Ingredients: One empty cardboard box, some white paper, sticky tape/glue, tin foil (optional)
I've been struggling with bead photography for a long time and even brought some snazzy lights a while back but never really got to grips with them. The main problem was really that I didn't understand how a camera works and I had been too timid to take my camera out of auto for close shots. Normally I pop out into the garden on sunny days and take pictures on a backdrop of white paper. I tend take a whole army of shots with my camera on auto and hope that some will be usable. Hit and miss to say the least.
After the GBUK AGM weekend and the wonderful informative workshop given by photographer Richard Downton I think the penny has dropped somewhat in terms of white balance/light sources. In an effort to turn some of that newly digested information into camera confidence I have made a simple light box out of an old cardboard box (something much less classy but similar to the one Richard showed us on the day) and finally try get to grips with my camera. It's not very fancy, a point and shoot Sony DSC-W320 14.1mp cyber-shot.
Ok so the light box ain't pretty but it does seem help, on the left is a photo of one of my Aquarium beads taken outside during the day with my camera on auto, on the right is one taken under studio lighting (a single 5400K, 26W pure white daylight bulb, general colour rendering index CRI>90) in my fancy pants cardboard box with my camera white balance adjusted to compensate (there is a snow scene setting which helps). No image brightening was required, I just cropped the image in Photoshop elements.
As you can see the second image is much improved, though there is still a way to go for my bead photography yet. Now that I have started to understand how important white balance is compared to what the camera captures it means that I can now make use of the quiet time here in the evenings to improve my bead images for listings which is going to be brill!
Richard has written a great article about white balance and exposure compensation for the Frit Happens Wikipedia, you can read it here