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Carol29
01-05-2008, 02:11 PM
Hi all,

Since setting up my website I've had huge problems with my photographs. I spents weeks finding the perfect spot in the house to photograph Jewellery but 2 pictures never come out the same and light seems to change. I've tried all sorts of backgrounds and only one on handmade cream paper seems to work. I love the look of many site that have a white background and I wonder how you achieve this. I'm not sure if white would compliment my site but would love to know what others have tried,

Cheers

Carol
www.carolshawjewellery.com:confused:

Muddle Jewellery
01-05-2008, 02:48 PM
Hi,

I'm no one to comment on 'proper' photography, but i've just looked at your website and I think your photo's fit in quite well with the style of the whole website.
It all flows nicely and you can see the pieces well.

Jigpaws
01-05-2008, 06:04 PM
Hi Carol,

I've just had a look at your website and I think your photography is great. I really like the softer look of the cream handmade paper and it sets your jewellery off really well. I'm not sure if a white background would be too harsh for the jewellery, what you've done fits in nicely with the feel of your website!!!

xxx
Janice

Carol29
01-05-2008, 06:52 PM
Thanks Janice and Sarah for the positive comments. I agree that the cream background suits the jewellery however, I'm having problems with the Bridal section, because it's mostly white pearls and crystals they don't come out so well! Aghh!!

Love the teddies!everyone needs a teddy

and the muddle jewellery, your pieces are gorgeous. How do you photograph onto the white, is it a big sheet of card or do you use a light box?


Carol

www.carolshawjewellery (http://www.carolshawjewellery)
bespoke handmade jewellery

Ian Beckerton
01-05-2008, 06:52 PM
Hi Carol,

I shoot jewellery professionally and one of the things about jewellery is that it is not one of the worldís easiest subjects to get right.

One thing I picked out from your images is that the images are a little underexposed and that occasionally you are using incandescent light (Ordinary light bulbs). Incandescent lighting gives a yellowy orange tint to the image which will affect the colour balance so really you donít want to do this.

In some ways I can see why you chose to shoot on hand made paper, it doesnít look bad at all and would be even better if the exposure were corrected.

Shooting on white means making a choice between having a background which may be interesting but takes something away from the jewellery, all backgrounds do this or shooting on plain white which means that the jewellery is doing all the work. Get the layout or the exposure wrong and it will look terrible, get it right and your jewellery will stand out and say buy me! If you want a good example of what white looks like when well photographed take a look at www.waterstonejewellery.co.uk (http://www.waterstonejewellery.co.uk/). ChrisW, one of your fellow Forumers has put together a very good site and just uses the jewellery to sell its self.

As a commercial photographer I have to shoot on white for a variety of reasons and to be honest I wouldnít chose to shoot on anything else unless my instructions tell me to do otherwise.

For good results get hold of some proper background paper as the reflectance is balance for this kind of work. Use flash lighting as it is very white and consistent and can be set up anywhere and you have total control over what ever you want to do, which is important.
One thing you will realise is that you will have to use the camera in manual mode as unless you are going to spend lots of cash the camera will not be controlling the flash head (S).

If and only if you are shooting high contrast items then you can use a light Tent with the flash heads. I think in general it is better to use flash heads with soft boxes, these you can tune to whatever you need to shoot, with a tent it isnít so easy to do this. All this neednít cost the earth, a couple, of hundred pounds will set you up but it will be all trial and error unless you invest in a flash meter (light meter) to measure and balance the light intensity if the flash heads.

Once all this is set up then you can be assured of good, well exposed and consistent images which will be commercially acceptable for web or print.

If you need more detail let me know and I will answer any questions you have in greater detail.
Regards,

I..

Chris W
01-05-2008, 08:06 PM
Thanks for the compliment Ian, I have tried really hard with the photography.

Carol, if you want white background photos it means taking your images into a programme like Photoshop and cleaning them up. The translucent beads such as rose quartz are difficult to portray because if you correctly expose the beads the white background is always grey and it takes ages to eliminate it.
I have been using Photoshop for quite a few years and enjoy messing about in it so I don't mind spending the time, if you want to improve your images without doing that, you could try an image search on google, this is a good way of comparing different approaches and seeing what works best.

