You may have your camera too close to the jewelry that you are photographing. Try moving the camera back about 2 to 4 inches and see what happens. This is known as depth of field. You should consult your camera's owner's manual for more information about depth of field and the minimum distance your camera has to be away from the subject of the photograph and the camera's lens.
Another possible problem could be that you move the camera when you depress the shutter button. To solve this problem I recommend that you use a tripod and the camera's self-timer when you do jewelry photography. Using those two things will give your camera some time to bounce back when you depress the shutter button.
Your problem may also be all of the above.
Your camera should also have a circle or square in the view screen that turns red or green when you push halfway down on the shutter. When you're getting ready to take the shot, push halfway down and see if the box is green. If it's red, release the shutter, move the camera back slightly & try again until it's green. This will insure the subject is in focus.
A tripod is definitely the best thing to have, but in a pinch you can rest your elbows on something (the back of a chair, a stack of books, etc) so the camera doesn't shake as much. When you go to take the shot, exhale smoothly as you do. It steadies me when I do. Also, if your camera has an "anti-shake" feature it will help you. It waits to take the shot until both the subject & camera are still.
Hope that helps!
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I actually consider the tripod an essential, because you really want to avoid using the flash. By having a tripod, you can set your camera to shutter priority and make a nice, long exposure - up to 15 seconds. Anti-shake will not really compensate for that long of an exposure.
No flash means no glare or bounceback.
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Oh yea, a tripod is an essential to good clear photos. The more you go into zoom with a macro setting, the more shake and instability you will have for your camera. If you want good closeups, you have to use macro and if you are going to use macro, you need the tripod.
As far as the light boxes, I have tried many, many variations, many, many times. Nothing worked well until I just set up a cream colored sheet on my patio furniture outside in natural light, used the tripod and shot away. It worked great. My patio furniture is cushioned so I can just use pins to hang the jewerly from although sometimes I just lay it on the table. Luckily, even though it may get cold here, Colorado has an average of 320 days of sunshine. I don't know how I would get my pictures if I still lived in Washington state? :)
Below are a couple shots taken this way. Not perfect but I tell you, after spending hours inside trying to get the lighting just right, I will take these any day and only a couple minutes set up. You do have to watch what time of day though. Certain times of day throws more shadows. Just experiment with this. Summer I usually shot in the early afternoon 2-3, with the sun pretty much behind me. I haven't take too many pix lately so don't know the best time for winter but I did do some 2-3 and it still worked ok.
Hope this helps.
The best type of light for taking photographs is indirect sunlight. When you take photographs outdoors I recommend taking them on overcast days which gives you indirect sunlight.
I agree that the best pictures are taken in indirect sunlight. My light box works great. I've got big windows on the south side of my house and I use the lightbox sitting on a table near those windows. I use my elbows to steady my hand (as Jeni suggested) when using the macro feature, and when I do/use all of these things, my pics come out great. Altough I would love to try a tripod, I'll bet they would come out even better. I don't think my Sony Mavica has a gizmo on the bottom to attach a tripod though.
What the heck - three people on the BD forums from Colorado!
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Yes, I am from Crolorado. I moved here from the SF Bay Area 9 years ago. I am very happy that I made the move to Colorado.
Not able to use a tripod, no problem. Just find something to rest your camera on and place a bath towel on top of whatever you found to use as support for your camera. That should work like a charm.
I have to disagree with my fellow Coloradans. I have tried taking my photos in indirect sunlight on cloudy days and my color and shine don't show up near as well as on a sunny day. You would think the filtered light would be better but it has not been my experience with my camera. It could just be my camera too.
Sherri: You are going to have to show me your light box because as I said, I have tried many contraptions and none have worked very well. I got tired of trying to get the shading just right, and the angle just right and the lighting just right. But I would love to have a workable solution during the winter when it is dark when I go to work and dark when I get home. The only time I can shoot is on weekends. :)
I don't have a problem with anyone disagreeing with me. It could be that I am wrong, or the way that I stated something was not clear.
I would say that your camera settings may be what is causing the problem. Your camera may have a setting for an overcast/cloudy day but you may have your camera set on sunshine. Be sure to read your camera's owner's manual.
