Sunday, September 28, 2014

A picture says a thousand words....

Since I began this journey of jewelry making a few years ago, I have struggled with trying to take the perfect picture.  I have tried outdoors in natural light, indoors with a light box, indoors with photo lamps, "white background" images, scrapbook or textured paper background images, books as props, interesting "boards" as props.....the list goes on (and on).  

I have never been happy with the images.  The colors of the beads were always subdued, the metals - especially silver - never appeared true to form.

About a year and a half ago, I purchased a granite stepping stone from my local nursery.  I fell in love with the texture, and I thought it would give a natural "boost" to the images of my jewelry.  Can you see the years of layering on that granite?  Swoon!

After much reading, I decided to try what is called "18% Gray Card" as my background.  It is simply a piece of cardboard with gray at 18 percent saturation. Here is a link to a similar card here - though Amazon carries many types, just shop around.   I actually purchased one months ago, but only used it sparingly.  Here is a picture of the back of the card - You have to click on the image to zoom if you really want to read the fine print!

And this is my current photography setup in my lovely basement studio.

I simply place the jewelry on the "card" and snap away.  I am still using the granite - but only for added height.   I use a Sony Cybershot (this one) that has an automatic macro setting - no zooming required.  I have a tri-pod, but I don't use it.  For some unknown reason, I don't have a problem holding the camera steady.

Personally, I see a HUGE improvement from using Gray Card versus the granite as my background.
Especially on pure metal pieces.

You can actually see the transparency in the glass now in these gorgeous beads by Donna Millard.

The pinks and greens on those beautiful beads were just blah.

I think they pop, now.

Same necklace below - different background.  No more distraction from the granite.

Beads by Kerry Bogert

So, I have spent the last 2-3 weeks retaking photos of every single item in my shop.  Necklaces, in particular, killed me!  I always take 10-15 images of each piece.  The only editing I have had to do is crop once in a while, and resize the image.

I still have a few pair of earrings left to rephotograph. Ugh.

I have made a few new things, too! I recently purchased these beads from Karren Toten of Starry Road Studio.  I was mesmerized by that blue feather!

I wanted to make a long focal, highlighting that feather.  So, I made my very first tab set pendant, something I have wanted to conquer for ages.

I also made the chain links.

Totally in love with how this one turned out!

I also made this bracelet, and I am happy to report that I made another soldered hollow bead and some more riveted chain!  I thought for sure the first time I made that hollow bead it was a fluke!

Beads by Donna Trull

Made a few more bangles, this time I mixed up the metals and added some red brass.  Each bangle has double twists and is riveted, instead of soldered closed.

The earrings below were a test to my patience!  I twisted solid copper and red brass together (not easy - at least for me!), balled the ends, and made slender sticks.  I topped these with some gorgeous mini lampwork beads by Beads and Botanicals.

So, I saunter on, continuing to edit pictures.  It is so beautiful outside - I am sure there is a lawn chair calling my name!

Thanks so much for stopping by today - feel free to leave any photography tips I may have missed!  I LOVE to get new tips and hints!



  1. wow that grey card really does make a huge difference! I struggle with photography as well. I am forever trying to figure out how to get a completely white background so I can pull it out and have only the item. But so often light saturation turns the background bluish. so frustrating!

    Absolutely loving that prong set pendant Patti - it is just gorgeous! and you know I love those long twist earrings - those are so uniquely you! they are beautiful

  2. Thank you very much for this blogpost! Much appreciated.
    That grey cards really boost the photos, I will look into it. Thanks!


  3. Great job Patti, Your photos look wonderful. Thank you for the tip.

  4. I was actually going to write and comment that your recent photos were looking brilliant on grey....! I guess the granite--grey as it is and as appealing as we may find the texture--is just too irregular to balance the light and therefore the colors. Anyway, the positive results must have given you the patience to do all that re-photographing.

    I'm usually satisfied with the natural light I can work in, but lately I've been annoyed with how a new camera is (mis)handling exposure. I never had to fuss with that, at least, with my old Olympus. Photographing jewelry sure isn't easy.

  5. Thank you SO much for the tip. I am always fighting with clear pics. I will have to try the grey.

  6. Wow! You are right the metals texture and finish was really bring lost as was the brilliance of your colors in beads! I love the detail and thought you include! You are such an artist!

  7. I've always loved your granite slab, but the gray card does seem to make the colors show true more. Good tip! I love all your pieces. The necklace with the Kerry Bogert beads is fantastic. And I am wildly impressed with your hollow beads.

  8. I love your new photos Patti! Your right, the grey card helps accentuate the beauty in your designs! I like the simple added elements as well. Great post!

  9. Can you tell us about the light setup you use? I've never seen anything like it. Thanks!

  10. It really is amazing how the background can change everything in a photo. I've struggled with photographing my things too. I don't know much about photography but I think I'm going to start looking at getting a gray card. The difference is amazing! As is the jewelry I might add!!!

  11. You are the queen! This post came at the perfect time, as I'm trying to take decent pics to get products loaded into a new store! And, I just have to say, those long twisted earrings are stunning! You know how much I love your work, and you just keep me on the edge of my seat, anticipating what you will create next!

  12. HUGE difference! The before and after pictures prove the point. Your images are luscious.

  13. I always love your granite, but this grey card really makes a positive difference! Getting a good can be agonizing but it looks like you finally found a way. Your gorgeous jewelry pops even more now!

    1. That should say "getting a good photo"...darn phone!

    2. Yes. Please tell us about the light setup you use. Loving the pics and your work.

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  15. I might have to give something like this a go. I'm always disappointed with my photographs.