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Digital Photography Tips and How To's Main Menu



Jewelry Photography Tips Menu:
  1. Jewelry Photography in a nutshell
  2. The Basics: Key elements in jewelry photography
  3. How to photograph silver jewelry, white gold, and platinum jewelry
  4. Avoiding unnecessary shadows and reflections
  5. Positioning your jewelry - Using different jewelry accessories
  6. Positioning your jewelry - Using holding wax
  7. Giving Sparkles to your jewelry using white natural daylight LEDs
  8. Halogen lighting used for photographing red rubies, amethyst, and others.
  9. Artistic jewelry photography by using black and white acrylics

1. Jewelry Photography in a Nutshell
Simple steps for photographing jewelry
 

     As you may know by now, jewelry is very difficult to photograph because it reflects in many cases up to 99% of the light is receives. It is very shiny, highly polished and above all this it may contain color stones or diamonds that make the job even harder.

     In many cases, photographing a piece of jewelry is like taking a picture of a mirror – you will see all kind of items being reflected into the piece – the lights, the camera, yourself, the table etc. Also if you try to use your new digital camera to do the job, two major things may happen. If you use a flash, you will either wash out the item (over illuminated) or it will be under illuminated with lots of dark areas and uneven lighting from one side to the other.

     The solution to Jewelry photography is the use of an enclosed lighting system. The reasons are many. The enclosed system wraps even and balanced light around the entire product you’re photographing. The advantages include an even distribution of light, consistent natural lighting, elimination of glare, and illumination of hard to reach spots.

Tips for Photographing Jewelry:

  1. Perform a custom white balance according to the light you are using
  2. Be sure you have set your camera to manual mode
  3. If you are going to photograph rings or bands, set your maximum aperture to the highest f/stop in order to get the maximum depth of field.
  4. Turn off the flash on your camera, and if you can, connect the camera to the wall using a power adapter. This will ensure that you not run out of batteries during the shooting session.

 

 

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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:

  1. White Balance: Setting up your camera's custom white balance
  2. Depth of Field & Focus : To get a sharp and clear image
  3. Continuously natural daylight lighting: To evenly reproduce the colors in jewelry
  4. Diffused lighting: To eliminate shadows and hard spots
  5. Shutter Speed/Exposure time: Understanding the correct time exposure
  6. Stable camera mounting: Using a tripod or other form of camera's mounting


1. 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

 


2. 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.

 

 

 

3. 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.

4. 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. To view examples of photos with and without diffused light - Click here

 


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. To view examples of over and under exposed photos - Click here

 

 

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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3. How to photograph silver, white gold, and platinum jewelry
 

     When it comes to photographing silver, white gold and platinum high-polish (mirror finish) jewelry, the first thing one has to understand about silver is the natural properties it has. Silver jewelry, in most instances, tends to be a natural mirror that reflects everything that is around it. For this reason, one has to carefully place silver jewelry and with the correct surroundings in order to create an image that can truly show the silver jewelry piece in its true and natural look.

     To illustrate the idea that silver, white gold & platinum jewelry mirrors its surroundings, we have placed a silver ring in three different photographing environments, and have showed you the result of each of them. Please view the following images, and read the text along each photograph. After the photographs, you will find tips on how to photograph silver.

For this tutorial, we have used the MK Photo-eBox™ lighting system & a Canon S3IS

 

Note: Photos have had the brightness & contrast adjusted -then cropped. Nothing else


Photo 1
Silver appears "Too White"

Photo2
Silver appears natural
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Click image to enlarge

In this photo, we can see that the silver looks too white, as it reflects the lit surface of the Photo-eBox. There is nothing you can do to avoid this; as silver will simply reflect everything surrounding it. The ring looks unnatural, although the background is fully white.

In this photo we can see that the silver looks much more natural, as it reflects the metallic background it is against. By using this metallic surface, we can make the ring reflect metal, and thus appear metallic and natural. Also note that the purple stone looks more real.

 

 
Photo 3
Silver and the ring looks more natural
In this photo we have used a black background. If you take a look at the silver ring, you can see that it reflects part of the black background and also parts of the white walls of the Photo-eBox. Once you have understood that silver acts just like a mirror you can understand that when photographing jewelry, its surroundings will directly affect how the image will appear. View tips
 
Tips and suggestions for photographing silver, white gold & platinum jewelry:
  • Do not use a white background when photographing silver jewelry:
    In order to get a photograph that presents silver in a much more natural and real way, you want to avoid a white background; as white will only make the silver look white, dull and unnatural. View silver rings in completely black backgrounds.

