Photographing jewelry can be quite a tricky affair as the shiny pieces of jewelry reflect the maximum portion of the light that they receive. Moreover, most of them contain colored stones or diamonds that make the task even more difficult. The key to any good photograph, including jewelry photographs, are sharpness, lighting, and exposure of the subject. If you are trying to photograph gemstones, then you might want to add some sparkle to them. Here are some of the tips that will guide you on the best way to photograph jewelry.
Guidelines on Photographing Jewelry
On-camera flash or direct lighting does not work very well for jewelry photography. It can lead to ugly shadows, hot spots, and reflection. Instead, the trick is to use diffuse lighting. For this, you would need a light diffuser through which the light passes and spreads evenly without creating harsh shadows.
Natural daylight can create the best photographs with the colors and the various elements of the jewelry being lighted to perfection. You can create sharp or smooth lines with the natural daylight lighting based on the angle of the sun. Around noon, when the sun is high, you would get photographs with sharp lines. However, for those who prefer smooth lines, the ideal shooting time is either in the morning or after 4 pm. To create the smooth lines and to reduce glare and control shadows for jewelry photography, you can also use diffusers such as thermoplastic boxes or even a small, white plastic card on the flash. Other lighting sources used for jewelry photography are LED lighting, rotating platforms, and halogen lighting.
A tripod to mount your camera is a must, especially if you have to use longer exposures for certain photographs. This is because at an exposure of 1/2s or 1/5s, our hand tends to shake too much resulting in blurred photos.
Before you can photograph a piece of jewelry, it is essential that you clean it to avoid the appearance of any dust and grime in the photo. Make sure your digital camera is charged and you have the lights in place. Ideally, two lights places either side of the jewelry in the light tent will look beautiful. If you are photographing diamonds and gemstones, then make sure that the faceted light or the sparkler is placed next to the camera. Adjust it so that the gem is lighted up. Now, position the jewelry using different positioning accessories or use holding wax to position your jewelry in an upright vertical position or at various angles. To use the holding wax, you can grab the wax from the corner and take a very small piece. Mold it into a small oval and place the jewelry atop it. Black or white glass acrylic platforms are great for soft and dramatic reflections.
Setting the Depth of Field and Focus
Set the camera in the manual mode and set the aperture. Also known as the f-number, the aperture setting widens or narrows the lens, limiting the amount of light that comes into the camera. While a high aperture setting like f/22 or f/11, allows you to focus on the parts that are close to camera, a low aperture setting allows you to focus on certain parts. Since, jewelry are static objects, you might want to adjust the focus to auto focus mode which works just as the manual focus.
Exposure or shutter speed of the camera is used to define the measure of time camera will be taking the light. For jewelry photography, you might want to consider the exposure based on the background used. Photographs of jewelry against white background should ideally be over-exposed so that the small imperfections of white surface will vanish into pure white. Similarly, for a black background you may want it under-exposed to remove the imperfections.
Before taking the photographs, set the white balance to adjust itself to the ambiance light you are using, so that you get accurate and true colors. Once you know the tricks of photographing jewelry, you can also try photographing the jewelry on models. Photographing jewelry on models is an art by itself with the lighting and the settings having to be adjusted to showcase the jewels.