Learn Digital Photography Now
To upload your photographs to your storage place (website), you use the File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Consequently, you will need an FTP client to upload the images. There are many freeware and shareware FTP clients available. Try http llwww.cnet.com and look for downloads.
Squeezing the pictures out of your camera Naming your images Uploading images to a server Uploading and managing images on eBay So if you've ever asked yourself those questions, look to this chapter for the answers. Not only do we guide you step by step until you're an expert uploading your pictures to eBay but we also advise you on best practices for storing and safeguarding any pictures you take. A good way to start developing your picture-handling skills is by understanding how your camera stores its images. And then you'll recognize that storing your images in the camera is a waste of precious picture-taking space. But never fear this chapter shows you how to get those pictures out of your camera, store them on your computer, and safeguard your artistry with regular appropriate backups.
Surprisingly, some digital cameras can even store your pictures without removable media Marsha (who's been known to be a bit ditzy at times) bought a new Nikon digital camera and started snapping away happily until she realized when hadn't inserted a memory card Yikes, had she lost all her images Nope, most of the newer cameras have their own internal memory that can hold many images in temporary storage. This memory is also useful when you want to do some in-camera photo editing. (See Chapter 16 for info on how to do this.) You can transfer images held in your camera's internal memory to your computer through a direct cable connection. In some cases, the camera has a docking station (as is the case with the Nikon Cool-Station or the Kodak EasyShare). Older digital cameras come with a cable that connects directly to your computer's USB port. When you connect your camera and computer via the cable, your computer treats the camera as if it were a hard drive. You can then pull up a...
The camera you use for eBay is a very personal choice. Would-be bigtime sellers, starting out in an eBay business (with no experience on the site) usually go out and buy the most expensive digital camera they can find. Maybe having lots of megapixels is a macho thing, but a camera with a bunch of megapixels is the last thing you need for eBay images. For more information on the importance (or not) of megapixels, see Technique 18. When shopping for your camera, find one with the highest optical zoom that you can afford. Optical zoom is magnified by the camera's lens using the camera's internal optics to produce a vivid picture. Digital zoom is valuable with a camcorder when shooting moving pictures, as the eye can't focus on the fuzzy results as easily. When your camera uses digital zoom, it does the same thing as enlarging a picture in photo editing software. The camera will center the focus over half the focal plane and will use software interpolation to enlarge the picture. This...
Spending the fewest dollars possible Discovering the magic of digital cameras Figuring out what the gizmos do Working the buttons our digital camera is the heart of your eBay operation (okay, maybe your computer is the heart, but this book is about photography and HTML, so give us a little leeway here). Without quality photos, your listings end up blah and unattractive. You need alluring pictures to catch the eye of the buyer. Your pictures tell the story of your item, and if the item looks off-color or out of focus, odds are it won't seem as appealing to your prospective customers. Retailers those who know you're an eBay seller will play on your goal of taking appealing photos and if they think you're not savvy about digital cameras, they may steer you toward an omnifunctional, complex (and did we mention, pricey ) model. Reading this chapter sets you straight, and helps you save time and money when you choose and use your digital camera. The decision's not that hard don't let an...
The Self-Hosting tab (see Figure 6-10) provides a way to link the Sell Your Item form to pictures that are stored on a Web site, for example, from your own Web server or from a site hosted by your Internet service provider (ISP). There really isn't a benefit to self-hosting your picture over eBay Picture Services if you use this method, but it is sometimes necessary if you use a third-party hosting service. You still only get one free picture, and the tool is less user-friendly than Picture Services, especially the Enhanced tool. To self-host your pictures
Although it isn't the most important aspect of your description, the picture of the item you're selling is a big part of the first impression it makes. No surprise that the position your pictures take within a description can make a huge difference in ease of viewing the information about the item. Keep the following in mind
Digital is where it's at when it comes to state-of-the-art photography. The list of things you can do on film that you can't do digitally is dwindling to the point of obscurity. So right away, know that you need a digital camera. It's part of the future. It's a must. Unlike trying to create your own economical photo studio (see Chapter 2), there is no point in scrimping on what you're going to pay for your digital camera. You're going to be using that camera to make money. So consider it an investment, one that will pay for itself over time. Based on the features recommended in the next few sections, you can expect to pay anywhere from 300 on up to 1200 for your digital camera which is curiously similar to the same price you'd pay for a comparable quality SLR camera a few years back. Don't go hog wild There is no point in buying a high-priced, professional digital camera or spending too much money here. Buy your camera based on the features listed in this chapter. Avoid...
Part III gives you the scoop on how to get the best pictures of your merchandise. Whether you use a digital camera or a scanner, you may often find that Most digital cameras and scanners come with an image-processing program. We encourage you to learn how to use the basic features of this program it has what you need for cleaning up your pictures before you use them in your listings. The most useful functions help you crop and resize pictures that are too big
As we discuss in Chapter 10, digital cameras can store your images on various types of removable media. The industry refers to these media types as flash media. Why, you ask We hear that the flash part has something to do with how quickly the media can be erased, but we advise you to just hum along and go with it. To recap the media types, you can find Smart Digital, Secure Digital, Memory Sticks, Compact Flash, DVDs, and floppy disks all used in digital cameras. And you also discover that the storage media comes in lots of sizes all the way up to 1GB (gigabyte) of storage space Your camera's manufacturer decides which media type your camera takes but the size of the storage space you choose is up to you. Most newer cameras also have an internal memory where they can store images. So you've got plenty of ways to store pictures and three ways to retrieve them. We go over your options, one by one. Your camera names your images in a random manner and in a language that makes sense only...
