Saturday, June 20, 2009

Photographing Metal Jewelry and Glass Beads, Part 2

Secret weapon time! Here are some of the goodies that make life much easier with my photography set-up.

First, the larger tent was really necessary when I planted the copystand inside with the lights on either side. You can see the camera handing lens down at the top of the rack and pinion drive.

It's impossible to get my head inside there to look down upon the jewelry, so the first secret weapon is a right angle finder, a prism device that turns the viewfinder image so that I can look straight into the camera.

Oftentimes with this set-up I need to use long exposure times, so touching the camera to trigger the shutter isn't a good idea. In the film camera days, I had a cable release for my shutter, but in the electronic age, we use a camera remote control.

Being a digital camera, the photos are stored on an SD memory card. Getting into the tent to remove the card to take to the computer for download was a pain, so my favorite Christmas gift this year was the surprise of an Eye-Fi card, a wireless photo and video memory card. This accessory comes in two parts: one looks like a regular SD card, the other part is the wireless base that talks to the SD card via Wi-Fi. You plug the base into a USB port on your computer, insert the SD card to configure it, then remove the card and plug it into your camera. Photographs are uploaded automatically as taken. I see a little window pop up on my computer across the room to show that data is arriving. I adore this gadget!!!

And one final secret weapon: the background. Photography stores sell backgrounds of all types, from huge rolls to small inserts for tents. For jewelry, a graduated background is often used. An easy way to get a perfectly customized background is to make it yourself.

I use the gradient fill tool on Photoshop to make a letter size page background, which is usually perfect for my application. I use both linear and radial backgrounds that I print with my photo printer. When one gets a bit decrepit, I just print another. The radial background give the illusion of a nice spotlight just where I want it.

That's it for the secret ingredients. Next installment will get down to the nitty gritty of camera settings and photography tips.


  1. WOW!!! Vickie this is really good !!

  2. Anonymous9:58 AM

    Great set up. Very impressive. Thanks for the Eye-Fi tip. I'll have to look into that.

  3. Thanks for sharing your setup - I am impresed, so many good ideas.
    I have a table top studio and I take my pics from the front of it for the same reason you wrote about - I have not enough space in there. Have to think about.
    My biggest problem is not fotografing beads but fotografing beads and metal together. Sometimes I have a hard time .... if the beads are good the metal is not pictured good and if the metal is focused the beads are not showing well.... and then, other times I am able to get them both together very good *lol*.

    Have a good start into the new week dear Vickie,


  4. Love all these tips, but as simple as you seem to think they are, they're much too much for me. I use a simple digi camera with auto focus and natural daylight. Fine for Etsy, but not for submissions.

    Perhaps you should take your talents on the road and start a side photography business. I'll be a customer for sure. Although I'd feel guilty cheating on my lovely photog Marsha Thomas.

  5. Lora, I know this is more than the average artist wants to do! Even so, I hope people are interested in what goes into a real phtotographer's art (beyond even this!).

    Hang in there, because I'll be giving some tips for point and shoot cameras, too, which I still use frequently.

  6. Vicki,
    I really appreciate all of your photography tips and pointers. I really can use the help. Your photos are great.