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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.

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  #1  
Old 2006-10-27, 4:10am
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Arrow I think it's time to call Chad out! Cosmo, you've got some explaining to do...

How do you get such nice pics?

I'm thinking about upgrading my photo set up and you win dude. Your pics are so friggin nice! Fill us in, so we can show our glass in this amazing "Cosmic" way.
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  #2  
Old 2006-10-27, 5:02am
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Thats funny Brent,Ive always thought your pics were some of the best around.
Jeff
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Old 2006-10-27, 6:02am
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Well, it's pretty easy, actually...

Here is my home-made light box:




I made it out of PVC. The background for my photos is just a sheet of white paper. It's attached to the lower front edge, and the top back edge, so it creates a seamless background. The diffusion material is just rip-stop nylon that you can get at most any fabric store.

My camera is a Canon EOS 300D Digital SLR. But, you don't need a camera like that to do it. I do a lot of photography which requires interchangeable lenses, so I got a SLR. Any good camera with 4+ MP will be fine. It is a big plus if it has a full manual setting (more on that later).

The most important piece of equipment is a tripod. You can't get good pictures without a tripod. I don't care how steady your hand is. Second, I don't use macro. It gives a shallow depth of field and generally makes for flat-looking pictures. I use the standard 18-55 lens for 99% of my jewelry/marble photography. If I need the piece to fill up more of the frame, I zoom in closer. My lights are just cheap $6 flood lights from Lowes. No special bulbs or anything. Just the bulbs that came in them. I think they are 60 watts each.

Now, for the most important part - don't be afraid of your camera. Everyone is concerned about pushing the wrong button. My camera doesn't have a "wrong" button. Does yours? Read the manual that came with your camera. It's there for a reason. Find out if your camera has a "Manual" setting. Autofocus is fine, but you want to be able to set most of the other things manually.

Let's run through the settings I use (I'm not a professional photographer, so I use what works best for me):

White Balance - I have a bunch of different options for white balance, but I've found that Incandescent works best. Try them all and see what works. Often, what you think should work isn't always your best choice. Take pictures of the same thing using all the different white balance settings and see what looks best on your computer. Don't worry about how it looks on the camera's screen.

ISO (film speed) - use the slowest ISO you have. Most cameras go down to 100. Mine goes to 50. The lower the film speed the sharper the image.

F-stop or AV - I use the highest F-stop my camera will allow. This gives the greatest detail. A lot of cameras don't accurately portray depth of field in the viewfinder, so make sure that the part of the bead/jewelry closest to the camera is in focus. The part farthest away may not look in focus, but with a high f-stop it will be. Focus on the part closest to the lens of the camera.

Exposure length - I often use exposure lengths in the 2-3 second range (which is why a tripod is so important). Also, use the timer function if your camera has it. Often I will do what is called "bracketing" when it comes to exposure value. I take a picture at what I think is the correct exposure length, then I take one with slightly less exposure, then slightly higher exposre, then compare all three. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I have to adjust. A lot of people complain that their pictures appear dark. This is usually a result of not enough exposure. Don't be afraid to lengthen the exposure. Since it's digital, you're not wasting film, and you can just delete an pics that aren't acceptable.

I do occasionally tweak the images in Photoshop, but it's usually just to remove hair from the background or things like that. We have 5 cats, so everything we own has hair on it.

I think that's about it. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. Like I said before, I'm not a professional. Everything I just told you I found out through experimentation and reading photography books. When I started trying to work on my photos, I took over 30 pictures of the same thing until I got it to look like I wanted. Then I wrote down the settings. I start with those settings now, and adjust from there.
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  #4  
Old 2006-10-27, 7:00am
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Thanks, chad! Good info here
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Old 2006-10-27, 9:45am
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Ohh, very nice. Thanks Chad!
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  #6  
Old 2006-10-27, 9:58am
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How do you anchor your pieces for the photos?
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  #7  
Old 2006-10-27, 10:28am
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Chad - that is awesome!!!!!! Thank you thank you! I have the same camera so I can try your settings exactly and don't have to try to translate to a different camera.

