Craigslist Training Series: How To Take Awesome Product Photos For Craigslist | Jeffrey Dennis | Skillshare

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Craigslist Training Series: How To Take Awesome Product Photos For Craigslist

teacher avatar Jeffrey Dennis, Author, Entrepreneur, Videographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Introduction On Preparation

    • 2. Inspect Evaluate Clean

    • 3. Take Action

    • 4. Introduction On Photo Shoot

    • 5. Why You Need Photos

    • 6. Staging Area

    • 7. Camera Types

    • 8. Camera Settings

    • 9. Lighting Options

    • 10. Framing, Composition And Shooting

    • 11. Finding Online Photos

    • 12. Take Action

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About This Class

In this class, you'll learn the importance of making the best impression with your product. Discover proper inspection and evaluation techniques. Take advantage of the many cleaning tips and tricks using the attached material to make your products "photo worthy"

You'll see why photos are SO important and master the art of taking the best, top notch product photos. Learn framing, composition and lighting techniques that draw customers in, making them want to BUY... BUY... BUY from you. You'll discover the best cameras along with optimal settings to make your photos shine.   Don’t own a camera? We've got you covered there too.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jeffrey Dennis

Author, Entrepreneur, Videographer


Jeff is passionate about teaching students how to create multiple streams of passive income. He loves helping others reach their fullest creative and independent potential so they can live the digital nomad lifestyle.

Jeff's engineering background provides a no-nonsense, straight forward logical approach that sets him apart. His easy to follow step-by-step strategies allow you to turn your dreams and passions into reality.

His Craigslist success has earned profits exceeding $15000 utilizing the system he developed in this course.

Jeff is an accomplished award winning videographer whose work has appeared on numerous television broadcasts such as CBS News and Outrageous Acts of Science.

He is a regular contributor to many stock footage sites and author of ki... See full profile

