Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Elusive White Background

As a jeweler, and I bet this happens to all types of crafters, I am often asked for photos of my work on a white background.  But as an amateur photographer this is often one of the hardest types of shot to achieve.  The white never looks white in the picture, even if to the naked eye the set up looks clearly white.  It always looks grey, or pink, or yellow, and often the surface isn't uniform, with lots of shadows and just generally other troubles.  So for years I have been trying to figure out how to do this.  And I need to do it at home, without a professionally lit studio and thousands of dollars of equipment.  So I have scoured the internet looking for clues and cobbled together a set up.  And if you want to start doing the same the Etsy Blog is a great place to start reading.  

So let me give you a heads up that my photo set up is really nothing to look at.  It is almost hilariously low budget.  So much so that last time I was taking photos I thought that the set up itself, nestled around strewn toys and and Ikea tent in our playroom, really needed immortalizing.   So let me first show you one of the photos I took in the middle of that mess so you won't close this window without reading any further.
 Not too bad, right?  Ok, so here is the set up.  Note the mostly eaten bag of jelly beans in the right hand side of the top photo.  These white background photos were fueled primarily by jelly beans.
 Ok, so what you want is bright, but diffused natural light and a seamless background.  So I found the sunniest spot in our house, which happens to be the playroom.  I placed some clean white poster board on a table and propped it up on that kiddo bench so that it made a gentle arc up from horizontal to vertical. Then to diffuse the sun I taped up some white tissue paper, which lets through most of the light but eliminates sharp shadows.
Doesn't that look nice?  Of course I don't have any unused tissue, so this came from a recent online purchase.  I'm very eco-conscious.  Yeah, that's it.
 It is also very helpful to have a tripod so that you can open up the aperture on your camera to let in the most possible amount of light before the item itself gets too washed out.   The sun had moved a bit by the time I took pictures of the set up, so originally the sun was directly on the poster board without any bright or dark spots.  Here are a few of the other pieces I shot that day.  I have had to play with them a little in Photoshop, but there is only so much you can do in Photoshop, so you really need to start out with an original photo that is pretty close to how you want it to look in the end.
Although I am absolutely no expert I am happy to answer questions if you have any.  Just leave them in the comments or get in touch directly through one of the contact options on the right.  And to see more jewelry photos you can head over to my website, or to see collage product shots you can head over to my Etsy shop here.  Happy shooting!

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