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Revision as of 21:47, 2 December 2008

Photography is an entire subject that could take up a whole Wiki all by itself. What follows here are some hints and tips for beadmakers wishing to get good photographs of their beads or glass work.

It is generally regarded that the better your original image (off the camera) the better the final result will be. Yes you can adjust pictures in Photoshop afterwards but the final quality of the image will suffer. For the best image quality you should aim for an image that is as close to how you would like it before it even touches Photoshop. Then all you need to do in there is a bit of sharpening (perhaps) cropping and maybe adding a watermark.


Problems with glass

Generally speaking glass is actually quite a difficult subject to photograph due to its reflective nature, but given a few simple tips a bit of patience and some quite simple equipment it is possible to get very good results.

Basic Set-up

The basic set-up required to photograph beads is actually very simple.

  • A light source (desk light or window).
  • White piece of paper.
  • A Digital Camera.
  • Oh yes and some glass work to photograph.

You do not really need more than this to take basic good quality photographs of your work.

When taking pictures with this type of equipment it is important to set up the camera correctly to get the best shot, because if you just turn your camera on and take a picture you will generally be very disappointed with the result.

There are two setting that are very important that you understand to be able to take good bead photographs.

  • White Balance
  • Exposure Compensation

White balance

What is white? As many of you may know there are many types of white, our eyes are very good at compensating for different light colours and different shades of white, and we just know that something is white. Cameras on the other hand are dumb, and have to be told what white is, otherwise they will get it wrong. Therefore the white balance setting in a camera is to make sure white is actually a white and not yellowy orange or blue.

Most cameras do this automatically when you take pictures, but quite often get it wrong, especially if there is a lot of one colour in the scene. Higher end cameras will often allow you to take a picture of something grey or white and set the cameras white balance from that picture.

In real life, due to the nature of white not always being pure white I would thoroughly recommend buying a grey card from the likes of Jessops. This is calibrated to be a mid grey (often called 18% grey card) and is ideal for setting the white balance and also for getting the correct exposure as the brightness of the card is also calibrated. But if you do not have one don't worry a piece of the whitest paper you can find will be fine.

Despite the fact that white balance makes sure that white is white it should not be confused with

Exposure Compensation

Which ensures that white is white and not grey !!!

Basically this setting allows you to over/under expose your pictures, that may sound wrong but the reason you would need this is because all cameras have to work out the correct exposure for a given scene.

The problem comes when what you are photographing is a picture of a bead on a white piece of paper and this is certainly not typical, and the camera will under expose it. (as wrong as it might seem this is the correct behaviour)

Many people think that under exposed pictures like this are due to not having enough light b uit that is wrong, to correct this you need to "fool" the camera into over exposing the image so that white paper actually looks white and not grey. (remember this is not to be confused with white balance as described above)

By changing the exposure compensation to add 1 or 2 stops, that picture of a bead on a white piece of paper will be white and not grey and the colours in you beads will be much more vibrant, thus removing the necessity to process all your pictures in Photoshop.

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