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1. Introduction On Preparation: before you leave the house in the morning, do you take a shower, brush your teeth, shave or comb your hair? Of course, you dio see, you're trying to make a good impression on others, right? Well, it's the same thing when selling something on Craigslist, you want your product to make the best possible impression, right? That's right in this section on primping and prepping, I'll show you how to evaluate, categorize and prepare your product for sale, and you'll understand why this step is so important in the dramatic impact it makes on your success. You learn how to breathe new life into that used, dirty, dusty, grimy old thing that you found. 2. Inspect Evaluate Clean: you want to roll up your sleeves and get into the nitty gritty right in this lecture, I'll show you how to inspect and evaluate what your product needs and then go through some cleaning options. Okay, the first up here is to make your product photo worthy. See one of the keys to giving your product. Its highest sales potential involves proper presentation, which is affected to a large extent by a product. Photos. You'll actually learn all about product photos in the next section, so stay tuned. But for now, you need to concentrate on making sure your product works. Looks great in his photo worthy right? This may sound really obvious, but before spending too much time cleaning, you want to make sure whatever you're selling works and functions as originally intended, especially if it's been sitting around a long time not being used. Take special note of any discrepancies in its functionality, as you want to indicate that in your ad description later, if your item is broken or doesn't function as expected, you can still offer to sell it. But the description in price need to reflect any issues some people may consider buying your item for spare parts so they can be used in something else. You may choose to restore or repair or even fix anything that's broken, but just make sure your time investment is worth it. Okay, now that you know your product basically works, it's time to inspect it for other abnormalities or defects. You want to check for things like discolorations, stains, scratches or any gouges or denser, even missing parts. When it comes to these types of issues, you really can't do much to resolve them. But it's important to take special note so that you can include them in your ad description . When it comes to cleaning. That's actually one thing you do have control over. A good cleaning makes a huge difference in the way your product is presented and the overall impression it leaves with a potential customer. It can give you a product new life and make it more attractive and also increase its equity and visual appeal toe. And it also increases its perceived value. Customers are much more likely to be drawn to things that look nice and clean. Taking this little extra step shows that you care about what you're offering and that you want to make the very best impression. As a result, custom is a much more apt to want to do business with you. I mean, think about your own buying habits for just a second when you buy something used. Are you drawn to something that looks old, dusty, dingy and stained? Oh, do you prefer something that looks shiny, clean and like No see cleaning her product is such a simple thing to do, and many sellers just don't think to do it or even want to bother. As a result, they suffer the consequences of poor sales. This one extra step can really pay off and set you apart from other sellers. When cleaning, make sure to remove stains, fingerprint smudges, dust and dirt. Also get rid of any grease or grime that you might find now if you happen to have any pets and make sure to remove any pet hair or pet odors. If the item contains cloth or fabric, you want to make sure it smells nice or at least doesn't smell funky. If you have a smoker in the house, make sure to remove smoke orders as well. You want to remove mold and mildew odors to, though as an added bonus for your customer, you can also use alcohol wipes or Lysol to disinfect. Now I've included a handy cleaning tips and tricks document, and you can find it in the supplemental material section of this lecture. This provides a listing of solutions and chemicals used for cleaning, polishing and disinfecting some common materials. No, as you'll see making special note of any abnormality or defect in combination with good cleaning techniques can pay off substantially when trying to make the best impression with your product. 3. Take Action: okay, It's action time again. Time for you to clean up your act. If you haven't done so already, please make sure to do the following open or print out the cleaning tips and tricks document discussed earlier. Now spend some time inspecting and cleaning a product and take note of any defects you find . Okay, now I'd like you to take a picture of your neat, clean and spiffy item and posted in the discussion forum. Now let's share and compare how well you were able to clean things up. I think it'll be fun to see the before and after pictures, and maybe you could include some notes about what you discovered during your inspection or your cleaning. If you're following along with our course example, you can find it in the supplemental material section of this lecture under instructor example. Number four 4. Introduction On Photo Shoot: Okay, Now that you've got your stuff all spruced up squeaky clean and photo worthy, it's time to take some pictures. After all, you want your customer to see what you're offering right in this section. You learn why photos are so important to your success when selling. I'll show you how to properly stage and compose your shots for maximum impact, and you learn about shooting angles, lighting and why macro mode is so important. I'll show you how to use shallow depth of field to draw viewers attention to key points in your photos. I'll also show you some tricks using free software to enhance your photos and make them pop , and you learn how to make them come alive so that you can really capture customer attention . Now you may consider the section of basic, many photography course specifically designed for Craigslist use. So let's dive in and create some great sexy product photos 