Sunday, 23 January 2011

Tips and Tricks for Taking Pics

I recently started using Google Analytics which gives me loads of useful information about The Nailasaurus' audience. If you have a blog or website, I really recommend trying it out.
One of the 'keywords', or searches that keeps popping up is 'nailasaurus what camera do you use' so I thought I'd share some of my tips for taking and editing pictures and run you through my... 'process', if you will!

The main camera I use to take most of the pictures you see on this blog is an Olympus E510 with a 14-42mm lens.

Recently, I have also started using this Panasonic Lumix FS30 which I got for Christmas. It has superior macro capabilities, but obviously doesn't give the same quality or range of settings customization you get from a DSLR. I use this for really close-up pictures.

How do I take my pictures?

I photograph with my hand and camera both resting on a flat surface. This minimises the chances of blur from unsteady hands.

Focus is important
I think focus is the most important factor in photographing nails and nail art, where every tiny detail counts.
I've found the best way to get sharp close-up pictures (with the DSLR) is to zoom in as far as I can and hold my hand a little further away from the camera as opposed to shoving my hand in to my camera's face!
Don't worry if you can't get in as close as you would like with your camera. Just make sure it's in focus, then crop it later like I do.

Set the white balance
This just makes sure that you get colour-accurate pictures.
All you need to do is find out how to set the white balance on your camera (however, not all cameras have this feature). It will normally tell you how to do this in the instruction manual, or if not I'm sure you can find some instructions online. It involves holding a white piece of paper in front of the lens and taking a dummy picture, the clever camera then decides the correct exposure and colour settings for your picture.


This is one of my pictures before any editing. You can see that my hand is resting on a flat surface (in this case, the floor!) as I mentioned above. I'm also resting the camera on the floor. This is the closest I can get my hand to the camera, if I move any closer, it won't focus on my nails.

The software I use for editing is Adobe Photoshop CS5 and this is my routine editing process. It's quite basic really, I just rotate the image 90°, crop it down and then stamp on my watermark.

Sometimes I also have a quick mess around with the contrast and colour settings if I don't think the colours in the photo are true to real life in an attempt to match them up.


  1. very good post.
    do you crop with photoshop?

  2. You nailed it! - Thanks! Yes, I use Photoshop for all my editing. I knew there was something I forgot to mention, I'll pop that in now.

  3. Nice post! :) I don't use PS anymore, since I got to be a student I can't afford things like that. An okay program that's for free is and they have a forum with tutorials and such too.

    I might start cropping them cause even though my camera is good I can't get super close and keep focus. :)

  4. This is the most resourceful post ever! thanks for doing this!

  5. Thanks for the tips, I deffo need all the help I can get the pics I post are awful :p xo

  6. Gasp! I totally thought you were doing some cool gymnastics to get your hand in that position.. I might try this! Thanks for the tips. :D

    How long did it take google analytics to work for you? :/ I installed it, and have had people look at my blog, but it's not recording them!

  7. great, I do not have a camera I use my scanner.
    Crappy but it works

  8. Thanks Beata!

    Melisende - I'm also a student so I know what you mean but there are others ways of getting photoshop if you know what I mean ;) I didn't pay for it myself (I'm not sure I should say that but oh well!)

    BoldNBeautiful Makeup - Yay, glad I could help, thanks!

    Marina - You're welcome! I think your pictures are fab!

    Kendal - Haha! It's all camera tricks :D
    I checked it every day for about 3 days and it wasn't working so I gave up on it. I checked it about a month later and there was loads of detail on it! So I don't know exactly how long it took, but definitely more than a few days.

    Lacey - That's awesome!! Such a good idea!


  9. great tips!!! do you have any tips for taking photos at night?? because i only have time to do nails at night and school in the morning. =( thanks!!

  10. very good post, thanks for advice :-)
    love this mani 2 :-)

  11. I use GA too :)
    luckyly my camera has the white balancing soo it is very easy :)

  12. Thank you for the tips.

  13. This is such a great post. I found your blog from Life and Polish. Your tips are so helpful.

  14. This is really thoughtful of you to to help out other blog addicts like me! i will remember your tips in the future!

  15. I'm so glad I found this post. I recently just started nail blogging and I couldn't get my camera to focus properly even on close up. Putting both the camera and my hand on a flat steady surface was the answer. Thanks so much!

  16. If you are taking these pictures from the floor, you must have really great lighting in your house! Do you use a light on the floor or anything to get them so bright?

  17. Sorry i dont speak english,
    thank you very much for all
    I like you blog is very nice

  18. You blog is the first nail blog I stumbled across and I have spent HOURS looking at your pics. Now I know how you photograph those beautiful nails! Thanks for the tips!

  19. Im a guy and stumbled on your website from some link and not to be a weirdo or anything, but you have some of the sexiest nails/hands I've ever seen. And the nail pics are pretty neat, good job.

  20. Excellent pictures. Thanks for the information, but how do you light your nails? Is it the camera flash, side lighting or ???? I recently started my own blog for guys who are into painting their nails and want to take some really good pics like this.

    My blog is called 'It's ok for men to have painted nails in public' for anyone wanting to check it out. It's a blog to encourage other men to try it and to realize that it's ok.


  21. Thank you very much for this! I'm not a photographer so taking pictures has been a learning curve, this post is really informative!

  22. thanks a ton!!!! I definitely want to improve my pictures.. and this will help me!

  23. Sam,
    I had my graphic designer make me a few different shaped watermarks but I can't seem to stamp it on my pictures using Picasa. Does the Adobe Photoshop allow you to import files and super impose on photos? In this case a watermark? When I try to do it it looks like a sticker and doesn't come out transparent. Thanks for your help!

  24. Love your tips here! I bookmarked so I can come back to them as often as I need to. :)

  25. So incredibly helpful. At this time my old point & shoot camera is actually not as high quality as my iphone camera. (A no-no, I'm sure, but I've got limited resources at the moment.) Thanks so much for all of this rich information though!

  26. Hi Sammy,

    I saw that someone else asked, but I guess you didn't get a chance to answer yet. I was also wondering about lighting. I tried using a flash at first, but the reflection was awful, especially for any kind of glittery polish. Do you use something special?


  27. That's great!! Although I think Lightroom is better for photo-edition when you just don't wanna change the image. I crop, correct the white balance, the exposure, contrast, luminance and stuff all in Lightroom 3.3. I don't know how to use Photoshop, but Lightroom is pretty easy for "revelation" and it combines a lot of stuff that you usually need when you're editing photos.

    Though your pictures are waaaaaay better than mine... experience is everything, huh? :D

  28. Thanks for the tips! I've been having problems with blurry photos but will definitely be trying these techniques!

    gemma xo

  29. Thanks for the advice. I recently downloaded gimp because I had heard it was a good free software, but I haven't been completely successful using it yet lol.

  30. Thanks! Going to implement this simple process. Now looking for better hand posing tips.

  31. just wondering how you go about adding a watermark and why its important.Thanks♥


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