6.16.2010

Behind the Scenes: Photography Set Up for Jewelry


I'm a novice photographer so any knowledge in this post is from play and experimentation. Bottom line...I have no technical expertise in photography :)

Nevertheless, I thought it might be fun to share my funny set up and learn what other people have discovered about doing jewelry photography.



I've seen a lot of light boxes out there that are nifty and easy to make from cardboard or plastic boxes. However, after experiencing a lot of disappointment photographing college artwork, I decided to invest in an EZcube Light Box. If you are committed to photographing your work on a constant basis, this investment pays off in the long run because your pictures are better, people can understand your work more clearly, and things sell more rapidly.

Also, don't underestimate the value of good lighting. I tried the outdoors and several other light sources, but after much experimentation I found that photographing my silver charms under EZcube's Daylight 30 Watt bulbs to be the option I liked best. I bought them about two years ago and they are still running. More importantly, I don't work my schedule around Portland weather or the time of day for when I want to take photographs.

Even though I photograph during the day, I have found that if I wait until night when the room is completely dark and turn on only one bulb, I get photographs that have a deeper sense of color and reflection.

From the photo, you can see my set up is rather comical and all culled from stuff in our garage: portable lamps, plastic chairs and a small table.

Here are some other tips that seem to make things run smoother:

1. I tried to create white space outside the EZcube so light reflects back into the box. I used anything that I could find lying around my house: white construction paper, blank white canvas, and a white towel.

2. I also put a book inside the EZcube to create a flat surface and to raise my jewelry up a little bit. For some reason this has made it easier to photograph with a tripod.

3. I use a tripod so that my camera stays completely still and will create sharper images in any lighting condition.




Though set up is important, honestly nothing makes photographs sing like a great digital camera. After much research and talking to other artists I settled on a Canon PowerShot G10. I LOVE IT!! It's simple to use, I get great color, the scene settings are easy to understand, the macro feature functions well, and the software works perfectly with my Mac.

I'd love to hear about your makeshift photography studios and find out any more tips that might make this aspect of my business more successful.

For musings on running a jewelry business, check out my entire Behind the Scenes blog series.

10 comments:

  1. LOL, I had no idea u used a light box...and yes I can see waiting till dark. I've waited till the harsh sun goes away and that's using natural light indoors... I never use a flash when taking photos of paintings either and have learned to angle them slightly so the glare/reflection doesn't appear in the camera.

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  2. Wow! Very interesting! I also have an ez cube, but only shoot in my bay window using natural light. I've never tried lamps before.

    Your photos are great Beth. Your technique clearly works!

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  3. After fighting different types of lighting, trying to follow the sun to the best light, humidity, cold, mosquitoes, I gave up and bought a light tent just yesterday. Already I can see the consistency it will bring to my photography as well as convenience.

    I, too, also played with home-made light tents and did not have much success, but mostly due to the lighting. Great tip on the bulbs, btw.

    I am looking forward to finally getting consistency in my photographs!

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  4. Great post. I also have the G10 and love it. We have sun in Chicago so haven't needed a light box - yet. Waiting to setup new PC and upload pix to see how they really look. Your shots always look great; glad to know you're using the same camera which means there's hope for me.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Thanks so much for showing us your photography "studio"! It's not at all comical~~it's clever!

    I have been trying to take photos with natural light and I think I've figured out my new camera~~a Canon G11~~but there still needs to be just the "right" kind of light and as you say, that's tough here in PDX!

    I bought a "Table Top Studio", but it's really cumbersome and I don't like it :~(

    Where did you buy your EZ Cube? Maybe I'll give that a try! Just have to find space in my tiny condo :~/

    Again, thanks for sharing this, Beth!

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  6. I have a similar setup for my baskets, http://jaskets.blogspot.com/2010/01/basket-photography.html but it is completely home made. I looked at the EZcube, but because some of my work is large the biggest cube was more than I wanted to spend and almost not big enough. I may have to get a pair of their daylight bulbs. The halogen lights that I use produce a very yellow light so I have to do some fiddling with my camera settings to adjust the color temperature.

    Your photos always look great, by the way. It is nice to know that you take those photos yourself and with only a basic setup.

    Tony

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  7. I have a light box but it's not an EZ Cube. I can never seem to get the photos right. I think it must be the lighting, though I am using the lights that came with the kit (tiny quartz lights). I think I will switch to daylight bulbs and add white on the outside like you did. Thanks so much for the tips!

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  8. I struggle with my photography skills....sometimes I really hit it right, and other times, not so much. Right now, I am getting the best results with photographing in the shade on a bright day. Thankfully, the weather has been good lately....

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  9. Beth, I have a BFA in photography and did a lot of studio work back in college. Trust me, what you have is not comical at all! It is the real deal and the end result looks very natural - you are able to produce consistent and beautiful light, that's not an easy endeavor! I think that a lot of people might be surprised to find out what many pro photographers do in studios to set up lights, anchor lights, block light, diffuse light, reflect light etc... It can get pretty ghetto sometimes but hey - it's about whatever works! You should be very, very proud of yourself!

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  10. Chrissy, thanks for the tips on taking photos of paintings. The glare off the paint is always a conundrum for me!

    Sara, you're insights totally gave me a sense of ease that I haven't had about this topic. Thank you! I just love imagining how the pros also just work with what's available and produces results.

    Thirty Six Ten, What fun! I think you'll love the tent and the consistency. Enjoy finding out what makes your work look the best :)

    Christine, It's so fascinating to discover those little ways that light works with the camera. Thanks for the tip of looking out of shade on a bright day.

    Alice, glad the tip on the bulbs helped! I struggled for a while and the purchase of these bulbs and choosing the right setting on my camera was a revelation for me.

    Tony, glad you had fun comparing set ups and I'm just imagining how much harder it is to photograph larger items like your baskets. Hope you find lighting that appeals to you and thank you so much for appreciating my results thus far!

    Elaine, thank you so much for supporting my humorous studio! I purchased the EZcube online here: http://www.ezcube.com/
    It collapses and is easy to store and set up.

    Sandi, what fun to hear from another person with the G10. I just love her so much! Have fun discovering what works for you.

    Cserden, I've always loooooved your photos. The way you get that natural color in the beads always feels just right. What fun to know you are using an EZcube and natural light.

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I'd love for you to share your ideas and stories on my blog! Please know that I may not always be able to e-mail you a direct response, so be sure to check back to my blog and continue the dialogue. Many blessings for connecting with me through word and image :)