Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tutorial Tuesday: How To Take Good Jewelry Pictures

It's bee a whole since I posted a tutorial, but I just posted this one over at my Tizzalicious Crafts & Cuteness blog, and I thought it would be useful for you too:

This isn't so much a tutorial as a few useful tips on how to improve the pictures of jewelry, accessories, and anything else that needs you to get close!

I am not a professional photographer, and my pictures aren't perfect, but these things helped me out a lot, so they should work for you too:

361/365 Lonely Apple
Make good use of the macro setting!

♥ Always use the macro setting on your camera. Usually the icon for the macro setting is a little tulip flower.

♥ When taking a picture, press the button only halfway down at first, this will make your camera focus. Once it focuses, click through.

♥ Select the right white balance for the light you are using. Not every camera has the same settings, but most cameras these days have at least the following options: Sunny, Cloudy & Artificial Light. If you choose the right white balance, you should be able to get true colors with any kind of light.

♥ If your camera has an option for "vivid colors", use it! This will make all colors so much brighter!

♥ Ditch the white background! Even when using the correct white balance, it's hard to get white to look white. So why bother? Just because a lot of shops use white backgrounds, doesn't mean you have to too! Besides, who needs white backgrounds with teams like The Crafting in Color Team around?

Just have a look at these 2 pictures:

348/365 Love Letter

349/365 Love Letter

The first image was taken on a white background. I spent a lot time editing it, and the background still looks greyish. The second picture hardly needed any editing at all, and in my opinion, looks a lot better!

♥ If there isn't enough light, pictures often turn out blurry. To fix this, you can either set the "ISO" higher, or use a Tripod. Setting the ISO higher can work out great, but it also increases "noise" in your pictures, so don't set it too high! A tripod is always great. I have a gorillapod myself, it can bend in all kinds of shapes, which makes it easier to take pictures from different angles.

♥ Talking about taking pictures from different angles: Do this! A picture that shows only part of the item, or from a strange angle, usually makes the picture a lot more interesting, and thus clickworthy. Most selling sites give you space for more than one picture, so you have plenty of space to show the item in full or in the other spots.

♥ After you finished taking your pictures, edit them in a program like Photoshop or Gimp. Gimp is free, and has some great tools that will really help your pictures look better. My Gimp is in Dutch, so I won't be able to post screenshots that would be useful, but I can tell you the tools I use a lot:

- The "automatic white balance" setting (Under "Colors").
- The "fade white balance" if it was a little too much.
- The "Unsharp Mask" to sharpen the picture. I usually set this to 1.1
- The "Curves" tool (under "Colors"), to make images lighter.
- The "Hue Saturation Tool" (under "Colors").

That last tool can do a lot! It can saturate colors (which makes them stand out more), change a color tone a little (like when pink looks a bit too salmon, you can change it with this tool), make colors lighter or darker, etc.

The one rule to stick to when post editing your pictures is: Don't overdo it. If you lighten a picture too much, the colors will get bland, if you sharpen it too much, it will look fake, and if you saturate it too much it will get blotchy. Also keep in mind that not all monitors look the same. What looks great on your screen might be eye hurtingly bright on another.

249/365 New Camera!

♥ Invest in a nice camera. I liked my old camera, it took nice, sharp and bright pictures, but once I got my new camera I noticed how much better this one is at taking macro shots. It creates a sense of dept, which makes pictures so much more interesting to look at.

A good camera does not have to be expensive. I have a Canon Powershot A720 IS, which is available for around $200.

♥ Get to know your camera. That new camera I am so happy with now, caused a lot of angry moments when I just bought it! Take the time to get to know your camera. Something that really helped my photography skills in general was doing "project 365", I took a picture every day, for a whole year. Something like that really helps you to get to know your camera, you can't wait for a sunny day to take the picture, you will have to make do with what the day offers you, so you figure something out.

I hope these tips were useful! Taking good pictures is tricky, but I hope these tips will at least make it a little easier for you!


Jamie said...

These are great photos with some great advice!!! I also made a poor mans lightbox with 5 sheets of foamcore board and some thick white tape, then clipped some shop lights on the sides (100 watt) to even out the light. The macro setting is a must!!! also if you own a mac programs like iPhoto have a great photo adjusting tool, where you can slide the exposure and color balance and whatnot.... My Pictures have come along way since august for my etsy shop.... Also I have been experimenting with different backgrounds rather than the white! Thanks again for posting such an informative blog!

The Fab Miss B said...

Thanks for the tips! I just made a lightbox too and am learning the ropes of my fancy new DSLR. The headaches at the begining will be worth it in the end (I know) but right now I'm missing my old point and shoot (just a little!)Great tutorial!

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