Monday 8 March 2010

Playing around with my camera - part 1

Grrrr taking photos of my jewellery drives me mad!

I've been reading up lots of different tips on various forums, etsy, folksy etc.. but my trouble is that unless I actually have the camera there and try it out (which obviously I never do) I just never remember what I'm supposed to be doing (and to be honest, just can't be bothered to play around - too much to do, and too little time). But I know photos are one of the most important things, and so I decided to take some time to figure them out.

I know the key for good lighting is natural sunlight, and that has been in short supply until recently, so now that the sun is actually out I thought I'd have a play with my camera and show you what I came up with. The theory is if I write it down on my blog, I can refer back when I (inevitably) forget what I did!

A tutorial I would really recommend is Boo's Digital Photography Tutorial - especially useful for me as Boo also makes jewellery.

The key issue I have is the light, and so that's what I focused on. I want a really bright pic, BUT (and it's a big but) not overexposed which changes the colour of the gemstones, and makes the silver look white. When you're buying online you really need to have as accurate a picture of the item as possible.

I tend to use a plain white background because I like a simple, clean look. BUT I've heard that the best colour background to use is grey. Honestly, I've been looking around for a nice simple grey "thing" to take pics on for weeks now, and can't find anything that I like - where do you get a lump of slate? I tried the DIY stores, but nothing quite right. So I'm sticking to white for the time being.

I thought it was about time I actually used the DIY lightbox I made ages ago (last time the sun was out!) I know natural sunshine is the best thing for photos, and to be honest I love the shadows that it makes, but it can make it difficult to see the item properly. I must admit it hadn't occured to me they were a problem until I read discussions in the forums on it. So I did a comparison....

This picture above is just in sunlight without a lightbox..

And this one is in the lightbox. (Obviously I'd crop it etc.. for the real version, but this is just to show the light!).

Hmmm..... I think I know which one I prefer.  Doing this comparison and seeing things side by side is really useful for me.

I'm really glad I made the lightbox now! And it really didn't take long to do. I also had a old cereal box and put crinkled up silver foil on it to reflect light back onto the earrings. Takes seconds to do, and I think it really helped.

Final trick - on this second picture I also changed the exposure setting (so easy to do - I moved it up to +1) Makes a huge difference!

The next experiment was to play with the White Balance.... pictures of this to come in part 2.


  1. I agree - I HATE taking photos of my jewellery but it is so important when you sell online.
    I take my photos on my computer desk which is next to the window, pull the curtains right back (God knows what the neighbours think I'm up to!) and use a light background and a large folded white envelope behind to reflect the light. I also have to remember to wear a light top so it doesn't reflect on the silver! It really drives me mad!
    I've never tried altering any of the settings on my camera so will give that a try next time.
    This is a bit of an essay, sorry :D

  2. Wow - you don't change any settings? Your photos are make it sound so easy!! BTW I see you are another cocteau twins fan, saw that on your blog interests page, and need to go dig some out and have a listen again...ah the sounds of my youth

  3. I think my photos are ok more by luck than skill! I always think they could be better - maybe next time :D Yes I used to love the cocteau twins, must have a listen again too.


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