Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Photographing - white or rustic? And do I need a new camera....?

For the past wee while - about 6 months now -  I have used an old, white cupboard door to photograph on. The past month or so, I've been using a light tent and photography lights to shoot with as well. Before this, I've always had to go outside for my shots - for some reason, despite our flat not being particularly dark, there's just not a good spot for snapping here - no big window that gets the right type of light. It's frustrating, and I am always trying new things to see if I can improve things. The photos I have taken over the past couple of weeks, using the light tent set up,  have just been rubbish. They haven't seen the light of day - it's been a case of loading them onto the computer and then immediately deleting! I don't know why. So today, I decided to get out and about and try shooting on a nice rustic, weather-beaten table. It's 8.30pm here, and I've just finished loading them onto the computer and editing them. And most of them are pants. Hours of work altogether, and almost all for nothing. *sigh* It's so annoying. 

Anyway, I thought I'd show some of the ones which worked better than others. I'm not thrilled with any, but I want to show you what I have been working on despite that! I got at least one of most of the items of jewellery I was snapping, but not enough to load anything onto Etsy. 









I've been wondering if my camera is partly to blame. I mean, I am sure I am personally partly to blame too - camera skills are a constant work in progress - but I have been investigating what features are recommended in cameras for jewellery photography anyway. Mine has a really good macro setting. But you can't adjust the aperture or shutter speed and I think these things could make a difference.....another thing to add to the shopping list! My birthday is in April so perhaps then.....

So I wonder, what do you prefer? Rustic wood background or white? And do you think it matters if shops have a mixture of backgrounds? I've been thinking of shooting on a rough piece of linen too, which I did a little of back in the Spring. 

Feeling a little frustrated this evening and hoping for some inspiring advice here in blogland! Any given, much appreciated :-)

17 comments:

Malin de Koning said...

So many lovely new pieces Rebecca!

Choose background depending on the colors in the piece. So it stands out nicely against the background. I think a mixture of backgrounds in your shop adds interest, and is a good thing.

Do you have an automatic setting on your camera? Try it out.

Claire Lockwood said...

I only use the automatic setting because cameras are another thing I don't understand! I think your shop looks good with the mix, esp. because you have such a consistent style (and ace-ness, obvs!). It's funny you mention this because I ended up taking some picks on my 'rustic' (ahem) side table at the end of last year, because I didn't have my usual white background 'set-up' to hand and I'm planning to re-do them. If I can face the photoshop slog, that is...

Eve Smith said...

Some great pieces Rebecca, I also find it hard to get any decent shots of jewellery just now, I'm using my iphone as my nikon camera broke, but my phone is ok, just need a new tent and some better lights. Bring on summer.

The Crazier Sister said...

They're better than you give yourself credit for. However, look to see if your camera allows you to change settings. (i.e., for cloudy light there will be a cloud icon, for shade, a house with marks to indicate shade, indoor light has a choice of flourescent & tungsten, and a sun icon for regular ol' sunlight) These settings will actually change the light/color of your photo. Play with them and you'll see what I mean.
2nd, professional photogs will tell you that, for every 1 shot they get that's good, they get 100 that are junk. You are in good company ;)
Finally, here's a blog that has some good tips, tricks and ideas as well as explains things about cameras for us dummies (still figuring out mine). Granted, this is for DSL cameras (the bigger cameras, not the pocket ones, precisely) but you can still use the tips. A lot of pocket cameras are WAY more sophisticated than the little "box thing" I had in grade school! :D Don't get discouraged, keep playing and check out, actually, two sites; 1st is Picaboo Blog:
http://blog.picaboo.com/
2nd is picmonkey.com Think of it as Photoshop for idiots. I love it! (did I just say something about myself? o,0) You can do a lot of adjusting to your pics that don't take a lot of work or understanding of all the doo-hickies photoshop requires. (did I mention I love it?)

AliMc said...

I agree with many of the comments above, background to copmpliment colors of the piece, multiple backgrounds can add interest, and picmonkey is brilliant for easy photo editing. Also, I think your pics look very nice as is. I too am still working on getting good clear pics.

scotknit said...

I like a variety of background for your work, and I'm sure you'll continue to come up with new variations. It would never have occurred to me that there's a fault in any of the ones here, and I think the top 4, particularly, have come out really effectively against the rustic table. As said above, the colours of the pieces will gain or lose brilliance and effectiveness according to the background as well as lighting conditions. We're not seeing the originals, obviously, but it does look like you're being awfully hard on yourself.

freshbakeddesigns said...

I agree that the background should compliment and conflict with the piece of jewelry. The first few shots on the wood look great to my eye. However, when you get to the necklace with the bird pendant, the little bird gets lost. Same for the owl bracelet. To be honest I can't tell with the copper leaf earring...thinking the angle of the shot is not the most flattering to see the beauty or colors in these earrings. Who says there has to be one background for all your jewelry? That said, the rustic wood table top seems to work with your style very nicely.

