Did you miss last week's fabulous giveaway for two Modahaus Table Top Studio 216s? Well, there is still time as the contest doesn't end until 6 pm EST today!  So check my blog after that time to see if you win!

This size of studio is perfect for most jewelry artisans. However, if you make very large pieces or take a lot of grouped shots, pictures of cakes and craft items or even small pets and tiny babies, consider the larger ones.

Lex has just activated a discount /promotion code (Pearl) which runs until October 31 applicable to any studio set-up.  The discount will also apply retroactively to anyone who purchased in the past week.

As promised, here is the second tutorial, another exclusive for this blog by Lex, the professional photographer and creator of the Modahaus. This builds on the tricks and tips from last week's tutorial.  The black card tip is very useful if you work with a lot of silver, clear crystals or glass.

If you are serious about improving your jewelry photography, don't miss these lessons!

by Lex McColl
Attempts at shooting on a white background can be a bit disheartening if you are trying this for the first time and if you use the plonk and shoot method you’ll probably have a result similar to this.

This is the camera meter again assuming we are shooting an outing to the local park again and it has exposed the predominant white background as a dull gray.

But we know how to sort this don’t we! Exposure compensation! But hang on, are we in the + / - 2 notch zone yet? More like + 3 notches out I’d say.

Here’s the easy new trick we’ll add to our repertoire. Spot Metering. The camera's default metering is ‘evaluative’ or ‘average’ and it takes in the large expanse of white background, hence the dull gray result.

Spot metering selects a central spot area which is where our subject is located. So, including our previous settings, ISO 80 or 100, 2 sec shutter delay, using the light tunnel for smooth shadows and reflections and even light, we now select spot metering. If your camera has no spot meter, use center weighted meter. (Check your camera manual).

Shown below is what the settings look like on a Lumix (Pearl's camera) - spot meter has only one small round dot compared to many little squares, large square or facial lock.

Compose the shot, shoot and viola! We have a promising result, in the zone, shown in image on the left. Not quite there yet but we know how to sort that. Exposure compensation. In this case + 6 clicks (1.33 notches) had us spot on with exposure – image on right.

I deliberately chose a tricky subject here. A silver bangle on a white background. The highlight areas essentially appear as white so we have white against white – very tricky to hold the shape of the piece against the background but we’ve managed it, just!

So, as we have too much white in the reflections of the silver let’s add in some black. All we do is slide in a couple of pieces of black (or gray) card down the inside sides of the light tunnel and, hey presto! As the image below shows we have introduced much more shape, detail and definition of the piece – how easy was that? We now have enough detail in the piece to increase the exposure by about 2 clicks if we wanted a pure white background.

Pearl's blue passion flower inspired filigree earrings had a lot of reflective silver so she tried the light tunnel and black card trick to improve the picture.

without black card vs with black card
She also took these pictures of her coiled wire and crystal pendant necklace. She used her Lumix camera in automatic mode to take the left picture. For the one on the right she used  aperture priority mode set at f6.3, increased the exposure compensation and spot metered right on the dark blue crystal. The settings made the picture sharper and brighter without having to use a photo editing program to improve it.

In this group shot we used the Modahaus Studio Pro 400 with opaque white backdrop forming the background and the translucent white backdrop used as a ‘light cone’ performing the same function as the light tunnel. The larger Studio Pro 600 can be used in the same way.

Just to show it is not always increasing the exposure compensation, the image below required compensation of minus 2 clicks. This was because the spot metering area was directly over the dark area of the woven metal bangle.

Exposure compensation is not always required when shooting on a white background. The image below required no compensation at all and was shot at maximum aperture for shallow depth of field. Almost a plonk and shoot shot.

I mentioned before how easy it is to elevate the Modahaus Studio 216 by placing it on top of a large book or directory. This can help give you a different perspective on your piece when using a mini tripod on a tabletop as the shot below demonstrates.

You may be wondering why I’ve not mentioned macro setting before now. That is because none of the above shots needed macro to lock on focus.

Most compact cameras these days have macro that only works when the lens zoom is at its widest point and most have quite a wide angle at this end of the zoom. This means the camera can be very close to the subject when using macro. This might be fine if your shooting creepy crawlies but it’s not ideal for a lot of jewelry especially if it’s reflective.

Instead of using macro, move the camera further back from the piece and then zoom in a bit to compose and check focus is locking. This gives a better perspective to the shot as well. Shooting smaller pieces like rings might benefit from using macro. In this shot of a brooch below I used macro.

I’ve trusted the cameras auto white balance (AWB) for all of these shots as we’re using natural daylight but if you experience any color casts to your images make sure you take measures to correct the cast as a color cast can really flatten your images.

The easiest method is to try your cameras alternative white balance settings such as ‘Daylight’ ‘Cloudy’ ‘Shade’ ‘Indoors’ or anything sounding similar. Different cameras have different descriptions. If this doesn’t do the trick then you need to set custom white balance, which is quite easy but the method differs from camera to camera.

 Pearl’s previous post showed this method below left for suspending earrings using the Modahaus Desktop Studio 216. I’ve since discovered another method when shooting on a white background. Using the opaque white backdrop as a base, lay the translucent white backdrop over but keep the top edge a few inches short of the top of the support and simply hook your earrings over the top edge of the translucent backdrop. Works quite well I think.

Remember, there are only two pages in your camera's manual you need to look at from time to time. The index page and the page with the particular feature you are checking out. Cameras are just loaded with too many features these days. This Powershot 220 has a ‘Wind Filter” What’s that all about?

Well that concludes part 2 and I hope it’s helped you on the path to showing your creations in a better light. I’m on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube if you’d like to connect and the modahaus.com/blog posts go in to more detail on product photography techniques. Good luck in the giveaway.

Any questions, fire away,

Before You Go :

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips