08 November 2011
How to take great Etsy photos - Part 3-3 – Photoshop – Clear
Welcome to the How-To Series about how I personally photograph my jewelry. My purpose is not to say that this is how to do all things. It is simply to give you an idea of how I do it so that you can improve your photos with ideas from me. Or, if you find something I do that is completely insane and you know how to do it better, please feel free to share.
Clear items pose a whole different set of problems. How do you take a photo of something clear? And with my process, I have a tendency to white out the clear things. You will notice that in the photo I have actually placed the clear earrings on a clear piece of plastic. Yes. Fun. Make sure you have read about the light source in the accessories post.
Step one: Be careful not to clear too much away. You may not make it along the curve to far. (Same as black post) Levels. In Photoshop it is in the image > adjustments > levels. There will typically be a nice curve with leading and trailing places that are very close to nothing. Take the little slider on the right and drag it toward the curve, and put it where it starts to upswing. This typically takes all of the background from the white box and turns it to a nice clear white.
Step one-two: Be careful here as well. (Same as colored post) Other adjustments. Also there are other adjustments options that can be made. I like to play with the brightness/contrast, and hue/saturation. The thing to watch out for here is that you don’t change the color of your item. Make sure you always know what color it is and don’t change it into something that it is not.
Step two: Make sure the tolerance is a tiny number. (Same as black post) Magic Wand. There are tons of ways to select things in Photoshop, but I find this the easiest. I showed one friend it, after he had used other methods for years, and he was amazed at how much better it was. Do note: you need to have high resolution photos or it can start to select odd things and in that case you are better off using other methods (see last weeks for some). It is easy to use, click on the part that is suppose to be white, chances are your background isn’t even if it looks it. Then, hit the delete key. CTL+D deselects so that you can move onto something else. If you get frustrated with this, you can change the tolerance to include things closer to the color you are selecting, or more variety. When all else fails, just erase it. I would just erase the black line from the edge of the box anyways.
Step two-two: Here is the tricky, yet easy part. Once things have been selected, and because the world hates you (or the clear item is, well, clear) you have selected parts of the earring that shouldn’t be gotten rid of. So, enter Quick Mask Mode (Q). Mine is a box with a circle in it, but Photoshop likes to change it up, so good luck finding it. The fun part is if you double click it, you can change the color of it. Mine is a bright red with 50% occupancy so I can easily see it. Except on red things. Once in it, you paint! The eraser tool adds things from your selection. The paint tool (or pencil) subtracts things. I always forget which is which, so I just play with it. If it does something wrong, CTL+Z (undo). This way I am able to select the background while still keeping the necessary item in the photo.
Step three: (Same as black post) Crop. Now, no matter how white I get the background, the end of the necklace is not leaving. So, I crop. Here is where you can make up for the mistakes of the past. Make the focus of the photo, in this case the charm; come fairly close to filling the frame. Now for the fun part. You will notice that the first photo is vertical and the finished horizontal. I like to keep all my Etsy photos at 1000 wide and 750 tall, for a variety of reasons, one being consistency. So, because I have that pure white background I can change the image size, and canvas size, adding or subtracting background as needed without having to make sure it matches. Perfect.
Step three-two: (Same as colored post) Earring cropping. You will notice that the placement of the earrings in the photos are different, and one is bigger. I like to make sure that the earrings completely fill the frame, but are not always in the center. An off center placement gives a bit of interest. You have heard of the rule of thirds, try that. But, don’t let them get to far away, or when it is in the square view they will be cropped funny. If you want, try cropping it to a square yourself first, then add the extra white space for gallery view.
Come back next week for the next part!