2. The Basics: Key elements in jewelry photography
As you may know, jewelry is one of the hardest products to photograph because of the nature of it's components. The metals, precious stones, diamonds and other elements that most fine jewelry is made up of, have reflective qualities that can easily show reflections, shadows and hard spots in photographs if the right tools are not used
Therefore, understanding the nature of jewelry and obtaining the right tools for photographing it is essential for producing high quality jewelry photographs. In our opinion, here are the six most important elements in jewelry photography:
- Continuous natural daylight lighting: To evenly reproduce the
colors in jewelry
- Diffused lighting: To eliminate shadows and hard spots
- White Balance
adjustment: To adapt your camera to the lighting environment
used to photograph
of Field & Focus: To get a sharp and clear
- Shutter Speed/Exposure time: To control the lightness and darkness of your image
- Stable camera mounting (tripod): To ensure your camera is stable to avoid a blurred photo.
1. Continuous Natural Daylight Lighting
Jewelry is very difficult to photograph because it’s shiny highly polished
surface reflects, in many cases, up to 99% of the light it receives. If
you use flash photography, you’ll usually end up with glares and hot spots.
The key is to use continuous natural light which has the ability to evenly
and accurately reproduce all the spectacular colors found in the different
elements of jewelry. Therefore, for photographing jewelry we will be using
fluorescent daylight light.
Remember: all of our photography
lighting systems contain continuous fluorescent lighting
in at least the bottom/platform, right and left panels of the
box. Other lighting systems, like the MK "The Box"™ also contain
light on the back, top and doors. Other features include LED
lighting, rotating platforms, halogen lighting and more.
2. Diffused Lighting
When illuminating jewelry, you have to make sure never to expose
it to light directly, as direct light will be reflected on the
jewelry, and will create hot spots and shadows. What you need
to do is expose jewelry through diffused lighting, which is light
that has passed through some sort of light diffuser.
The diffuser evenly spreads the light, and eliminate all hot-spots,
shadows and reflections. Remember, that all of our photography
lighting systems already include natural daylight that is
exposed through the boxes’ thermoplastic housing that acts as
light diffusers. View
examples of photos with and without diffused light
3. White Balance
A key element of successful product photography is white balance. You need to be able to program the white balance setting on your camera. Although many cameras will come with pre-program options or presets you need at least one custom white balance option. This means that the camera can "read" and self-adjust itself to be able to take pictures under many light conditions. This feature is very important.
If your camera cannot perform this custom adjustment, it’s very likely that you’ll end up with badly colored product pictures, especially if you are trying to take pictures of products against a white background. You’ll likely end up with all kinds of color variations: yellow, blue, magenta, green etc.
Do not misunderstand the white balance feature to mean that the background is going to be always white. White balance means that the camera needs to adjust itself to the ambience light you are using, to give you accurate and true colors of the items being photograph.
Want to learn more? View our tutorial on Setting the Custom White Balance (Step #9)
4. Depth of Field & Focus
Setting the Depth-of-field in your camera is an important element in photographing jewelry. The first thing we need to do is to take advantage of the maximum depth-of-field that any camera has to offer. The camera should be set to manual mode so that the smallest aperture (For commercial consumer cameras use F8.0, for professional camera use F16.0 ) setting can be selected. This will allow us to focus the entire piece of jewelry, rather than only parts of it.
The second thing we need to do is to focus the lens to get an image as clear as possible. Most digital cameras have an auto-focus option which can be used, please select this.
Want to learn more? View our tutorial on Setting the aperture (Step #6)
5. Shutter Speed/Exposure Time
Cameras need to control the amount of light so that an image is not too bright (over exposed) or too dark (under exposed). Similar to our eyes, light enters through the lens and strikes the inside of the camera. Digital camera uses a charged coupling device (CCD) to capture the light of an image. Think of a CCD as 'film' in a conventional camera. Therefore, term exposure generally refers to a combination of aperture and shutter speed control to obtain the correct amount of light. View examples of over and under exposed photos (See Step 4.3).
6. Stable Camera Mounting
When photographing jewelry, we recommend you to mount your camera to a stable surface (either a Tripod or our lighting systems' "L" bracket) in order to get the sharpest photographs possible. If you hold the camera with your hands, it is very likely that you will slightly move the camera while photographing (even if you don't notice - because we as humans can't perfectly hold it still) , and your photos will come out blurry.
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