Chapter 12 covered digitizing photographs. If you have questions, review Chapter 12. This chapter will assume that you have the photographs on your hard disk or on a Kodak Picture CD. However, know something about those darn photographs They're never quite as they should be. All we really need are a few simple photographs to use for our eBay auction ads, and we only have the time and money to take a few shots. It's not easy to always do our best photographic work with such time and money restrictions. That's where the image editing program comes in it's a digital darkroom. Digital Cameras Digital cameras are just easier to use than film cameras. You will shoot many more photographs without a care because the photos cost nothing except battery power. You will get better photographs too. And the photographs are already in digital form. You simply transfer them to your computer's hard disk, usually with a USB cable. Then you're ready for the digital darkroom.
Despite your best efforts, sometimes you are just unsatisfied with the results of your picture taking. Fortunately, most digital cameras come with at least rudimentary picture-editing software, and if they don't, you can purchase programs designed for the novice photographer, the professional photographer, and everyone in between. Editing programs such as Adobe's Photoshop and Photoshop Elements allow you to change resolution, sharpen images, adjust color, and otherwise change several other image attributes (see Photoshop Quicksteps or Photoshop Elements 3 Quicksteps, published by McGraw-Hill Osborne, for more information on editing pictures).
Until you establish your own eBay.co.uk shop, setting up an online photo gallery is a great alternative. If your customers have a high-speed connection, they can browse your auctions through photographs. Some auction management sites host your gallery. Some sites charge for this service others do not. You can produce your own gallery without any fancy programs or auction management software and at no additional cost.
Wouldn't you be embarrassed if someone bought a 300 set of chairs from you on eBay and turned around and sold them on eBay for 550 The difference is that you took one dull photograph of one of the chairs slightly out of focus, and the buyer (who subsequently sold for a profit) took a half-dozen dazzling sharp photographs, some showing close-ups of the detailing on the chairs. There are people who buy items on eBay from sellers who have done a careless job of photography and then sell for a profit after taking careful photographs. OK, there are 22 million items for sale on eBay each week, and statistically there's bound to be opportunities for re-photographing for profit. That explains it. Or does it You don't need to smell it, unless it's food. You don't need to hear it, unless it's music. And you probably don't need to touch most things to make an intelligent buying decision. You rely primarily on your eyes and on product information. And that's why good photographs are so We have...
Digital cameras are mysterious things. You may read about mega pixels (a million pixels) and think that more is supposed to be better, but that doesn't apply to eBay applications or to Web images. Mega pixels measure I Quality lens I'm sure anyone who has worn glasses can tell the difference between good lenses and cheap ones. Really cheap cameras have really cheap plastic lenses, and the quality of the resulting picture is accordingly lousy. Your camera will be your workhorse, so be sure to buy a well-known brand from a manufacturer known for making quality products. I Tripod and tripod mount Have you ever had a camera hanging around your neck while you're trying to repackage some eBay merchandise that you've just photographed, and the camera is banging into everything Or perhaps you've set down the camera for a minute (in a safe place) and then can't find it Avoid all this by using a tripod to hold your camera. Tripods also help you avoid blurry pictures from shaking hands and when...
The focus in this chapter for better photographs is on lighting. The best lighting is a soft diffused source. Professional landscape photographers normally take their photographs at dawn or at dusk, the times when the sun provides a soft diffused light just before it comes over the eastern horizon or just after it disappears below the western horizon.
Always use them. They will increase the number of buyers bidding on your item and are thereby likely to increase the high bid amount. You take the photograph. Then you digitize it into a GIF or JPEG format file. Finally, you make the file available at a place on the Web (a URL). You can retrieve it (pull it into your auction ad) with the image markup The src is the URL of the image file. See Chapter 11 for a detailed overview of using photographs in your eBay auction ad.
Suppose you store your photographs at your website (www.yourweb-site.com). Your root folder (directory) at your website is You can create a handy folder named photos just to store your photographs If you don't have a website, you may be able to store your photographs on your dial-up ISP's hard disk in the space reserved for you. Your ISP reserves space for your email messages. Most ISPs also enable you to use such space for webpages too. If you can put up a webpage, you can store photographs. Suppose your Web address is http llwww.isp.coml yours. You can create a folder named photos and upload all your photographs for eBay auction ads to that directory. The image markup will be If you need help with creating folders and determining what the URL of your photographs will be, consult your dial-up ISP Or, your ISP may have instructions published online. Many ISPs do. There are a number of Web services that cater to auction users. They will store your photographs for auction ads for free...
Good digital photography takes some time and a modest amount of money. Is it worth it You bet Taking good photographs is well worth it. It's important for boosting sales. It can make the difference between mediocre earnings and reasonable profitability. And it's essential to your success as an eBay retailer. For big ticket items, it's worth it to take great photographs. In so many words, attractive photographs are one of the most cost-effective things you can do for your eBay retail business whether via eBay auctions or eBay Stores. And Froogle also displays photographs.
Digital camera Shopping for a Digital Camera Although you can take pictures with a normal film camera, develop the film, and have a film processing lab transfer your photos to graphics files on a photo CD, that's a lot of work. Much better to start with digital photos at the source by using a digital camera to take all your product photos. You can pick up a low-end digital camera for well under 200 these days, and going direct from camera to computer to eBay is a lot easier than any other method.
Taking pictures No problem You have a digital camera, and you know how to use it. Just snap away and upload that picture, right Sorry, but no. There's a good way and a bad way to take photos for eBay and, believe it or not, the professional way isn't necessarily the most expensive way. I recommend that you have a mini photo studio for taking your eBay pictures. That way, you won't have to clean off your kitchen counter every time you want to take pictures. Beware of following instructions in books about digital photography. In most cases, their instructions are valid for pictures that you want to print. Online images are a horse of a different color (oooh, did I really say that ). Be sure you follow instructions that are written for Web images, such as in the steps in my eBay Listings That Sell For Dummies. What you find in this section might be more than you thought you'd need to take good pictures. But quality photographs will sell your merchandise, so you need to take this...
