Let’s be blunt. It is extremely difficult to get good photos that show glass patterns and are true to color, especially with pink and yellow transparent glass. Patterns, yes. Color, yes. Both together? No so good. Here are the tips I’ve found to get decent (or sorta decent) pictures. Note, the tips below work for basic point and shoot cameras. I have no experience with professional cameras.
1. Use color corrected light. It should be daylight neutral, no blue, pink or yellow tinge.
2. Use high image quality. I use minimum 8MB size settings and the high quality setting on my Panasonic point and shoot camera. My first digital camera was a Sony Mavica, nice and easy to use but L-O-W resolution. I borrowed a friend’s camera which took larger pictures with greater pixel density a few years later and noticed the colors were much more true to life.
Take a look at two photos, both taken from about the same close up distance. This first photo is from a Sony Mavica and is about 69 KB, tiny. It’s mediocre.
This next picture is 2 MB from my Panasonic. Notice the color is still mediocre – the background should be charcoal with no pinkish tinge – but you can see the pattern better.
3. Try various colored backgrounds. Blue, aquamarine/teal and green work well on black or black to gray varitone backgrounds. Yellow and pink are horrible to photograph but I find lighter shades of gray may give decent color and fair patterns.
4. If you are taking photos to sell your glass don’t hesitate to use two photos, one for pattern which will likely use a dark background, and one for color using white background.
5. Photoshop is your friend. I use Photoshop Elements to straighten and crop all my pictures, and usually experiment with color correction. I am absolutely not an expert with this program but have learned a few things by trial and error. Google Picassa is a free program that does a wonderful job with cropping and straightening, but I’ve not figured out how to fix color problems.
Enhance>Auto Contrast. I try this setting first with all my photos and it is usually sufficient to correct problems with blue, green and teal glass. Try manual contrast adjustments too.
Enhance>Adjust Color>Remove Color Cast. Sometimes I’ve been able to remove that obnoxious hint of orange that creeps into pictures of pink glass with this setting. Be aware you have to have black, gray or white background to use this successfully. It works very well with china and milk glass.
Enhance>Auto Layer. Use this alone and with color correction.
Enhance>Auto Color Correction. Sometimes this works (especially when you use with the Auto Layer function) to correct yellow or pink. This works nicely with crystal too, although the resulting pictures look blue to me.
Enhance>Adjust Color. I’ve had moderate success with the Adjust Hue. Start small, a +2 or a -2 change and see what it does.
6. Tripod helps stabilize the camera. Since any jiggle can ruin pictures I use a tripod.
7. Don’t worry about perfection. Remember what the purpose of your photo is: to record what you own, to share with others, to get identification help, or to sell. Do the best you can.
Any other ideas? Drop me a note or leave a comment on our Facebook page to share your tips.