If you want to know more about using Photoshop to get a white background I would be pleased to give you some tips.

Carol29
01-05-2008, 08:32 PM
Hi Flash Arry!

You say....
In some ways I can see why you chose to shoot on hand made paper, it doesnít look bad at all and would be even better if the exposure were corrected

What a concise answer you gave and thanks so much for taking the time to reply. I agree with some of the above answers that white wouldn't really fit in with my website so reading your piece was very interesting to me. You mentioned that I haven't go the lighting right. You're right I do use ordinary light bulbs....I have no photography experience and wonder how to correct the exposure? I'm using a digital camera, I have the pieces on a flat surface near natural light and the camera is on macro and suppressed flash...what else can I do?

That site you recommended is fab. I had seen it before and loved to way the jewellery was photographed...it shows the pieces really well. So well done Chris.

Carol
www.carolshawjewellery.com (http://www.carolshawjewellery.com)

jcm
01-05-2008, 08:45 PM
Hi everyone :mf:

I have been reading this post with interest, I to have a problem with photographing my jewellery I have only just started making jewellery so advice would be most welcome in how to display it on our web site.

I have tried to make my jewellery in the dreamcatcher theme in keeping with what else we make.:)

Ian Beckerton
01-05-2008, 08:58 PM
Hi Carol,
The way forward is to go backwards!! Digital cameras are ok but they donít take great photographs, however they are good enough. To correct the exposure with out spending lots of cash is easy (ish). Take an exposure using the automatic settings on the camera and transfer these settings into the manual mode (it will tell you haw to do this in the instructions and there are some very good books around that will tell you all about this aspect of photography).

You should be using a tripod as the speed of the camera will be quite low when using artificial light. Take another image and look at what you have got, it should be the same as when you took one in automatic mode. Adjust the speed setting down wards to increase the brightness of the image. It is best if you can use a small aperture setting on the lens as this will improve the quality of the image and increase the amount that is in focus. With a little patience and practice you will soon get the hang of all this and really this is what photography is about, having control over what you are doing, being creative with light.

To correct for the colour balance look at the instructions for the camera and read up on white balance. If you want to push this a little further then invest in some daylight lamps for photography as they are more balanced for the work you want to do and like any other lighting other than flash will stay on so you can see what the effects are before taking the image. These and using the camera in manual mode will solve most of your problems and wonít cost a lot to implement. The reason why I mentioned daylight lamps in preference to flash heads is because they are easier to use if you donít have experience.

The rest I am afraid is down to trial and error and a good image manipulation software package. As Chris W says Photoshop is the one to use but like any software it takes some learning as it is a very powerful program and could correct almost anything you care to get wrong with the image.

Hope that helps a bit more.

Regards,

I..

Carol29
01-05-2008, 09:15 PM
Many thanks I,

A lot to take on board. So will digest and see where I go from here.

Thanks so much for you advice.

Your info would be great on a thread here on the site.

Cheers

Carol

Ian Beckerton
01-05-2008, 09:22 PM
Hi Jcm,
Mmm, well, Mmmm!

The first thing is that all the jewellery images are under exposed; this makes them look flat and uninteresting. This is fundamental photography to get any sort of colour, texture or life the image has to be correctly exposed. All cameras when using automatic exposure will have this sort of work exposed incorrectly. If you read Carols thread and others I have written then you will see the fix for this problem.

I am sorry to say that the layout of the jewellery is uninteresting and messy, again look at Chris Wís site for the interesting layouts. She doesnít get them right every time but all the images are interesting and well presented. There are other sites within the forum that also have interesting layouts and itís worth while having a look over some of them. You could do a Google search of jewellery images and this will give you some idea of the difficulties that many people have when presenting jewellery. It is also useful to have a look at some of the big names as well as they can get it right but it is surprising how often they donít.