Photography has always been a passion for me. The hobby led me (at the age of 10) from developing film in a tiny storage-closet darkroom through my first side-advertising job for a camera store (yes, I was always a moonlighter) to a great professional gig taking photographs of NASCAR auto racing for magazines and newspapers. Although my passion for photography remains unchanged, I learned where to draw the line when exercising my photography skills. Specifically, when it came to taking pictures for retailer's catalogs, I left that job to an experienced professional. Making merchandise look good is an art. The catalog photographer knows just what it takes to get the lighting perfect, play down flaws in the merchandise, and give everything the right look within a few bracketed snaps. By working with professional catalog photographers for over ten years, I picked up some tricks for setting up the pictures, buffing up the merchandise, and making everything look picture-perfect. In this...
When overcast days aren't possible, the best time of day to take pictures is during what professional photographers call the magic hour. It's a chunk of time, anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes long, just after the sun goes down. At that time, the light outside is very soft. The sky seems to glow. And there are no shadows. This is when most car advertisements are shot. It's a great time of day to capture a large object or anything that you need to take a photograph of outside.
Most eBay sellers who take their own digital photos (in other words, most eBay sellers) set up a miniature photo studio in their home. It's easy enough to set one up, and not that expensive, either. Here's a shopping list for what you'll need Tripod A tripod like the one show below is a stand with extendable legs on which you can place your camera. A tripod isn't just to hold the camera still while you snap the shutter. In a photo studio, a tripod enables you to position the merchandise and the camera just right and adjust the lighting as well. Once you point your camera at your table, you can leave it there from photo to photo.
You've registered with eBay (as described in Chapter 2). You've cleaned and serviced your vehicle, and taken some clear digital photos (as described in Chapter 8). You've chosen an auction format and picked some marketing add-ons. Now, you can create your auction listing and publish it online, as described in the following sections.
To publish photographs on the Web for everyone to see, you must place them someplace on the Web. Like any webpage or Web media, they must each have a unique Internet address that is, a unique URL. There are many places where you can store your photographs on the Web. eBay will even do it for you. But like everything else in business, you will want to store them in the place that is the most cost-effective. Therefore, with cost-effectiveness in mind, this chapter will look at each potential place where you can store your photographs on the Web.
AOL features its You've Got Pictures service wherein you can have a copy of your photographs posted on the Web when you get your film developed This is the old Kodak PhotoNet service and continues to be affiliated with Kodak. It's a good way to digitize your photographs. You can download them from where they appear on the Web. Go to the URL to get complete instructions. As you will read later, you need to upload your digital photographs to the Web in order to use them for an eBay auction. With this service, you do not have to upload the photographs to the Web yourself, thus eliminating a step. Kodak does it for you. Again, you use this service through photofinishers.
There are better, more advanced, and more efficient techniques for digital processing than adjusting brightness and contrast. But they are beyond the scope of this book. You can read about them in eBay Photography the Smart Way. In the meanwhile, adjusting the brightness and contrast can brighten up your photographs considerably. For about 80 percent of my photographs, I decrease the brightness a little and boost the contrast. It brings out the richness in the color and makes the photograph more dazzling. Unfortunately, each photograph is different, and the other 20 percent require custom treatment. This process can be automated by batch processing.
You can control how an image is exposed in two ways. Both methods manage the amount of light entering the camera and exposing the film. (Or, in the case of a digital camera, exposing light to the electronic CCD chip that interprets the image.) The first control is the aperture. The second control is the shutter speed. These items are normally set automatically. In fact, setting them manually was one of the annoying things people disliked with old manual cameras. But you'll want to understand both aperture and shutter speed, and how they play a role in creating the image taken, if you want full control over your photographs.
Ambient light, light that occurs naturally, is the best light for photographing many types of items (especially shiny items). Problems start when you use flash or flood lighting alone (without a Cloud Dome) for pictures of metallic objects. Common lighting problems that affect the quality of your photographs include shiny spots from reflections (off walls and ceilings), washed-out areas (from the glare of the lights) and loss of proper color.
Cropping is the official name for what you do when you take a pair of scissors to your photographs. By cropping, you make the image smaller, pull in the sides or top or bottom, eliminate unwanted elements, and reduce the image to what you primarily want the viewer to focus on.
Did the seller use a stock photo or an actual shot of his album for sale You can usually tell. In this case, all the winning listings included an actual photograph of the seller's item and not a store or distributor image. People buy what they can see. Learn from those that have sold before you and fork out the cash for a digital camera or scanner it's worth it.
Similar to Half.com, Amazon.com has an area (called the Marketplace) where sellers can sell books, movies, music and associated items easily by simply entering the ISBN or UPC code. If the number is in the Amazon.com database, a stock photo and or description is provided, and the seller needs to enter only a fixed price and the condition of the item they are selling. Amazon then provides a link to these fixed price items from their product information pages.
Let's say you have a stock-photo business you don't need many words, you just need to present the pictures on your web site and let visitors pick the ones they want. However, the fact is that without text, search engines don't have anything to index, so if you provide hundreds of pages with nothing but pictures, you're not giving the search engines enough to work with.
To retrieve the digital pictures from your flash media, you first need to find the media in your camera. Think back to where you found a tiny trap door in your camera the one you opened when you put the media card in the camera in the first place. When you've scratched your head a few times and found the trap door, open it and remove the media card, as shown in Figure 15-3. After you find a place to stick the card that will permit your computer to read it, stick it there, and a small window similar to the one shown in Figure 15-2 should pop up. You can follow the same procedure to extract files from the camera's media card as you would for getting pictures from the camera's memory (see the section Retrieving images from your camera's memory, earlier in this chapter). Unless your camera comes with some fancy downloading software, the procedure to copy images onto your computer works the same in either case.
1 Attach your camera to the Cloud Dome's mount with the lens positioned so that it peers into the hole at the top of the dome. 4. Check the item's position through your camera's viewfinder or LCD screen. 5. Focus your camera and shoot the picture. 1 Jewelry I've found that taking pictures with the Dome keeps the gold color gold and the silver color silver. Also, using the Cloud Dome helps your camera pick up details such as engraving and the metal surrounding cloisonn work. It also gives pearls their unique luster and soft reflection, as in Figure 17-2. Much of the detail that the Cloud Dome helps capture can be washed out when you apply enough light to take the picture without it.
