Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reflect and Lighten Your Jewelry Pictures the Easy Way

By on Saturday, June 18, 2011 15 Comments

Jewelry Reflections
Part 2 of 3
My friend Margaret has a stressful day job. Her method of relaxing, making jewelry, rapidly became an addiction.  Sound familiar?

Margaret opened her Etsy store called SimplyAdorned4U recently and asked me for feedback.

She was concerned about her photos and thought some were on the dark side and did have to lighten some of them. But on others, the lighting was just perfect.

It pays to experiment with your camera settings the way Margaret has been doing. The picture below is a raw picture file with no editing.  Her Fuji EXR camera does extremely well with low light conditions - there is a setting called pro-low lighting on her camera.  I'm suitably impressed.

Overall I thought she did a great job considering this is her first effort.  Some of her compositions were inspirational! They worked very well for her aesthetic styled jewelry.

Many photographers use slick surfaces to get the reflection. Here's Margaret's $2 tip - a white tray from a local dollar store! Her reflective pictures turned out great as you can see above and below.

White backgrounds are tough though. They often make the pictures too bluish because the lightness forces the camera to compensate by decreasing the exposure time. So you really have to add more light on the subject either with simple home made reflectors (see tutorial link below) or use lamps. It can be done!

Another way to lighten the pictures is to use a photo-editing software like many artisans do. Check your camera CD or computer to see if you have one already.  Photoshop Elements (the stripped down and cheaper version of the full Photoshop) is another option. The free GIMP program might also be of use to some of you.

Margaret kindly sent me this before editing picture of one of her sets. It's on the dark side and didn't do the sparkling crystals any justice.

So use the software to brighten the picture. In this example using Microsoft Picture Manager, I just moved the brightness slider to the right.

 The picture now looks lighter but a bit washed out:

So remember to adjust the contrast as well! What it did was brought back the darker purple hues resulting in a professional and clean look.

Before You Go :
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. Always good to see posts on jewelry pictures. New suggestions are very helpful. The "White background" dilemma is always a problem. Perfectly white paper or background comes out gray or blueish. I've had good luck with the freebie Picasa. But nothing beats getting a good picture to start. I add an Ott light sometimes and adjust away. Often nothing seems to work....

  2. I dont know if I am the only one who has this problem - but whenever my jewelry has pink or purple/lilac/mauve (beads/crystals) the picture comes out bad..I have tried both white,light and dark backgrounds...but nothing seems to work...I shoot most of my pics in natural light so is that a cause? any ideas?

  3. Good Tips. I always have problems with pictures.

  4. Photography is sure one of the biggest issues for jewelry artisans! I agree with Bev - getting it right in the first place is the best. Some fixing is okay but it is yet another step.

    Divya, you might have to really play with the settings on your camera. If it is a point and shoot and it is say 5 or more years old, I recommend you upgrade it.

  5. Good info Pearl. I am always adjusting the white balance on my camera. That does help a lot. Another thing I think is helpful if you want to use a white background is to add some darker area to it. I have a nice piece of driftwood that I use. It seems that when the camera sees both the light and dark I get a better background color.

  6. Great post Pearl...always enjoy reading photography tips as I'm sure do most jewelry artisans!

    I also use Picasso but as mentioned a good picture to begin with is the best!

    Since I moved last year I've not had much luck with my photos...bad lighting, etc...although I find using a gray background does produce better shots for me than a white background.

    Will have to try the reflective background sometime as I do like how it looks!

    Thanks for the tips Pearl...

  7. That's a great tip, Carol! Yes, grey works well for me too.

  8. I had this problem with my old camera and hence I changed it and tried adjusting the WB also..still I am unable to figure out my mistake

  9. It could be where you are taking your pictures. Try a different location. Make yourself a light tent and see if it helps.

    Otherwise, you may have to try using lights and a light tent. Good luck!

  10. Awesome info! I love my $ store tray and have used it quite a bit. My point and shoot is older but not too bad and I like to shoot outdoors in the sun which has been a problem here in rainy old NS. I love the ideas for indoor lighting and had not thought to play with them....I think I have picassa on this laptop somewhere!! Thank You!!!!

  11. Interesting post. The Art Association that I belong to had a guest speaker at one of our meetings, a professional photographer. This photographer admitted that the most challenging thing to photograph was jewelry, as you're dealing with translucent beads and shiny, reflective surfaces.
    After hearing her confession I felt a lot better knowing that even a professional photographer who has all the cameras, equipment and lighting and years of experience finds taking magazine perfect pictures of jewelry challenging.

  12. Yes, we shouldn't feel too badly as jewelry photography is tough even for pros!

  13. What great advice!!! Thanks.

  14. Such great info and I love the light box! I have one that I don't feel gives me the best results. I would LOVE to have one of these Modahaus light boxes. Keep up the good work. You amaze me, how you continue to bring us so much info all the time and still do all you do with your jewelry and everything else.

    Take care,

  15. Added you to the right post comment section! Good luck! Pearl