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The Dark Room -- Photo Editing and Picture Taking. Advice, tutorials, questions on all things photoshop, photo editing, and taking pictures of beads or glass.

View Poll Results: Are the pix better with a 'background' or just plain gradient?
Better with background. 29 52.73%
Better with plain gradient. 18 32.73%
Better with plain gradient and a little sparkle. 8 14.55%
Voters: 55. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 2011-12-07, 6:25pm
Moth Moth is offline
Mary Lockwood
 
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Default Too much 'background and props'? Better plain?

I'm going to attempt to make this a poll so you can contribute anonymously and not have to worry about hurting my feelings.

My dilemma:
I like backdrops and props in bead pictures. I think it is possible to go way too far, but if they are a neutral color and have at least something to do with the theme of the subject of the picture...I think it can be cool.

Especially on Etsy. When I was on eBay, I didn't use backgrounds in my pictures. It was different there.

Anyway, I thought I'd make a handful of dragons and they'd run their course and I'd be done. Now it seems that they are going to be hanging around for a while and the background I used for my foresty beads doesn't really do much for the dragons. I wanted to buy some lava rock and/or clear crystals and work something up for the dragons.

Before I do that though, I wanted to see how they looked on a plain gradient background. Mainly because I'd seen so many people comment that backgrounds detract from the beads and most people don't like them.

I printed out one of the free backgrounds from my website to play around. I don't know if it is just that I've used my rocky/mossy background for so long or what but these ones with the plain gradient just feels so NAKED to me. I don't like them.

How do you guys feel about it? Is the plain better and I just need to get used to it, or are my eyes ok and a background is all right? I think once I got used to the plain gradient maybe I'd be okay, but change is not my best thing.

Let me know and if you aren't worried, I'd love to actually hear your comments and advice. Thanks in advance!

Here are the pictures:

The original etsy photo:


The same bead with plain gradient:


Same bead again, with just a little sparkle at the bottom because I couldn't stand it:


Different bead, original etsy picture:


Same bead, plain gradient:


So...which is better? Or do they all suck?



~~Mary
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  #2  
Old 2011-12-07, 6:27pm
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Karen Hardy Karen Hardy is offline
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First pic - I love that one!
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  #3  
Old 2011-12-07, 6:40pm
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I prefer the plain gradient But after I voted then I realized that etsy does seem to love it artsy backgrounds.
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Old 2011-12-07, 6:49pm
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Well, I can see merits both ways, but I think the plain gradient helps the bead really pop, with no distractions. But in those pictures, the colors seem a bit more vivid in the ones with the backdrop.
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  #5  
Old 2011-12-07, 6:55pm
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Thanks for the input guys! This is very helpful.

Kathy, yes, these are kinda rough shots. My camera is calibrated to the original background. I'm going to have to fiddle with it to let in enough light. My camera sensor sees that white spot in the center of the black background and freaks out. It doesn't know how much light to let in and it messed up the colors and contrast. I didn't want to mess around with my camera until I'd decided whether or not to switch. LOL

~~Mary
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  #6  
Old 2011-12-07, 6:58pm
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Lately I've been using the background for 3 of the 5 pictures that etsy allows, and then adding in a shot of plain black background.

Do you think maybe a hybrid dealio like that could be the answer? Best of both worlds? It wouldn't be that much trouble as long as I figured out the lighting on the gradients.

I wonder...
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  #7  
Old 2011-12-07, 7:04pm
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ya..um... I don't think it matters, your work speaks for itself! Awesome!
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  #8  
Old 2011-12-07, 7:18pm
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I was thinking that - a middle ground. Something lighter and less textured than the first pix but not the plain gray.

If you go with the gradient, then I definitely like a prop like the sparkle you added with the beads.

I just did a search on Etsy for Dragon Bead and while I only looked at the first few of the 87 pages, there were some I liked. People are so creative. Granite tile, wallpaper, whitewashed wood, so many ideas.
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  #9  
Old 2011-12-07, 7:30pm
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my 2 cents

the rocky/sandy background works well with the dragon. The dragon is a fairly lifelike creature and looks like it could be found in such a setting against some rocks.

as long as the background is neutral and not too busy it adds context to the dragon, but may not be the best choice for more traditional, smooth beads.

BTW I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these dragons, you ROCK!
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  #10  
Old 2011-12-07, 7:37pm
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In general I prefer plain gradient backgrounds.

*But* your dragons, I prefer the first background, by a long shot. They look like they belong. I'd like to see a version with the background was a little bit less in focus. I'd try to get that by moving your bead a bit closer to the camera, or moving the background away in the back or if the background is a photo, you could try reprinting it after giving it a slight Gaussian blur. But there may be technical complications with any of those
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  #11  
Old 2011-12-07, 7:43pm
Mike Jordan Mike Jordan is offline
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I personally don't like the background in the first and 4th one. In the use here, it detracts from the dragon. I do like the focus and lighting on the 4th one though, you did a good job and much better than in the other 4 pictures. I don't think the gray gradient works for the dragon either and think a solid background would have been better. As far as Etsy goes, do you want to please them or sell your jewelry? They should not be saying what kind of background you can use.

I think if you could light and focus like the 4th one and put it on a solid background (darker color, not light) the dragon would really stand out. At least that's my opinion.

Mike
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  #12  
Old 2011-12-07, 7:57pm
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I really like the original etsy photo on top. Looks like that dragon just came out of his lair! Very cool and earthy.

I use plain on my beads, but would love to get more artsy with the backdrops, just don't have the time.
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  #13  
Old 2011-12-07, 8:00pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moth View Post
Lately I've been using the background for 3 of the 5 pictures that etsy allows, and then adding in a shot of plain black background.