In Part III, we get the benefit of Marsha's years in professional photography. We've based this part on a pretty safe hunch that 98 percent of all digital camera users haven't a clue about how to use half the options available on their cameras. This part is where you see how to use your camera to its fullest and get the skinny on setting up your own eBay photo studio. Since lighting is so crucial to tweaking out the details of an item, this part also gives you the scoop on how lighting affects your final images. It's almost scary to know that changing a mere light bulb can mean a big change in the way your camera (and later, your buyer) sees your merchandise. But it's true.
A tripod is an extendable aluminium stand that holds your camera. Look for one that has a quick release so that if you want to take the camera off the tripod for a close-up, you don't have to unscrew it from the base and then screw it back on for the next picture. The legs of the tripod should extend to your desired height, should lock in place with clamp-type locks, and should have a crank-style geared centre column so that you can raise your camera up and down for different shots. Most tripods also have a panning head for shooting from different angles. You can purchase a tripod from a camera shop or on eBay.co.uk for as little as 15. Digital cameras can blast through batteries faster than chocolate through a five year old. A reliable power supply is a must and you can accomplish this in a couple of ways We've seen some eBay.co.uk sellers use a flash and instruct their children to shine a torch on the item as they photograph it from different angles - all the while hoping that the...
Once you've taken your pictures, you need to get the photos from your digital camera and onto the hard drive of your computer so that you can edit them. Your camera may have come with a memory card or a cable that hooks into your computer. My camera came with a USB cable that plugs right into my laptop. My camera also came with an editing program called Photo Impact, and this is what I use for editing. Once I plug my camera in to my computer and turn it on, the back side of my camera says Connected to computer, and a screen on my computer comes up that says Copy pictures to a folder on my computer using Microsoft Scanner and Camera Wizard. Your program will probably say something different. Just remember that you want to get those pictures copied onto your computer and click the button that will do that. If you get stuck, pull out the manual that came with your camera or go to your camera maker's Web site. Don't get frustrated once you get this mastered, you will be on your way.
Often, images aren't good if you capture them straight from your scanner, digital camera, or other input device. Instead, after you save your image in JPEG or PNG format, you can then edit (or, in photographic terms, retouch) the image in a graphics program to improve its appearance. Personally, I like a program called Adobe Photoshop Elements which, you'll be happy to know, comes bundled with many digital cameras. If you get this software along with your camera, you've got a great deal. Here are the kinds of things you should adjust with Photoshop Elements or another graphics program
You can light the object that you're photographing in many possible ways, but there is one definitely wrong way to do it with your camera's flash. If you can, disable your camera's built-in flash. Turn it off. Do away with it. Forgo it. That is the worst, most unattractive light you can shed on your subject. Note Refer to your camera's manual for instructions on disabling the built-in flash.The flash control may be on the camera's LCD menu, or it could be a button labeled with a lightning-bolt-like symbol. Instead of your camera's flash, use lamps and diffusion material (covered in Chapter 2) to illuminate your subject matter naturally. There is no right or wrong way to do this, but there is a good way to start.
If you're taking a photo of a white item, I have a trick for you. White items can be the hardest to photograph, because they can fool the exposure meter on your camera. When taking a photo of a white item, try pushing the button halfway down while focusing on something that's not white but is at the same distance from the camera as your item. Keeping the same distance is very important, or your picture will be out of focus. Keep the button pushed halfway down as you move the camera from pointing at the non-white item to pointing at your item. By doing this, you'll set your exposure at the appropriate level so that when you move your camera to shoot the white item, it will be properly exposed.
I Focus, focus Due to the focus limitations of many of today's digital cameras, we found it best to use the Cloud Dome with the extension collar (often sold along with the dome), which allows you to put your camera 17 inches away from the item you're photographing on a flat surface. holds your camera still while shooting the picture. If you prefer, after you've centered your item, stand away use your camera's self-timer to take the picture. 1 Vertical photo lights on stands Check Chapter 12 to get the lowdown on lighting your apparel. Here's a quick description of what you need. To light your merchandise, you'll do best to invest in some floodlights and to prevent glare you could use some diffusing elements. You don't have to spend a mint, but (as you'll see when you start taking pictures), the little flash on your camera just can't bring out the really good parts of your apparel. You may want to prevent the flash on your camera from going off altogether when you take pictures of...
When you buy a digital camera, it will no doubt arrive with a CD that includes some variation of image-editing software. Give it a try. If it works well for you, keep it. If not, check out the two options we mention further on in this chapter. Every image-editing software program has its own system requirements and capabilities. Study the software that comes with your camera or scanner. If you feel that the program is too complicated (or doesn't give you the editing tools you need), investigate some of the other popular programs. You can get some excellent shareware (software that you can try before you buy) at www.tucows.com and www.shareware.com.
When you're taking your photos, always shoot two to three pictures of each item. After the first photo, check the viewfinder on the back of your camera to decide whether you need to take one or two more. This saves time if your original shot isn't as good as you thought, because you don't have to find the item (once it is stored) and take it back to the studio to shoot again. This also saves money, because you won't be settling on a so-so photo just to be done with it. You will have your choice of two to three photos, so that you can pick the best one
One of the weaknesses of human eyes is that they interpret almost any light they see as white. On a bright sunny day, inside a classroom, by the fireplace, or at the kitchen table, all that light looks white. In the real world, however, light comes in a spectrum of colors. This is evident when you view your digital images and discover that they're suddenly tinted green or orange. No, there's nothing wrong with your camera that's just the real color of the light present.
1 Rename If you don't like the name your camera gave the picture (and who would), you can rename the image here. Two upload screens are available in the Picture Manager basic and full-featured. The basic uploader screen, which is shown in Figure 15-12, appears when you click the Add Pictures button on the Picture Manager screen. The basic screen uploads your pictures one at a time, as in the basic Picture Services.
