I plan on eventually using a professional photographer to photograph
my jewelry but I wanted to know what products some of you have used.
For now I need to take pictures myself. I want to have a white
background, and I’ve looked into buying a ‘light tent’. What would
you suggest as a background to use, lighting, and so on?
I recently purchased a table top light tent and accessories fro www.tabletopstudio-store.com I would highly recommend you visit this
website and take a look. The outfit I purchased has enabled me to
take pictures for ads in magazines that have been very professional
looking. The tent, 3 lights, and other accessories were around
$300.00 and already paid for itself.
I have improvised an inexpensive lightbox and have had excellent
success. I bought a white plastic cake saver at Wal-mart for about
$5.00 and cut a round hole in the top with a hole saw to accomodate
my digital camera lens. I then placed my camera flat and level on top
of the cake saver, using a piece of foamcore board as a prop to level
the camera. Place the camera in macro mode, put whatever surface you
wish on the bottom of the cake saver for a background and away you
go. The results are super. You can also shield the light with pieces
of white polyester fabric for different exposures. I aimed
floodlights at the cake saver while indoors. This also works
incredibly well outdoors!
These 30/50 Watt Trumpet Top Daylight Balanced 5000K high CRI
compact fluorescent bulbs are great. No heat! With the addition of
diffusion filters I don’t need a tent at all. I opted for the 50
watt, more light greater depth of field. Had to go else where for
12" reflectors and diffusers but the system works great! Did I say it
was cool?. a must in Arizona!
For years I have used a piece of clear glass or plastic sitting on 4
plastic glasses. Set the jewelry on this and use any color piece of
paper under it. This floats the jewelry in space. No shadow. Keep
some white card stock and a couple of cloths pins about to reflect
light into dark areas. Add some card wrapped in aluminum foil as
reflectors. If the camera shows up in the reflections, take a piece
of white card stock and cut a hole in it that your lens will fit
through. da,daaaa the camera disappears! Use the Timer option on
your camera. You can then hold reflectors and
such with both hands and the camera shoots on its own. Keep it
I’m no photographer by any means but I do look at how others
photograph their work to see what works and what doesn’t. The Honors
Thesis pictures on your website are very good and seem to be what
others have recommended on Orchid, ie the graduated grey background.
Your jewellery just “pops” out of the picture in those.
Where you’ve taken pictures in the garden, the plants you’ve used as
backgrounds are too distracting - your jewellery is not what stands
out. I think if you do want to use plants, use large architectural
plants with big leaves rather than the tiny leaved plants in some of
From what I remember of the last thread on photography, the
consensus seems to be to use the graduated grey background for jury
shots but you can be more relaxed if it’s for website pictures - but
you do need to do more justice to your jewellery. I’ll be interested
to see what suggestions others have for backgrounds. I just put some
of my jewellery on Etsy and I used the large hand-like leaves of the
Fatsia japonica (false castor oil plant) as a background. I tried it
as I’d seen some other people using large leaved plants in their
photographs quite successfully. I’ve got quite a few architectural
plants in my garden as they’re favourites of mine - things such as
Dicksonia antarctica (tree ferns), Trachycarpus fortunei (windmill
palm), Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax) - so I’m going to be
experimenting with them over the next few weeks.
You might want to start with my $39.95 CD “Jewelry Photography Made
Easy”. Step-by-step for beginners, uses a D-SLR as the camera, but
it all applies to most any camera.
It’s about the lighting and controlling the camera. When the
subject, including background are properly lit, the exposure made
correctly, the camera stable, there’s very little left. But lighting
properly and making a proper exposure is paramount for good results.
And don’t forget post-processing which is a natural and logical
extension of the digital process - and mandatory for best results.
It’s simple, though, and I cover it all…
I went into the Tabletop site and there are many different lights and
products to choose from. Can you be more specific about your setup
and what products you are using? Also, do you have some images we
could look at to see the results?
Thanks to previous posts on Orchid I ended up buying the Photo Booth
in a Box. It comes w/lights, camera stand, diffuser screen, and a
couple backgrounds. I don’t use the backgrounds but I use everything
else. I bought a sheet of veritone to use a background (google it).
It’s easy to put up and take down, a requirement for me since I
don’t have an area I can leave set up. I’ve used the lights and have
also used natural sunlight. I can’t remember how much I paid but it
wasn’t too much and it was worth it. The url on the product is americanrecorder.com, however I’m not sure that is the site I got it
The outfit I purchased has enabled me to take pictures for ads in
magazines that have been very professional looking. The tent, 3
lights, and other accessories were around $300.00 and already paid
Johnny, do you have any samples of the pics you took? What do you
think of the lights? Are they strong enough or did you have to add
more? I’ve heard that they don’t give enough light and you end up
adding extra light anyway.
I keep seeing this thread come up on Orchid - many valid questions
are asked, some repeatedly. Some answers change, like what is the
best camera (as if a single camera was best for all things) but new
models of cameras (and lights) with new features come out and some
things change. Others are rehashed again and again.
I think I have a bit of expertise in this area. I took my first
college photography course in the early '70. I earned a good living
for a while as a biomedical photographer and was president of our
local chapter for a couple of years. I made the down payment on my
house from some macro photography 35 years ago. I own maybe 30 or so
film based cameras from Minox to 4"x5" view cameras. I have a full
color darkroom (haven’t used it for years) with 4x5 enlarger, color
developing equipment and so on. My point is that I have a bit of
knowledge in photography.
When someone asks the photo question again, I think: Have they
searched the Orchid archives, have they read some of the literature
like the booklet from Lewton-Brain - Small Scale Photography
Perhaps my biggest question is why more people do not use the Cloud
Dome system. The great folks there donated one to the Orchid raffle
a while back and I was lucky enough to win it. It is not just a
simple white dome to give shadowless lighting to jewelry photos, it
is a complete system with mounts, backdrops, cases and is backed by
super people who know what there are doing and know how to make it
easy for you.
Glad Marlin brought up the Cloud Dome. I got the entire kit a couple
of years ago, and use it to photograph my jewelry. It couldn’t be
easier to use. Cloud Dome has an excellent tutorial on their website,
and are always willing to answer phone questions, as well as those
I often leave it set-up and ready to go, and then photography things
as they are completed, feed the into my computer, then
get it onto a CD disc for future reference.
As Marlin points out, there is a tremendous amount of in
the Orchid archives, regarding lighting etc.
If you’re a DIY type & want to save a few bucks you can make 2 of
your own light boxes for very little. If you don’t want to make your
own, you can go to thelittlecameras.com & buy them ready made. Any
Walgreen’s has the necessary material. It’s foam board. A 1/4 x 18 x
24" piece is about $5.00. That’s enough to make a 12 x 12 x 12" & a
6 x 6 x6" light box. For the lights you can use Solux display case
flood lights (5700K) or Daylight fluorescents. The small Dazor lamps
work well. For a diffuser, use a white plastic garbage bag (or part
To get an idea of what they look like, go to thelittlecameras.com &
click on FAQ/More Info. Then scroll down to Light Boxes & look at
the 2 on the far right.
Most of the boxes shown are geared to the USB cameras featured on
the site, but the light boxes can be used with any digital or film
SLR commonly in use today.