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The Dark Room -- Photo Editing and Picture Taking. Advice, tutorials, questions on all things photoshop, photo editing, and taking pictures of beads or glass.

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  #1  
Old 2013-12-06, 11:39am
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Default Photoshop Elements

I use a Canon PowerShot SD800IS, tripod and Photoshop Elements 6. I'm constantly trying to improve my Etsy photos but everyone tells me they are still too dark (www.GlassDreamsHawaii.Etsy.com).

I'm including a camera photo as an example that has only been sized and slightly lightened. Would someone be kind enough to give me a step-by-step critique on editing this photo? I would really appreciate the advice.

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Last edited by Glass Lady; 2013-12-06 at 1:54pm.
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Old 2013-12-06, 2:23pm
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You don't have enough light. You can lighten them some with software, but that's no substitute for having enough light to begin with. I'm not familiar with that camera. Can you manually set the exposure time? If so, that would get more light in. Best bet would be to get more/stronger lights though.
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  #3  
Old 2013-12-06, 2:48pm
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I've been using natural light and lightening further with Photo Elements.
This is what that photo looks like when I list.

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Old 2013-12-06, 3:10pm
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What color is the background? Is it supposed to be white? If it is, I definitely can help.
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Old 2013-12-06, 4:57pm
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Lisi, yes, the background is just white. I'm open to any and all advice.
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Old 2013-12-06, 6:09pm
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A version of the image that has been modified in PS.

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  #7  
Old 2013-12-06, 6:49pm
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I like this image version and I can do this...but the blues in the product are not that vivid. The bad pic I attached has the true color of the item.
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Old 2013-12-06, 9:23pm
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I will try something tomorrow when I get back to my desk to use the laptop.
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Old 2013-12-06, 11:02pm
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I'm not familiar with your camera, but it's a problem for me too. I found some information on using EVF? settings to increase light exposure. Apparently the problem is that the camera assigns 16-18% gray to your images automatically, so even with enough lighting they can turn out a little darker. A gray card might help, but look for a manual setting for EVF (+/-) and that might help.
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Old 2013-12-07, 2:42am
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By using levels in PS one can brighten the gray background to white if so desired. Also, if shooting in RAW it is very easy to color correct an image provided one frame is taken using a gray card. Something that should always be done to maintain a reference for color correction needs.

With RAW it is one click of the eye dropper and the image is color corrected in PS. There are other techniques that can be used to located a neutral gray in an image that is not shot as a RAW image but significantly more time consuming.
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  #11  
Old 2013-12-07, 10:49am
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I want to thank each one of you for your comments...I'm willing to try anything and everything to improve my pictures. I know it's essential for selling your product.
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Old 2013-12-07, 12:38pm
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I think what the picture needs is a bit more "drama". One of the main reasons we humans are attracted to jewelry, beads and glass is the sparkle, energy, light or drama of the piece. There are several ways to accomplish this with photography. The first and easiest is to contrast a light colored object with a dark background. This gives the photo an inherent contrast and helps the object to stand out clearly and be more bold. Your pastel blue leaves are very similar in light/dark values to the almost white background. In the comparison photo below, I've isolated the leaves using a path in Photoshop and inserted a black background behind them. I have not lightened, darkened or added contrast to the leaves. The leaves now clearly contrast from the background, and we've added some drama with a quick change.

It also helps if the object has some highlights in it or on it to contrast with some shadows in the scene. The leaves could use a bit more internal contrast by lighting them more directly to create some edge highlights which would increase the sparkle.

There are several inherent downsides to using natural light whether from a window or shooting out-of-doors. The light changes color, angle and intensity depending on the time of day, time of year, weather, and the placement of the object in relation the lightsource. Using a standardized type of lighting setup indoors to shoot your objects eliminates all those problems with natural light.

By default, cameras are designed to meter everything as an 18% gray card. If your scene is predominantly light or white tones and the camera is set to any type of auto or priority exposure, the camera will automatically darken the scene to reduce the light tones to 18% or middle toned gray. That's why a scene on white may look dark or muddy because the camera is underexposing the photo.

