Before & After – Wine Glass Charms

I got a comment from Becky (Etsy shop theMonkeyButtons) about her wine glass charms. She says: “I have a hard time with black and white objects. I can only get the black or the white to look good in any picture. These are also made with carved mother-of-pearl buttons, and I can’t get the details to show well because they are slightly shiny.” Specifically, she was referring to this set, which includes the following listing photo:

It’s actually quite a nice shot, as are all the others in the listing. Becky obviously has good technique and understands how to control depth of field. But I think that the lighting is just a bit too yellow and warm to capture the true colors and details of the buttons. So I thought I’d try for a more dramatic look and avoid the influence of the tablecloth.

First up, a very simplistic shot taken on a reflective white background (click to zoom):

Same concept, different charms:

Same concept, different charms, and a cork for added interest:

Now for a few on a reflective black background, again with emphasis on the details of the buttons and wire wrapping:

This time, the entire set hanging in front of a flat white background:

Less attention on the charms, more on the setting:

Now for something completely different, a little post-processing to give this shot an aged, vintage look:

That’s all for this post. Click here if you want to see a few more photos, and be sure to check out some of the other cool items in Becky’s shop.

Next time — Glass Marble Pendants.

The Stained Glass Challenge

I received a note from reader Christine, who was having some difficulties photographing stained glass artwork for her Etsy shop. She had previously received some advice in the Etsy forums about shooting in the sun to get some of the glass colors on the background, and after following that advice, realized that she still wasn’t satisfied with her photos. Here’s an example:

So Chris asked for some help, and we worked out an arrangement where she would ship a piece or two to me for a few days to see what I could come up with. I admit that I did like the way the sunlight played off the colors and textures of the glass. If we stayed with this concept, there would be some simple issues that we could address (angle of the shot, filling the frame with the background, cropping, etc.) But it still would have left Chris with the rather troubling prospect of shooting outdoors year-round in Michigan.

When the package arrived and I got my first look at the green jewelry box, and saw the detail and quality of Chris’s work, I knew that the right approach was to just keep it simple and make sure that the photos accurately represented the art. No problem … and it could all be done indoors using a simple setup. I used a continuous white background, with a gradual sweeping transition between horizontal and vertical (no distracting seams). Then I set up the lighting using the proven technique of lighting the background separately from the subject. This little trick solves a lot of background issues, and can be done with either continuous lights (any color temperature) or flash units. I also wanted to make sure that I showed the entire piece (from different points of view) in some shots and concentrate on details in others. Shown below are the results. Have a look, enjoy and be sure to check out Chris’s shop.