You might also want to open the aperture just one stop to slightly overexpose the image. So to review Set the shutter speed as described, depending on the image source. Then, open the aperture one stop, for example, from f 11 to f 8. You may have to set your camera on full manual mode for this, but the results will be worth it.
How not to mess up your pictures with bad advice We put together this chapter's list of no-nos after reading several expert books about taking pictures for use on eBay (which were written by writers and photographers, but not sellers ). Please remember that we do not recommend the ideas put forth in any of these headings below. Don't e-mail us to complain that we told you to do any of this stuff. We didn't. We don't. Read on for the reasons why.
The basics are great, but (as with any venture worth doing right), there will always be things you can add to your arsenal of tools to improve your pictures. We're constantly adding new stuff to our photo studios (most recently, Marsha's new set of risers gotta love those gadgets). All professionals have a bag of tricks, and you might find that the tools in this section are more than you thought you'd need for photographing your items. Good photographs can help sell your merchandise, so to take this part of your business seriously. If you sell only one type of item, you won't need such a varied selection of photography tools, but you should have the basic photo setup and a few extras.
Suppose you just took a bunch of pictures for your new eBay items, using camera settings between 640 x 480 and 1024 x 768. (Those are common low-resolution digital camera settings.) Now you need to get these pictures snazzed up to give your items the best possible image (and get you the best possible price). The process for fixing your pictures is twofold (1) knowing which common edits improve your pictures' appearance on eBay and then (2) doing them. The next two sections show you the quick path through the process.
In Chapter 13, we talk about zooming in on the subject when taking your pictures, but when processing your pictures, zooming takes on a whole new meaning. Almost any image-processing program you decide to use will have a Zoom function. When you use this handy-dandy little feature to zoom in (for a closer look) or out (for an overall look) at your image, you have much greater control over its details.
This section shows you a bunch of big-time don'ts. We've seen images like these all over eBay at one time or another. I haven't duplicated it here, but there's the infamous problem of getting your image (with camera in hand) reflected in a mirror, large silver piece, or other reflecting surface. One creative seller said in her auction, Husband with camera not included. Avoid getting yourself in the photo by shooting your pictures from an angle. If you see your reflection in the item, move and try again.
Unless you use eBay's Picture Services (see the upcoming section, Uploading your picture to eBay ), you will need to upload your images to a server somewhere on the Internet. By doing so, your images will have an address, or URL, which you insert into your HTML coding or on eBay's sell your item form. This address allows the eBay Web site to display the picture in your listings. To get such an address for your pictures, you have several options
You need a safe place to store your pictures for eBay. If your images don't appear when someone clicks your auction, or if your images take too long to load, a user might click off your auction and go to the next one. If you have more than one option, test each with a few pictures because you want one that's reliable. When you add your own photos, you may have to use an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program to upload your pictures to a server. In the old days, this meant buying a program or getting shareware software. Now, if you use the free Firefox browser (I keep Firefox on my computer, right along with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and often switch back and forth), you get a built-in FTP program. Firefox is stable and updated frequently, so there's no reason to fear installing it on your system. Just go to www.firefox.com for your free download and more information.
Quickly, in 55 characters or less, tell The Donald (Trump) why he should hire you for a 250,000-a-year position. Keeping that metaphor in mind will help you craft titles for your items that will bring buyers to them and entice buyers to take the subsequent steps of viewing your pictures, reading your description, and submitting a bid. Buyers will be scanning lists looking for interesting titles. You will only have a few seconds of a buyer's time to entice him or her to look at your item in more detail.
Another of your most important decisions when selling on eBay is where to start the price for your item. You can do everything else perfectly your title can be motivating, your pictures professional, and your description just like a short funny story. But if you don't price the item correctly, it just plain isn't going to sell.
1 Do avoid getting yourself in the photo by shooting your pictures from an angle. If you see your reflection in the item, move around till you disappear, focus from right there, and try again. One of my favorite eBay pictures featured a piece of fine silver. Now, silver and reflective items are hard to photograph because they reflect everything in the room in their reflection and when the lady selling the piece on eBay had her husband take the shot, there he was. She got around it with a little humor, explaining (in her item description) that the man reflected in the silver coffeepot was not included in the final deal To avoid having this problem reflect oddly on you (sorry about that), take pictures of silvery objects in a photo cube. 1 Do use extra lighting. You can do this by using your camera's Flash mode judiciously (see Chapter 12), or with extra photo lighting on stands. Use extra lighting even when you're taking the picture outside the idea is to put some fill light on the...
Take your pictures outside, on a nice sunny day. A car is one thing that looks good with a reflection To see what we mean, take a look at these shots (Figures 14-13 through 14-16) of a used Chrysler Town and Country Van sold by e.vehi-cles. They're fine examples of some types of images you'll need if you're going to sell a car successfully on eBay. You can see why John Rickmon, the owner of e.vehicles, has been making a good living selling automobiles on eBay for many years as these pictures attest, he really knows his stuff
Templates and Themes I'm sure you've seen eBay listings with very nice graphics in the borders. These come from eBay's easy-to-use theme templates listed on the left of the screen. You may select any of these colorful templates to doll up your listing. Themes make the listing look pretty, but they may draw attention away from the selling strength of your pictures. Remember, it's your good description and a quality photo that will sell your item. Keep in mind, though, that eBay charges you an additional .10 to use one of these themes in your listing. You don't have to use any of the themes (just click None when you reach this screen). HTML View If you have a smattering of HTML knowledge, you may want to display the HTML view and edit your listing design from there. You can also insert your hosted images by entering supplementary coding into the HTML view. (See Technique 20 for additional information about coding and on inserting your pictures into the description area.) Also, if you...
