You might remember about this time last year when I received Niko for my birthday. I had no clue how to work my fancy-pants camera. Now a year later I would not call myself an expert at all, not even close, but I have learned some things. I was thinking it might be helpful to share what I have learned with you.
Sometimes the best direction comes from someone that is not a professional. Let me explain. When learning from an expert, it can be very intimidating and down right frustrating being so far from where they are. A professional photographer teaching a class may use big words that may make you feel lost. I on the other hand don’t know the big words and even if I did I would not know what they meant. So if you have the same learning technique that I do, this series of posts is for you. You may have your big bad DSLR (what does that mean anyway), but you are keeping it on auto in fear of so many settings you don’t know where to start. I hope I can help with this series.
Lets get started! My profession as a jeweler requires me to be able to take high quality photographs. I had a point and shoot digital camera when I first started. I realized that my website had good photos of my jewelry, but not GREAT photos of my jewelry. The quality of photos just was not giving justice to the jewelry. After investing in a DSLR camera a Nikon D3100 to be precise, I was quickly intimidated by all the buttons and settings. Over the past year I have learned a lot on my own by trial and error and with this series of blog posts I hope to help you get your camera off auto! Without learning what your DSLR can do off auto it is just a little bit better than a point and shoot. Sure you look like a big time photographer with your expensive camera, but your results probably don’t look that way. Mine sure didn’t until I turned the camera to that little M and started playing.
White Balance – Oh how pretty and bright!
The white balance setting on your camera will make white actually look white and true to what your eyes are seeing. Here is an example of the difference of when your white balance is set incorrectly and when it is set according to your conditions. Often, I hear of other jewelers taking pictures of their work, but having to wait for the perfect time of day and weather to be able to do so. If you have a DSLR camera, some kind of light source, a light box and the white balance set accordingly it can be pitch dark outside and it will not matter. I have actually waited for darkness in my studio to take pictures because I know the light in my photos will be consistent. If taken during the day clouds can go by and change the lighting drastically in my studio making changing the white balance difficult because it needs to be done when the light changes. You can see the difference setting your white balance can make in these photos.
See? The difference is huge. (side note: this ring and others like it are available on my sea glass rings page. ;) )Changing this setting is not hard. I am giving you step by step instructions for a Nikon D3100. If you have a different camera I am sure the settings are not very different. If you can’t find them try looking it up in your manual.
- Set your camera on Manual by turning the knob on to to M.
- Click the Menu button on the left side of the screen.
- Arrow down to the Shooting Menu.
- Arrow down to White Balance.
- Click Ok.
- Arrow down to Preset Manual.
- Click OK on Measure.
- Click Yes to overwrite existing data.
- Take a photo containing just white within your photo area.
- The top section of the screen should say data acquired.
- Take your photo.
You should see a difference in the brightness of the photo. If you get the message “unable to measure preset white balance, please try again” you need to adjust the scrolling button. The button right where your right thumb is, move that until the lines on the display are closer to “0” or in the middle, they are probably way to the right or left “+ or -“. Once you change that try the directions above again and they should work.
I will be adding to this series of posts with other things that I have learned and keep learning. Remember I am not a professional, but if you do have any questions, I will do my very best to answer them.
Today I am thankful for: Getting my energy back! Knock on wood, I hope it stays! :)