5. Why You Need Photos: a picture is worth 1000 words. You've also heard that phrase well, it's certainly true when selling on Craigslist in this lecture, I'll cover why you absolutely must have photos for your product ads. See, one of the tricks is to make a really good first impression. Product photos are vital when posting ads on Craigslist. They present the very first impression of your product, and they allow your potential customers to visualize and comprehend and better understand what you're offering. Photos are a crucial part in helping customers make a buying decision and definitely improve your sales potential. It's essential to include them, especially since the site is so liberal in allowing up to 24 photos for each ad posting. I am continually flabbergasted by ads with no photos. I mean, come on. Are you serious? As a customer, how do we know what the product being described looks like? I mean, it's kind of like walking into a grocery store, blindfolded to buy your groceries. Who does that? You definitely want to see what you're buying beforehand. I'll be completely honest. Not including photos in your ad. Posting is a big turn off, and it actually raises questions and concerns and even suspicion in the mind of the buyer. What is the seller trying to hide anyway? All I can think is that these sellers, I that don't have access to a camera or maybe they're just too lazy or don't know how to upload them. Here's an example of an ad with no photos. Now it's certainly true that having photos is much better than not having them, but you can take it to a whole new level if you can concentrate on your photo quality. Improving your photo quality makes your product more presentable. It makes him more attractive and desirable, all of which improve your success. I'll get into more quality details and next few lectures. In keeping with our attention to detail principle. Spending a little bit more time to improve your photo quality. Set you way apart from your average cellar while they simply snap a few shots kind of willy nilly with total disregard to quality, he'll be way ahead with your quality knowledge. You'll be able to communicate a level of caring pride and professionalism in yourself and what you offer, and this is another way you can differentiate yourself from others. Now, I found a couple of examples to illustrate some specific quality issues like lighting, composition, focus and too much clutter. Here, check these out. No contrast. Those with some others like these with the seller obviously took time to concentrate on photo quality. Now, as I mentioned earlier, you could include a maximum of 24 photos for each ad. This number has increased over time as servers storage capacity has improved and this is actually twice what eBay offers now. The amount of photos that you should use in your ad really depends on the complexity of the product itself. You should include enough to give the customer a complete understanding of what you're selling. It was an example. Let's let's consider a camera kit now. This may include many accessories and would therefore require lots of photos. Contrast that with something like a diving board, for example, which would only require a few. Then, when it comes to actually taking photos, I feel that more is better, as it gives you a larger selection to choose from in the editing phase, I like to think of each photo is helping to reduce risk and increased confidence in the buyers mind and believe it or not, this often leads to customers making a buying decision even before seeing your product in person. And believe me, if your photo has that much power, then you've done a good job and they've served their purpose. 6. Staging Area: when you see a product you like in a magazine, on TV, the Internet or even in a store, what makes it look so good? Quite often the appeal has to do with the products staging and how it's arranged in its environment. The way it's stage entices and draws you in. In this lecture, I'll cover how you can stage your products to look their best. So what is staging? Staging a product involves arranging it in an appealing way to enhance the look feel and overall perception it provides to the viewer. And this is often done by isolating the product from its environment, so it becomes the main focus of the photo. So when arranging your product, you want to make sure that everything in the photo has a reason for being there, and you want to include only the components that are absolutely necessary. You want to remove anything that appears distracting or takes attention away from the product or the message that the photo was trying to convey. Cluttered, distracting photos can leave customers feeling confused and concerned, which could lead to mistrust and hindered sales. Now the ability to stage a product really depends largely on its size with something small , like the camera kit mentioned earlier. It's very easy to control the photo environment. But on the other hand, with something large like the diving board example, or, say a sailboat, controlling the environment can be limiting. For small items stating process begins with having a designated area for set up in display . A flat surface, like a bench table or even a floor works well. Next, you'll need a backdrop or background that is plain and void of distractions. I found that smooth, flat, non reflective surfaces with light colors that contrast with the product work really well. Sometimes something as simple as a plane painted wall worked well as a backdrop. I've also used towels, bedspreads, muslin sheets and other fabrics to now. When using these, you want to make sure to iron out wrinkles to minimize distractions when securing fabric in place. Used clothes, pins or plastic spring clips like these also try draping the fabric toe, eliminate intersecting surfaces as shown here. I've also used a white board and another material called Abitibi, which is sold in four by eight sheets, and it can also be easily cut toe more manageable sizes. And then, when a pinch, you can even use white paper taped together to make any size backdrop you desire now in dealing with something large, like a diving board or sailboat or even an automobile you're staging options are a bit limiting. To remove distractions and isolate the product, you'll end up having to position