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Technology in the classroom and teacher resources blog

Tips for Taking Photos of Products for your Teachers Pay Teachers Store


As the video / IT / web guy at my school I get asked this quite a bit - Any Tips for Taking Photos of Products?

Firstly, you’ll be happy to know you can easily improve the quality of your photos with a little effort rather than a large expense.

The camera on your phone is just fine :-) smart phone cameras are remarkably good.

Turn off the flash for more even lighting. Turn up the brightness of the screen (I have mine turned down during the day to conserve batter), and connect to a mains power supply so that the phone doesn’t go suddenly flat mid-shoot.

A tripod that keeps your camera steady is a must. You can get a small adjustable grip that then will hold your camera for a few dollars. Use the self-timer on your phone so there is no camera shake while pressing the shutter

Lighting: choose a sunny day, set an empty table with a white sheet or paper across it so it gets indirect light. A thin curtain over the window that diffuses the light will give nice even lighting.

To crop your images and remove the background (easy to do as it is on the one colour sheet) use Photoshop Elements. It has all the features of the full photoshop you need but without the monthly fees. It also has “save as for web" feature that will keep your photos high quality but the files sizes of your products down. Photoshop Elements is sometimes bundled with Premier Elements if you need some high-end video editing software, although I’d recommend iMovie or Filmora if you are new to editing.

And most importantly…

Back up. Everything. Your hard drive will fail one day. Look to get an external hard drive that’s about 2-3 times the size of your drive

All the photography and video gear I use for producing the items in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and The Magic Crayons YouTube Channel can be found on my Kit page here.

I hope this helps. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you


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Best camera for vlogging, travel videos, and YouTube Creators

Below is all the video kit I use to create the videos I use on my Youtube Channel, school videos, and Teachers Pay Teachers videos. There are details about each piece of kit after the link, plus you can leave me questions in the comments. Thank you - Tim

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Best affordable 4K camera for vlogging and family videos

Choosing a 4k camera

I've been after a new camera a while as my Canon 50D is not producing video to the standard I like. If you look at my video for Nogeyama Zoo there is just a ridiculous amount of out of focus clips. Understandable really given it doesn't have a auto-focus on video setting. Time to raise my game a little, which is producer talk for having found finally a justification to go and buy a new camera.

So what to get then. I was all clever and drew up a comparison table, which worked up to a point, until I went in and handled some of the cameras in a store. The classic Canon 80D I rejected for weight reasons. It's 730g without a lens verses 344g for a Sony A6300. No wonder Casey Neistat goes to the gym everyday. The wants list I wrote before going into a store and playing with the cameras is below. There is also a lot to be said for renting what you want before you buy too. I think I'm too impatient to do that :-/

Feature choices: The must have's.

Price - under $1000 certainly, $800 or less would be better. Any more than this and I will become overly concerned about dropping it. Update: No. Go wild. Treat yourself. Because you're worth it. My current camera is years old and served me well. Screw sensibility, I want bells and whistles and the moon on a stick.

Fixed aperture in video mode. Because as I try and vary the shots in my videos I am zooming in or out while recording. I've read fixed aperture would be useful in maintaining correct exposure while adjusting the zoom. Update: Actually automatic ISO when shooting video with manual aperture and shutter. This was not a common feature at all. If i want the film look, which I do, auto ISO needs to be there.

Touch screen. Because I like shots that have interesting things in the foreground and in the background. I can switch focus between the two smoothly with a touch screen. Update. Yes. And no. This pushes me up a price band. Plus the Sony A6300 has 425 PDAF points (whatever they are), so it's going to focus faster than me anyway. face and object tracking are good these days too. It's rare for me to actually look at the screen so why not lettuce camera do the job.

Aperture - Shallow depth of field. Oh yes please. The shallower the better. With a DLSR this can get crazy expensive. The Sigma Art lenses seems the best value but have no in lens stabilisation. If the camera body has stabilisation then look again at these lenses. Also the price would make them a next year purchase.

Flip up screen. I record my kids mostly, so I like to have the camera at their head height. If the screen is flat against the camera I can't see it very well. If it tilted up that would be great. Update: Flip up, rather than flip out sideways. I feel I am less likely to break this.

Movie resolution. My current camera has 1080 at 30fps. My new camera needs to be 4k as I would like to also buy a big new glossy 4K TV, given my current TV is not working well at all. I've not used slow motion to miss it. All the movie sizes quoted in the tables are to the nearest whole number. Update: 4K video takes processing. The smaller the camera the bigger the issue with heat dissipation from the processor. Some compact only shoot 5 mins at a time.

Movie type. I have an iMac so H264 would be preferred. I've read of some newer cameras with H265, which my iMac doesn't support. In time they will I guess. Update: No. There are multiple file types for video. Select one that gives you high quality recording, not just the one that ...

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How to export from iMovie into Windows 365 Video Channel

How to export from iMovie into Windows 365 Video Channel

Video files exported from iMovie cannot be exported directly from iMovie into a Windows 365 video channel. Although the files are great for Youtube, Windows 365 video is in early stages of development and at time of posting is not happy about the huge files that iMovie creates at all.

Step by step how-to guide for exporting from iMovie to a Windows 365 Video Channel

1. Complete your awesome movie. Click share and file

2. Export your movie. Choose the largest high quality settings available to you. Create a folder called Movies to convert, or similar. This will give you a nice high quality file to view later. You are going to convert this for 365 video.

4. At this point you have two options.

A: Transfer the exported movie file from your Mac to your Windows computer (via USB memory stick or OneDrive) and into Windows Movie Maker. Then export from there using the Windows 7 / iPhone export setting. The resultant file can then be uploaded into your 365 Movie channel.

B: Convert the file on your Mac using HandBrake, then upload into 365 Video. See below for the how-to guide.

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How to Export from iMovie on an iPhone to a Windows 365 Video Channel

Here's another common challenge for teachers. You've recorded awesome footage of your students on your iPhone as it was closest to hand at the time. Now you have to upload it to your schools Windows 365 Video Channel via your Windows laptop. I've pressed all the buttons, tried all the options, used a few bad words, and am now able to bring you this straightforward How-to guide.

1. Create your wonderful movie.

2. Tap the share button

Tap the share button

3. Tap save video

4. Tap HD 720

5. The iPhone exports the video to 720p to your Photos library

6. Connect your iPhone to your schools Windows laptop. This window will automatically appear. Click Open device to view files.

7. Create a folder within Videos for your iPhone movies and ...

8. ...

See full post for full details and photos of each step.

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Author: Hi, I’m Tim from The Magic Crayons. I am a GradDipT, CELTA, and CELTYL qualified Primary and Kindergarten Teacher from the UK working at a Tokyo International School as an English Language Support teacher (ELS/EFL). IT Integration Specialist, and Teacher Librarian. This blog reflects my Graduate Diploma in Teaching studies with the University of South Queensland, Australia, PD, and ICT in the classroom interests. I create all the artwork and videos for the teaching materials within this website. New products and special offers will be announced here first. Everything I post is about products or services that I have tried in my own classes.

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