This blog captures my journey to take a break from jewelry designing to learn something new. Join me as I learn the art of photography and Photoshop Elements and watch me create through my lens. ~ Dee

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pre-set White Balance...Life Savor!

It rained all day today, and I'm dealing with some foot issues, so I took the opportunity to play around with my light box and some of my handcrafted jewelry.  Prior to DSLR, all of my jewelry photos were taken with a Nikon 5400 point and shoot and luck!

Today, I decided to challenge myself and use some of the things I've learned on my journey.  I decided to work with a bracelet that hasn't been sold as my challenge.  During my early photo days, all I knew was Auto Mode, meaning I aimed and shot and the camera did all the work.  Today, 99% of my photos are taken in some type of professional mode, so I'm left figuring out the settings that will make the best exposure. 

One of the things that stood out immediately to me in this old photo is the yellow tint at the top of the image. Most likely it had something do with lighting, and the white background really isn't doing anything to expose the beautiful components in this piece (Kazuri and Hill Tribe Silver).  After deciding to use a loose ceramic tile I had laying around, the first image looked like this...

(f/3, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, WB cloudy)
 Immediately, you can see that the tile does more to bring out the colors in the bracelet than the white paper did; however, the colors aren't very true for the braclet or the tile and the entire image has a yellow hue to it.  Sure I could play around in photoshop and try to get the color correct, but my goal is shoot the image as best I can the first time, and have as little processing to do aftewards as possible. Typically I shoot with a WB of cloudy, for a warmer image, but the warm doesn't seem to be working with the I decided to switch to a WB Tungsten (light bulb) and I got this.....

(f/3, 1/60 sec, ISO 200 ,WB Tungsten)
Eeeeeeekk is right!  Defintely not the look I was going for nor expecting, since, I was using the light bulb setting for light bulb light.  Tungsten light is a cooler light as you can see compared to cloudy, but I didn't want it that cool!  Next, I thought I'd try my luck with Incandecent WB, not as blue, but definitely not natural looking and still a little scarey!

(f/3, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, WB Incandecent)
But I wasn't out of arsenal yet!  There were a few more camera settings I could have tried, but enough was enough...I was going to have to preset my own White Balance, by taking a true reading of the light within the light box.  If you have a DSLR, I'm fairly certain your camera has this option. You can find it by referencing your own camera manual.  By taking a true reading of the light from within the box using the preset option, I was able to create a manual White Balance that mirrored the actual light I had reflecting inside the box and  low and behold I got this....

(f/3, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, WB-preset)
Same bracelet, same light set up, slightly different composition but definitely a better exposure!  The only thing that was still bothering me with this image, was that only the two bottom beads in front were clearly in focus.  For this particular piece I was really trying to capture the entire bracelet as it WAS the focal point.  With some adjustment to my apeture setting, taking it from f/3 (great depth of field) to f/20 (everything in focus), my exposure reading changed to 1/4 sec., then I filled my frame more with the bracelet, I was able to get the entire bracelet in focus, including the clasp using a tripod. 

When photographing jewelry for online websites, it's not about the props, it's about capturing the gorgeous components and relating to your potential customers through your photos.  I think this final image says buy me, buy me!!

(f/20, 1/4 sec, ISO 200, WB Preset)
If you're looking at your own images and thinking..."this color isn't right" may need to change your white balance; and, if the camara doesn't have an automatic setting that works for what your shooting, go test driving in manual mode with a pre-set...i think you'll like the ride.

Lesson Learned:
I'm a long way from where I was one year ago. 

Unveiling natural colors,


  1. Dee, that is so cool. Great photo and decription of your journey there.

  2. Great post. Thanks for sending the link to RPMG - I really like following your journey since I'm on a similar one.

  3. Thanks Cary, I hope you'll join us sometimes at RPMG!

  4. I need to learn all this. My photos would look so mUch better if I did. Interesting comparisons and pretty photos. When I get a dslr I will know where to go for a tutorial.

  5. I'm here for you Vicki...and when I want a special recipe, I also will know where to look...your blog is great!

  6. I have some of the same issues when I photograph my jewelry; thankfully I'm not a COMPLETE novice when it comes to my pictures, but I still have issues where some of the main things are out of focus or that darn yellow tint!

    It just takes a little bit of playing around like you did to get those gorgeous captures :)

  7. Great photos! My point and click is not as good as some and learning to play around w/it is both fun and frustrating at times as jewelry can be quite difficult to photograph. Thanks for all the tips! Each time I take more photos, things get better,...

  8. Thanks Sheila and Kayla, Practice will only make all of us better...and yes, jewelry is very tricky!



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