photos! how do you get good pictures?

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mommyval wrote
on Jun 24, 2008 9:33 AM

I am trying all different settings on my digi camera, various lighting ideas and backgrounds, and I can't seem to get decent quality photos!  Things are always washed out or too dark.  Especially pearls...instead of the luster I get these little moony orbs,  I realize that has something to do with the way the flash is hitting, but has anyone got a few tips?  I'm going nuts!



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amirthful1 wrote
on Jun 24, 2008 2:21 PM

Hey Valerie,

  I'm having the same problem!  Frustrating to the max.  My pics always look one-dimensional; like all the detail gets ignored by my camera. 

  If you find a solution, would you tell me what it is?Question Mark



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on Jun 24, 2008 5:28 PM

 I recommend investing a little money and building yourself a light box and purchasing external lights so you can shoot on the 'natural light' setting and not use a flash.  Also, a tripod is very helpful.  I put a lightbox together for around $45 including the lights and bulbs. This is the tutorial I followed.  It's worth looking at as it has photos to help illustrate the idea.  I have a rod across the top on the inside of mine and have some matte satin fabric I drape for a background; I have two colors I use.  Paper works well also and may work better depending on your camera as it tends to be even less shiny than the fabric.

Good luck!


 "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, either way-you are right."  --Henry Ford

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mommyval wrote
on Jun 25, 2008 4:10 AM

thanks, Square!  I looked at your pictures and they are really good.  I will have to try the lightbox idea.  My camera has a macro setting for bright light too, so maybe I will try to take some outside without the flash.


Let you know how they turn out!


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Perry@4 wrote
on Jun 25, 2008 4:48 AM

Thanks for asking this question, Valarie.  I can't get good pictures of anything with my new digital camera much less nice close-ups of the jewelry.  [:'(] My goal for the summer was to get at least a few good shots.

Thanks for the tips, Square!  


on Jun 26, 2008 12:49 AM

I found instructions on the Web, perhaps through a link on Fire Mountain Gems, can't remember, for building a cheapo light box, and it worked ok the first time I tried it, but I need to play with it some more.  Basically, you take a cardboard box, cut most of 3 sides away but leave the back and bottom intact, line the back & bottom with your paper of choice (white, black, grey), and line the sides with white tracing or tissue paper.  Then you can shine whatever light you want through the paper and it diffuses the light, and you don't need your flash. 

I was usuing florescent light the first time, and it came out a bit yellow, but I think if you had sunlight or white light it would work better.  Wish I could remember where I saw it so I could credit the source...

I just got a new camera for Mother's Day, and I haven't tried taking jewelry photos with it yet, but I have a few to take so I'm curious to see how they turn out.  Suggestions are always appreciated!




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Kcrystina2 wrote
on Jun 26, 2008 7:44 PM

Thanks so much for bringing this topic up. I'm having the same problem with my photos - yellow tinges and all. With being a web designer also, I've used Adobe Photoshop to manipulate my product photos that I'm not happy with to get them to the point where I am moderately happy with them. I would much rather not have to manipulate them at all in order to get them "touch me" perfect.

Thanks Square and Jsmaz for the information you provided. I'm going try those things out to see how my product pictures come out.

I've taken close ups of all kinds of things since getting my new digital camera and they've come out beautifully - even professional looking - but my product photos, forget it! *laugh*



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on Jun 26, 2008 11:31 PM

Aha!  I remembered where I saw the light box tips.  It was a link on Caravan Beads' website under the photo tips for the Miyuki Challenges.  You can either go to and look at Challenge #4, or here is the actual address:

Sorry I don't know how to make it a live link.  Someday I'll figure that out.



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SCB1 wrote
on Jun 27, 2008 4:56 AM


Thanks for this web site it was the easiest for me to understand. The pictures explained it all; so simple.  I am going out to buy my light box. Smile

A big congratulations on hubby's promotion.DrinksYes Mgst is what my hubby was when he retired. Not a bad monthly retirement check. Hubby was in 23 years and he has now been retired 23 years. Oh how fast the years have gone.  Stayed in the extra couple of years to get youngest through high school.



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on Jun 27, 2008 2:18 PM

There was a link I found awhile back on the jewelry-making forum that had instructions for making a light box set-up out of a large piece of white cardboard or oaktag, clips, and a couple of external lamps.  I think the instructions were from Jim Jarvis or Jervis (sp?), a professional photographer who also makes jewelry.  Anyway, the set up is similar to the cut-away box idea, but I like it better because when you're done shooting, you can just unclip the oaktag pieces and easily store away the elements for next time.  The box is bulkier and, therefore, harder to store.  But either approach will work for an inexpensive set-up.

Good luck, everyone!  I'm in the same boat -- just figuring this photo stuff out -- and plan to experiment this summer!  Wink


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MichelleG@56 wrote
on Jun 28, 2008 8:09 AM

 You can get a studio light box on ebay for about 50 bucks that will have 2 cheap halogen lights - I have that, but then replaced the lights with some goose necks and put special bulbs in them.