Donít despair, itís only practice and looking at other peoples work, oh and some imagination. You will get there; just think about what you are trying to achieve.

Regards,

I..

Ian Beckerton
01-05-2008, 09:26 PM
I have several threads running under jewellery and general Carol, so read on and practice, thatís important.

Regards,
I..

jcm
01-05-2008, 09:38 PM
Hi Ian

:pI had to laugh when I read your post you are so right about the photos Ha Ha in my defense my husband did the web site.

Other than the jewellery he has done a good job.

Thank you for your advice I will think about how I can get my husband to change his photographic skills

Ian Beckerton
01-05-2008, 09:45 PM
You just know that you are going to offend someone but these things have to be said and I am pleased that you laughed, says a lot about your character!

I make mistakes all the time, itís called learning Ė something we must all do and never stop doing.

I..

jcm
01-05-2008, 09:59 PM
Ian
Im not offended in any way why get offended when you ask for advise and get it, I dont see the point.

Besides

YOU ARE SO RIGHT

My Jewellery is just something to add to the web site, I have found I sell them better when they are seen at the fayres we go to

Thanks for taking the time to reply

Ha Ha still laughing:jaw:

Cardtouche
02-05-2008, 02:21 PM
Hi Carol,
I'm new to the forum but have just read your question.
I don't now if this helps but people say that you can use your scanner to actually scan the piece then use that to put up on your site. It's a perfect image with a white background.
I've never atually done this but all reports say it works quite well.
Love your site, by the way.

Cardtouche

beasbeads.com for cheap Miyuki Delicas

Isis
05-05-2008, 10:27 PM
Hi, I have also heard about the scanner theory. My photos are pretty dire - my close ups are ok, but any of the whole necklace are terrible. I have tried all sorts of setting, playing with the white balance, daylight lamps etc. Then, out of desparation I tried a scanner & they seem ok. They are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but are certainly better than my poor attempts..
It is true that photographing jewellery is hard. My brother even had a go with his super-duper camera (& is a pretty ok photographer, especially wildlife) but struggled too.
Good luck...
Isis

Isis
05-05-2008, 10:31 PM
Hi Carol,
I forgot to say, your site looks wonderful - your jewellery looks gorgeous in your photos. If mine came out half as good then I would be well happy.
Isis

Carol29
05-05-2008, 10:57 PM
Thanks Isis for the positive comments. You wouldn't believe the amount of photos I have to take in order to get the ones I like.

But I'm intrigued by the scanner idea. Can't wait to give it a go!

Cheers

Carol
www.carolshawjewellery.com (http://www.carolshawjewellery.com)

Carol29
05-05-2008, 11:12 PM
Hi Isis,

Me again.

I tried the scanning...it works well but it doesn't give the image that I think would go with my site!

Carol
www.carolshawjewellery.com (http://www.carolshawjewellery.com)

Ian Beckerton
06-05-2008, 12:23 AM
Ladies as this is what I assume you are but forgive me if you are not!!!

Jewellery photography is one of the hardest photographic disciplines to master as it is a combination of technical photography, lighting strategy and artistic interpretation. Donít get me wrong all the other subjects are difficult too but generally they donít cover all three disciplines at the same time.

As I have said elsewhere stay away from the automatic features offered by the camera, they will work for general photography but not for the majority of jewellery images.

Using a scanner is a sin as they are not designed to handle anything other than flat pieces of paper, this they are very good at; photographing jewellery is not an option, unless you want a very basic image for reference only.

If you read through some of the past threads I have written in the Jewellery and General sections, you will find answers to most of the problems you encounter. If you still have problems then we will start up another thread where I can answer specific questions at some length for the benefit of all our members. You can write to me directly if you wish and I will give you an in depth answer to any of your problems.

What you need to do first is to look at your images and ask yourself what you think you are doing wrong; if you can do that then you are well on the way to finding a solution to the problem. If you canít then let me have a look at one of your images and I will tell you what is wrong with it and give you a solution that will help you get round the problem.

Very Kindest Regards,

I..

