How I take my photos part 1: My camera

I’ve been thinking a good while about writing a proper post about how I take my photos. I studied a little bit of photography in school, but didn’t learn even half of what I know now after my year-long trial-and-error period. Before I dig deeper into what I actually do I’ll write you a short list of a few things that I’ve learned so far:

  • A fancy expensive camera does not a good photographer make – you can do very much with fairly little if you know how to work the settings.
  • Light is key – if you don’t have access to massive amounts of natural sunlight you need proper lights, and more of them than you think you need.
  • PhotoShop is not necessary – with proper cleanup on your nails, the right settings and good lights you don’t need that much post-processing. Don’t get me wrong, though, a photo editing program is very handy, but GIMP or similar is quite sufficient. The only reason why I use PhotoShop is because I studied it in school and got a license from my husband who does design for a living.
  • Take plenty of shots for each swatch – start with about 20 photos, then take about 20 more. How many times have you not taken swatch photos, looked at them in the monitor on the camera and thought them fine, removed the nail polish only to realize once you load the photos into your computer that they’re all a little bit blurry?
  • Read up on your camera’s settings – there are so many photo blogs out there and the is bound to be at least one that explains the settings for your camera in real English (and not Manualish).

On to my camera! I have a very old Nikon D50 with the standard lens, DX AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1.3.5-5.6G ED. For those of you who don’t speak camera, this is what it looks like:

Nikon D50

I’ve been contemplating getting a new camera, because this one is giving up. If I’ve taken a lot of photos in succession, it eventually gives me photos that look like this:





Tired camera much? Oh well, on to my settings! Here’s what the settings are called on my camera, they will most likely be called the same thing if you have a Nikon, and something similar if you have a camera from another brand.

Image settings:

  • Optimize Image: Custom –>
    • Sharpening: +2 High
    • Tone Comp: Auto
    • Color Mode: Ia (sRGB)
    • Saturation: – Moderate
    • Hue Adjustment:
  • Long Exp. NR: On
  • Image quality: Fine
  • Image Size: Large
  • White Balance: Preset
  • ISO: 200

Camera settings:

  • (Beep: Off)
  • Autofocus: AF-S
  • AF-Area Mode: Single Area
  • (No SD Card? Lock)
  • Image Review: On
  • Flash level: 0.0
  • AF Assist: On
  • AF Area Illm: Auto
  • (ISO Control: Off)
  • ISO Auto: On
  • EV Step: 1/3
  • BKT Set: Off
  • Metering: Matrix
  • AE-L/AF-L: AE Lock On
  • AE Lock: Off
  • Flash Mode: TTL
  • (Monitor Off: 10 sec)
  • (Meter-Off: 16 sec)
  • (Self-Timer: 5 sec)
  • (Remote: 1m)

I wish I could tell you what all these things do, but I can’t. I really just tried every freaking setting on my camera and finally decided that these were the best settings for this kind of photography. Maybe you could use these setting as some form of reference and then tweak them to your needs or preference.

That’s it for now, but stay tuned for part 2 in which I’ll describe and show you how I take the actual photos. If you have any questions on cameras, I’ll do my best to answer them but I’m pretty sure Google will know much more than me.

Happy photographing!


  1. Oh this is a great camera, but yes, this old lady (♥) looks like it’s getting a bit too tired :(
    And about the setting, try putting the ISO at 100, it captures more details and I use my sharpening at +6. And for the rest I setup according to each polish :) Personally I don’t think you need to take me on any advice cause your pictures are great, but I’m leaving it in here anyways.

  2. Vilket intressant inlägg! Har för bara ett par timmar sen klickat hem min första systemkamera, en Nikon d3100 – det ska bli så himla kul att få lära mig mer! Och gärna fota fina swatchbilder, även om jag själv inte har en blogg… :-) Ser fram emot ditt nästa inplanterade inlägg nr 2 om fotografering.

  3. Det ser ut som att det är dags för en ny kamera! Usch så irriterande när det blir så där. Vad brukar du ha för inställningar på bländare/ slutare när du fotograferar. Kör du helt manuellt eller går du på autoprogrammet?

    • Haha det säger du? ;) Vill helst ha en lite mindre kamera, denna är så tung… Sitter och skriver nästa inlägg om just det faktiskt, men jag kör på manuellt (så gott det går med objektivet jag har). Det enda jag har på auto är fokus och ISO (för att jag inte fattar hur ISO fungerar).

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