Light temperature is very important to get your colors right and for your photos to have good dimension and detail. To get proper lighting, your bulbs need to be the right kind of light for your digi camera to record it well.

Regular household bulbs will look too yellow on your pics... OTT lites will look too blue... flourescent will look green... you can of course correct this in photoshop, but the better the light quality, the less correction you need to do.

Look for bulbs that are meant for photobox shooting - their color temperature is about 5400 lumens - this approximates daylight. The bulbs will look like the energy efficient kind, the spirally ones, but they are MUCH more bright. you wont find these at the hardware store, but i found mine on the 'net. wish I could remember the brand - they work great!Yes

Also, make sure to use 3-4 of them too. You want light from left, right, top, and possibly front depending on the project, to bathe the project in light, so that you won't create harsh shadows. This will help you with detail.

And get as CLOSE as you possibly can!

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KirstenC@4 wrote
on Jun 29, 2008 7:08 AM

 Hi everyone!  I'm new to the forums, and came across your discussion on photographing jewelry/beads, etc.  Be sure to check your BeadingDaily email tomorrow, Monday June 30th...Michelle Mach has given me the wonderful opportunity to write an article on the subject, and it will be featured in her blog entry for the day.  Thanks, Michelle!

If I can figure out how, I'm going to start my own thread in the General Beading Discussion forums, so look around for that as well.  If I CAN'T figure it out, I'll check back here to see if I can help answer any new questions that may pop up as a result of my article.

As for the posts already made in this thread, my biggest piece of advice is "sunlight is FREE!".  Before spending a ton of money on lightboxes or time trying to rig one up yourself, I highly recommend experimenting in sunlight first (unless your schedule restricts you to photographing in the night hours).  I have a lightbox I bought online a couple years ago, as well as lamps and props....and I almost ALWAYS end up using a simple piece of paper by a well lit window...the colors are spot on, and it's quick!

If you do decide to use a lightbox, my biggest advice is to use it in a completely dark room, with 2 or more lamps, and be sure to shut off the regular light source in the room...mixing light sources results in some pretty funky color casting that's near impossible to fix in Photoshop or other editing software.

Good luck and see you tomorrow with more tips in my article in BeadingDaily!

 Kirsten Creighton, author of 3 Simple Steps to Better Beadwork Photos


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carmen@60 wrote
on Jun 29, 2008 1:15 PM

Hi there!

What you speak off sounds just like what I read on the following website.  The artist/author is called Jena Klingerberg;  great site for those of us newbies still considering whether to go commercial or continue to "sell" our creations to just friends and family.  It encouraged me to trust my skills (even if still very limited) and go for it!

I especially liked her guide on how to build a $15.00 white box out of board instead of forking out a lot of mone for the professional stuff.

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KirstenC@4 wrote
on Jun 29, 2008 9:50 PM

 Hi Carmen! Thanks for the post.  I checked out the site you linked to.  If I'm correct, the article you mention regarding building a homemade $15 light box is actually authored by Cheryl Coccaro, while Rena Klingenberg is the site owner.  I appreciate the work that Rena has put into her site and admire her ambition and personal outlook on life...I can see why her site inspires you.

Her site features guest articles much like the one I have written for BeadingDaily.  The author of this particular guest article appears to use a clear plastic file box on it's side to filter light coming in from a window, rather than cardboard as you mention.  This is a creative use for the filebox, and in theory, it should be a good diffuser, though I would suggest using a piece of translucent poster board to cover the back and bottom so you don't have the unattractive box-bottom mold seams showing in the photo's background.

I did see a few other guest articles on the site that covered light boxes, but not homemade ones, just ones for online purchase.  You really only need a light box if you are working with very bright light coming from direct lamps or direct sun.  If you are taking photos by a window, you should be fine without a diffuser as long as the sun isn't shining directly into the window.  Nothing against light boxes, (I have one), and that may be the way to go if you have the budget, the time to learn how to use it, and need truly professional looking photos to market your work.  They do open up a lot of options for creative shots, but there is a price tag on those options as well.

My article focuses on making improvements using the most basic of equipment...your camera, a tripod and the natural light of the sun.  However, I will be happy to answer questions for anyone trying the lightbox route as well since I have used both techniques in taking photos, depending on the specific needs for each photograph.

BTW...I did figure out how to start my own thread, so feel free to check it out after my article posts.  It's also under General Beading Discussions/Beading Business.

 Kirsten Creighton, author of 3 Simple Steps to Better Beadwork Photos


on Jun 29, 2008 11:32 PM

Wow, I'll be looking forward to this.  Thanks for sharing, Kristen! I agree, sunlight is definitely best, and I find if I put my homemade box in a sunny window or outside it is definitely the best light, unless it's a rainy day and I just have to take a photo.

Also, setting your piece just out of the direct light without a box works fairly well at eliminating glare and the worst of the shadows.  What I really want to know is how to get the nifty fading background that all the pros use (ie black to grey).  I suppose that takes a bit more setup and more photography skill than I currently posess.



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