Like an undeveloped roll of film, the images you take with your digital camera do no good remaining in the camera. The idea is to get them out. Unlike the film world, however, no processing is involved. The pictures taken and stored in your digital camera are already stored as files just like in the computer. Your goal is simply to transfer the files from the camera to your computer. Once the images from your digital camera are on the computer, you can do magnificent things with them edit them, print them, send them via e-mail, upload them to the Web, and so on. But you must get the pictures from the camera into the computer first. The happy news is that digital camera manufacturers are aware that the images must be removed from the camera. They provide one of two ways to get the image out Good digital cameras use some type of media card as storage. The media card's technical name is flash memory, which refers to the type of computer memory inside the card. Flash memory requires no...
All the lighting, backgrounds, and even the best digital camera in the world can't make up for forgetting to do some basic things when you actually take your photo. For instance Move in for a close-up Most good digital cameras have powerful zoom lenses use them to get nice and close on your item before you actually take the photo. If you're too far away, you'll lose detail and your item might even look out of focus. Clean your lens If you've been using your camera outdoors or if you have forgotten to put on the lens cap recently, wipe off the lens (with a clean, photo-quality lens cloth rather than a shirtsleeve or paper towel) so you don't obscure your image. Check your focus The autofocus feature on many digital cameras doesn't work perfectly all of the time. Take a good look through the viewfinder or LCD and adjust the focus manually, if necessary, before you click. One of the many nice things about digital cameras is that you can take as many photos as you want, erase the ones you...
The fastest, cheapest, safest, and easiest way to obtain pictures for use on a selling form is to use a digital camera (unless the items are flat and can be placed on a flatbed scanner). For images that are designed to be displayed online, even a low-cost digital camera will be adequate (and thousands are for sale on eBay ).
You need a graphics editing program either to create original artwork for your Web pages, or to crop and adjust your scanned or digitally photographed images. The software you need to adjust or crop photographic image files almost always comes bundled with the scanner or digital camera, so you don't need to buy separate software. I discuss auction images in Chapter 8, but the two image editing programs I use the most are Paint Shop Pro by Jasc Software (http www.jasc.com) and Adobe Photoshop Elements (http www.adobe.com).
Pull together the items you plan to sell first. Don't start with too many items at once for starters, just try a handful so you can get used to the process gradually. Get a good quality digital camera, or consider assembling a photo studio including auxiliary lights and solid-colored backdrops you can use for photos.
Whether you use a digital camera or scanner to save your images to disk, you need If you pay extra for a photo lab to create digital images for you, you can tell the service to save the files as JPEGs. Otherwise, you can do so yourself by using the software that comes with your scanner, digital camera, or other hardware device. Usually, you save in JPEG format by choosing File Save from the program's menu bar and then choosing JPEG from the list of formats that are available. You also need to save the file with the file name extension JPG (or, on a Macintosh, JPEG).
First, try to get an SLR digital camera. SLR stands for single-lens reflex, and it describes the type of camera that lets you look through the viewfinder and see exactly the image that you will take. Less-expensive digital cameras use separate viewfinders and lenses, which means that what you see is never exactly the image captured. Investing in an SLR saves you time when framing an image. A typical digital SLR camera is shown in Figure 3.1. The Canon Digital Rebel, a decent digital camera Third, ensure that the camera has manual overrides for the aperture and shutter speed adjustments. Nearly all digital cameras have automatic aperture and shutter speed, but you want to be able to adjust both or either value. For example, you might want to set the aperture wide open or very tiny, and you might want to adjust the shutter speed for a longer exposure if necessary. Finally, get a large-capacity media card for your camera. You'll find that the mid-to-higher end prosumer cameras in this...
You've got a snazzy new digital camera, you've read the instruction booklet, and you've even taken a few test images. You probably think all you need to do now is point, click, and upload to get your photos on the Web along with your auction descriptions. You can do that, and it's even possible that some of your photos will come out perfectly the first time. Remember, though, that I'm trying to provide you with instructions for running a successful eBay business. An important part of consistently selling at auction is coming up with a system for creating good images that attract attention and help people decide whether what you're offering is a good match for what they need.
Flp You can also include pictures in your description and not pay a picture fee. See Adding Photographs, later in this chapter. flp Remember to spell check if someone is searching for a digital camera, they won't find your digtal camera. And avoid terms that are likely to be misunderstood. p eBay does not allow you to use a different product's name in the title. For instance, you can't name a product as being like another product, as it's misleading. You can't say, for instance, Digital Camera, Similar to the Nikon PowerShot SD110. Canon Digital Camera, say Canon PowerShot SD110 3MP Digital Elph w 2xOpticalZoom. Include the generic term, too. Some people will search for the Canon PowerShot, others will search for Digital Camera.
The hardware that you should evaluate includes your computer, monitor, keyboard, printer, and digital camera. These items are imperative to your success on eBay, but you don't necessarily need to rush out today and purchase them. My grandmother was always cautious with her capital expenditures and you want to be careful, too.
This chapter seems the appropriate place to mention which cameras and lights the authors used to take the product photographs you see in the center color section of this book. The other photographic equipment used is mentioned in each chapter. Stanley, a professional product photographer, used two excellent cameras. The first was a 6-MP Nikon D70 digital SLR camera (circa 2004) with various Nikon lenses (see review at The second was a Fuji F-700 digital point-and-shoot camera (circa 2003) with the 3-MP sensor that has the equivalent of an additional 3 MPs, making it in effect a hybrid 6-MP camera (see review at http www.steves-digicams.com 2003_reviews fuji_f700.html). Stanley's rules for taking photographs for the the book were that he could use whatever camera he wanted to and do whatever post-processing he wanted to. Joe, on the other hand, played the role of an eBay businessperson. He might have used his 8-MP Minolta A2 prosumer digital camera (circa 2004), but that would have...
Before you can find a home at all, you have to have some images to put there. Are you going to have a friend or relative take photos for you Or are you going to buy a digital camera and do it yourself In any case, you need to decide how you're going to take good-quality digitized (in other words, computerized) images, because good photos are critical to sales. See Chapter 8 for a run-down of the options.
