Fall and winter weather has arrived in Seattle, and we’re embracing the change in seasons at Alki Surf Shop. Beach mats, towels and suntan lotion have been replaced by cool weather essentials and great gifts for fun and for the home.
Hand warmers for texting, scarves, hats, umbrellas and gift items that relate to the beach have been added to our inventory.
To showcase new offerings, we needed to create a new Gifts & Accessories section on our web site. But we couldn’t do so until we shot photos and wrote descriptions of our new products.
Light, Focus, Shoot
To expand our web site for next-to-nothing, we have been using the Nokia Lumia Icon, a tripod and device adaptor, plus a shop light and reflectors to shoot photos of our goods.
The product shots are done on the fly. When we have a few moments, we grab an item, set it up and shoot it in our back room. We’re working in a tiny space (about 3’ x 3’), stacking a couple of large cardboard boxes to create a work surface, and using some seamless paper for a background. We bounce light off the walls and ceiling, trying to eliminate glare where we can.
It’s not a sophisticated set up, but the Nokia Lumia Icon has such a good camera, it captures details that read well on the web. The end result: photos that can give our customers a pretty good idea of what we have for sale.
Converting Photos for Web
The Icon’s impressive pixel depth can be overkill for the web. If you upload a 20 megapixel image at 300 dots per inch (DPI) it will really slow down the loading of your web page.
So we take the photos into Photoshop, tweak the colors so they come close to representing the actual products, then down sample before adding to our web site.
We are using the Adobe Creative Suite CS6, which is no longer for sale. Adobe currently offers a $10/month Photoshop subscription on the Creative Cloud, and there are probably free applications out there that will do the same things, but we don’t use them.
Downsampling in Photoshop
- Open the high-res file.
- Adjust color, contrast, balance. Often I’ll start with adjusting levels and curves. Retouching can be at this point, too.
- Save with a name so you can find it, in the high-resolution size in case you might want to use it for print later.
- Crop the image (In our case, square or rectangles depending on the item)
- Check and adjust the resolution and size for the web. Many people post at the exact size at 72 DPI, but we post images that are fairly large (up to 7” square at 72 DPI) so our customers can click on the image for a good sized view.
- Save the file.
- (NOTE) It’s good to keep copies all of your photos in the same file folder!
They’re ready to upload!
Functionality at a Great Price
Currently we use the Icon only as a camera and sound/music ‘brain” for the store.
I just Googled it, and see it’s currently $99 (with a new Verizon contract) through the Microsoft store. I don’t know the Nokia’s price was when newly released, but I suspect it was much higher. Because of its great camera, it has become my go-to tool for any shot where I need clarity and quality.
Alki Surf Shop has a number of one-of-a-kind items that won’t make it onto the web site, but for products where we have back-up inventory in stock, we are shooting images and trying to add a few day by day. The Icon enables us to be nimble about quickly uploading new offerings.
Below you will see a few of the images we’ve added to www.alkisurfshop.com, and links to the accessories. I hope you’ll browse the site, and if you happen to order something, leave a shout on your order and I’ll be sure to send a personal thank you note with your order.