Anyone tell you how kewl you are lately?????
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Old 2006-10-27, 10:33am
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Thanks Chad, that was a nice write up of what you do.

I have a helpful hint about the photo settings. In Photoshop, you can get that information by clicking on File -> File Info. Then on the pulldown, select EXIF. This tells the camera used, exposure time, F-stop, ISO speed, focal length, whether you used a flash... well you get the idea. I'm using Photoshop 7.

I think Paint Shop Pro added the capability to see EXIF in version 9.
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  #9  
Old 2006-10-27, 11:12am
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Chad, you rock! You just gave me some things to play with... Thanks buddy!
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  #10  
Old 2006-10-27, 11:20am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emily
How do you anchor your pieces for the photos?
It depends on the piece. Usually I'm taking pictures of marbles, so I just set them on a stand.

But for some pieces, I take a necklace stand and shoot them on that, like this:



Sometimes I put a piece of white paper on the stand like this:



Other times I'll hang a piece of fishing line or cord from one side to the other to allow the piece to hang, like this:



The good thing about this setup, is it's big enough to fit larger items in it as well:

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  #11  
Old 2006-10-27, 6:11pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyroglasstic
Thats funny Brent,Ive always thought your pics were some of the best around.
Jeff
I've always thought so too, but Chad's are equally as delicious!
Thanks for the photo tut, Chad, you're always so willing to share!
you rock baby!

Jo
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  #12  
Old 2006-10-27, 6:34pm
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I have that dining set too! I'm gonna have to build one of those, my pictures kinda suck and require lots of micro photoshop touch-ups to get the background to fade to white nicely... but we just finished the hood and vent. system this morning, so it'll be a few weeks of production for shows before I can work on that. Thanks for the great info!

Mr. Smiley, you HAVE to come to So. California some time for a class!!!
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  #13  
Old 2006-10-29, 5:03am
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I'd love to come to California for a class. Let's set something up. PM me some studio info that's close to you.

Here's my progress. I did get the opal to show up better. It's still flat, but I think I need a better camera with more control over settings.







Thanks Chad, these are at least better than they were with my other settings.
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Old 2006-10-29, 5:50am
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I think the first photo came out the best. The brighter color gives it more pop.. and the lower contrast like in the last photo is a little too fady.
Know what I mean. Either way the pendant is drool worthy!

Jo
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Old 2006-10-29, 2:31pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleekbeads
I think the first photo came out the best. The brighter color gives it more pop.. and the lower contrast like in the last photo is a little too fady.
Know what I mean. Either way the pendant is drool worthy!
I agree. Love the green in the first photo. In the second two, I'm starting to look at the background and think, "what did he photograph that on? Looks like a black Lab."

So tell -- how do you get the dog to sit still while you shoot the pictures?

Maybe if I deliberately took all my pictures on the cat, it would solve the problem of having cat hair in all the pictures.
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  #16  
Old 2006-10-30, 6:12am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Smiley
I'd love to come to California for a class. Let's set something up. PM me some studio info that's close to you.

Here's my progress. I did get the opal to show up better. It's still flat, but I think I need a better camera with more control over settings.







Thanks Chad, these are at least better than they were with my other settings.
Send it to me, and I'll see if I can get it to photograph...

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  #17  
Old 2006-10-30, 4:55pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emily
I agree. Love the green in the first photo. In the second two, I'm starting to look at the background and think, "what did he photograph that on? Looks like a black Lab."

So tell -- how do you get the dog to sit still while you shoot the pictures?

Maybe if I deliberately took all my pictures on the cat, it would solve the problem of having cat hair in all the pictures.
You might be a boro burnin' red neck if..........you use your pet as a background for your photography.
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Old 2006-10-30, 5:09pm
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Hey, I resemble that remark. It takes skills to get a bear to hold that still!
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Old 2006-10-31, 12:25pm
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Chad,

How are you lighting the room you are taking the photos in? For example: Do you block out all daylight by shutting shades? Shut off all lighting save for the spotlights you have set toward the objects to photographed?