  • Use dark or metallic-like backgrounds:
    When using a dark or metallic-like background, you are allowing the silver, white gold or platinum jewelry to reflect a more natural color; because you are reflecting it against backgrounds that create a contrast between the white walls of the photography lighting system and the surface it is against. This contrast, lets the jewelry appear natural in color while creating a three-dimensional look.

  • Photograph silver jewelry inside a photography lighting system or light box: In order to provide the correct lighting and reflections in silver jewelry photographs, you need to have a diffused lighting source inside a closed environment. Such as the walls enclosed inside the Photo-eBox lighting system.

    Learn about diffused wrap-around natural lighting and why you need it.

  • Don't expect reflection-free photographs:
    When it comes to the facts of nature, don't expect the impossible. You have to completely understand the nature and fact that silver, white gold and platinum high-polish jewelry will always act as mirrors, and will always reflect its surroundings.

    Don't expect your photos to be completely reflection-free, as there is nothing you can do about this (unless you use an editing software). In some photos you will see the reflection of the camera lens, or other surroundings. It is impossible to completely avoid them. (In photo 1 & 2 above, you can see the reflection of our camera to the right of the purple stone - it's the black spot you see). To avoid the camera's reflection (as in photo 3) we move the ring, so that the purple stone would be directly in front of the camera lens, and thus avoiding it's reflection in the silver of the ring.


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4. Avoiding unnecessary shadows and reflections
 

     When photographing jewelry, there are certain shadows and reflections that might be necessary to create a three-dimensional look, or that you may simply want as a personal preference. Yet, there are other reflections and shadows that are unnecessary and that you want to avoid in order to have a photograph that presents your jewelry in the best way possible.

 

     The first thing you need to understand about reflections and shadows is how they are produced and why they appear or exist. Though it may seem obvious, shadows are created when an object is exposed to direct lighting (which can come from light in a room, the sun, or through the use of a regular lamp); while reflections are created in any object that is composed of reflective materials such as metals or glass.

 

     What you need to do, is to avoid this direct light that creates shadows, and avoid those surroundings that create reflections in your jewelry. Please read the following steps on how to avoid shadows and reflections in your jewelry or view example photo.

 

Steps for photographing jewelry without unnecessary shadows and reflections:

  • Step 1: Get a photography lighting system with wraparound and diffused natural daylight. Learn why this is important and view various photography lighting systems.
  • Step 2: Place your jewelry item inside the enclosed photography lighting system. At this point, you are making sure that the surroundings of your jewelry are nothing but natural daylight and white backgrounds.
  • Step 3: Adjust your camera settings (Learn How) and begin photographing. The correct camera settings will allow you to take photographs with the correct exposure, focus, colors and qualities of your jewelry.

Note: Photos have had the brightness & contrast adjusted, then cropped. Nothing else


Photo of a ring without reflections or shadows-photographed inside the Photo-eBox
This photograph shows no shadows and reflections because it was photographed inside a Photo-eBox™ lighting system that contains wrap-around natural daylight. The natural daylight that is exposed through the sides, back and bottom of the Photo-eBox, avoids all the shadows and reflections in the ring. The lit bottom allows the background to be completely white, and make the ring to appear to be "floating".
 
Photo of a ring with reflections and shadows
This photo was photographed outside of the Photo-eBox™ on a white plastic surface, with the light in the room. You can see that regular light will create shadows on the ring, while the fact that the ring is in the outside allows the surroundings to reflect on the ring. The arrow pointing to show reflections on the ring shows the reflections of the walls or ceiling from the room, which as you can see add an unprofessional look to the ring's photo, and do not show the true colors of the ring.
   


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5. Positioning your jewelry - using different jewelry accessories
 

     There are many accessories you can use to hold jewelry items while photographing, deciding which ones to use depends on the type of photograph you want, or simply your preference. Jewelry accessories will help you position rings, earrings, pendants, loose stones, diamonds and other pieces in various positions and angles in order to get a photograph from the perspective you desire.

     Positioning your jewelry correctly is essential for getting a professional jewelry photograph. When shooting photographs, you have to remember that you want to get the best shot possible of your jewelry, as it is your photographs the ones that your customers will look at and judge, rather than your actual jewelry. Thus, taking photos from the correct angles and perspectives is the key to successful shots.

