Nice jewellery lighting help.

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by GarethB, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. GarethB

    GarethB Mu-43 Regular

    90
    Jul 21, 2016
    Hey all,

    I'm wondering if anybody can give me some advice on jewellery photography? I've tried my best to figure things out for myself, but I feel like I've exhausted my skill limits so I'm hoping you could hopefully pass on some wisdom to me. Unfortunately anything I've found online to do with jewellery photography (tutorial and information) produces terrible results.

    I'm looking to get some really nice looking jewellery shots along the lines of this type of thing:
    lilly-ring-angle2. sel-702-handcrafted. Chap_Half_Set-306x400.


    The tones are very smooth, with obvious highlights and black in the reflects - but nothing is harsh looking.

    I understand there is probably some photoshop work involved, but where would I even begin to light something like this?
    At the moment a lightbox (terrible results) and experimenting with paper/card reflectors is the limit of my ideas.

    Any help would be absolutely fantastic - I'm a complete lighting novice!

    Best regards,

    Gareth
     
  2. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

  3. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    978
    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    Those example images are also extensively retouched
     
  4. GarethB

    GarethB Mu-43 Regular

    90
    Jul 21, 2016
    Oh yeah, absolutely. I get that it's been super worked on, but I'm not really sure where to start to get an image worth taking to the retouching stage (one that's as close as the examples out of camera and then needs the least amount of retouching).
     
  5. Worked on a lot, but it also looks like something sneaky to get the source photos like taking a bunch of photos with different flash positions / different cross polarised flash extinguishment positions and then combining the flattest lit pieces together.
     
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  6. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    978
    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    Definitely!

    @GarethB@GarethB
    With something like this, I work in a similar manner to watches. Several images with the lights and reflectors manipulated in different angles to reduce highlights where not wanted, and create the smooth highlights (without camera or fat photographer visible!) in other.
    I then stack the images in their own layers and blend the sections to a final image. Very similar to light painting a vehicle I suppose.
    The final image is then cleaned up.

    The main issue that a lot of photographers fall down on is using a softbox or difuser sheet that isn't big enough, so the highlight doesn't cover the whole of a reflective surface, and black objects appear. Look at the inside of the band on the middle ring at the bottom. The edge of the softbox has left a very distracting squiggle which hasn't been cleaned up effectively.
     
  7. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    I saw a pair (photographer + voice activated light stand) doing that to a car recently and have been wondering how the stacking is done...

    Any recommended tutorials, preferably non-Adobe specific?

    Can this practically be combined with focus stacking for small items?

    Thanks,
    Barry
     
  8. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    978
    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    @barry13@barry13
    If you focus stack, you will have to go through the routine of doing each lighting setup.
    Another words, say it takes six different light setups to get all facets lit correctly.
    Also, you have decided you need to focus stack to a depth of, oh I don't know. Let's say ten images.

    at each focal depth, you will need to do six frames. One of each lighting set up.
    That's a total of sixty images.

    Now, in post, you will edit each of the separate light setups per focal frame, and brush through the desired lit areas and flatten (or save as a separate jpeg) the finished image for that focal point.

    Repeat the above edit sequence for each focal frame, eventually giving you ten finished edited shots. These ten images are then focus stacked to give you your final image with greater depth of field.

    Not only would you have a very interesting final composite, but I think I would set aside the time to fly over the pond and shake you by the hand, because that kind of patience is to be admired ;)

    Short answer, yes, it can be done.

    Incidentally Barry, this bridal image used a light painting technique.

    I'll see if I can find you a tutorial regarding the post processing. Most of it is down to stacking the images on their own layers, setting the blend mode to Lighten which allows the lighter areas to show. I then use a mask to ensure only the area I'm interested in is allowed to blend.
     
  9. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    978
    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    @barry13@barry13
    This is nicely explained tutorial.


    It applies to any graphic software that has layers, masks and blending modes

    So Gimp is good to go
     
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  10. GarethB

    GarethB Mu-43 Regular

    90
    Jul 21, 2016
    Hey guys, I appreciate your comments on this thread from a while back. Unfortunately I'm still struggling with my lighting, but might have to try fiddle with the mixed exposures for different areas of the ring as I haven't tried that yet.

    @MichaelSewell@MichaelSewell you mentioned that one problem is people didn't use a big enough diffuser. For something this small, how big do you think a diffuser needs to be? I've tried with A4 perspex so far.
     
  11. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    978
    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    By difuser, I mean it could actually be the front of the softbox. And it needs to be much bigger than you might expect.
    If I were shooting a ring, for example, I 'd have a softbox that was 80x80 minimum, and only if I can get it close enough. If there has to be an increase in distance between light source and object the size of the softbox increases.
    It's about the perceived size of the light source. The bigger it appears in relation to the subject, the "softer" the light. Here, you are needing to get light into all facets and planes of the jewellery. Each facet and plane needs to "see" the light, and reflect it as white. Otherwise you get dull areas or even dark facets on diamonds etc.
     