Isis
06-05-2008, 04:05 PM
Hi Ian,
Of course, you are absolutely right - but my phtots are so bad that even a scan is better !

I think I need to spend some time on trying different things - but I am very new to this - I had just completed my first batch ever of necklaces to sell (hopefully). So, having used up all my energy on that I am feeling bit miffed that the photography bit is going to take longer than expected !

I will go away & have a go - then learn how to get one onto here for you to see ! (Even the technology is a new thing for me - talk about starting from scratch......!!!!!)

Many thanks,
Isis

Ian Beckerton
06-05-2008, 06:00 PM
Hi Isis,
You are definitely a new member then!

Good images are never easy as they tend to come from practice, hard work, knowledge and bit of luck. There are some things that just donít photograph well but you tend to be able to recognise these after a while, you still have to shoot them but you can get round most of the problems.

The best advice I can give you at this stage is just look at the item you want to shoot and think to yourself, now what is it I want from this. Once you have decided what you want it is relatively straight forward to get a reasonable image as most things click into place. Donít worry about shadows initially, some times they can help but they can be suppressed.

What is important however, is exposure. Without correctly exposing the image you will never have an image that works. If you look at lots of images not only on this forum but elsewhere you will see that the biggest mistake that people make is underexposure, everything looks grey and murky, the colours are week and muddy. Itís a shame because there are some really talented crafters out there and they let themselves down by displaying their work badly, it doesnít have to be like that at all.

Kindest Regards,

I..

Chris W
06-05-2008, 06:38 PM
Many years ago I used to teach photography in a comprehensive school, I taught kids of all levels of ability and the first skill I needed to pass on was how to use the camera. Try to find articles on the internet which explain about apertures and shutter speeds.
When Ian talks about exposure having to be correct he is absolutely right, when you use a high f number such as f8 or f11 you are using the centre of the lens which is the sharpest, this means you get more detail and clarity but it also means that you need plenty of light or a tripod. To get good, representative, jewellery photos you need to aim for using at least f8.
Photography is lots of fun but it can also be frustrating if you are trying to achieve the impossible. If you need to do lots of photography it really is worth buying flashheads with soft boxes. Mine cost about £140 off ebay.

Silver Butterfly
10-05-2008, 12:48 PM
Hi Ian
You've got some excellent advice.
I've just been playing round with my camera's white balance and things are looking better already.

I still have the problem with finding the right lighting - either my pics come out with that orangey type lighting, or they've got a blue-ish tint. I've managed to get some pics that are pretty good, but would love to achieve a white background like Chris W's pics.

I really struggle with close up's of earrings, even using macro setting and good lighting. Tiara's and necklaces aren't quite so bad. Any tips for the smaller items?

Sarah

Ian Beckerton
11-05-2008, 02:47 PM
Hi Chris,

I just like to ask if you wouldn't mind me using one of your images off your site as an example for something I am talking about elsware on this thread. The image is -http://www.waterstonejewellery.co.uk/Jewellery/Bracelets/Follow-Your-Dreams-Charm-Bracelet/p-91-68-563/.

Kindest regards,

I..

Ian Beckerton
11-05-2008, 03:13 PM
Hi Sarah,

We will start with the easier question. Your idea of lighting and mine will be quite different but what you need for close up photography is lots of it or long exposures so that you can use very small apertures. If you are using flash lighting and to be honest camera mounted flash will not work for macro or ultra close up work, then you will have ample capacity to close down the lens and use it to itís best advantage.

If you donít have the luxury of powerful flash heads then you can just extend the exposure time. This you can do in the A (aperture priority) setting for the camera, set this to the smallest aperture that is practical or you can go Ďcommandoí and use the manual settings, this would be my preferred option as you then have complete control over what the camera is doing.

If you are using the natural lighting then you will have to use a tripod or some other form of camera support, it is not possible to hold the camera still enough for sharp images. Even the slightest movement will either throw the focus out or will introduce movement blur from using low shutter speeds.

If you are using a macro setting then the amount of object in focus will be very small, this is why you use small apertures as it extends the range of focus but even so the amount of image that is I n focus could be as low as 5mm!

