Thursday, August 23, 2007

Photographing Jewelry - The Agony of Defeat, part 1

I've always known photography was not my strong suit. I bought myself a big treat 3 years ago, before I even discovered the brain cell that can make jewelry. After quite a bit of research, I chose a Canon PowerShot S50, a lightweight 5MP digital camera. "Surely I could learn to use all the manual adjustments," I said to myself, overly confident. I can fiddle with my PC pretty well, set my digital watch, & even handle TWO remote controls for the TV & all the goodies attached to it! However, taking a picture of my 2 grandchildren or granddogs as they squirm like eels or strike like lightning continues to elude me, whether the setting is Auto or manual! Hopeless. But jewelry doesn't move. That should be easy.

WRONG! In fact, when I decided to expand my jewelry-making passion into a business, the first huge challenge almost sent me packing. Photographing jewelry was even harder that wiggling eels! Lighting, clarity, close-ups... I mean reeeaaalll close-ups, with a camera I could barely use & no tripod. But impossible tasks trigger the hard-headed gene from my mother. No exaggeration ==> I took 400-500 pictures of just 20 sets of jewelry that comprised my first official Collection in 2006. I checked each of those jpg files in PhotoShop Elements, spending a month or more trying to substitute realistic colors for the dingy yellow cast over everything. I had much to learn about my camera & lighting, as you can see from the 'before' & 'after' hours with PhotoShop.

My only consolation was that I really liked the 3 minute wedding dress I made for this picture. Can you tell it's a tablecloth? (Please don't say YES!) It's tricky aiming a hand-held camera at yourself without raising your arms so high that the folded tablecloth falls off. But simulating clothing you don't really have in order to photograph your jewelry is subject matter for another blog or two! (To be continued...)


ambika said...

I think I photographed the 1st 20 or so items I put in my Etsy shop at least 2-3 times. Even with new items, sometimes I'll peek into my shop at work, realize they're much darker on that monitor, and take them again when I get home.

Really understanding the macro feature and the white balance on my camera helped me *immensely*--regardless though, it's still a matter of practice. And taking 20 photos to come out with 3 decent ones.

Dawn said...

1) I am super impressed that you took that picture of yourself. Whenever I try to take a picture of my arm, with an armwarmer on it, it usually takes more than one try to get it non-blurry, from me jiggling the camera.

2) I am similarly impressed with your tablecloth wedding gown. Perhaps you should do a side line of tablecloth gowns... :)

Seattle Bead Creations (aka Classic Beadwear) said...

yeah, white balance is still a mystery, ambika. learning it is high on my to-do list. and i really do like my tablecloth wedding gown! it might sell better than my jewelry. i thought i'd never finish with the darn pictures of those 1st 20 sets of jewelry. in fact divide 400 pics by 20 sets of jewelry, & you'll see just how awful that task was... and all self-shot, no tripod, no help, terrible lighting, & wearing bits & pieces of unbelievable things. i do think i'll write about that one day. it was funny, now that it's over!

ambika said...

Cheryl, the white balance on my camera is pretty intuitive. When you click on it, the menu options that come up are: cloudy, fluorescent, daylight...etc, etc. As you switch back & forth between them, looking through the lens at something white, you'll see the drastic difference in tones. When I can't stop my pictures from turning out gray or yellowish, I just fiddle with it until it actually looks natural.

Of course, I still use photo editing to make them brighter anyways!

imakecutestuff said...

Wow! I really thought that was a real wedding dress...seriously! :) Great job! Your pearl necklace is lovely!
I'm still trying to figure out the white balance thing on my new camera too. I just did a photo shoot for a friend and I was happy with the I need to take pics of my stuff!