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Topic: Tutorial - how to take effective jewellery and other small goods photography  (Read 28141 times)
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Hannah Z
« on: September 03, 2005 03:23:41 PM »

A lot of people have asked me how I take photos of my jewellery and I've been promising a tutorial for a while, hope it makes sense - just ask if there are any questions and I'll do my best to explain in more detail. I'm not completely sure where this tut should go, so let me know if it needs to be moved somewhere else Smiley

How to get your photo looking like this:

***Take a large lid (or tray, or similar) and fix light bulb fittings to it. I have 7, but you could use more. I keep forgetting to buy more but the amount I have is fine. I've then used a cardboard box, cut the top off and cut in a window then lined it with white paper. The bulb tray balances on the top and plugs into a nearby powerpoint.  Only use energy saving lightbulbs for this as they are much cooler than normal lightbulbs and therefore much safer. Remember that energy saving bulbs take a mintute or two to get to there full brightness.

This is the box of light bulbs that I use:

and here it is taken apart:

*Arrange your item as you want it to appear and take your photograph with a digital camera. I use a Canon Ixus 400 (Canon Powershot S400 in the States but is discontinued there according to my research!), its a small easily portable camera.
*You need to adjust the white balance on the camera to make sure it comes out white and not yellow. How to do this varies for each camera but its a very important step!  
*I don't use the flash, just rely on the lights, but if you are photographing a particularly reflective item it helps to cover the lights with white paper or tracing paper to reduce the glare and reflection.
*If you have trouble arranging the item inside the window put a sheet of white paper on top of a tray or book and arrange the item outside the window and place the tray inside once its ready.
*Upload the pic to your computer.


The next steps I do using Gimp Image Editor  (www.gimp.org), and I have no idea how to use any other photo editor so I'm sorry if you don't have it but I can't help!

*Open your picture up in Gimp, then you need to adjust the levels which are in the navagation bar under "Tools" > "Colour Tools" > "Levels" like this:

*You move the top bar of the level (badly circled in red!) to the left to adjust the brighness of the photo like this:
You can play around to get the brightness that you want. You can see in the "Input Levels" window that there is a black peak - you will want the arrow to be pointing somewhere within that area for your picture to change to the best level of brightness.

*Then I crop the photo so it looks like this:

*Still a bit grey around the edges so use the largest brush to touch up the edges like this:
I've outlined the ones I use in red. You can change the size of the brush to suit the size of the image.

*And here's the final photo:

I really hope that this helps some folks. It took me ages to find all this out, but now I know how to do it taking photos for my website is easy and I actually rather enjoy it now Shocked Cheesy

If there are anymore questions just ask and I'll do what i can to help, and if i can't I'll ask my husband who knows way more than I do!
« Last Edit: June 12, 2015 09:46:55 AM by kittykill - Reason: links for broken images » THIS ROCKS   Logged

« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2005 03:26:19 PM »

Wow, thanks thats a great tute- and I love the bracelet too!
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2005 10:42:02 PM »

this is awesome thank you so much Smiley

Hannah Z
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2005 08:39:28 AM »

I'm glad you found it useful!

I know its a bit of a faff making the box and the lightbulb tray, but I think its worth it if you have an online business and need good product photos. A lot of people seem to think I get my photos done professionally, but this cost next to nothing to do and the results are just as good imo Smiley

« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2005 02:57:02 PM »

Hannah Z. -Thanks for your tutorial. It is awesome. I'll show this pic to my hubby and he can help me figure out the bulb part. Are the bulbs halogen, incandescent or fluorescent?

I especially appreciated the screenshots of the GIMP pages and how you did that part. VERY helpful !!!! This is an awesome tutorial. I am hoping I'll be able to get some better shots with my very limited digital camera. Right now I'm stuck with outdoor shots and they are pretty blurry.

Also, another question. About how big is your box? It is a little hard to tell from the pics. Are we talking big enough for a fax machine, or is it really thin and tall and shallow from front to back? Sorry, but I can't think of any examples. Just wondering how big of box you need for getting good shots.

Thanks again for the awesome tut. I really appreciate it. I'll work on getting a box made and try to post a pic I've done when I finish.

Hannah Z
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2005 03:15:44 AM »

arrhythmia, I so pleased its helped you!

I don't know what kind the lightbulbs are, I thought they were just energy saving! I've had a look on them and it doesn't say either. The box is approx 45cm high x 50cm wide x 30cm deep, but I think you could use a slightly smaller or bigger one as long as it fits the tray that you're using - the bulbs we have are long so it needs to be that high.

If you come across any problems just let me know!

OH!! My husband was taking some photos using the box last night with his super duper new camera and they all came out with a very slight pink tinge - we worked out it was because he was wearing a red t-shirt that must have reflected (it was only in a certain area of the shot). This hasn't happened before and it must have been 'cos his camera is so good, but there is a way to get rid of it if it happens! Go to the "colour levels" box and use the "value" drop down menu next to adjust individual colour levels and you need to play about with the opposite colour from what you need to change and it will bring your picture back to being white. OR maybe just wear white clothes when doing it Grin


« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2005 04:34:01 AM »

thansk! i dont think i could go to all that effort but it defo helps for knowing ho wto do it welL! Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2005 04:52:48 AM »

i think its awesome! thankyou for the tutorial!

quessie please:: How do you attatch the lightbulbs to the lid. Is it a very obvious answer and i'm too dull ((sort of pun.. lol lol)) to get it?