yourself and the camera in different locations. To come up with the best shot in these situations, you'll have to rely more on good framing techniques, which I'll go over in subsequent lecture. Now, in the case of the diving board, it could be placed on a blacktop driveway or maybe a grassy lawn with your photos taken from above to isolate it from everything else outside. And the sailboat could be set up, maybe at the water's edge, and you could take your shots with the water and the sky as the backdrop in the car could be shot with any number of plain, non distracting backdrops. So here are some examples of products shot with and without staging areas, and it's really easy to see which are more appealing and more likely to attract by our attention and one other benefit that I think staging provides. It's worth mentioning. Proper staging can reduce your software photo touch up time to you won't have to spend time cropping out any distractions if you do proper staging. 7. Camera Types: Okay, so you may be thinking at this point, what kind of a camera will I need to take great photos? You may already have a camera and wonder if it's good enough. Well, in this lecture, I'll cover different camera types and the best kind to use. Let me start by saying that the best kind of came or you can use to take awesome photos. Believe it or not, it's the one you already have. If you have a digital camera of any kind, it will work just fine via product photos. I just wanted to make sure to get that out there first off, because you know the really is absolutely no need to run out and buy a camera. Unless, of course, you don't have one already. And for that matter, you could probably borrow 12 See, I'm trying to keep this operation. Is low budget as possible? See, all cameras have advantages and disadvantages, but bottom line, what you already have an already comfortable using is good enough for our purposes here. Remember, you don't have to be a professional photographer who are not out to a win awards or poster pictures on stock photo sites. If you do happen to have a DSLR camera that's great. You could take advantage of its lenses. Shallow depth of field to help isolate the customers Attention to specific areas of your photo. If you have a video camera, that's great, too. In addition to video, most all of them have a photo mode for taking still shots, and most of them shoot in HD, which is 1920 by 10 80 resolution, which is way more than adequate for our use on Craigslist. See, even if it only shot an SD resolution, which is 6 40 by 4 80 How that should be fine, too. And other cameras like Point Shoot and those found on smartphones and tablets and other portable devices should be more than adequate as well. So please don't feel like you have to buy a camera. 8. Camera Settings: all right, So now that we're all set on the camera itself, how do you know what settings are important? Well, in this lecture, I'll cover important camera settings you should pay attention to in order to get the best shots possible. Now, I'm sure. As you know, some camera models have so many settings it can make your head spin. But luckily, there are only a few that you need to be concerned with. Now. You may not have control over some of these with your camera, So if that's the case that don't worry, has one. Pablo, the former bachelor, would say It's OK now. For the most part, leaving your camera in auto mode will be just fine for most of your shots. Seem most modern cameras have sufficient light sensitivity and will do well indoors. Provided this enough light, of course, So there's little need to take control over aperture or shutter speed settings. Likewise, most focus systems will work just fine in auto mode. One exception, maybe, when shooting in macro mode, as some cameras may require a manual setting, that one setting to think about his white balance, see most cameras to a pretty decent job at analyzing and correcting for different types of light they receive. Since outdoor light is very different than indoor lighting, your camera must analyze and determine what white actually means, see. Once known, it can then adjust for all the other colors. In some cases, you may want to perform a white balance adjustment if the colors in your product photos appear off. If you call us appear a little blue or orangey red on, this is usually an indication of an incorrect white balance setting. The most white balance adjustments are really very easy to Dio. You just place a white object in front of the camera and then perform a white balance adjustment function on the camera itself. Now you probably won't have to make any resolution settings on your camera, but I did want to mention a couple of things. See, most cameras allow for adjustments in photo resolution, but as long as your camera setting is above 6 40 by 4 80 you should be all set. The photo display size on Craigslist is not that big, so you don't really have to have a high resolution photo if your camera is currently set higher than 6 40 by four ready? There's no real need to change it. There's no real disadvantage to having high resolution photos other than larger file sizes , which can translate to slower photo uploads to the site in a later lecture will discuss an easy way to decrease file sizes of large photos. Most cameras are equipped with a macro mode, which allows them to take very close up shots while maintaining a sharp focus. This mode is usually indicated with a flower icon on the camera. I'm sure you've seen this, as I mentioned earlier. Some cameras are required to be put in manual mode before the macro setting can be implemented. These kinds of shots are really important. As part of your overall product image portfolio, they allow the customer to see product details up close, and this is particularly important if your product has any kind of defect. A close up macro shot can help your custom of visualize special features or any problems that might have. And most cameras have an auto timer feature, which is really helpful for hand free operation. Now, this is really important in low light situations to eliminate the shake and vibration from causing blurry photos. Now I found it best to use a tripod. When an auto time mode, all you need to do is hit the shutter button, and the photo will be taken a few seconds later. Many cameras are