In the next few photographs we'll show you various accessories that you may use:

 

1. Pyramid Ring Stand
2. Set of two Watch Stands
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
The pyramid ring stands is used for holding
rings at a 45 degree angle. They come in black (pictured), white, and transparent. Learn to use
The set of two watch stands may be used for watches as well as bracelets. View a photo using the watch stands.
3. Pendant Stand
4. Earring Stand
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
The pendant stand may be used for photographing bracelets, pendants and other jewelry pieces that you would like to photograph while having the natural pull of gravity. The earring stand is similar to the pendant stand, but it is angles at a different degree. It contains two small holes for placing a set of earrings. Also gives you the natural gravity pull.
   
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6. Positioning your jewelry - using holding wax
 

Want something to hold your jewelry, that doesn't appear in your photograph?

The accessory you need is "Positioning holding wax". This specially manufactured wax allows you to position your jewelry in an upright vertical position or at various angles. The wax is hard and resistant, yet flexible enough for you to handle it and mold it to your needs.

 

Using the positioning holding wax in jewelry photography: (pictured below)

  • Step 1: Grab the wax from the corner and take a very small piece (1 to 3 mm)
  • Step 2: Take the wax piece and mold it into an egg or oval shaped ball
  • Step 3: Position the wax on the surface, then kindly place the ring above the it.

Note: The rings were photographed inside the MK Photo-eBox™ and Gem-ebox™ with a Canon Powershot A640. Photos have had the brightness & contrast adjusted -then cropped.

 

Step 1
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Step 2
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Step 3 - Example 1
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Step 3 - Example 2
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Step 3 - Example 3
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Step 3 - Example 4
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7. Giving Sparkles to your jewelry using white natural daylight LEDs
 
     Diamonds and gems presented in jewelry stores do not sparkle as intense as compared to being displayed in the sun. While the sparkle produced by illuminating jewelry with metal-halide, halogen, and florescent lighting are good, it could be better.

     New advances in technology have created a unique opportunity for the jewelry business. A scientific breakthrough in light emitting diodes (LED) has produced lighting that matches the full spectrum of the sun. As a result, retailers can now display their jewelry with maximum radiant potential.


A photograph with the right amount of LED lighting


This photo was photographed inside a Photo-eBox Plus and the Mini-Lite 350-2 LED light.

  Utilizing the new LED technology, MK Digital has crafted the SparkleLite™ product line. With MK SparkleLite lighting your customers will be amazed at the fire and brilliance of your diamonds and gems. Using specially calibrated and color corrected super white LEDs, your jewelry has the ability to out-sparkle the competition.

     While super white LEDs are great, SparkleLite products offer an additional design advantage. By placing the LEDs on a precise angle, the effect creates multiple points of light, which brings out even more surface sparkle.

 

Proper LED light illumination:

     When illuminating your jewelry with LED light it is important to only use the right amount of light, not too much and not too little. Most LED natural daylight products will not allow you to control the intensity of the light with a dimmable switch, but in this example we have used the Mini-Lite 350-2, that does contain a dimmer switch and allows you to control the light..

 

Steps for proper illumination:

  • Step 1: Turn off the fluorescent light on your lighting system box - View boxes
  • Step 2: Turn on the Mini-Lite 350-2 or other LED light, and direct it towards your jewelry. Once you have the light box turned off, you will be able to see only how much LED light you will be using.
  • Step 3: Now turn on the fluorescent lights on your lighting system box.
  • Step 4: Take a photograph of your item. Check the photo to see if you like it.
  • Step 5: If needed, adjust the intensity of the LEDs to a proper level. The correct amount of intensity, is the one that begins to show sparkles and brings out your jewelry piece to life, but it's not excessively strong that it is too shiny. View the first photo shown above.

Too much LED lighting
No LED light at all
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
This photo has been exposed to too much LED lighting, which make the ring appear too shiny.
This photo has not been exposed to any LED lighting. As you can see in the blue stone, there are no "sparkles"
   
This is how we shot the photograph. Inside a Photo-ebox Plus and a Canon S3IS
The gooseneck that you see on photo and the photo on the right, are the Mini-lite 350-2


A few more examples with and without LED lighting:

 

With LED lighting
No LED Lighting
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
   

With LED lighting

No LED Lighting
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
8. Halogen lighting used for photographing
rubies, amethysts, opals, emeralds, and other stones.
 