Provide excellent, clear, focused photographs (jpg's) of your items. Always have at least 3 - one general frontal pic, one close-up (or more depending on how many highlights you want to show), and one of the back of the item. If you don't have a digital camera- get one. Prices have come way down and it's an essential selling tool. Very few people will take a risk and bid on an item they can't see- no matter how well your written description is.
Strangely (or not so strangely), digital cameras are pretty much the same from manufacturer to manufacturer. Take a look at Figure 10-3, which shows you two of Marsha's cameras. Notice that several gizmos on the cameras seem to be the same whether the camera is a Nikon or a Sony. Most digital cameras have the following dials and switches i Mode dial Here's a look (in Figure 10-5) at magically quick tool that enhances your control over your camera. You can choose from a plethora of settings that make your camera do technical magic for example, portrait mode for taking pictures of your loved ones and fireworks mode for taking images of nighttime fireworks exhibitions although (sadly) very little of this fun stuff is useful for eBay purposes (where generally you just set your camera on auto and shoot). Have fun with the various modes when you take your trusty camera out for a walk or on vacation Macro photography You can only zoom into your item so far with the toggle buttons, but when...
If you're selling commodity merchandise, eBay can be a great way to sell more of what you're already selling. After all, if you're selling digital cameras (for example), does it matter to you where you sell those cameras If you can increase your sales by 10 , 20 , or more by running regular eBay auctions, why wouldn't you do so
When you're taking a digital photo or making a scan, you want to save your images in the JPG file format. This is the default file format for most digital cameras and scanners, although some devices give you a choice of other formats (GIF, TIF, and so on). The JPG format is de facto standard for Web images, and what eBay expects for your item listings given the choice, choose JPG.
Not all retail sales get repeat business within a reasonable time (e.g., digital cameras), but many do get repeat business regularly (e.g., photofinishing). For instance, people may buy digital cameras every two to five years. But the same people may have their digital photographs printed by a digital photofinisher on an average of once a month. If you sell digital cameras on eBay, a strong brand may not be important to success. If you provide a photofinishing service via eBay, however, you will need a strong brand for repeat business. (Digital photofinishing is a service that enables customers to upload their digital photograph files, which the digital photofinisher then prints and delivers via snailmail.)
When it comes to really small items like jewelry and coins, we recommend the Cloud Dome. Taking pictures with a Cloud Dome isn't difficult and you can set it up anywhere. For the most natural lighting (and to add just enough shadow), set the Cloud Dome near a window and use the ambient light. If you need additional lighting, you can use flip lights (mentioned earlier) along with your Cloud Dome. (For more information on the Cloud Dome, visit the manufacturer's Web site at www.clouddome.com.) 1. Attach your camera to the bracket on top of the Cloud Dome using the camera's tripod mount. 5. Set your camera to macro mode and turn off the flash. 6. View the item through your camera's LCD screen to see whether your item needs additional lighting. If it does, add that light
You don't really need a permanent photo studio location. In fact, for taking subjective photos, setting up a context using things found around your home is probably best. But even for objective photographs, a permanent studio or location isn't necessary. Note There is no need to keep your photo studio up and ready all the time, that is, unless you're taking pictures all the time.
What have I completely left out thus far that can brighten up your text presentation Digital photographs Photographs and other digital graphics can make webpages and PDFs seem like full-color magazines. Inexpensively If you do a text presentation, sprinkle in some digital color photographs here and there to create impressive and professional content. For instance, with a little practice and perhaps the aid of a book on photography, you could create informative color digital photographs of a chess board and chess pieces for a chess tutorial. And you could do it yourself inexpensively.
Item listings with product photos are more successful than those without. As all successful direct mail retailers know, customers like to see what they're buying before they purchase an item. That's why all those direct mail catalogs are chock full of big, four-color photographs. Seeing a product photo increases the customer's sense of security not being able to see the product causes a lot of customers to just walk away. The power of pictures is even greater when all your competitors include product photos and you don't. Photos with listings are the norm these days, and those listings that don't have photos look exceedingly unprofessional. Do you want to bid on an auction where the seller hasn't taken the time and effort to include a photo of the item for sale Probably not. Given the choice of bidding on an auction that includes a nice, clean product photo and one that doesn't, most users choose the auction with the photo, no questions asked. Don't put yourself at...
In this book, however, we are only concerned with how to handle the digital photographs that must accompany the text in any catalog entries or pages for any marketplace. With that in mind, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind when building a system for digital photographs that will accommodate all marketplaces.
My prior eBay books have provided basic information on taking acceptable photographs for eBay ads. For established eBay businesses, it's appropriate to do two things now. First, take better photographs. Second, establish an efficient workflow for your photographic processing. This chapters attempts to briefly cover both.
How important do you think photographs are to your item listing In this chapter, we will look at this very important question and cover in detail the best photos to take, how to take them, and finally, how to place them in your listings. We'll also look at the different ways you can make your listings stand out from the rest. Keep your hands on your wallet for this chapter. This is where the fees can really begin stacking up if you're not careful. Don't worry, though. We're here to help.
Let's continue from where we left off in the previous chapter with respect to the Solace CD I am selling. The last thing we did was set a price and determine an auction duration and item location. The next step in the listing process is to add pictures. What a coincidence that we just finished learning all the ins and outs of taking great photographs
Forget about using models to showcase any clothing you want to sell. Even if you know an amateur model and they're willing to donate their time, it just isn't worth the effort. Remember keep it simple. For selling clothes on eBay, simply use the objective approach and showcase the clothes you want to sell. This doesn't mean you must avoid being creative. That plays a role as well, as the photographs in this section demonstrate.
At your website, you should have a webpage dedicated to your business. For instance, put in a photograph of your retail store, warehouse, or office if you have a physical location. Provide the history of your firm if you've been in business for 20 years, toot your horn. Show photographs of your employees and yourself. You can do as much as you want to do. This is not an ad in the newspaper that costs 400 per inch.