also equipped with image stabilization to combat the shake and vibration issues we just mentioned now with these basic settings, she your camera should be good to go. 9. Lighting Options: So I've mentioned light a couple of times so far with respect to taking good photos, and in this lecture I'll get into more detail in the important role it plays. No lighting is one of the most important aspects of taking great product shots. Providing your camera sensor with sufficient light is crucial in allowing it to distinguish colors. Sufficient light gives the sense of much more information to work with and makes it much easier to process. The photos have more dynamic range, and let's face it well, that shots just look better. In general, it's usually better to provide more light than not enough, although you need to be careful and not saturate your camera with too much light. Otherwise your photos will look blown out. A blown out area is all white and void of detail. Now when taking photos outdoors, you want to be aware of direct sunlight as it could be very harsh and cast unwanted shadows on your product has shown in these examples. I found it better to take outdoor photos on cloudy or overcast days. You see the clouds act as a diffuser and they actually disperse the light making for better photos. If you're outdoors with no clouds, you might want to try moving the product under a tree canopy or shaded area out of the direct sunlight. Then, when shooting indoors, you want to try using natural light by windows and doors. But if natural light isn't available, you can set up some artificial lighting with incandescent or fluorescent lights. Try to use daylight bulbs if possible. Light boxes are another option, but more expensive. Here you can see the set up for the course. Example product that I put together. No, you may be tempted to use the flash on your camera, but I advise you not to see. The flash is usually way too harsh and will most likely cast on one and shadows if your camera is equipped with the ability to move the flash or change its angle, then tried bouncing the light off the ceiling to soften the shadows. You might also want to try covering the flash with maybe a piece of toilet paper and that will diffuse the light a bit. You might also consider a light tent for certain products. These are exactly what they sound like. It's a tent. You put your product in when taking photos, and they're usually made of a very light material that's draped around a collapsible frame , and they come in many different sizes. And then you can add some lighting from the outside of the tent. And what's really nice is the light inside gets diffused and it's evenly spread around your product, so it has no harsh shadows. They can give you a really nice product photo. 10. Framing, Composition And Shooting: we're almost there almost ready to start clicking that shutter button and taking some sexy product photos in this lecture, I'll cover framing and composition techniques so you could begin taking your awesome shots . Okay, let's start with composition, which is a key factor to good product photos and has to do with the relationship of multiple items to each other. This is particularly important in your main product shot. The one customers C by default on Craigslist. Composition is most applicable when your product contains more than one item, as in our camera kit. Example. When composing these kinds of shots, you want to place larger items in the back and smaller ones in the front. Each item should have enough space around it, too, so it can easily be recognizable. You don't want everything just kind of heaped in a pile. You want to make sure the lay things out in an appealing way. Framing is another important part of taking good product photos. A well framed shot will be filled with the product image, but also leave a little space around the edges of it to breathe. You can accomplish this by either moving closer with the camera or zooming in. Make sure not to get too close, though. Or zoom in too much as you don't want to clip or cut off parts of the product image For products with multiple components, make sure to capture shots of each one individually. Shooting angles also play an important role to as they provide variety interest. An appeal. Having shots of your product from different sides and angles helps the customer to see more potential in a larger variety of applications. If selling a desk or table, for example, having multiple shots from different sides and angles will benefit customers greatly, as they can easily visualize those items in that particular home environment. Try to capture your product from his many different angles as possible, but make sure it's done from a normal or typical viewing perspective. You want to avoid taking aerial shots as they might be confusing to figure out or decipher . Capturing detail in your shot is important, too. They helped clarify and answer questions or concerns or uncertainties in the customer's mind. Details. Shots can help explain the product features and functions more clearly. They can also illustrate colors and textures of different material to your cameras. Macro mode can help tremendously. When shooting details, make sure to capture shots of logos. Model and part numbers capture details of imperfections like scratches, dents or discolorations. See, this provides proof and validation toe a company of description, and this helps eliminate surprise and disappointment from your customer. If any part of your product opens like cabinets, drawers, doors or lids, you want to make sure to open it up and show inside details as well. Pay particular attention to your shots focused, too. You want to make sure that your product photos are shop and crisp and not blurry now. There shouldn't be an issue when shooting outside during the day. Since you'll have plenty of light and the auto focus feature of your camera will adjust the shutter speed accordingly to give you a nice, crisp, sharp image. Blurry images are more of an issue when shooting indoors with minimal light. See your camera tries to compensate for low light by decreasing the shutter speed, and that results in blurry shots. One way to combat the blurry image issue into us is to use plenty of light. Another method is to use a tripod in conjunction with your cameras. Auto Timer