Monday, May 16, 2016

Taking photos!?

I have always found that photographing jewelry is a pain in the (you know). Even today I have a pile of things that just aren't photogenic. There is always that one bead where the color doesn't come out right, and no amount of my photo editing skills are gonna help. I have less problems now! Sometime in late 2014 I pinned a post about someone who used a plastic container as a lightbox. Click here to see the original blog post on how to make a lightbox by Quirky Oak. 

I have my own way (which I will get to)
but first I want to show what I have been doing wrong for years!
 I hope something I did wrong (oh so terribly wrong in some cases) helps others know what not to do! Something to note as you look at my not so pretty pictures -they were all taken with the same camera and edited in Picasa, the free program from Google. 

2009: This multi-sized peyote stitch bracelet in blue was taken with as many lights on as possible with a macro setting on a black velvet background. It has purple beads in it. It is really dark. It is not impressive- at this point I didn't know anything about picture taking or editing.

 2010: This picture was taken under a ceiling fan light next to an open window with the macro setting. The color is still a little wrong and it doesn't really show that this is a beautiful bracelet. There is also a glare on each and every bead, which is nice for the facets, but not the rounds. I also still didn't know about the white balance setting on my camera or that the lightbulb color makes a difference.

2011: This Czech glass/herringbone bracelet was taken inside my first homemade light box (the kind with foam board, tape, and sheer fabric). It is dark. I never could get enough light through the box to get a good picture. I had 3 lamps around this. I really needed to learn about the white balance setting! This picture was taken in my "try new props" phase as well...the clear glass is cool and  I love you can see the clasp, but also reflects like crazy.

2012: I discovered that the program setting and upping the white balance helps.  This "Missoni inspired" bracelet was photographed using the macro setting, upped white balance in full sun with all the room lights on. This was the year I had "picture time" anytime there was full sun in my back bedroom window. Pieces sat for days when it was raining, and I was lucky to get one as good as this. This was the best it got and the colors are close but not the 100% representation which is always what I am aiming for! I also think the black shiny vinyl background was a bad idea. I am not drawn immediately to the bracelet in this picture, I am trying to figure out what it is sitting on, and why that hand is missing the arm :)

2013: This was taken in the same way as the 2012 picture but without the sunny back window I had come to count on... we moved! I had to come up with something new, the perfectly sunny window option was gone. This picture was taken in my new sunny window with a tripod, and did have an upped white balance, but wasn't quite what I wanted. This picture shows the contrast between the dark patterned background and a simple white one. The color is right, but the picture is boring. I was getting on the right track, but not quite. The tripod helps with getting a clear shot, but this is as close as I could get to the bracelet which doesn't show any detail.

Since I made my own lightbox, my pictures are much better and easier to edit! Here are a few completely unedited (except the watermark) pictures I have taken. I have not made any edits, I didn't even crop them.


This is the setup I use today. It is inspired by the ideas of Quirky Oak, but is much simpler. I still have to make a few adjustments to the white balance and light settings on my camera, but this setup works 95% of the time! I also edit the pictures and add a watermark in Picasa. I don't use a tripod, I don't use natural sunlight, and I don't have a fancy camera. It is against everything I have ever been told to do.
 One Ottlite and a Sterlite box. I use either two sheets of regular paper or one long letter size and replace it when it gets dirty or furry.

 No other lights on, curtains pulled shut.

Add one cat for a bit of a challenge.

This is the Camera I use, it is old as digital cameras go. It looks like you can get a used one for about $50 bucks on Amazon, a little less on Ebay. I show my camera to prove that most any camera with a macro setting and program setting for the white balance will work in this setup.

Note: I don't know how well this works with cell phones, I have not tried it with my phone, but it is uncommon and doesn't take great pictures to begin with. If anyone tries this setup with a phone PLEASE comment! I am curious and sure others want to know too.

Thank you for reading! I know it was a long one. I hope something I did wrong, or my lightbox setup helps with your pictures!

Happy Beading/taking pictures of beads! -Beth

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