Monday, September 28, 2009

More About Pictures

I just took a bunch of pictures of jewelry this morning with my light box and my new OttLites. They were definitely worth the price, especially since I got the bulbs on sale! Also, the light box was cheap to make (and my husband made it for me, no less). This is a tutorial on how to make a light box that is almost exactly like the one he made. A cardboard box, some tissue paper, and you're done. I don't use the poster board. Instead, I lined the bottom with white printer paper and then use various fabric drapes (usually a white sheer drape with a print fabric underneath).

Here's another example of a picture I took using this new set-up that includes the OttLites:

This one is called Safari Fun and is made with some really neat beads. I really like the swirls and stripes in the black and white beads and especially in the red, black and white beads (because there's more color!).

Now that I've gone on a picture-taking frenzy, I can pack everything away for the week. I put the light box onto a wooden tv tray, then I clip the three desk lamps to three sides of the table. I have all three plugged into a single extension cord so plugging them in is a one-step process. When I'm finished, all three lamps go into a lidded plastic box I bought (originally intended to be my light box, but the cardboard/tissue box that my husband made works better) and they stay plugged into the extension cord so I don't have to plug them all in again next time. Right now, the light box goes on top of my desk, but I want to find a different place to store it.

Currently, I don't use a tripod to take my pictures because I can't adjust the shutter speed on my little digital camera. This means that I do still have to do some minor editing to the pictures once I upload them to my computer, but with the new lights, there's very little editing to do (I just need to brighten them a little). If I did decide to start using a tripod, I'd either need to pull out my big tripod and stand it on the floor next to the light box, or find a bigger table so I could use my little tabletop tripod. Right now, my hands are steady enough that the pictures mostly turn out pretty clear.

I'm really proud of the improvement my pictures have had from the very beginning. If you look in my Etsy shop, you can definitely see an evolution of my photography from my earlier listings going from a plain white background and not very good lighting, to using a musical background and slightly better lighting, to using fabric backdrops, to using the light box with plain light bulbs to my latest listings using the lightbox and bulbs I'm using now. My pictures are far from perfect (I'm still trying to figure out some good props, for instance), but I think I'm definitely heading in the right direction!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

OttLite Lightbulbs

I'd heard a lot about OttLites and how great they were, but I hadn't gotten around to looking for any. One day last week, I was shopping in a craft and hobby store with my mom and they happened to have OttLites on sale. They had the huge ones, ones with crafting trays attached, etc. that were well more than I was ready to spend on the spur of the moment. However, they also had just plain 11w (replaces a 40w bulb) light bulbs on sale. I have three desk lamps to use to light my light box, so I picked up three bulbs.

Even on sale, they were still a little pricey, so when I finally got around to trying them out, I started out with one to see if they were worth the price. With only one bulb, I could see the answer was a definite YES. So I replaced all the bulbs (now I have to figure out what to do with three loose 60 watt bulbs as I threw out the packaging and the OttLite bulbs are smaller so their boxes won't work).

I took quite a few pictures this evening of jewelry I'll be listing soon. Because my camera doesn't let me change the shutter speed, I still had to adjust the lighting in the pictures, but they came out really well just the same. Here is one of them, featuring a bracelet I'll be listing soon:

The color is bright and clear. They still don't *quite* get true color with purple, but it's closer than what I could get before. One set of pictures that I took were of some purple flower earrings that I haven't listed because I couldn't get the purple to look on the pictures the same way that it does in person. They're still not perfect, but it's closer. Here is a picture of the earrings:

They are still more blue than the purple is, but at least now they look closer to being purple at all. Before, they just looked blue no matter what kind of lighting I used.

So, that's another step in the right direction for taking better pictures for my shop. I still want to find more props (like the shells I used in an earlier picture of a blue glass and pearl bracelet), but just a simple white drape with a floral drape underneath for subtle color and texture will work okay for now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's In A Name?

Most of the listings in my Etsy shop have very descriptive, if not very creative names. Two examples are Amethyst, Pearls, and Swarovski Crystal Bracelet or Tree Greeting Cards. While these might be helpful in giving a quick idea of what the item is, I'm getting really bored with them. Also, if I have more than one item in the shop that closely fits the description in the title, like Red Glass and Turquoise Bracelet and Red, Blue, Green Glass and Turquoise bracelet, then I'm not sure which someone is referring to until I go look at the listing.

So, I recently decided to get creative with my listing titles, at least when I can come up with something quickly. I'm trying not to get too worked up about the "perfect" title because I know me and if I try too hard to get just the right name, I'll never list another item because I'd be searching for the best name from now until the end of time instead of listing.

Yesterday evening and this morning, I posted two new listings with "new and improved" titles. May I present:

Oh My Stars (and Hearts) Bracelet


It's Hip to be Square (or Rectangle) Earrings

Well, I never claimed to be Shakespeare, hehehe. BUT, if someone asks me about either of these, I'll know right away what they're talking about! Oh, and as long as we're talking about "clever" titles (I use the term VERY loosely for my own titles, hehe), I renamed the "Halloween Charm Bracelet" I made to:

Mummy's Charm Bracelet

Yeah, ok, so they could still use some work. But I'm having fun with them, and I hope they occasionally manage to amuse others too (or, at least to not groan *too* loudly). :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Another New Background and Taking Pictures

Since I last posted, I bought some desk lamps and a clear plastic box to act as a makeshift light box to take photos. The pictures are still not coming out as bright as I would like, so I still have to edit some on the computer, but I think they're a step up. The bracelet above is the first picture I took using my new "light box". The bracelet reminded me of a day at the beach because of the sky blue of the beads and the pearls (yeah, they're freshwater pearls, but let's go with it, ok? Hehehe). So, I borrowed some seashells my daughter had to use as a prop and took some pictures. Here is the listing on Etsy if you'd like to see the other pictures.

Another issue with the light box (at least the set-up I have currently) is that artificial light is no match for sunlight. I find that purple, in particular, is a hard color to get to look right in photographs. I tried taking pictures of this necklace with my light box, and even switched to using a light box my husband had made a while back out of cardboard and tissue paper, but the light turned the purples too red and no amount of photo editing would get the colors to match the actual colors of the necklace. So, I took the fabric I used from the last pictures I took prior to getting the light box, held the necklace on the fabric in my hand next to a window and took some pictures. Since I wasn't in direct sunlight, the pictures were still darker than I'd like, but the sun did the trick and the colors in the photograph matched the colors in the necklace.

The pendant is made by the wonderfully talented KanYoFuse on Etsy. He makes fused glass pendants that are absolutely stunning. I've bought several of his pendants and love every single one of them. His work is gorgeous and his prices are VERY reasonable. At a quick glance, this pendant looks to be brown and white swirl. However, in certain light, the brown really, really wants to be purple. I had some muddy purple cats eye beads that coordinated well, so I added those to the mix to bring out the pendant's desire to be purple. I was really pleased with the necklace and the pictures. You can click here to view the full listing and see the other pictures I took.

I still have some work to do with lighting (I'm going to try CLF bulbs or possibly some bulbs that claim to be similar to sunlight if I can find them next), and I think I could still use some work on backgrounds and photo composition, but I think I've definitely improved from the photos I took in some of my first listings.
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