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Cheap and cheerful - a bright window or a standard directional desk lamp / an interesting background to set off your items / white card or card covered in silver kitchen foil to act as reflectors / lots of bulldog clips and masking tape / a couple of make-up mirrors to add high lights / some coloured card to use to remove highlights / a camera with a portrait or macro mode with a timer function / a sturdy platform on which to place the camera. Always use the timer and step away from the camera to avoid shake and unwanted reflections. Use the window light as your primary source but then reflect light to shape the object from the side using the reflectors. Where the light is too strong use coloured card to knock back the highlights. In summer, depending on your window direction do not shoot between 11am and 2pm as the light will be too strong creating too much contrast. Likewise shooting too late into the evening will create long shadows. Also light comes in different temperatures so do not mix light sources - if you are using the window do not add in a desk lamp as the light temperature will be different and your camera will get confused causing colour casts in the final image.
Expensive investment - a still life table or light tent / couple of photographic lights / tripod / assorted mirrors, reflectors and coloured cards / SLR camera ideally digital so that you can get immediate results perhaps hooked up to your computer / and some image editing software e.g. Adobe Elements or Photoshop to remove and enhance! This will free you up from the constraints of light intensity and time of day as you control the light source.
Hope this helps,
I purchased Photoshop Elements 5, which is a watered down version of Photoshop, several years ago for about 99 USD. That is a reasonable price for this very good piece of software.
About 6 to 12 months ago I found out about a FREE software program called GIMP. This is an excellent substitute for Photoshop, and it can do just about everything that the very expensive software program can do.
I prefer GIMP over Photoshop Elements mainly because you can do more with it.
Laurel, I will be glad to show you my light tent. I bought it on eBay about 5 years ago and it works great. And it was not expensive - maybe $25. It's about 14 inches square, but I would say 17 inches would be a better size. It is also easy to collapse and store. I will try to remember to bring it with me to the Steamboat show next month so you can see it. I'm counting down the days!
I have to disagree with our UK friend about using a desk lamp for photography light. Household lamps doesn't work for photography because in my experience it gives a yellow tinge to all of your pictures. Photographing on overcast days I get a blue tinge, even when I increase the exposure level. I would agree with Jim that we both need to check our camera manuals and we may find proper adjustments that will help with photographing in different light.
I also have to disagree about having "interesting backgrounds" to set off your jewelry piece. The best background to use is a neutral background, so that there are no distracting elements in your photograph. You want your jewelry piece to be the center of attention. I use white embroidered doilies for my backgrounds. They add a little background texture without distracting from the subject being photographed.
Although for some pieces, a white background doesn't work well, such as a piece with all white pearls. I sometimes use a plain black background and found by accident that if I reduce the exposure level, the piece will pop and will not look washed out from the light reflecting on the piece on such a contrasting black background. This works especially with items containing rhinestones. You can really see the facets when photographed this way on a dark background with reduced exposure on the camera.
I'm in the same boat as you Laurel - during winter, the only time I can take photographs is on the weekends. And I agree with you that overcast days don't work. When I said that indirect light is best, I did not mean overcast. I meant a bright sunny day with indirect bright light coming in the window. So I'm on the same page as you are!
I have always used and I recommend using goose neck desk lamps with a halogen lamp.
I have never used these, but there are desk lamps made by Ott lamps, or some name like that, that are suppose to be good for photography. They aren't cheap.
I heard that they where on sale a little while ago at JoAnns or Michaels, but I don't remember which one.
Good to see you posting again, Jim.
Jim Juris:I have never used these, but there are desk lamps made by Ott lamps, or some name like that, that are suppose to be good for photography. They aren't cheap.
I have one, but it ISN'T the same as daylight; and no, they aren't cheap, but I like it for the intensity. I use a standard light bulb in a gooseneck lamp with it to get a somewhat better color balance when beading, but it seems to be a bit red. (I don't photograph my work.)
Look in the manual? What a novel idea !! I often say, "When all else fails, follow instructions." [source unknown.]
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There is a website with a lot of very helpful hints