Saturday, January 19, 2008

the long awaited photo tutorial...or how to get a professional looking photo on the cheap

Since so many people have asked me how I'm taking my new pictures I'm going to explain. BUT, I really have little idea of what I'm doing, and this is based on my camera and my crazy set up, so it may or may not help you.
I hope it does!!!
First, a before and after.



See the difference?

Now let me tell you my secret....shhhhhh........the dramatic lighting in the second photo? It has MUCH less to do with lighting and much MUCH more to do with the background.

In photoshop I made a square, I think 8x8, 300dpi, filled it with black, then used the eraser tool to "erase" a spot of light in the middle. Then, and this is important, I printed it on shiny photo paper. Feel free to use the one I made.

I use a ginormous light tent I bought when I was painting glassware, you do not need anything this huge. I have it lit with 3 cheap-o clamp lights from the hardware store and I'm using 100w GE Reveal bulbs.

I'll tell you how I have my camera set, but this was pure trial and error, and your camera will have more or less settings to screw around with. I have a 5mp Sony Cyber-shot. I always use the macro setting (that little tulip). Under "menu" I set the

When I point the camera at my piece I'll see the lighting change dramatically, and I'll just keep moving it slightly until the white spot on my background is bright, but
the piece I'm photographing has enough contrast. I had to play around with this for a while before I figured out what the look for. Use your tripod, and use the timer on your camera.

I've found that most of the time when I shoot this way I only have to do one touch up in photoshop, and generally it's just an auto color correction. For some reason the background almost always comes out an indigo blue, but if I click auto color correction it changes it back to black while keeping the colors correct on the piece being photographed.

I really hope this was worth the wait. And please, if you have questions I will try my best to answer them.

Happy shooting!!


Pam said...

thanks so much for this! I've been wondering how to get a cool background in my boring pictures :) Yours looks fantastic. And really cool bead on there!

LORiOLA said...

Thanks Pam!
Hope I helped.

Suzie said...

I noted your snazzy new photos on etsy yesterday. They truly look great!

Patty said...

Hi Loriola,

I saw your post on LE and checked out your blog. Thanks for sharing this information. Do you place your bead right on the photo paper, or above it on one of those frosted riser thingies that that photo setup outfit sells?

Thanks again, and awesome bead, BTW. FWIW I thought that the first photo wasn't all that bad!


Sweetwater Designs said...

Superb tutorial..and even sweeter bead. Its really great when people share what they've figured out on their own.

Solsida said...

So nice of you to share! Taking pics is such a challenge, so tips like these are so great! And congrats on taking such a great shot.

LORiOLA said...

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!!!

Patty, I just place the bead right on the paper. I refuse to spend one more $ on photo stuff.

Contrariwise said...

I think your first photo is great too! I wish mine came out as well as yours.

I downloaded your "spotlight". I might just have to go home and try your technique.

Thanks for sharing!

CreditRiverArtGlass said...

Lori... this background has made a HUGE difference with my bead images... THANK YOU! Everyone asks if my photos are professionally taken these days... nope, just your background (& finding the spot meter on my camera!!)... I give you total credit for the background & tell them about your tutorial. THANK YOU for sharing this w/ the masses!! :o)

~ Julie

jeanniesbeads said...

Hi Lori
Your tutorial has made a huge difference in how my beads photography - thank you so much for sharing your info with us.