Photographing Jewelry

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gmcooper Regular Member • Posts: 327
Photographing Jewelry

I have been fiddling with photographing small objects for several years and finally assembled a set-up that works pretty well. This is after many iterations of purchased props – light-boxes, softboxes, backgrounds - and homemade aids - reflectors, display stands, flash and light diffusers.

The two-sided open-top white acrylic box sitting on the dresser is a LimoStudio Photography Table Top Photo Studio Seamless White Background, AGG1465 – about $66.99. It is 11 inches high and sits on and is backed by two larger pieces of white foam board which provide additional background.

The large continuous light is listed on Amazon as the Andoer Photography Photo Studio Lighting Kit Set: 20 x 28 inch Softbox with 5500K 135W Daylight Studio Bulb, Adjustable Stand, with Boom and Cantilever Bag – about $86.99.

Two Yongnuo flashes operate by radio signal from a YN622C controller in the camera hotshoe. The on-camera flash is sometimes used. The off-camera flash is always used to illuminate the background.

I have also found the Yongnuo Macro Ring Lite YN14EX (not shown) useful for some phonographic subjects.

The camera is a Canon 5d Mark IV and the lens in a Canon 24-70 f/4.0 L. But the success of the photograph is not primarily dependent on the camera/lens combination.

My main interest is in photographing jewelry. For someone with the limited ability that I have, there are many difficulties with photographing jewelry, including:

  1. Simultaneously exposing the subject properly while getting a white enough background.
  2. Dealing with shadows: eliminating them entirely or including shadows that enhance the imaging.
  3. Dealing with the reflective properties of metals and stones in the presence of bright lights. I find it hard to predict where hot spots will appear on stone surfaces and dark reflections on gold and silver surfaces.
  4. Supporting the irregular shapes of jewelry pieces so that they can be photographed. Rings require different support than bracelets, etc.
  5. Sizing – jewelry catalogues routinely print images that are ‘actual size’. This capability escapes me.
  6. Creating a set-up than can be moved around and stored. I don’t have an area where I would want to leave this in place 365 days a year.

My new-found combination provides a good starting point for getting these and other factors right. But it does not provide a cookie cutter answer. Each new piece requires a focal length decision, a depth of field decision, manual settings on both flashes, adjusting placement of the softbox, test shots, exposure compensation, fine-tuning the lights, and, invariably, some work in an editing program, if only for cropping.

I would appreciate any experience/ideas you may have on these topics.

 gmcooper's gear list:gmcooper's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS M Canon EOS M3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
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