Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My "Keep it Simple" Photos!

   I've been a photographer for 12 years. I graduated from the Art Institute of Colorado with a degree in photography. Most of what was taught was commercial photography. We used elaborate set ups, many lights, studios and complicated 4x5 cameras. It was grueling and very difficult. Even with all this FANTASTIC equipment I learned that your photo could still come out looking like junk. Since then, I have found some of the best photos can be taken with the easiest setups and simple equipment.
   I am a natural light photographer. I feel I have less to fight with to get just the right photo so I want to share with you my simple set up. Maybe it can help you. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
   Before I show you the set ups I want to let you in on a couple of things. I use a Canon 40D SLR camera and most of the time I photograph using a 5.6 depth of field with my shutter speed varying. I would suggest some sort of photo software program to help brighten up your photos and make any other touch ups if needed. You do not need a camera like mine to take a good quality photo, just the patience to see what works best for you.
 This first set up I did upstairs in my house.

I use printer paper as the background, and a piece of paper to bounce light back into my shadows. I use a white vase to hang my jewelry. I like to keep it simple. I feel it's the best way to show off my jewelry. Find what works for you. I suggest first and foremost KEEP IT SIMPLE!! (This is the set up I use in the afternoon and the one I feel like I get the best results from.)

I NEVER use direct sun light or a flash- it could wash everything out. My jewelry would have a lot of shine and there would be icky shadows to deal with.  So you might need to wait until a time of day your camera will not need to use a flash. It's not until about 12:30 pm that I can use this spot for photos. I use the blinds in the window to control how much light comes in.They basically work as a soft box.

Bouncing light off another piece of paper helps lighten the shadows. This means there will not be such a difference between the highlights and shadows. The first photo is without the light being bounced. The second photo that piece of paper has been added. It doesn't completely get rid of shadows but it helps them be less harsh.

This is the set up for the jewelry that I just photograph on the paper. I do still use the paper to bounce the light. It's just not in the photo. =D

This photo of my Ninja necklace was taken using the 1st set up, but it doesn't have all the control I like. I still have to do some work in Photoshop afterwards. I use levels to brighten up the photo, selective color to take out any weird colors I think are there, and increase the vibrancy to make any colors pop if they need it.

This is my 2nd set up. I can use this one from 8 am to about 11 am. This is not my fave but it works in a pinch. I use the same set up.
(yes that is a spiderman chair under there =D)

Once again I use my blinds to create the soft box affect.

The cherries were taken using the 2nd set up. I still do the same editing in Photoshop afterwards.

Well there you have my "Keep it Simple" set up. I hope you have enjoyed this and maybe learned something you didn't know before. If you have any questions please ask me! I would love to share what I know.


  1. Great tips I never knew a piece of paper could make such a huge difference!

  2. Yep just paper! For bigger stuff a silver or white car window shade will work =D

  3. Hi,

    Speaking of light, it really can add drama to a subject or take it away.
    One of the best things that I've seen was a still life painting where the artist had the lightsource filtered through a translucid glass.
    The subject was a dollar plant (not sure if it's a plant or a flower)

    Kind regards,