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  12. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    978
    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
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  13. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    Jewelry photography doesn't fit me, or I don't work well with it - which ever. I've done some and it is very much a challenge. My little experience led me to this process.

    The first thing I leaned was, position your jewelry for the viewpoint you want setting your jewelry how you want it, use a tripod, and this basically stays locked until you done. It is better to shoot tethered with a screen to view each photo on, you really need to see what each change has done.

    Set softboxes (as many as you need) to reduce any reflections you do not want or remove all reflections, adjust these down so the light from them really becomes your fill light. I used to set one spotlight in my key position, and them set up white cards surrounding the jewelry with enough space for me to work.

    Then start using fill cards and subtractive (black or dark grey) cards to get your highlights and shadows. Cut the cards into shapes to help get what you want, you'll need a variety of small stand, clamps, museum wax, to position the cards to stay where you need them. The goal is to get as much done in camera as you can. With another camera, take photos of your setup.

    At this point I'd remove everything that I used to finesse the light, look at my last photo and what needed improvement, then work on just that - in effect, a layer for Photoshop. Keep this process going until you think you have enough.

    The go to Photoshop and start blending layers or masking out all but what you want to show through. Combine all into another layer, then burn and dodge.

    What would take me an hour to do, a friend of mine did it in 10 minutes!

    There is something called a Bazzler bulb, many LED lights in a small source that is great for show off faceted parts of jewelry.

    If all that is too much - go to Tabletop Studio - Everything you want to know about product photography and they have a lot help. Light tents can come in handy - sometimes, but are hard to work around.

    When I was doing this kind of photography I purchased a Nikon 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6 AF Micro which really made things a lot easier for me.

    That's about my some of knowledge from two years experience, and often I would find alternatives to working through shots. Light tents, small LEDs on flex arms, anything to help. I'm sure there are better ways, I just never stuck with it long enough to get really great at it.
     
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  14. GarethB

    GarethB Mu-43 Regular

    90
    Jul 21, 2016
    I think part of my problem is I can get some images which (I think) look fairly nice, but once I try getting the background white it looks terrible. The ring then looks out of place on white, and as much as I try tweak the levels/curves etc.. on the ring itself I just make it look worse.
    I can't seem to balance the tonality of the ring to fit with the white background, and end up with overly bright brights and crushed darks.
     
  15. Can you post a few examples?
     
  16. TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

    TheMenWhoDrawSheeps Mu-43 Veteran

    426
    Jun 15, 2016
    One secret tip, is to use polarizers on both camera AND strobes - Sadly there aren't much turtorials on this Subject - but thats rather advanced / pro technique, for which you need quite some understanding.

    First of all - what equipment do you have at your disposal? strobes? Flashes? Constant light? Tripod? Lightbox is great for even light, but is rather useless if you want such contrasty reflections.

    To learn such things you have to build up from scratch - build up in absolutely dark room one light after another. Take a DIN A4 frame, put diffuse paper or diffuse glass inside, put it between your light source and object, and start experimenting with intensity of light, ditsance to the subject and reflections it gives. If you feel you've mastered it, add a second light and diffusor into your scene.

    Any Software that alows you layering gives you possibility to merge different pictures and different lights as long you stay on tripod - make good use of it.

    Use live composite as fast way to Experiment - you can instantly see the result on your camera back - what would small fill light do, how a bigger lightcource would look(just move your diffusor with light giving it more area), etc.

    aaaaand there are also tons of manual adjustments you could apply to your subject - matt spray, etc.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
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  17. GarethB

    GarethB Mu-43 Regular

    90
    Jul 21, 2016
    Thanks again everyone for your replies to the problems I'm having.

    I'll try get something uploaded soon to show you my current progress.
     
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  18. TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

    TheMenWhoDrawSheeps Mu-43 Veteran

    426
    Jun 15, 2016
    found one - gives the basic idea of polarizing the light.

     
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  19. Bytesmiths

    Bytesmiths Mu-43 Veteran

    Studio lighting, a cove, tripod, and a good macro lens!

    By "studio lighting," I mean not mounted on the camera. Stands and softboxes are a must. On a budget, use old bedsheets.

    Strobes are better than constant lighting, because you'll need the depth-of-field that bright strobes can give you.

    A "cove" is a curved white surface, and can be as simple as a wide roll of paper hung down a wall and draped over a table. The curve will give you the illusion that your subject is floating in space.

    A tripod is a must. Even with 37-axis IS. :) You want your shots to be repeatable. If you're shooting multiple pieces, get all set up and happy with one, then marke your surface with a tiny dot, and place your other subjects at the same place.

    Life will be tough without a decent macro lense.

    I use two 3'x4' softboxes butted together at an angle above the subject, then a camera-mounted ring-light to add specular highlights without adding shadows.