Basic Jewellery Photography

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Jewellery photography is a subject with it’s own challenges. Highly reflective surfaces and jewels that don’t always react to light as you might expect.

These images were for various clients, and mostly for their catalogues or brochures. That said, most clients tend to look for web images before moving onto a full catalogue inventory.

The image above was painstakingly crafted in the studio. Why "crafted"? Because it took several images, lighting each aspect of the watch individually, and then carefully compositing the final image. This is where most clients don’t see or understand the time and effort that goes towards the production of the final image.

Because the lighting heads were pretty close to the subject (all were within three feet), a 200Ws studio head had more power than was actually needed. The problem with using higher output heads, say 600Ws, you can run into issues when working very close to your subject. You can sometimes find you just can’t turn the heads down far enough.

A lot of the most basic, low powered studio heads are absolutely ideal for close up work, and not to mention quite cheap. Even with a gridded beauty dish fitted, I still only needed the output to be ¼. This was positioned frame left lower corner and low, so as to skim the bezel.

A second 200Ws head was firing through a 60×60 softbox, slightly higher and angled downward. This head was moved a number of times to provide more of the general lighting, which was then composited into the final shot. It can be seen as the general highlight along the top of the bezel between ten and twelve o’clock. Output was again at ¼, but the head was a little further away than the beauty dish. A silver 5-in-1 reflector was used to bounce light into the top right side of the frame.

The effect of the gridded beauty dish can be clearly seen across the surface of the slate.

1/125th sec ISO200 f16

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Here, we used a Macro 60mm lens, and although an aperture of f22 was used, it still remained quite shallow, nicely throwing the background out of focus as you look beyond the pendant. The main light source is a 70×100 softbox frame right, fitted to a 200Ws head, firing at ¼ output. This is actually the only lightsource here, as the remainder was provided by a silver 5-in-1 reflector frame left.

1/160th sec ISO200 f22

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This is again a single light source, and on this occasion, a speedlight bouncing from a white foam board, which actually provides a nice semi harsh light. The stofen on the speedlight gives a crisp light nearer the speedlight, whereas the bounced light is much softer.

1/125th sec ISO200 f8

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This is another composited shot, but this time shot entirely with speedlights.

To be honest, all these images could have easily been shot using speedlights, due to the proximity of the light sources. The biggest challenge is sourcing good modifiers, although it's not quite the issue it used to be.
 
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Joined
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I've never thought about deliberately creating a hard+soft combination like the one on that pineapple(?) pendant, but it looks great in that context... I'll have to see how much of this I can apply to shots of bugs. :p
Actually, I think it could work extremely well with insects, if you can scale your light source small enough. It should give you a really nice three dimensional feel to it.
 

junkyardsparkle

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Actually, I think it could work extremely well with insects, if you can scale your light source small enough. It should give you a really nice three dimensional feel to it.
Well, in the past I've put most of my effort into trying to light 'em in such a way that the lighting called as little attention to itself as possible (for illustrative purposes), but I'm starting to feel a little more artistically inspired by stuff I've seen lately... and honestly sometimes they do seem to be begging for a full-on model shoot... anyhow, nice write-up!
 
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How much goes into cleaning up before and touch up afterwards in post? Whenever I try anything of this sort I always discover a ridiculous amount of dust to clean...
:(
Far more than I care to confess to.

It would appear there is a ratio of pre to post cleanup time. This seems to be fairly constant up to a non determined point, where further pre-cleaning has no further benefit at all.
No pre clean = a good half hour of dust blobbing in post.
Ten minutes pre clean = twenty minutes of dust blobbing in post.
Twenty minutes pre clean = fifteen minutes of dust blobbing in post.
Half an hour pre clean = twenty minutes of dust blobbing in post.
More time than I care to mention pre clean = An hour sobbing into my coffee in post.
 
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How much goes into cleaning up before and touch up afterwards
The two are inversely related, no? You're gonna pay now, or you're gonna pay later.

I find dipping new jewelry in jewelry cleaning fluid gets all of the dusty bits off and makes it sparkle. Old crusty jewelry goes in the ultrasonic for a bit. Canned air helps get dust off.

I'd much rather spend a few moments cleaning before than spend hours in post afterward. My goal is to make it right in the camera, and NO post at all.
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Olympus OM-4Ti, Zuiko 90mm ƒ2 Macro, one overhead flash, Kodachrome 64. About 4x life size.
 
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Joined
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Michael A. Sewell
The two are inversely related, no? You're gonna pay now, or you're gonna pay later.

I find dipping new jewelry in jewelry cleaning fluid gets all of the dusty bits off and makes it sparkle. Old crusty jewelry goes in the ultrasonic for a bit.

I'd much rather spend a few moments cleaning before than spend hours in post afterward. My goal is to make it right in the camera, and NO post at all.
View attachment 539822
Olympus OM-4Ti, Zuiko 90mm ƒ2 Macro, one overhead flash, Kodachrome 64. About 4x life size.
Absolutely agree.
It's the stuff I can't dip or ultrasound that is the absolute bane of my life.
 
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