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Thu Apr 12 2012 12:35:11

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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When news broke out that Facebook was buying photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion, I'd already just discovered the magic of this app from some real industry experts: my teenaged kids.

We were on vacation and taking a lot of pictures with our iPhones. In addition to my son subjecting us to many photos distorting our faces and bodies created in the CamWow app, my daughter showed me how to tweak the light in a photo to make it much more flattering with this cool new app called Instagram.

Naturally, this got me thinking about how I might use it to make my eBay pictures look better. If Instagram could make me look less fat, or filter out a few wrinkles, what could it do for the products I'm selling...which often depend quite a bit on how photogenic they are (or not) in my pictures?

Let's take a look at one example: a perfume bottle I shot on a white damask tablecloth background. Here we have to worry about the yellows of the perfume, reflections, whether the light looks natural or artificial, contrasts, and so on. Here's the original pic.

Now here it is with the Instagram "Rise" filter, which lightens everything up (please note only part of the perfume bottle is showing here):

And here with the Instagram "Hudson" filter, which gives everything a nice, cool, bluish look.

Is this an improvement over the original photo? Well, that may be a source of debate. But the point is, you can create several different moods and effects with Instagram that could enhance your eBay photos.

I still need to play with it more, but would like to hear others' opinions on how they might use this app, or not, to enhance their online selling photos. And are there ways they can use the Instagram -- and, possibly, Facebook communities, in the future, to share photos of things they are selling? (Ideally, without being obnoxious?). What are your thoughts on how Instagram might dovetail with your online selling, or not? Post a comment here.




Comments (13) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 12 14:17:38 2012

why dont you just use Photoshop?

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Thu Apr 12 20:44:04 2012

I'd be v-e-e-r-r-r-y careful about "boosting" your images.

For collectable buyers, the ultimate put-down for the seller is "NOT AS ADVERTISED".

I try as hard as possible to present the image as my eyeball sees it.

And then, if I perceive any flaws, areas to be highlighted I will do so.

My reputation is at stake - why will I want to "boost" an image?

Besides - mobile media is not the place to do serious image processing. There is just (maybe at this time) not enough horsepower and programming effort to do the job properly. IMHO it is good for GPS and getting comparative pricing and - oh yes, maybe making a phone call (or texting).

PEACE, Love and Rocky Road.

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Thu Apr 12 20:47:59 2012

Then again - if your app is in the cloud processing, there is ample programming/horsepower to do so.

The question is WHY? A digital camera offers much better options for imaging than a PHONE!

Maybe the digital cameras should offer a phone option!

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 12 23:10:26 2012

I use photoshop. I try to make my scanned images look like the real thing. NOT "IMPROVED".

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Fri Apr 13 05:55:28 2012

I don't want to look at people's junk.

Your old depression glass, your sad old Roy Rogers toy and your ''vintage dress pattern'' are all SPAM.

You have pictures of old junk and if your ''Facebook friends'' really were your friends they would tell you that annoying shills desperate to sell their junk are not fun people.

How does washed out color and lens flare make the image more desirable?

By the way, when you use Facebook do you have to type a Captcha every time you post? That's because you have been reported as a spammer by your friends.  

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Fri Apr 13 10:55:42 2012

I must agree with the folks opposed to color  shift.  'Declutter and simplify' should be your goal with old stuff.

An image like that, I'd just crop it to white background afterward.

There's software named "BlingIt"  that does this automatically, or you can be a cheapskate like me and crop it in Paint (that comes with your computer).

Another gimmick for these kinds of pics is to use an old 8mm home movie screen as your item's background, then take the picture with flash. The item will appear to float on pure white and your camera's auto white balance will keep the colors true.

It sounds like you would benefit from BlingIt.

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Apr 13 19:30:15 2012

Anyway, it would have been great to have started Instagram and sold it 2 years later!

Just when I thought they could not invent any ore new apps.

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 15 17:46:41 2012

I have to admit that I am sort of a photo fanatic. I spend more time on my photos than anything else because I think good photos sell products. I have a great camera, and I have pretty much been able to master all the settings that I need on it for color, lighting, clarity, contrast. etc. And I have trained myself to keep as still as possible when taking photos. I still have to tweak the photos, not to change what the item is or its condition, but to get the colors right and to make sure the photos are crisp and detailed and the contrast is what I want. I can usually get a pretty good white background, but in many cases, I find that having very slight color variations in the background enhances the photo and makes it more realistic. I try to get the best close ups that I can.

I use Picasa and Irfanview, sometimes my Lexmark photo editor and rarely Paint that came with the computer. I have also used SilkyPix that came with the camera. But that only works on RAW photos.

I am not sure that Instagram would do anything different than what I already use. If I wanted more, I would probably invest in Photoshop. But for right now, all the above free programs, plus what I have taught myself to do with the camera work well for me.

I made a tiny photo booth about 2' by 2-1/2' and 3' high and I have very bright lights set up in it.

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Sun Apr 15 21:31:28 2012

If you need equipment for your specialties, like jewelery or vases/statues/Hummels & the like, I developed a few cheap tricks.

1. For jewelry or other items where you need a LIGHT TABLE, find a slide sorter light table in a tag sale (maybe $5.00) or splurge online for a few bucks more. The light is color balanced.

2. For a LIGHT BOX, go to Bed Bath & Begone or other home goods place & buy a white (tight) mesh laundry container. They look suspiciously like the light boxes being sold for photography and are less than $20.

Clip a couple of three daylight CFLs & off you go! You probably will have to balance the white from the CFLs but they are cheaper and last longer than the 5600K photo incandescent bulbs. Putting a white sheet of paper or a color chart in the corner will do it. It can always be cropped out later.

Peace, love and Rocky Road.

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Sun Apr 15 21:38:11 2012

Oh yeah - you place the lights on the outside of the laundry mesh bag - it acts as a diffuser for that warm glow all over! Just shoot through the hole  & you are golden!

The light table goes underneath & provides lighting in the upwards direction to minimize shadows & enhance detail.

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww
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Mon Apr 16 12:50:21 2012

Great photo tips, all! LOL re: just using PhotoShop. I admit I haven't played with Instagram much, but I would think it might be a quickie way to enhance a photo that one takes from one's cell phone for listing an item from one's cell phone.

(We did have a lot of fun with it on our vacation photos!).

I don't do much listing from my cell phone (an iPhone 4S), but I have read comments from people who love to list that way and find it fast and easy. So they wouldn't presumably be monkeying around with PhotoShop on their phone. (Altho in truth I have not search the App Store for any kind of Photoshop app!).

From what I've read a lot of the value Facebook saw in Instagram was its success as a mobile app community, and of course the photo sharing, and Facebook wanted better mobile penetration.

The other question that arose in my mind was would there be a way to (in a non-obnoxious way; that's the key) share photos of your listed items or even your listings on this site to give them a boost. Just something to keep on the radar screen for me, I think.

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

by: Beth This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 17 07:50:42 2012

Al G !! THANK YOU! for the most constructive information in comments that I've ever seen on Auctionbytes.  I appreciate those ideas!!

Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?   Can Instagram Give Your eBay Photos a Boost?

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Tue Apr 17 09:29:04 2012

The light table/booth is set up in the basement otherwise it takes a few minutes of time - the laundry bag is collapsible.

Most of my "stuff" is done on a Microtek 9800XL scanner with transparency adapter. It will do small 3D articles too like buttons, models though not as well.

Scanning is a whole different world with a different skill set necessary - and for the 9800XL & Windows 7, some knowledge of operating system drivers, data transmission options necessary.



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