Tips: Photography Tips, Part 2 – The Macro Setting

Written by Brandi of Catie’s Blue

•••••••

Since I started selling online, the importance of great product photographs has been hammered into my brain. With jewelry, it is your selling point. People can’t pick up the piece and hold it the way they can at a craft show, so the photo will determine if someone clicks to view your listing or just leaves your shop.

Good photos have become an obsession of mine, so I figured I’d share what I know so far. Please note, I’m not saying that my photos are the best ever nor am I a professional photographer (I’m not); but I do work hard to make them the best they can be. In doing so, there are four major things I think about when it comes time to start snapping away – lighting, macro setting, staging, and editing.

This is Part 2 of a four Part series, broken down for easy reading. Missed Part 1: Lighting? Click here to view it.

•••••••

II. Macro Setting

The macro setting is the “close-up” setting on your camera, and if you’re photographing small items, like jewelry, it’s really the setting you want to use. I never use anything but macro when I’m photographing my jewelry pieces.

Macro allows you to get extremely close to a piece to pick up the fine details that may be lost on a wider shot. You have to be generally within 2 feet of the item, and you probably want to get even closer. Macro has a narrow depth of field, or a very short range of focus. What this means for your photos is that anything in the background and anything in the immediate foreground will be out of focus or fuzzy, which is kind of nice for an artsy shot if that’s the style you’re going for.

100_4211a.jpg

For an example, look at the photo above. Notice how the bottom third and top third of the photo is fuzzy? How only the middle third is actually clearly in focus? That’s what I’m talking about. If you use a smoother surface with no discernable pattern, like a stone table top or a smooth piece of paper, you may not see the fuzziness as well.

100_4211acc-copy.jpgWhen taking photos, press the shutter button down halfway – on most digital cameras, this will cause the lens to focus and a box or brackets will show up on your screen. Whatever is in that box or those brackets will be what the camera is focused on first. Here’s a digital recreation of what you might see on your screen.

By playing with the angle of you in relationship to your piece, i.e. stand up, sit down, hover over it, etc., you can play with what’s in focus and what’s not. If you want to get one particular part of your piece in focus, do your best to have that piece be in the center of your screen, then press the button down halfway to double check. If it is, go ahead and press the button down all the way just like normal.

As for me, I get right up to my piece, leaving only a few inches of space between my camera lens and the piece itself. I go as close as I can without losing focus, so you may have to move around till you find that threshold. Additionally, I try not to use my zoom if I can help it. Digital cameras now come with two kinds of zoom, optical and digital. Optical is what the actual lens in your camera can do – mine has a 10x optical zoom, meaning the lens itself can zoom in up to ten times. When it reaches that maximum, that’s when the digital zoom kicks in.

Digital zoom is when the little computer chip in your camera takes over. It’s not actually zooming in any closer; rather, it’s blowing up the image, which can distort it by making it fuzzy, and completely defeats the purpose of a close-up. Think of it this way: a digital image is comprised of thousands of little pixels. The digital zoom enlarges those pixels, but it’s not adding any new information. So, at some point, you’ll begin to see the blank bits in between those pixels; hence, your photo will be fuzzy.

541531299_bg-mini-2.jpgIt doesn’t really matter what style of camera you have, or what brand it is. Most digital cameras now come with at least a few options, one of which is the macro setting. Take a moment to look at your camera. Macro is usually denoted by a little flower, so just switch to that setting, and stay there. If in doubt, pull out your camera’s manual and look at the diagram written there to find it.

Tips: Photography Tips, Part 1 – Lighting

Written by Brandi of Catie’s Blue 

•••••••

Since I started selling online, the importance of great product photographs has been hammered into my brain. With jewelry, it is your selling point. People can’t pick up the piece and hold it the way they can at a craft show, so the photo will determine if someone clicks to view your listing or just leaves your shop.

Good photos have become an obsession of mine, so I figured I’d share what I know so far. Please note, I’m not saying that my photos are the best ever nor am I a professional photographer (I’m not); but I do work hard to make them the best they can be. In doing so, there are four major things I think about when it comes time to start snapping away – lighting, macro setting, staging, and editing.

This is Part 1 of a four Part series, broken down for easy reading.

•••••••

I. Lighting

100_4186cc-copy.jpgLighting is important for obvious reasons. Without light, we can’t see colors. But when taking digital photos, lighting is critical to getting a good picture. Here’s why: A camera lens is not as sensitive as a human eye. Where a human eye can differentiate between millions of shades and tones and colors, that number becomes dramatically smaller for a camera. Where we see hundreds of shades of gray, the camera may see a dozen. And areas that we think are well lit appear dark once viewed on a computer screen. A camera needs the help of even external lights to see things properly; don’t rely on the flash.

There are two ways of taking pictures at home: natural light and mini studio light boxes. Both have die-hard fans that swear by them. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

100_4187abcc-copy.jpgI’ve found that with natural light, the colors of the piece I’m photographing come as true to life as possible, so that’s what I use. I’ll go outside and set up on my patio table. However, I have to depend solely on the weather when it comes time to take a picture. And when the seasons change, that perfect time of day when the light is exactly right changes constantly, so it’s a (fun and not so fun) guessing game.

Natural light isn’t always an option for everyone. For some, it’s the changing seasons that prevents year-round outside photography. For others, it may be a full-time job that keeps them busy during key daylight hours. lightbox2-copy.jpgOr, maybe you don’t have big windows that let in a lot of natural light. If this is the case for you, consider a light box (a.k.a portable light studio, portable light tent, tabletop studio). When using a light box, you never have to worry about the weather. You can take photos at night after the kids are in bed. You can set up anywhere, including the garage or the kitchen table. You are in complete control and, assuming you have the space to do so, you can set up your light box the way you like it once and leave it till you need to take pictures again.