So the answer is lots of light, small apertures, long exposures and a tripod.

Lighting, you can change the Ďcolourí of the lighting using the white balance control but this tends to be limited in how much you can do this. The correct way to have a correct colour temperature (this is how light is described) is to use lighting that has a colour temperature of about 6000k (6000 Kelvin). Incandescent lighting (this is the kind of lighting that you would have from a normal light bulb has a colour temperature of about 3300K and looks orange.

The answer to this question is to use the correct lighting and this need not be expensive, just look for lighting that has been balanced for photography.

White backgrounds. This is the difficult one because it is not easily achieved. Using Chris Wís site as an example and looking at one of her images http://www.waterstonejewellery.co.uk/Jewellery/Bracelets/Follow-Your-Dreams-Charm-Bracelet/p-91-68-563/ you will see what is a very commercial image. The photography is excellent and the lighting and exposure are absolutely spot on. You can tell this just by looking at the depth of colours and the definition in the clear beading. This sort of quality comes from experience, resources and photoshop.

I donít tend to talk much about photoshop as you can achieve quite good results without using it but if you want to produce commercial images then you have to use it. It is the only certain way of producing the perfect white background and to remove all the small imperfections that you will notice at this level of photography.

To achieve the quality that has been shown by Chris you would almost certainly have to use flash heads a good quality white background, the correct exposure, experience and lots of practice. There are tricks that you can add to all this as well like under lit tables (flash tables), bounce cards ect,ect. The main thing though is exposure and this is something I keep on repeating. If the exposure is incorrect then no matter what you do the image will be poor. For still life photography the camera will not expose correctly, this you have to workout for your self and to do this you have to understand how the camera works, what its limitations are and use a hand held exposure meter.

Itís not a good answer I am afraid but this is what it takes to get the quality required for commercial images.

Kindest Regards,

I..

Silver Butterfly
11-05-2008, 09:16 PM
Thanks Ian, that is very useful stuff.

In fact, I ordered a tripod on ebay yesterday and spent most of the afternoon reading my camera's manual and playing around with it - I even managed to take a close up of some of the beads on one of my tiara's which i was particularly impressed with (seeing as I've been rubbish at taking close up pics for so long!). The lighting still wasn't great, but I've made loads of progress since using your tips. Will keep practising!

Sarah

Ian Beckerton
12-05-2008, 12:01 AM
Hi Sarah,
Iím pleased that you have made progress already. Itís surprising haw many people think that photography is easy, Ďwell you just point the camera in the general direction of what you want to photograph and press the button, donít youí!

Most cameras will give you good results if you know how to use them and understand the limitations. This is not new, this has been around since 1827 and whilst things have changed just a Ďtadí the principles are the same. Cameras may well be sophisticated and capable of sorting out quite a lot of the problems all by them selves but they still canít think and can only do what they are programmed to do.

Photography Ďisí simple all you are doing is transferring an image onto a light sensitive plain, what happens after this is another story all together. The camera in its basic form is just a box with a bit of glass in front of it to concentrate and control the light and a shutter to control the duration of the exposure. What is important is in the understanding of the relationships between the lens and the shutter and how it effects the image.

I find it quite difficult to write about photography as I know just how simple it should be but often isnít! The difficulty I find lies in the fact that cameras are sold on a basis of technology and ignorance. Itís very easy to sell something to the unwary with sales patter based on Ďspin and bull ****í. Often as not the sales person hasnít got a clue what he or she is talking about but it sounds impressive and it will make a sale. I canít go down this route as it would seam like a tirade against sales persons, bless them!

To get a better image all you have to do is look at what you are photographing and just spend a little time in thinking about it and what you want to achieve with the image. You want the image for the web, Ok it doesnít have to be a large image but it needs to be quite high contrast, sharp, well exposed and well presented. You will find that it is easier to do this by using the manual settings for the camera; the camera just hasnít got the capability for this kind of work to do this for its self but you have!!

Kindest Regards,

I..