Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chiaroscuro – a play on light and shadow

(Another edition for Etsy Bloggers' Blog Carnival!)

When I first took Humanities in college I first learned the word “Chiaroscuro.” A technique made popular during the Baroque period by Caravaggio, I think. Simply put, it is a bold contrast in light and dark. In shooting my jewelry, I instinctively go for this look. Now you can’t altogether be too dark since buyers need to see details, but play on light gives your presentation a little drama – which hopefully hooks your buyer.
I like to see where the light is coming from and usually it comes from one direction in my photos. Take the first photo above (Carnelian Quartz Gold Lauriat). I shot this in the morning, right by a window sill, with the blinds partially down but with some slots open to let the light hit the carnelian quartz and catch the gleam of the crystals so that it reflected on the dark leather. The right to left contrast of light to dark also gives the piece depth so you can just see how round those stones are.
Understand, I am not a professional photographer and I have never taken a photography lesson. My best photos have been taken by a simple Fuji FinePix A345. I also have a “newer” Olympus FE-170 but for some reason the Fuji just does the job for me. My rules are simple: I use natural light, morning or late afternoons. I use a tripod. And always, always Macro!
Another way to play with light and dark is use of background like in the beadwoven bracelet (Beaded Scallop Bracelet). The light once again is morning light, sourced from the right. The yellow background offsets the dark beads of the bracelet at the same time catches the natural light and reflects if back into the black leather surface. Again, this creates depth. But more importantly, when you are looking at thumbnails on the etsy site, light & dark contrast like this helps to make your picture stand out which is exactly what you want.
The third photo (Beads on Copperwire Bangle) is a similar example of this play on light and shadow. This time the contrast in background colors of blue and black, contrasts with the piece itself with the light holding all the elements together.
Finally, the best tip I think anyone can ever show you – CLOSE-UPS! Beware of close-ups though. You need to make sure your jewelry is perfect because taking extreme close-ups is literally putting your jewelry under a microscope!
I bid you adieu with these close-up shots.


Bead-Mused said...

What helpful tips! Thank you so much for sharing. I think I'll try some of those with my next post and my next Etsy listing.

Cozy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cozy said...

I enjoyed your article. The way you use backgrounds and lighting are great ideas to use in my own shots. Thanks for sharing.

PS I deleted my other comment because I made some spelling mistakes and couldn't edit. I didn't know it would still show.

ingeniouslycreative said...

Hi there! Thank you for your lovely tips, I surely need all the help I can get!!! Here in England we don't have much morning sun, or much sun at all for that matter!, but I shall experiment with the useful info you have so graceously shared with us. Thank you, Carol

The Beading Gem said...

Thsnks for taking the time to share your photo tips - I've been looking to improve my photography -I teach beginner beading and the students' work deserves better!!. Love your half light, half dark background shots.

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