Photographing transparent enamel on silver


my above comments were primarily about Alex at Photigy, although Vadim’s channel is excellent also!


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That does sound interesting. I’ll look for that post.


I have to refresh my memory…but i feel like i wanna say to look into speed lights, and shooting gemstones…will probably be sililar to the transparent enamels i am guessing


The only way that I know of to avoid that unwanted double reflection (while keeping the light and reflections that you do want) is using polarization. You put a polarization filter on the lens and a sheet of polarizing film in front of the light causing the unwanted reflections. When you rotate the filter to the right position, the direct reflections from the glass surface should disappear.

I only know this in theory, never tried it but it should work for you.

There is a whole course about this on Photigy, but you can start with this free introduction video. I find it explains the basics very well.


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I was taking pictures today of pieces made in the last couple days. I haven’t done a black background in a long time and never with my newest camera. Following should be a link to these pictures. I use four 5700K CFL (not LED) bulbs, a mylar diffuser, and my camera set for F11, the speed will vary from 1/200 to 1/320 with manual focus and a 2 second delay. I still have some places where the piece is lost in the black background, but have yet to figure this out. Otherwise, I am happy with the pictures. I will try them on my website to see how they show in a web format…Rob

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Hi Rob,
what lens are you using?


A 16 - 50 zoom. This is the lens that came with the camera. I tend to get real close, probably too close, but that is how my photo booth is set up. I need to work on depth of field so that I can get more of the piece in focus. I can do this by changing the F stop, but there appears to be some trade offs in focus if I do as the speed goes down. As a general rule, I have read that F11 is the best setting for jewelry. What I have also found, at least for my setup, is that a darker background allows me to show the real color in the stones better than if I use a white background…Rob


Don’t get so close. Pull back and your depth of field will be naturally larger, getting more in focus regardless of the fstop. F11 will maximize that of course. You will still have plenty of resolution after you crop. Not only all that, but the view will be more natural. Think of the difference between a camera close to the face, distorting the features. This is why portrait photographers shoot so far away from the person.

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Today is an experiment day. I will do as you suggest and move the fixed camera location further away from the piece of jewelry that I am photographing. I will also experiement with my F stop and speed combinations. The lighting is pretty much fixed, but I can raise and lower them. The bracelets are supported by a nail with black sharpie on it. It comes straight up from the black surface. By taking my pictures from straight above, the nail disappears (most of the time). This keeps the piece from seeming to be swallowed up by the black background. Results to follow. Thanks to all for your suggestions…Rob

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Hi Rob,

not sure of your lighting setup…recall, you are not lighting the piece, but rather what the piece is “seeing”…

ie: light the panel that the object is “seeing”…reflecting…
can angle how the light hits the panel, to get gradients in the reflection…ie: shows the roundness of curved wire versus sharp dark and white reflections…

ie: take a mini mag light and move it around the piece and take note of what happens on the object and where your hand/ maglight is…that is what/ where the object the object “sees”…



Julie…Thanks, I have read those words before but I am having trouble turning them into actions. Stay tuned…Rob

I think that I get what you are saying. Following are two pictures of my most difficult to photograph piece. One without a reflector, the other with. Everything else is the same. You can see that the lower portions of the cuff are lighted more in the picture with the reflector than the one without. The challenge is how to remove the reflector when I edit the pictures…Rob

Hi Rob,

ya…silver in a light box gets “flat and matte”

fir fun, go outside, in the morning, with indirect sun and cloud cover…the sun is your light source…the clouds are your diffusion panel…

shoot your cuffs outside on a porch rail…on the patio table…against a tree trunk…on a piece of wood…textured surface…light med dark backgrounds…let the natural backgrounds blur out

go all over the yard…adjust as you see results…

avoid sharp light in afternoon

use your phone camera just to “see”

look at the different effects on the cuff



I don’t think what follows will help with the original question, but maybe… and this is of course only my opinion and how I want to show the work. That said my website shows silver, shot in a lite box against white walls with bounced light. I have never been happy with it.

I think I have always had a different take of jewelry photos. I think the subject has be in some kind of context. Just showing a piece on its own makes for a nice photo. But showing a kilt pin on something stark won’t show the art to its best advantage. I think the same applies to horse tack jewelry and barrettes. Something other than just stark black or white in any case. I think my most successful photo have been done on a well used soldering block or a piece of 220 grit silica Carbide paper.

About 40 years ago I met the photographer, Jim Marshall. His portrait work seemed to always be against drop cloths dithered with swatches of paint in all directions using grays and slate colors. The purpose seemed to be to create a neutral background that absorbed light will the subject reflected the light.

Also you have to match the background to the purpose of the photo.

Don Meixner

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Julie…I have done a lot of what you describe and it makes for some really nice pictures. I need a setup that will let me consistently and quickly take a picture of each piece so that they all look to be taken in the same way. These pictures are for archiving purposes and to place on my website where, at least I think, they should all look similar in their composition. I currently show most of my standard jewelry with a white background. People tell me that this is the better way to go for a website. I kind of like a black background and that is the reason for the current exercise. If you look at my Custom and Other Jewelry page you will find some pictures where I deviated from this standard. Thanks…Rob

Hi Rob,
i totally hear you! when i was doing shiny sterling charms, in 5 + sizes i wanted all to be to scale in relation to every other pic, and i shot every piece for the same reasons as you, once i had the setup figured out…flat…mirror finish…DIY setup…pvc…clamps…shop lights…

but, i went outside one day and shot some anticlastic earrings on the pool deck coffee table…with my old iphone…instead of my nikon with 105mm macro full frame lens…and i was like…”omg…beautiful”…the metal looked the way it was supposed to “in real life” situatation

…i have not mastered photography…and the struggle is real…so i was like…”is it that simple!?”…:joy::rofl:


I agree; you need more multidirectional lighting, plus the depth of field thing.

I bet you can get away with only a polarizer on the lens and not the lamp.


here is a free video on polarized light…
i live how he talks about edges and gradients, reflections, …and his friday photo talks, which are critiques of pro club member submissions to monthly subject challenges…

here is a course on polarized light and jewelry photography…
i think i need to enroll…

this is cool…you can swipe left and right on the photo examples to see before/ after using polarized filter!