Search This Blog

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jewelry Photos for Collections

It's true, I am not a professional photographer.  The impetus for this post is the fact that I do collections on Artfire.  They are a great way to promote your work, because the people featured in the collection will promote the collection on social media.  If your collection is good, you may be lucky enough to see it on the front page of Artfire, or in the Artfire daily email.  The same can be said for Etsy treasuries.  Sometimes I see an item that I would really love to include in my collection but I can't because it's out of focus, too dark, too cluttered, etc.

When I do a collection, it always has a theme.  Once I choose the theme, I go looking for items that fit that theme.  I want to be able to clearly see the item, in focus, and not anything else that might distract me from the item.   One of my big things is cropping, because those photos are soooo small, the item needs to take up the space.  So, even though I have done this before, I thought I'd see what I could do with a few photos and my Photoshop.  I use version CS2, which is a public domain version, so you can get it for free.  There are many other programs available also.  So I took a few items from the Jewelry Creators Unite in Numbers (JCUIN) guild.  I hope none of you mind that I edited your pictures, and if you would like a copy, let me know.  I am purposely showing small pictures here because that is what you see in a collection.

First is a pair of beaded earrings from Shirley's Nook and Cranny.  Here is the original photo, right.  I like the color combination of the earrings, but I think the picture is a little dark.  Also, maybe it's just me, but those dark corners drive me nuts!  I wanted to brighten it up a bit, but since I had so much going in the background, I decided just to drop the background out of it.  (That was a lot more work than I bargained for because of those little sparkly bits in there.)

Here is the edited version at left.  After I got the background out, I made it square.  (More on why later.)  Now I know about the rule of thirds in photography, and it is a good rule.  However, when you have a little thumbnail of an image, I think you want to make maximum use of your space.  So I rotated the image to take up more of the canvas.  I also brightened it up and put in a slightly graduated background.  (A plain white background would have been fine too.)

This next one I really didn't do much to.  It is a bracelet from Plethora of Jewelry.  I like the organic look of the stones.  I also like the composition, and the fact that it wasn't shot from straight over the bracelet.  The lower angle makes gives more dimension, or depth to the image.  The problem, as I see it, is the very harsh shadows caused by bright backlighting. The back of the beads are lit up nicely, but the fronts are in such shadow that you really can't see them well.  
I couldn't really fix this one as well as I would have liked.   What I did was use the highlights/shadows tool to brighten the shadows and darken the highlights.  This gives it less contrast (it doesn't "pop" off the page how I like it to.)  But you can see the beads better.  I also used the spot healing brush tool to get rid of a few little lint or cat hairs that you can see in the original.  Fabric always runs the risk of getting linty, but some are much worse than others.  You don't notice it when you take the picture, but when you blow it up on your computer screen, there it is larger than life!!

Here is a stunning pendant by Artistic Creations by Rose.  The original photo is at left.  In a thumbnail, it's hard to see the pendant because of all the other things in the picture.  The subject is only taking up about 1/9th of the image even though the photograph itself looks great.  The border might keep it out of a collection on things that are round, multicolored, etc.

Basically all I did was crop this one, so you can more easily see the beautiful pendant.  I may have upped the contrast a bit, because I just can't resist doing that.  Now the pendant is the center of attention.  I would love to put this photo in a [round, spiral, twist, fiery] collection, wouldn't you?


 Now more on squares.  Here is a pendant necklace by Joyce's Custom Gems.  As you can see, it is a vertical picture because she is trying to show the whole necklace.  People do want to see the whole thing.  If you show a vertical image, however, you don't want it to be your very first picture.  The first image is automatically cropped into a square thumbnail, which is the first thing your customers see.  In this case, it actually crops out part of her pendant, but leaves the entire chain.

Here is her image cropped into a square (and brightened up), so that when you are on her main page you can see the entire pendant.  You can also still see the little fish accent as well.  Then if a person wants to see more, they can click on the second (original) photo to see the entire chain.

Lastly, here is a bracelet from Tearis's Art Gallery.  This one also results in the very bottom of the key getting cropped out of the thumbnail, but I didn't want to drop the background of of this one too.  The main problem is that it's so dark.  Also the fact that the image goes off of the background causes some distracting edges.

If I really wanted to put a lot of effort into this, I would drop out the background, drop the image into a square canvas and rotate it like I did the first pair of earrings.  But in this case I wanted to show you what a difference it makes when we just brighten it up.   I used the shadows/highlights option and then the brightness/contrast.  Then I couldn't resist using the clone tool to copy and paste little sections of background over those distracting edges.

I hope that you guys don't mind that I messed with your photos, and I hope you like what I did.  Of course, it's better (and a lot easier) to do these things with the camera than trying to edit it later.  Sometimes it's easier just to re-shoot it.  And one thing that must be done with the camera is to get your pictures in focus.  Some of these pictures are very low-resolution (small files) so that is another reason for keeping the pictures small here.  Beginning in October 2014, it's my understanding we will all have the zoom feature on Artfire, so that's another reason to shoot some higher resolution photos.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Volunteering at the Gallery

The other day I spent the afternoon volunteering at the gallery, so I took some glass cabs and wire along with me.  With all the pendants sitting there, I just had to take a picture, so I thought I'd share what I got accomplished:

These are all either copper, Argentium sterling, or gold filled.  Now I just have to photograph and list them.