     As we have mentioned before, the illumination of jewelry in photography is one of the most important elements for achieving quality photos. Although most jewelry only needs to be photographed with fluorescent light, certain types of gem stones and jewelry need halogen light illumination.

     Halogen lighting provides a warm light environment that provides the optimum viewing and photographing condition for rubies, pearls, opals, emeralds, amethysts. If fluorescent lighting is used, there will be a shift in the color of your gem stones and precious stones which might not allow you to appreciate them in their natural colors and characteristics.

Note: Please test your jewelry with both fluorescent and halogen lighting, as different gem stones and precious stones will act differently to both types of lights. While we do recommend halogen lighting to the previously mentioned types of stones, we encourage you to test both types of light. Please remember that when photographing with halogen lighting, you need to adjust the white balance of your camera. Learn how

 

Steps for properly illuminating jewelry with Halogen lighting:
  • Step 1: Turn on the halogen lighting on your lighting system box
  • Step 2: Adjust your camera's white balance's to the halogen lighting. View how
    This will adjust your camera, so that the halogen light appears to be white, while maintaining the true colors of your jewelry and stones.
  • Step 3: Simply adjust the shooting speed of your camera, then photograph.
     
The following are photos to show you the difference between using fluorescent lighting and using halogen lighting for illuminating a red colored stone in a ring
 
Fluorescent Lighting
Improper light- Bad photo
White balance w/fluorescent light
Click image to enlarge
Halogen Lighting
Proper light- Bad photo
White balance NOT adjusted
Click image to enlarge
Halogen Lighting
Proper light- Good photo White balance adjusted
Click image to enlarge
This is a photo with fluorescent lighting. You can see that the
red stone looks very dark and
is improperly shown. It does
not show the stone's true
colors and qualities.
This is a photo with halogen lighting. You can now see the stone's red color. Yet, the rest of the ring and photo look yellow, which make it a bad photograph.
This is a a photo with halogen lighting, but after our camera's white balance wad correctly adjusted. Now the photo DOES present the ring in it's true and natural color.
     
Note: All photos are completely unedited in any way, they have only been cropped.
Photos photographed inside an MK Photo-eBox II™ with a Canon S3IS

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9. Artistic jewelry photography by using black and white acrylics
 

Have you ever seen and wondered how those fancy jewelry photos on magazine ads are photographed? - Well, here's one artistic effect that's you can easily achieve.

Most jewelry photographs that are used for catalogs, online stores, eBay, or other forms of marketing, don't really look too fancy - but they should. Because when it comes to having that cover or front page photo, or photos that will make a sale, you want to make your jewelry look very special.

A popular product photography effect, is the use of a product's reflection on the surface that it is being photographed. This is a technique regularly used for photographing a very special and unique item, as it has as a purpose to make the product stand out and look "twice" as nice (the reflection).

Here's a photo of what we are talking about. Then's we'll show you how to take it.

This photo was photographed inside a Photo-eBox™ with a white reflective acrylic & a Canon S3IS Camera


Steps for photographing in a reflective white surface:
  • Step 1: Turn on the fluorescent lighting on your lighting system box
  • Step 2: Adjust your camera's white balance to the white fluorescent light. More
  • Step 3: Place the white glossy acrylic inside of the box.
  • Step 4: Take photographs, and enjoy the look of the photos!

   
Now using a Black acrylic
Reflective photo with LED light
Click image to enlarge
Reflective photo without LED light
Click image to enlarge
These photos were photographed inside a Photo-eBox™
with a black reflective acrylic and Canon S3IS digital camera
   
Steps for photographing in a reflective black surface:
  • Step 1: Turn on the fluorescent lighting on your lighting system box
  • Step 2: Adjust your camera's white balance to the white fluorescent light. More
  • Step 3: Place the black glossy acrylic inside of the box.
  • Step 4: Add a black velvet or black plastic at the back of the box. This is done in order to get a completely black reflection on the black acrylic. Otherwise, the acrylic would reflect the white walls of the box, and would end up looking gray. See below
  • Step 5: Place your jewelry near the edge of the acrylic and the black velvet.
  • Step 6: Take photographs, and enjoy the look of the photos!

Please Note: You can add your own backgrounds when photographing watches in order to create uniquely artistic photographs.



To set-up, place the black or white reflective acrylic on the bottom of the lighting system box. Then place the black velvet piece on the back of the box. Refer to the image below.
 


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General information or questions and comments: info@gemofthenet.com