows, or Snapseed, Instagram on my phone. Easy enough, and just installed the Nikon ViewNX or whatever and have no idea how to use it. Looking at Lightroom in the future.
Does anyone have specific advice for the following:
Crisp, clear, product photo type shots. I need to build a lightbox, but the actual shooting and settings have been troublesome, especially getting my reflection when straight on. Any tips for how to get a completely black background as opposed to the white lightbox?
Eliminating noise when shooting in lower light. I love using the natural light, and seems like sometimes I'll get a noiseless shot and others I'll have a bunch of "scratchiness" in it. I don't know why this is happening.
How exactly should you use the light reflectors. I'm very amateur so I've got a solid piece of white card paper, but I don't know what it means to reflect the light onto the subject. Like from what angle? Should the natural light come in and hit it and bounce back onto the face?
How to use the flash straight on? I've found that some people love using the flash, however, I tried it a bunch last night in various light levels and could not get a good picture. They all looked like I used the flash, aka, they looked worse than ever. It creates a lot of inky blacks in the stainless steel and a large flash as well.
How to use your laptop as a lightbox? This I thought would be simple, however, I used it with the lights on, with them off, and could not get anything that looked like a product photo as I've seen others do. I need specifics on the set up - room lighting, camera setting, angle, etc.
I wanted to be a bit more specific here so I don't just get a million tips like I've read on the Sticky and the rest of the internet. There's SO much info, but it's hard to apply it to specific settings. My default is just to use the natural light, make sure the reflection is gone from the lens and shoot at that angle. I use my ironing board inside the window and typically use interesting background that are almost always clothing or shoes. The textures create good pictures and settings that go well. Otherwise I'll just place the watch somewhere in nature. The results are great, but I'm getting bored with that and looking to get something more professional. I can see the shots in my mind, set them up how I see it and then just can't get the camera to shoot it like I see it.
Here are examples of things I got right:
And here are examples of ones I wish I could get much clearer:
Thanks for any suggestions!