Working with reflective objects like jewellery presents a special problem for photographers. It can be one of the most difficult types of photography due to the complexity of the skills involved.One of the reasons shooting jewellery can be such a challenging project is that it requires perfection. Jewellery photography comprises of all aspects of product photography rolled into one.
Jewellery is highly reflective and requires precise lighting setups. If often calls for mixed lighting to highlight the different elements of the subject. Since most jewellery items are small, photographing them requires great skill in macro photography.
5 tips to improve your jewellery photography
There are many types of jewellery, and most incorporate several elements in one piece. One of the most difficult aspects of photographing jewelry is that each piece is unique, which is one of the reasons people like jewellery in the first place. There really isn’t a simple catch-all jewelry lighting setup trick.
Every gem shines differently, and each piece of metal has a different way of reflecting the light due to the way it was made or handled. However, there are some techniques that can get you closer to the image that you are trying to create.There are certain positions, angles, and composition techniques that work well, even though they may require some tweaking and fine tuning here and there.
Here are 5 tips that you can use to significantly improve your jewellery photography:
1. Clean the piece:- While a piece of jewellery may look good to the naked eye, there may be all kinds of debris visible once you get close with a macro lens. Oils from your fingertips, fibers from clothing, and dust are just a few of the things you’ll find. Instead of spending hours in Photoshop trying to get rid of every little imperfection, spend time cleaning the jewelry.
If you have a budget or are friends with a jeweller, you may be able to get the piece professionally cleaned. However, cleaning it yourself is a pretty simple task.
Most jewellers recommend using distilled white vinegar diluted with distilled and deionized water. Using distilled and deionized water is important, as the process removes all impurities from the water. You only need a small amount of vinegar in the solution. Soak the jewelry in the solution for 15-20 minutes. This should break down the oils and dirt so the piece can be cleaned easily. After soaking the piece use powder-free latex gloves to handle the piece to avoid re contamination with skin oils. Use a clean, lint-free cloth made of a material like microfiber to dry and remove any residue.
There are a lot of resources on the web for cleaning different kinds of jewellery. So check them out.
2. Use a light box:- A led light box can be useful when shooting reflective products like jewellery. Light tents work well when shooting reflective objects because the subject is completely surrounded, thus eliminating outside elements that can show up in the reflective surfaces.
Light tents don’t require additional lights, lighting modifiers, such as umbrellas or soft boxes; just a camera, and a subject.
Light boxes are great for shooting rings because it blocks almost all of the extraneous reflections from the piece, which allows you to create the images in a relatively short time. This is a good option for people who are shooting inexpensive jewelry at high volume, and saving time is more important than creating a clinically perfect image.
Additionally, the light box comes with a black/white background so the product image can be easily edited in post with Photoshop.
3. Hang it:- Many pro photographers string up jewellery like earrings and pendants with mono filament line to allow them to appear as if they are floating. These threads are strong and it’s very easy to retouch them out of the final image.You can also use mannequins to show a display of necklaces and earrings.
4. Use a lint roller:- If you use cloth backdrops, such as black velvet for jewelry, then you know that dust, lint and small fibres are like magnets to the backdrops. Also, you can get hair can get all over your cloth backgrounds. Such a background looks quite unprofessional in product photos.
A little pocket lint roller or a lint brush is an easy way to remove unsightly lint or hair from your cloth background sets. Once the paper on the lint roller finishes, it can be replaced with a refill roll of paper.
5. Use a macro lens:- Most jewellery photography is done with a macro lens. A decent macro lens is a necessity for any product photographer. Macro lenses are used to photograph small subjects and make them appear much larger. Macro lenses can also be used to isolate a small facet on a larger subject.
A true macro lens allows you to magnify the subject to at least a 1:1 ratio. What this means is that the image projected on the sensor as it comes through the lens is the same size as the actual subject. This helps to capture the intricate details on a subject.
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