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Last edited by Doug Baldwin; 2013-12-07 at 1:21pm.
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  #13  
Old 2013-12-07, 12:45pm
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I find I have to adjust the camera Exposure if shooting on pure white (EV+) or black (EV-). Play around a bit with your camera in addition to Doug's great advice on adding drama.
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Old 2013-12-09, 5:42pm
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I tuink its so tricky using natural light, as it will Always be changing on you, and your phtos will be inconsistent. I use a photo cube with 3 phillips natural light bulbs and put them in those aluminum light holder thingies. I can sent a photo of my setup if you want. Its fairly inexpensive and sooooo worth it!
I keep it set up, and right before packaging to ship, I take a quick picture. All of them are consistant.
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  #15  
Old 2013-12-10, 11:28am
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Dawn, I would appreciate any photos you want to share as well as helpful hints. I do have a light tent and tabletop lights. But I can't leave them permanently set up because my house is small.

Earlier information always said that natural light was better for beads than artificial. Now I'm hearing the exact opposite.

I'm really an amateur so I think I'm going to have to experiment with the same item taken both ways for comparison. I'm hoping for a breakthrough in the results.
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Old 2013-12-10, 3:51pm
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Finally back on my laptop to do this! I'll be back in a bit with my possible solution.
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  #17  
Old 2013-12-10, 3:59pm
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Okay, how's this?

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  #18  
Old 2013-12-10, 5:18pm
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Lisi - thank you for the photo. I was able to get something close to this...can you share how you did yours?
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Old 2013-12-11, 9:01am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glass Lady View Post
Lisi - thank you for the photo. I was able to get something close to this...can you share how you did yours?
I was hoping you would ask! Several years my photos really needed improvement and it was driving me batty. I had a green cast, sometimes a sepia cast, and I got rid of that and the dark background by using Lori's tutorial. the levels tool is the key (Ctrl+L), and once you get used to working with it, it's easy and fast. This actually corrects colors at the same time as changing the background to the white it is supposed to be.

This tutorial focuses on Photoshop Elements 2, but it's still the same for all of the newer versions.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/16432/483/

Oh! This is important - I use a single 100W equivalent "Daylight" CFL bulb (23W), and I never have to correct colors. I just use the level tool to change the dark photos. When I used to get the green and sepia cast years ago, I was using the Reveal bulbs. Those are no good, and you have to work a lot harder in PSE to correct colors.
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Last edited by Lisi; 2013-12-11 at 9:05am.
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Old 2013-12-11, 1:12pm
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Lisi - I had saved Lori's tutorial years ago but now I couldn't find it. Thank you for sharing the link.

I will definitely try this out and I'm sure it will be a great improvement to my pics.

And again, thank you to everyone who took the time to give me some helpful advice. This was really driving me crazy.
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Old 2013-12-11, 1:47pm
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To keep it from getting too white, I clicked the dropper near the top edge of the picture. Too close the leaves, it would get too bright and wash them out. Sometimes you have to play with it a bit.
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Old 2013-12-11, 4:21pm
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Thanks, Lisi, I'm making a note of that tip.
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Old 2013-12-17, 8:03am
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You want to use Curves, NOT Levels.
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Old 2013-12-18, 11:01am
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Sorry, I don't understand "Curves"? I don't see anything using Photoshop Elements with that option.
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Old 2013-12-18, 11:20am
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Curves?
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Old 2013-12-18, 3:41pm
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Levels is all I ever used (as in Lori's tutorial) and it works for me.
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Old 2013-12-18, 4:40pm
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Nice tutorial on using both....

http://www.photoshopessentials.com/p...levels-curves/
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Old 2013-12-18, 6:26pm
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not sure this is offered in Elements, I have not seen this tool so far (but I am far from an expert).

Quote:
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You want to use Curves, NOT Levels.
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Old 2013-12-18, 7:38pm
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A "lite" or truncated version of Curves is available in Lightroom (11 is the version I own). It's under Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Color Curves. The Lightroom version is limited in it's power to make fine adjustments or use Curves to the same extent it's available in Photoshop. In Photoshop, Curves can be a more powerful adjustment than Levels, but it's also harder to learn and use consistently in everyday situations. I teach and use Levels in my professional photography business because it's more intuitive and easier to grasp compared to Curves. The concept of adjustments and how to use the Levels sliders in Photoshop/Elements is fairly easy to grasp and yields excellent results.
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Old 2013-12-19, 10:03am
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Thank you, Doug, for the explanation. Today I'm going to take more photos with my tabletop setup, play with editing and make some comparisons. Using the information posted here, I'm hoping to see much better results.
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