Thursday, 14 June 2012

A Wander through Colour in Photographs

My photographs often don't turn out the way I anticipate. I know it and I'm sure you know it. Sometimes I have success, see here:  
but much of the time I am left scratching my bonce, wondering what I forgot to do or change in my camera's multitude of settings in order to get the photo I want.

I have read my camera manual, guides and purchased tutorials. I understand why my camera does certain things - shows blue/grey backgrounds when I am using a lot of white - and I try to compensate for this. 

I used daylight bulbs here and a white background!
It's preferable to photograph jewellery on a white background, but when you do that the camera sees all the white and assumes the picture is being over exposed and thus makes the image darker. I use the explosure - ha ha ha I mean exposure but that is too funny not to share with you :) I use the "exposure" plus setting to lighten the photo and that helps but when the photograph is around 50% white, I still have some problems in that the background sometimes turns out a light blue-grey (and I'm using daylight bulbs!). I know you can "fix" photos in photo editing programs, but I find this changes the colour of the jewellery/bead and I want to try and avoid this.

I have noticed that the colours in the jewellery seem to affect the resulting photo and decided to do a little experiment with colour. I used these bumblebee beads which I am hoping soon to put on Etsy (decent photography allowing). There is a lot of yellow in the beads so they are a good choice for this experiment. I took all the photos on the same camera settings, in a light tent, with a homemade diffuser made from kitchen foil as you see below. I only had to adjust the angle of the camera slightly in some photos as the beads wouldn't stay where I wanted them to.

I cropped all photos, as I have done with the one above and that is shown below. 

Below are the other photos that I took with the beads set on different coloured card. 

The exposure +1 setting makes the beads on a dark background look far too bright.

With a little white on the black background, this photo doesn't look overexposed, but the beads don't stand out as the background is too "busy".
On an off white background. The beads look a little dull here.

A neutral background makes the beads appear natural. 

The camera sees blue? I'll show you blue - a light blue background here and I think the beads look washed out and dull.
A translucent pink background. I would say this have given the most accurate colour rendition of my yellow beads, although I might think differently when I see this on another screen.
Well, if there is one solution then please someone tell me! The conclusions I draw from this are that you have to adjust the lighting and background colours in your photo until you find what works best with the piece you are trying to photograph.

Please let me know what you think about the colours and the best pics etc. If you have any tips you would like to share please drop me a comment.



  1. Fun experiment! I have tons of troubles with getting my cane colors to look right, too.

    1. It is so time consuming, trying to get it right!

  2. Dude, I'm at the same place as you are - I have to jiggle around with my camera and take several photos of one item with different exposures/white balances/light sources - and they still look washed out!

    Personally, I like the last photo (trans pink) and the first one on white, because they make the beads 'pop' without making them look like they have a glare coming off them. (They're really pretty beads, by the way - great for summer!)

    1. Thanks. Yes me too, I think those colours work the best. I can spend hours trying to get good pics and then, just when you get the right balance, settings etc, you put the pic on Etsy and it downgrades the photo!

      Someone recommended FotoFuse, the Etsy editing software, to get an all white background. I played around with that. It works for some things but not others. I'm not overly keen on editing photos as it can change the colour of your pieces.

  3. It's so helpful to see how the coloured backgrounds affect the look of the beads - thanks for taking the time to post this! And thank you for alerting me to this post via your comment on my blog... I've just done a follow up post on my trials and tribulations with daylight bulb photography which includes a link to this post: Hopefully if all of us crafty folk keep trying and sharing, we'll get good at this :-)


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