Do you think maybe a hybrid dealio like that could be the answer? Best of both worlds? It wouldn't be that much trouble as long as I figured out the lighting on the gradients.

I wonder...
I think that is the best compromise... to use both backgrounds... it's also nice too the see the back of your bead as one of the shots in the listing
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Old 2011-12-07, 9:56pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moth View Post
Lately I've been using the background for 3 of the 5 pictures that etsy allows, and then adding in a shot of plain black background.

Do you think maybe a hybrid dealio like that could be the answer? Best of both worlds? It wouldn't be that much trouble as long as I figured out the lighting on the gradients.

I wonder...
You could also let customers vote - do half the main photos one way, half the other. Though I think they are flying out the door fast enough that it's going to be hard to tell
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Old 2011-12-07, 11:15pm
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Well, posting here was kinda letting my customers vote. Almost all my sales go to LE folks.

Thanks for all the input you guys. Very helpful.

~~Mary
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  #16  
Old 2011-12-07, 11:35pm
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I can't vote - they look amazing in the first photo, but the gradient photo lets you see all the wonderful details. Use both.
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  #17  
Old 2011-12-08, 8:26am
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Could anything really take away from your dragons? They're fabulous and I like the background pics best.
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  #18  
Old 2011-12-08, 8:41am
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I normally don't like busy backgrounds but I really like the background with the dragon. It just lends itself
to the whole feeling of the dragon.
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Old 2011-12-08, 8:42am
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It was a dead heat between the busy background and the plain gradient when I went to bed last night. This morning I see the background has taken the lead. I really think it is going to wind up that I use both.

I wish Etsy would let me have 6 pictures instead of 5. I used to put a picture of the back in the listing, but I replaced it with the picture on the plain gradient background. I suppose when I do the shot in my hand for scale, I could have it be the back of the bead showing. Kill two birds with one stone.

We'll see.

Thanks again you guys, not only for the advice here, but also the compliments on the dragons.

~~Mary
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  #20  
Old 2011-12-08, 6:26pm
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I like the idea of using a few backdrops. I like the 1st etsy background, the pic in your hand, the gradient shot with nothing else but the bead. I also like to see the 3/4 shot as well as the back shot of the bead.

I think the 1st etsy background is the definate attention grabber as it looks like the environment you'd find a dragon in...so it adds to the charm of the bead.
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  #21  
Old 2011-12-08, 7:01pm
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well considering i bought it from the first picture

i like the sand and rocks background cos it goes better with the dragons, another bead and it might not work so well
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  #22  
Old 2011-12-08, 7:47pm
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Here is the thing for me. You are selling a bead, first and foremost. The background can confuse the bead's edges and the beads shape and 'look'. If you are posting multiple pix, by all means one pic with background, evoking a mood, is great. If you aren't selling (just showing), stick in as much background as you like. But if you are selling, people should know exactly what they are buying with nothing to confuse the issue.

Then again, what do I know? Maybe other folks don't have to search pix with background to verify what is or isn't bead.
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  #23  
Old 2011-12-08, 8:49pm
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If I was looking at beads to buy, I like the plain gradient best. The background is nice too but I'm with KEW, I want to see the edges of the bead. On these, the backgrounds work but sometimes it's hard to tell.
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Old 2011-12-08, 9:15pm
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I like the fancy background, BUT...

You never know when someone's going to do a book or magazine article (Lark Books 500 Medieval Animals... in my dreams!). And the bead/glass/art exhibits - the jurors want to see a body of images with the same background, and will toss applicants with overly complicated pictures. Most of the editorial folks are also very specific about white or graded backgrounds, and if the only picture you have of your most fabulous piece has a busy background they're not likely to jury you in.

If you really love the fancy backgrounds, I'd seriously recommend that you always take a second picture with plain or graded paper, and keep both images in your archives for future book or exhibit use.

Glorious dragons, by the way - I'm jealous!
*sharon*
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Old 2011-12-08, 9:43pm
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Your dragons are just gorgeous, Mary! I like the original natural-looking background as well as the gradient. They both show off the dragon to me. I don't really like the one with the bead strands flowing across the bottom because (for me at least), my eye is being drawn to the strands and right out of the photo. It's just pulling my eye away from your lovely artwork.

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Old 2011-12-09, 6:47am
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This is off topic, sort of, but someone at The Flow magazine needs to see your dragons, Mary!

These would make a stunning cover photo for their mag.
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Old 2011-12-10, 12:13am
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I love the Natural background but I also think sitting in my glass cabinet looks great.

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  #28  
Old 2011-12-10, 2:47am
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I like the original. It has more of a dragon's lair kinda thing going. And it's good with the bokeh blur thing.
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Old 2011-12-10, 6:02pm
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This.


Quote:
Originally Posted by glassactcc View Post
I normally don't like busy backgrounds but I really like the background with the dragon. It just lends itself
to the whole feeling of the dragon.

Another option for a gradient background that would help the colors pop would be to go with a tan/off white neutral as opposed to black/grey.

Your dragons are really fantastic, Mary.
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Old 2011-12-11, 5:01pm
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Thanks for all the input from everyone!! It really has been helpful.

Thanks, Sharon. You made my night. Probably month.

I've decided for now to perfect my gradient background exposure and focus and include both pictures in my listings.

When I made the poll I put a 14 day expiration on it so that I wouldn't annoy people with it popping up to the top after a long time. So, if you try to vote and can't...that's why.

Thanks again for all the advice.
~~Mary
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