Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Photography Discoveries

Today on Etsy they had an awesome symposium day.  Every hour a new speaker was broadcast live from their home base, and they talked about different ways to be a successful business artist.  My favorite was the first, which covered about ten basics of making the most out of Etsy and any online site.  Photography was number 1 on their list, since it replaces the touching and feeling of real shopping. 

The old work on my site was done half in artificial light and half in natural light.  I decided to forgo the natural when I heard about light boxes, but so far those pictures are turning out dark and uninteresting.  I also am super terrible at finding lightbulbs, since all the ones I tried (even those labeled natural light!) had an orange or yellow tone to them that I didn't find aesthetically pleasing. 

So today I whipped out all the dozens of fabric swatches I have from my sewing days, and set up a mini studio next to the double windows.  It was so much fun!  I took hundreds of pictures of most of my pieces, tried out different colors, different textures, and different props.  I eventually settled on using two main props; a hunk of rose quartz, which not only is pretty and neutral, but it also symbolizes love :)  And a blue gemstone that I actually forget the name of, but it has crystals on the inside that accent the jewelry nicely.   Check them out in action below:

Once I had them all done, I switched over to photoshop and played around with the exposure and color functions.  I had no idea so much could be done with so little.  Two flips of a switch and dull, lifeless photos literally JUMP to life.  I wanted to share what I'm learning with you since I like it so much!  Below I have a picture that I've adjusted, to show you the massive and, most importantly, EYECATCHING difference. 

This is it without anything.  Done in natural light, beneath the window.  It's okay, but not bright enough.  Kind of "blah". 

My first step is, in photoshop CS2, click on IMAGE and then ADJUSTMENTS and then SHADOW/HIGHLIGHT.  I go all the way to the bottom and slide the Color Correction bar to around 57, and the Midtone Contrast to about 25.  The result is a stronger depth of color, a "juicer" tone. 

The second step is to go back to IMAGE and ADJUSTMENT and click on EXPOSURE.  This is the best tool for a quickfix.  Ramp up the exposure as high as you want; I generaly stay under 1.00.  I then adjust the 2 bars below very slight to the negative, to cut back on the exposure and add some darker tones.  And...Voila!  That's all it takes. 
If you want to see the picture with only Exposure, and not the Color Correction, see below:

I think even that looks good!  At least better than the first one, which didn't catch anyone's eye.  And that's the whole point of the photo...draw them in and make them want that item.  Have them salivating over it, thinking that they can't make it through the week without that bracelet on their arm :) 

Good luck with all your photos!

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