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Jewelry photography

Hello fellow jewelers
I’m trying to build my website and I need consistent, good shots. I have two portable light tents that I have replaced the bulbs in. A Nikon camera with a macro lens.
I’m willing to invest to get this up to grade. My problem is I cant get a really white background. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

What I do is set up my light tent with a piece of white foam core in the back of the tent and hang the jewelry from the top of the tent using either fine fishing line or even transparent nylon thread(found in sewing supplies). I am then able to more easily remove the background in in photoshop because the background color is more consistent since the foam core is stiff and does not bend or have flaws like white paper or fabric or the tent back, and because I hang the jewelry, any shadows cast by the jewelry are diffuse, making it easier to select the background and leave the jewelry behind. I can give you more details if interested and have photoshop or similar, that lets you work in layers. I usually add in a drop shadow to give it depth… not sure I can add attachments here, but here is an example of one of my pieces I shot like this…

  I have additional tricks for removing the background smoothly etc... but don't know what your photoshop/editing ability is like. 

Jeanne Rhodes-Moen

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Lynn,

My brother Rob has posted quite a bit about just what you are asking about. Do an archive search. I am sure you will find a raft of solid information.

Don M.

---- Lynn Eckman orchid@ganoksin.com wrote:

I didn’t need an other art form or obsession when I began to photograph my own jewelry but, by necessity, it happened. I have tried many different set ups and occasionally get a nice picture by chance just setting up on a window sill, counter, table top or even a cinder block outside if the direct sunlight is just right. To get predictable and similarly composed pictures, you need to use some sort of cloth enclosure with lighting around it. I use a cloud dome and 5500K CFL lights on a frame where I can move the lights to adjust for hot spots and shadows. When the CFLs go, I would like to try LEDs. You need as white a light as you can get. Anyone who already uses them, please chime in. I have a fairly high end Fuji, actually a series of Fujis over the years and have played a lot with setting. For silver the automatic settings don’t always work well. You need to learn the impact of white balance, changes in F stops, manual focus and lighting to see how they effect you final product. I don’t use a macro lens because I don’t have one. There is a macro setting on my camera and I use it as my need is for very close pictures to use on my website. You may also see flaws in close up pictures that you don’t see by eye. You will need a tripod or some way to secure your camera to keep it from shaking. I have build a frame with a 1/4-20 wing nut to secure my camera at a fixed height. I can also secure a small shelf to it. Learn how to set the time delay on your camera or, even better, if it is equipped, how to use a wireless remote to trip the camera. Again, my need is for similarly posed, close up pictures and not artful photography. I have had an interesting realization recently. My phone is a Pixel phone and they have especially nice cameras. I will often set the phone on a shelf, pose the shot, trip with a wireless remote an I get really good pictures with it. The neat thing is that, being an android phone, my pictures quickly upload to my google photo library where I can select what I want, do any editing and they are ready to use. You can also buy wireless SD cards that will do the same thing in a regular digital camera. I often say that I spend more time taking pictures of my work than making it. Jewelry is a hobby for me, so I can take the time. If it were my living, I might hire it done, but I would probably do it in my off time as it is fun. Go to my website and look at the “shop shots” page and you will see pictures of my set up. Good luck…Rob

Thank you very much, rmeixner!

We need to photograph to Amazon quality the watches we sell on the Internet. In our firm we all are pretty bad at photography of highly reflective items, so we ended up buying the Shutter Stream system (you can find them on the web) for about $ 1000. It solved over 90% of our problems. The other 10% I have solved by sending out any photos that need further work to a professional retoucher of watches we found through web recommendations, which led us to Fiverr. It’s cost money, which has ended our photosgraphy problems and enabled once again to concentrate on our business, instead of wasting a lot of time, money and frustration on trying to turn ourselves into photographers. It’s cheap at the price, because, how much is your time worth?

I came across the following site when looking for more jewelry photography ideas…Rob

for highly reflective pieces, simple, cheap tip. get foam core and cut a piece maybe 1 foot by 1.5 feet if you are using a camera with a protruding lense. cut a circle that will just fit over the diameter of the lens. aim your lamps or at last one brighter lamp at the white foam core shield and pound the light onto the piece… the foam core will reflect the light onto the jewelry, but also hide the bulk of the camera etc so that the jewelry is essentially reflecting white/light not you or your camera or dark objects.

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Hi, I shoot on a light table so the background is much brighter than the object and will appear white in a photo. An alternative is to light the white background separate from your object and light it 4 stops brighter than your subject. That will wash out your backdrop.

Not denying the standard light tent methods folks are discussing here, but one time many years ago I was at my in-laws on a two day stay with nothing to do, so I took my large format camera and got out some antique silverware in the living room and started to do some tabletop photography with out any lighting equipment except for the room lamps about. I found that by moving things around I could eliminate a lot of reflections or produce patterns that were artistic and accented the shapes of the silverware items. I haven’t tried the same with jewelry, but certainly it might work. Many photograph their work in natural settings where the reflections may look natural…or you may have rather flat lighting sitting on a table out under a cloudy sky…so just sayin’ there may be more than one way to skin a cat.
I have also used a roll of the old computer paper set into a cone as a tent and used a “cigarette pack” flash unit on a chord placed outside the tent. Cutting a hole in the paper might provide for some specular reflection, too. HTH, royjohn

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