feature. Once you set the cameras, auto timer, you just walk away and the shot is taken hands free, with no potential for vibration or shake. If you don't have a tripod, not to worry, any flat surface will do. Just be certain your camera is secure and you might want to consider scale in your photo when your product is really large or really small. Sometimes it's not really obvious how big or small something is, and in these cases, you can use another object to help establish size reference in perspective. Universally recognised objects like a coin, a pencil or ruler are often used for smaller products. No, I'm sure you've seen these examples. If you've got a large item like furniture, for example, you might want to try placing a magazine on it. It may be tempting to use cute animals or Children as scale references, but I really advise against it. You may think it's cute, but others may see it as a turn off. They also wanted to mention something about reflections. You want to be aware of reflective surfaces so that you're not stuck in the shot see when shooting items like mirrors, appliances or anything with a glassy front, they will reflect the photographers image. And in some cases this could be a major distraction to the overall photo. You can avoid this easily by changing your angle just slightly. Instead of shooting straight on, try moving till the left or right just enough to eliminate your reflection in the surface. Now these surfaces can also reflect bright light, adding major distraction again, the easy fixes to just change your shooting angle a bit in. One other thing to consider that is often overlooked when it comes to taking pictures. See if your product is electric or electronic and has any kind of visual indicator that it's on or off. Make sure to capture photos with it on. If it is an led a lamp or an LCD of any kind. Make sure at least one of your photos shows this clearly. Now this will give you a customers, that woman fuzzy feeling, and let them know that it basically works 11. Finding Online Photos: So at this point, you may be wondering what to do if you don't own a camera or can't seem to find anyone to borrow one from. Are you stuck from being able to post your ads on Craigslist? Of course not. You still have options in this lecture. I'll explain how to get product photos without a camera, even without a camera just still in luck, you can still find product photos, and the best place to start is with Google. So let's get searching. Ideally, you'll have some kind of a product name or model number to search on. Enter it into Google and select the image. Ted. If you don't have a unique model number or part number, then enter in a specific search term with as much detail as possible. For a course. Example. I searched Bear Cat receiver, Model B C four electric Company and came up with a slew of photos. So you want to search through the resulting photos to find those that match your product? Some of these photos may come from the product manufacturer, and others may come from sites like eBay, Craigslist or some other online classified service. So when you find a photo that looks like yours just right, click on it and select the save image as option and store it to the appropriate product folder on your hard drive. If you haven't yet created a unique folder for your product, you can do that now. You can modify your search criteria by selecting specific search filters to. In our case, I only wanted images larger than 400 by 300 pixels. No, I did want to mention a word of caution when using images that you find like this. To play it extra safe, you may consider Google's advanced search settings for images Under usage rights, look for categories that include the words free to use or share even commercially. When you do this, this will guarantee that your photos are legal for your use. You can refer to Google for more information about usage rights. One important thing to consider when using these Web photos, you want to make certain that any photo you use looks exactly like what you're selling. It would be really unfair and unethical if you used a photo that misled customers in any way. If your product fails to measure up to the photos representation, then you shouldn't use it. In my opinion, some sellers may choose otherwise and if so, should make full disclosure in the product description. See, the last thing you want to do is have an unhappy, a pissed off customer. Now you may think that the photo doesn't really matter, since the buyer will ultimately end up seeing the real product anyway. But believe me, it's not worth trying to fool a mislead a customer in any way. Another important point about acquiring photos from Google is that you'll end up with limited selection. You'll be really hard pressed to find the same photo variety online that you could create yourself with a camera. But on the other hand, viewing different product photos may actually spawn some new shooting ideas or perspectives that you hadn't thought of before. And you therefore may want to try some of these new shots with your products once you do have a camera. So even if you want in the possession of a camera, you can still get product photos for your ad posting 12. Take Action: okay, it's time to get up and take some action again. Please do the following steps. Spend some time staging setting up in taking photos of your product. Be creative and have some fun doing this. Challenge yourself and see what you can come up with. Okay, Once you've taken all your product photos, you want to make sure to offload them from your camera to the appropriate product folder on your computer. High drive. Trust me, doing this now will save you a lot of time and aggravation in the event that your photos get lost over written by mistake. So now, with your new found photography skills, I want you to take your best shot of your product and posted in the discussion forum. If you have multiple products post the composition shot. Otherwise just a single shot will dio. I think it'll be fun to compare this shot with your very 1st 1 way back in the find something to sell section following along with our course example. You can see quite a difference in the welcome post shot compared to the very 1st 1 I took. You can check it out in the supplemental material section under instructor Example number five