Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Photos of Jewelry in Natural Sun Light

Since I moved to Colorado, I have many more opportunities to take photos of my jewelry in natural light.  My key light sources through windows are to the east and to the west.  Both are good, but in different ways.  When I lived in St. Louis, I took my photos for my shop, Plum Beadacious, in the basement with a homemade lightbox and artificial lights. I had everything set up for me to place my jewelry for the shot.  I did occasionally change background surfaces, and programmed my camera for the type of light I was using.  I think I got better over several years at doing this, but the pictures still had a harshness to them that I never did eliminate.

Now I have been playing with taking pictures in natural light.  I can get fresh crisp color that is not harsh, but I can't get it consistently.  The light changes from hour to hour and day to day.  Take a look at the pictures of a beaded id lanyard I made for a special order.  These pictures were all taken about 5:30 PM after I got home from my day job.

The first picture is one that was taken in my east window, somewhat shady at 5:30, but it has been a beautiful sunny day.  I placed the lanyard on the white painted window sill.  The blinds were lifted to allow as much light as possible to spill through the window.

Nice, but a little blue looking.  This is because of the shade at this side of the house at 5:30 PM.  However, by adjusting the lighting level on Photoshop Elements, I can improve this picture dramatically.  I do this by using the Full Edit function and going to 
  • Enhance
  • Adjust Lighting
  • Level 
There you will see some icons that look like eye droppers.  I clicked on the white one and then moved my cursor over my photo to a place on the white background that is closest to true white and is not too close to the item or any shaded areas.  I then clicked my mouse, and magically the entire picture lightened up.

I then went to 
  • Enhance
  • Auto Sharpen
This provided crisper edges to my jewelry photo.

Next I selected the crop tool and cropped the picture to a square.  

Once I do all of this, I select File, Save for Web.  This allows me to tell the program what size picture I want.  Since Etsy recommends 1000 pixels, I type in 1000 pixels, and since the picture is square, and it is constrained to proportion, the picture ends up being 1000x1000 pixels.  I can then save it into my pictures folder in Windows.  It is ready to post on Etsy or anywhere else I would like, such as this blog.

Here is the edited photo - same one as above.  It is much brighter, but is it the best it can be?  Not really!

Let's take a look at a photo taken minutes later at my west window.  The sun was quite intense there at 5:30 PM.  I lowered my nice honeycomb blinds about 2/3 of the way, and I placed my item on a table about two feet away from the window sill.  The light was more intense than the east window, but not glaring.  I also used a soft decorative floral background.

Look at the first picture here taken at the west window, unedited.  Notice the crazy angle.  This is how I took the picture.

Now look at the edited version of the same picture.  I changed the orientation by going to

  • Image
  • Rotate
  • 90% right
Then I did the same edits with the lighting level using the white eye dropper, and auto sharpened.  Don't you think it looks much better?

These edits are quicky fixes to immediately enhance your photos.  There are more sophisticated techniques to make them even better.

Natural light is my friend for my jewelry photography, and besides that my life is definitely enhanced by taking pictures in the wonderful sunshine instead of a dark basement with artificial light.

I invite you to share your experiences with photographing your jewelry, whether done in natural or artificial light.  We can all learn from one another.  I hope this is helpful to some of you.

More about Beaded Lanyards

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I have been redoing my etsy site, retaking and posting all photos. Your blog was so very helpful. Thank you for sharing. Peace, elizabeth


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