Ultimately, you need to decide what works best for you. For jewelry, which is generally pretty small, you don’t need much space, so either natural light or a light box would work. It’s really going to come down to what works best for your lifestyle.

.

When using natural light

  • 100_4190bcc-copy.jpgStay in the shade and avoid direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause your photos to become overexposed and the colors will be washed out.
  • Don’t use your flash. It, too, will wash out the colors in your photos and cause extreme highlights that no photo-editing software can really fix.
  • Play around with the positioning. In my photos, the sun is to the right, so there are shadows on the left. To avoid as shadows as much as possible, position yourself between the sun and your item. This will create evenness to your photo, and you can always adjust the brightness later.

.

When using a light box

  • If you want to be fancy and buy special light bulbs, go to your local hardware store and get either tungsten light bulbs or natural light light bulbs; both simulate the natural light you’d get if photographing outside. Ask the sales associate there for help if you can’t find either of these bulbs.
  • Do use as many light sources as you can. Notice that most light boxes use multiple light sources that come from different angles. This is to provide an equal amount of light to all areas of the piece being photographed, as well as to minimize shadows. Use one light on top and one on the side at least, though you can also use lights on both of the sides and even the front as well as the top.
  • Diffuse your lights. Diffusing the light will create an even shine on the piece, which means that the shadows and super bright highlights will be minimized. If you paint the inside of a cardboard box white or line it with white paper like ChristysQuilts did, don’t direct the lights to shine directly on your jewelry. Instead, follow her lead and angle it towards the sides of the box so that the light bounces off the side onto your piece. If you cut out the top and sides and cover it with tissue paper, like the Strobist example, you can position the light on the outside of the box. The tissue paper will soften the light that comes through it.
    • Using white on the top and sides, even if you want your piece on a colored background, will help bounce the light around your light box. A colored background can go along the back and bottom.
  • Don’t use your flash. Let the external studio lights do the work.

Tutorial- Wrapping An Undrilled Stone by Corinne Portalatin

ocean8.jpg

This is Part 2 in this tutorial (Interested in Part 1? Click here). In the last tutorial I demonstrated how to wire wrap a bead link, which is the alternating beads in the bracelet that you will soon be able to make.

glasstutorial2.jpg

Tools needed to wrap this stone are the same tools as in Part 1.
Round nose pliers
Duck bill pliers
Side cutter pliers
A piece of sea glass or any other stone bead.
20 inches of 20 gauges wire (I used green artistic brand copper colored wire)
Practice with inexpensive wire until you are able to wrap the stone.

glasstutorial1.jpg

In step 1
You will need to make a loop about 1″ from the end and wrap your loop about 4 wraps are fine.

glasstutorial3.jpg

In step 2
You will need to measure the length of your stone and mark your wire at the point.
Shown in the above photo is where I made my mark on my wire for my loop.

glasstutorial4.jpg

Make another loop allowing enough room for your wraps and also the additional wraps that you will be making around your focal bead.
Your bead should now look like the one in the photo above with both of the wrapped loops. Notice the allowed space for the additional wraps I will be making.

glasstutorial5.jpg

 In the next step you will wrap the wire back to the other loop. Make 1 wrap under the wraps that is already there.

glasstutorial61.jpg

The next steps are to continue wrapping the wire back and forth each time making 1 loop around your wire, by letting the wire and the shape of glass dictate how you would like the wrap to look.

glasstutorial7.jpg

I am happy with the amount of wraps over the glass. Next step is to trim your wire and flatten smoothly against your wrapped loop. Make sure that both of your loops are round and that they both are at the same angle. Notice in the photo below at my wrapped loops.
 

glasstutorial8.jpg

Shown below is the other side of the piece of glass

glasstutorial9.jpg
This is the second tutorial on wire wrapping, written by : Corinne Portalatin 
 She creates beautiful hand-wrapped artisan jewelry, and you can find more of her unique and creative pieces in her Etsy shop:
Thanks again Cori for sharing this with us …

Tutorial: Wire Wrapped Bead Connector

Originally submitted by Corinne of CCDesign

I thought I would make a series of tutorials for those beaders who needed some lessons on wire-wrapping. The first in this series would be on how to wire-wrap a loop bead connector. A bead connector is used in bracelets, necklaces and anklets to connect other beads, jumprings, wire links and other jewelry components.

I have taken pictures for each example in these easy to follow steps.

Step 1. Cut a piece of wire 4″ long. Bend your wire at a 90 degree angle at 1 1/4″.

wiretutorial1.jpg

Step 2. Using your round nose pliers, position your pliers at the bend and turn your wrist to form a loop.

wire2.jpg

Step 3. This step requires using both hands and 2 pair of pliers. Using your duck bill pliers, position your pliers over the loop you just made. With your needle nose pliers, grip the tail end of your wire, making sure your loop is round and your wire is at a 90 angle. Now start wrapping your wire at least 3 wraps, making sure each wrap is tight against the last wrap and that you maintain your wire at a 90 angle to keep your wire straight and even.

wireturorial3.jpg

Step 4. Add your beads and leave about 1/4 of wire. Your space needs to be long enough to make 3 wraps between the beads and the loop, but more more than. Bend your wire 90 degrees and wrap the wire the same way as you did in step 3.

wire4.jpgwiretutorial5.jpg

Step 5. Cut your wire tails as close as possible to the wraps and using your needle nose pliers smooth your wire ends against the wraps.

wiretutorial6.jpgwiretutorial8.jpg