TesoriTrovati said...

This is a constant struggle for everyone I think. I don't like doing white. It is too stark and hard to photograph no matter the lighting. And I always need to do a lot of editing on those. I just bought some 12x12 vinyl backdrops in wood tones that I can use in my little set up. I take all my photos indoors, late at night with a high powered lamp diffused. For what I do I prefer a darker background, but the new vinyl drops give me the the ability to do a lighter drop as well, sort of like your header. Even though it is light wood, it still has a texture which I like. I use a Canon DSLR and I have a set of filters that screw on that are different powers of macro. I usually use the +4 but the +10 gets in really tight! I want to buy the macro lens for my smartphone camera that Brandi Hussey has been experimenting with. I think that you have to find what works for your style. I have always enjoyed your photos on the wood the best. Thanks for sharing! Enjoy the day. Erin

Cilla Watkins said...

I think you are way too hard on yourself. The photos are perfect! I would be thrilled if mined were so fine. I like the back ground mix and I hate flat white backgrounds but that is just be. The wood is perfect and the light is very nice. I would load them up and get the sales!

Spirited Earth said...

i didn't read thru the comments..i have the same conflict..plain white ground or something textural? your pieces look great..but my initial thought was that the grain of the wood is too distracting .perhaps something a bit less coarse might make the pieces show better..your white backgrounds certainly make the colors pop nicely..i've noticed that even slight changes in the texture and color of the rustic background makes a big difference in how my photos turn out..

SummersStudio said...

These photos ( and the jewelry too) look great. I know that frustration of spending hours and getting so little. I think we all do probably. I've had a much less frustrating time since I changed up to a SLR camera. Yes, expensive but if you want control over the available light its the way to go. Also I get better depth of field. But in the end a dark day is a just that, dark. This time of year is particularly frustrating.

I don't think a mix of backgrounds in photos for your shop is a bad thing at all. The key to it I think is having some sort of consistent feel accross them. For example, a worn white wood background with the weathered wood of these photos would work well. I think you could do the same with linen. It helps that you have a developed a distinctive style in the jewelry you make.

Good luck!

Leigh Thow said...

Hi Rebecca, all of these pictures are great, I think you are worrying about nothing to be honest. The only one I would say doesn't show off the necklace is the one with the purple beads and bird in it, a little dark. I wouldn't spend more money on another camera either. I have it on good authority from a professional that it is very difficult to take pics of jewellery. Your pics have always been great. The photographer I might add said he was amazed at the quality of my photos and all i use is natural light and my iPhone 4S on slate as you've seen. I like this background its lovely but like the idea you suggest about linen, nice to have a contrast. I to have a fancy camera and nothing works quite like my iphone so will stick to that and guess what the days are getting longer and lighter so before you know it.....

Caron Michelle said...

This is a great blog post and I have enjoyed reading through the comments. We are all critical of the photos we take and as they say, jewellery is the hardest of all. I am fortunate to have a nice big window where I can take my pics, they are not perfect but through photo editing (I use Irfanview but definitely going to checkout Picmonkey - thanks for that tip!). I also adjust the macro's on my camera - read the manual to see what they recommend. Lastly - I use a white background with perspex/acrylic props - its enough to take away the starkness from the pics. Thanks for an interesting read, will bookmark to see what others suggest :)

maryharding said...

beautiful jewelry and great photos. I still prefer white for the kind of work I do but I know jewelry is different. I think one has to be careful that the background doesn't become what the camera focuses on or that the background is blurry because the jewelry is in focus. I think a tightly textured background can avoid that problem. I usually use the macro setting on my cannon. I have noticed that the better the natural light, the clearer the pic. Also I have a little hand held tripod that is very helpful and easy to manipulate. Hope this is helpful. But really your pics are great already.

Perle Eleg said...

Your pieces look stunning against the rustic background. I use Picasa 3 to highlight my pics. I visited your Etsy shop and you do beautiful work. I'm your latest follower.

Pretty Things said...

I think lighting does it all. I can take a photo on the same surface in various sun settings and get different results. And I tend to rotate between a few backgrounds and try the piece with all of them. Of course, that means I'm taking about 8 shots per piece, and that takes time, but I'm hoping to pare that down as I get better at it.

Mixed Kreations said...

I think your pictures turned out great. I am still struggling with my pictures. I have set up at place in the house by a window and I have a light tent to. I have improved, but I'll be really happy when I can get as clear a shot as your's. I love the background of the old rustic table.

Thanks for the links "the crazier sister" I will be checking them out. When it come to photo pics of my jewelry, I can use all the help I can get thanks.

Linda @ Mixed Kreations

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