Author: Lori_Greenberg, Contributing Editor
|If you are reading this you might already know that it can be extremely frustrating to achieve high quality digital images of your glass beads. Hopefully this tutorial will help you come closer, if not achieve the image quality that you desire.
I have seen how-to articles on how to achieve quality digital images for single objects with the camera aiming from the front. I have tried many set-ups and manipulated many variables (lighting, background, angles, etc.) based on what other people have shown to work for them. I found that while they might work for single, upright objects, I couldn't achieve the same effect for my sets of glass beads that I wanted to photograph flat. I also did not have the proper conditions for sunlight, whether it be direct or indirect, and wanted a set-up that I could use after daylight anyway.
I hope you will find that the simple set up and editing procedures that I show here can work for you.
When I originally wrote this article I was using a similar set up to that was adapted from an article at WetCanvas! by Dale Lynn titled "Improve your Glass, Bead & Jewelry Photographs".
Since that time, many brands of light tents have come on the market, at reasonable prices, and I now use a portable white nylon cube with the same lighting set up. My set-up is as described here:
1. My lighting shines down from the top, toward the surface of the beads. It also works if you come in at a slight angle with your camera. Usually only one of the 100 watt lights are necessary. Don't worry about the picture being too dark; that will be fixed with Photoshop.
3. You see the gray foam core board in the back of the box. I use that because I found that all of the white bounced some light back onto my beads so things looked over-exposed. The gray absorbs the light and it's much more even now. If you find you have spots like that in your photos, try putting a neutral gray in that area. Likewise, if you have a spot that always seems to be too dark, try reflecting some light back with a white board.
4. I use white printer paper for my background. Some whites are not all that white so you might want to try different papers. Ive found that glossy photo paper gives a nice reflection, if you like that effect.
|Camera and Settings
I use a Nikon Coolpix 4500. The only settings I change are to make sure that the Macro capability is enabled, the flash is turned off and the white balance is set to incandescent. A good macro function is key to good images.
Some may tell you to use a higher resolution setting but I use one of the lowest ones since that is all I find necessary for internet images.
For the best results, I recommend a tripod that will ensure that there is little to no camera shake that can cause blurring. Use the feature that auto focuses by depressing the shutter button half way until you're in focus then gently depressing the rest of the way to shoot the picture.
Once you get your images from your camera to your computer I can tell you how to get a nice, crisp, white background using Photoshop Elements 3 or the full version of Photoshop. Photoshop Elements is a great program because it is the consumer version of Photoshop that has enough bells and whistles to keep most people happy but is much more affordable than the full Photoshop software. At the writing of this, it is $99 and can be used for much more than editing photos. They also offer a 30 day trial for free, so you can see if this method works for you.
|Here you see the initial image before any editing. See how dark the background is? That is really a white piece of paper, which is very important for my method because you need to know what part of an image *should* be white.
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