We will discuss in the next chapter (Outdoor Photography) that you need to ensure that the background for outdoor photographs is appropriate and non-distractive. After all, you can't use seamless background paper to create a neutral background for a car, so you need to create something else. But we also warn that creating an advertising environment (as covered in Chapter 23) for photographs is not normally cost-effective. And therein lies the problem. How far can you go towards creating an enhanced photographic environment for shooting The easiest and best way to display clothing is on a manikin. But what about a person A person is OK, too, but as soon as you get a second person involved in the photographic process, cost-effectiveness tends to evaporate. If you hire a real model, the cost skyrockets. But one person can dress a manikin quickly and shoot the photographs, and manikins make clothing look attractive. This is particularly important because clothing is otherwise difficult to...
Compositing is necessary because monitors, screens, TVs, and LCDs generate light. They are a light source. Not only that, TV screens and computer CRT monitors flicker. Your eye won't pick up the flicker because of a phenomenon known as persistence of vision, but an unblinking camera notices the flicker without discretion. This explains why some photographs you have of TV sets, computer monitors, or even digital clocks show only part of the image on the screen.
The only types of photographs you won't find specifically addressed here are pictures of cars and real estate. That's because car photography is a specialty all unto itself really the topic for an entire book. Ditto for real estate photography. Yet for everything else, the approaches discussed in this book cover those items well.
Note that this lighting was so strong that we were able to take many photographs at high shutter speeds without a tripod. Note that this lighting was weak, and sharp photographs were only possible using a tripod and low shutter speeds. We were impressed by the results from the light box. It works quite well for small items, especially jewelry. If you need to photograph such items routinely, a light box can boost your productivity as well as provide attractive photographs. If you photograph small products only occasionally, you can get by just fine without a light box. The CloudDome (http www.clouddome.com) is a translucent plastic dome with a hole in the top. You shoot your photographs through the hole with your camera fastened onto a bracket. The dome is quite handy for photographing small things, and a variety of helpful accessories are available to make it more useful. Joe used the dome and an extension collar to photograph a few items. See Photos 59, 72, 73, and 76 appearing at...
Has the option to include photographs, web links, and even feedback comments people have left for him. Remember, the goal here is to create a page that will further instill trust in Jordy as a buyer or seller. Once he's entered his content, Jordy can click on the Continue button to move to the next step.
After researching and collecting the raw information for an item, the data needs to be incorporated into a selling form that will ultimately become the listing Web page. The technical knowledge required of the person preparing the selling form will depend on the method you use to create your listing and how much customization you add to it. For example, listing items with the simplified Create Your Listing form (auction listings only) and the standard Sell Your Item form that allows you to customize your listing, using eBay Picture Services to host images, and using prebuilt templates requires little but fundamental computer skills. However, if you create your listings from scratch using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), host your own photographs, and use custom listing or management software, the new computer user would be challenged. Chapter 4 describes how to create listings to maximize sales using tools such as Turbo Lister, shown in Figure 3-8.
Alas, when you buy a vehicle on eBay in a faraway city, what can you do First, you need to deal only with eBay sellers who have good reputations (solid positive feedback). Second, you need to get full information on the vehicle. Third, you need to see plenty of photographs, one from every angle, to do a preliminary visual inspection. Fourth, if these are not included in the seller's auction ad, you need to request them. If the seller won't provide them, forget the vehicle and move on to another. Fifth, there is a free one-month, 1,000-mile warranty on most vehicles less than ten years old with less than 125,000 miles. Sixth, there is free fraud insurance up to 20,000.
The media generally used on the Web are text, color graphics (images), animation, streaming sound, streaming video, MIDI music, and embedded programs (e.g., Java applets). Of the greatest interest for running auctions on eBay are text and color graphics (digital photographs). Anything more may interfere with the efficient functioning and appeal of your auction ads.
Taking photos is not a big production she tapes a one-color piece of cloth against the wall, and photographs the item on a table. If the item is light, she uses a dark background, and vice-versa. Buyers who refuse to follow through with payment aren't a big deal, either. If you have any kind of business, you'll run into those kinds of things. I don't hold it against people. I've never had a check bounce, and I have more than 1,000 feedback.
Indicates that an item is for sale in its present condition or As Is , without warranties or guarantees of any kind. It's solely up to the buyer to examine and judge the state of the item being sold. This can be done through photographs the seller posts on the auction site, as well as by contacting the seller via email with questions. Returns are unlikely to be accepted for an As Is item. Check the sellers description carefully for a return policy before bidding.
But if you tend to sell things that non-geeks would want, which is probably 95 of everything on eBay, you should use thumbnails instead of full-sized photographs. With a simple tag you can convert these thumbnails into links to the full-sized pictures, so if someone is interested enough, they'll click through and see them anyway.
Getting your pictures the right size Making sure to cover all the angles Inserting a picture in your listing Optimizing listing-page download speed In Chapter 4, we cover the mechanics of the HTML commands you use to actually place the images in your description. This chapter covers some concepts you'll need to keep in mind when getting your pictures ready for use in your listing. We've been taking listing pictures for many years, and we still routinely need to tweak our images before they're ready to use on eBay. In this chapter, we share what we've found out about making your images the optimum size and clarity for viewing online, while keeping them small enough to download quickly. And that means we also have to indulge in a little bit of techno-babble, but stick with us because we do explain how to have your images show what they need to nothing more and nothing less.
In this chapter you're going to learn how to submit an item for sale in eBay. There's a lot to cover. We're going to discuss how to create your photographs, the different ways in which you can list items, how much eBay charges, how to enter information and pictures for your listing, specifying payment and shipping, and so on.
Get Paid to Take Digital Photos
Reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information presented in this book is accurate. However, the reader should understand that the information provided does not constitute legal, medical or professional advice of any kind.