Thanks!
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Old 2006-10-31, 2:14pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJJames
Chad,

How are you lighting the room you are taking the photos in? For example: Do you block out all daylight by shutting shades? Shut off all lighting save for the spotlights you have set toward the objects to photographed?

Thanks!
I turn off the lights, and I have the box situated such that any open windows are behind the tent. Just as long as they aren't allowing light into the front of the tent, it doesn't matter if they are closed or open.
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  #21  
Old 2006-10-31, 7:06pm
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Chad!! Excellent tutorial! Super directions!

This is my fav part --> "Now, for the most important part - don't be afraid of your camera. Everyone is concerned about pushing the wrong button. My camera doesn't have a "wrong" button. Does yours? Read the manual that came with your camera."

Soooooooooo true! For us old farts who grew up with "film" (anyone other than me remember "film"?), each failed pic cost us $$. Learning from one's mistakes was damn expensive. By jimminy, no longer! With digital you see your errors immediately and you can correct exposure, focus, shutter speed, WHATEVER on the spot and instantly.

Press every durn button on that camera! Find out what everything does. Don't be afraid to try it all out. Excellent advice! The only thing it's costing you is time. And you are learning every minute you spend fiddling.

Good job, Chad!

Jan
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Old 2006-11-01, 5:35am
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Thanks Chad!

Now...to make some beads worthy of photographing....
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Old 2006-11-06, 10:03pm
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Just changing the f-stop and ISO made a world of difference for me. I read a lot of tutorials and being a complete novice in the world of photography, I was still clueless as to how to adjust my camera settings and why. Thanks so much for your tips. I need plain, simple instructions and you did it for me!
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Old 2008-01-31, 4:25pm
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Sorry I'm so late to this thread but I had to comment. I have been chuckling about this for an hour.

So, first I had to learn to make the beads and get them round with neat ends. Then I had to learn how to use my camera. Then I had to learn how to use Photoshop. Then I had to learn how to use the computer and to post to the forums and put things up on ebay and etsy. Then I had to wait to take pictures in perfect sunlight.....Now I have to wash the dog before I take the pictures?!?!?!?! Man, this hobby has so many rules!


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Old 2008-02-01, 9:38am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Smiley View Post
I'd love to come to California for a class. Let's set something up. PM me some studio info that's close to you.

Here's my progress. I did get the opal to show up better. It's still flat, but I think I need a better camera with more control over settings.







Thanks Chad, these are at least better than they were with my other settings.
I shouldn't even be posting for all I know about taking bead pics. But you made me think of something Scott (the professional photographer on LE) said when you wrote it still looks flat.
Not sure if you mean the colors look flat, or the bead depth. If it's the depth, how about shooting with a bit more angle instead of dead on?
Eeek! I feel silly commenting when I know so little.
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Old 2008-02-02, 7:37pm
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I spent a long time today playing with my camera. Thanks Chad for encouraging me to push all those buttons. My pictures are still a work in progress but your post has helped me a lot!
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Old 2008-02-03, 6:44am
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[quote=jgraff;1621974]Sorry I'm so late to this thread but I had to comment. I have been chuckling about this for an hour.

So, first I had to learn to make the beads and get them round with neat ends. Then I had to learn how to use my camera. Then I had to learn how to use Photoshop. Then I had to learn how to use the computer and to post to the forums and put things up on ebay and etsy. Then I had to wait to take pictures in perfect sunlight.....Now I have to wash the dog before I take the pictures?!?!?!?! Man, this hobby has so many rules!

I laughed my butt off when I read this, it's the history of every person on this forum in a nutshell!
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Old 2008-02-04, 8:34am
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No joke there about the order of learning.

I think the next items on the list are setting up to sell on either/or Ebay, Etsy, and setting up your own website. The booths at shows, marketing..... not to mention jewelry making skills.

This hobby is definitely stretching me in new ways! Thanks for the tips, Chad
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Old 2008-02-27, 7:50pm
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Wow this thread is well over a year old but I'm so glad it made it to the front page. What great info. Now I;ve got figure out how to change the F-stop and ISO and whatever else Chad said to do. I like info that just breaks thru all the goobly gook and just tell me what to do! Thanks Chad!!
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