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Hannah Z
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2005 06:23:25 AM »

Rock_n_roll Kitty, I didn't do the attaching lightbulbs bit (I'm rubbish at that sort of stuff so my husband did it for me!), but it basically involved drilling some holes in the lid to feed the wires through and screw the lightbulb fittings on and then using glue to secure them a bit more. They are the same light fittings that you would use for the ceiling and we got them from B+Q (in the UK) for a few pounds each. I've just used a plastic lid that I got from Ikea for 1.

Silver-Faery, It is a bit of hassle, I agree! I suppose its really just in case people who sell stuff online want to take this kind of photography for there website and I can help them out.


« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2005 11:51:56 AM »

I love the red shirt story. Good to know about in case I get any wierd color effects. I'll try it out and let you know if I have any problems. Thanks again. Oh, yeah, thank you for the box dimensions.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2005 11:54:28 AM by arrhythmia » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2005 11:20:18 PM »

Thankyou! i really think this is a nifty idea.. too bad i dont have a box big enough to fit me in it...

o wait.... refrigerators come in boxes dont they..


When I saw You Piss on the rug, it was then that i knew it was love, true love..
Hannah Z
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2005 11:58:33 AM »

I would think a refrigerator would come in a pretty big box - yep! If not, I'm sure a shop or something would be happy enough to give you a box if you asked.

Has anyone had time to try it yet?

« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2005 06:06:49 PM »

Not yet....just came back from a week of R&R.  It's on my list Smiley

« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2005 12:34:00 PM »

Just got hubby to make a box for me. Gonna go take some pics and play with types of lightbulbs. Gotta download the GIMP, too. Pics soon...I hope.

« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2005 01:29:32 PM »

Hannah Z - I took a few pics with the new box set up. I am having trouble because my bulbs are too yellow/harsh and they wash out the color - so the road has been a little bumpy. I'm gonna try it later with the reveal(daylight) bulbs and see if I can improve it.

My GIMP experience has been a little rough. I'm not that techie and it's fighting with my system Windows ME and aborting after I work on an image. I lose the whole thing. So, again, I'm not doing too well. I may see if I can download the trial Photoshop and play with it a little. So, I'm not able to retouch the photos too well. HOWEVER>>>

Here's a link to a couple of photos I've taken with the new setup. The Ice Cream pic is the large one on the page with the white background.


Here it is with other pics for comparison.

Here's another bag with the lightbox.

Here it is again with others.

Both bags are tough ones to photograph outside, as they wash out in the sun. So I am really happy to have another way to take pics that will work on 'tough subjects'. As you can see, I haven't retouched the photos to take out all the background stuff. I'm still new to this and am still experimenting. Already, though, it is paying off. Thanks for your great tute. I'll post again when I get a 'much better' pic.

Oh, btw, I love your website and all your awesome photos!! Thanks for sharing your photo techniques. Smiley

« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2005 04:03:40 PM »

What a great tute!  I am am a bit confused as to how you take the picture of the item.  If the lights are hanging through the hole in the top of the box and you are viewing through the isde of the box, does the item sit inside on the bottom 'level' of the box?  If so, how can you get such a good overhead angle (as the lights should be in the way!) Huh

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« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2005 10:55:26 AM »

HannahZ: Thank you for the great tutorial!!  I haven't built the light box yet, but your suggestion to download gimp was great!

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Hannah Z
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2005 02:47:36 PM »

Sorry its taken me so long to reply to this!

arrhythmia - I can't get any of your links Sad and I'd love to see the pictures. Don't know what to suggest about Gimp with windows as I use Firefox. Have you checked the white balance on your camera as that might help with the yellow colours you are getting.

gherkin - Yep, the lights can get in the way sometimes! I either take the photo at a slight angle which can work well for some things, or hover the camera above the item and snap away. I can see on the screen on the back of my camera whats actually inside the picture.

TessTessi - Glad your finding Gimp useful, I find out new things every time I use it:) You can hit the 'auto' button in the Colour Levels window and that will adjust the light balence automatically. So simple I really don't know why it took me so long to try it out! Sometimes it does make the colour go a bit nutty, but then you just press reset and do it the normal way.

« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2005 07:51:24 PM »

Hannah Z - No, I have a dorky kiddie camera with no white balance. I don't know what's up with the links. They pull up for me in lots of browsers. (mystified.....?!) Sorry you can't see them. I'll try to post them here in Craftster and put them in the page.

The GIMP thing is because they aren't updating the project anymore for Windows Me or earlier versions. So I can't save anything I do. I finally just took it off my computer. If I could get it to work, it'd be an excellent tool. I'm going to try the free temporary version of Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, I think.  Here are a couple of the pics.

As you can see I didn't get to do much with the lines/corners, since I couldn't get the gimp to work. I tried the daylight bulbs and had only slightly better success, so I think I just need the photoshop/photo editor.

Thanks for all the help!
« Last Edit: October 17, 2005 08:33:41 PM by arrhythmia » THIS ROCKS   Logged

« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2005 05:06:57 AM »

Great tutorial. I've been taking pictues of jewley for a while and I have always had trouble getting the set-up quite right. 

I just thought I would add that scanning jewlery has given me some really  great images.  I usually lay the item out on the scanner bed and then use a white shoe box top to  cover the piece so that the scanner lid doesn't alter my set-up. 

Then  hit scan and... voila!
Hannah Z
« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2005 12:38:03 PM »

Hey, sorry your not having much luck with the Gimp, hopefully a different photo editor will work better - I'm sure they all have similar features!

I don't have a scanner Claire, but that sounds pretty simple!!

« Reply #21 on: November 28, 2005 09:28:46 AM »

Thanks, HannahZ- I finally got a whole new camera that has a lot of new things to adjust, so I'll be trying it all out soon.

Hannah Z
« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2005 03:21:28 AM »

Good luck!

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