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Photographing your own work

I have been reading many of the tips on photographing jewelry and I
would like to share my method and ask a few questions myself. I
decided to shoot my own work from the start because if nothing else
it is a good way to have documentation of everything you make even if
they are not quite good enough for jurying into shows. However, I
feel my slides are a pretty accurate representation of the piece and
I have used them successfully to get into shows. I have a crude but
simple way of shooting. I place the work on a table on background of
choice. I usually place a round of styrofoam (like floral designers
use) under the background (colored paper or whatever) so that I can
push earring posts into it and they will stay still and upright.
Then I bought a cone shaped white lampshade (about 9" high by @12"
bottom diameter and @ 4" top diameter) and stripped the cloth from
it. I place the lampshade over the setup and stick my camera macro
lense in through the top of the shade and shoot looking straight down
at the piece. I have a flash attachment and so far have not had any
problems with glare or hot spots. Of course, shooting down, there are
some limitations. I have not had good success shooting really small
pieces like rings and some things which should be shot from the side
instead of directly from above present problems. My real complaint
though is that I don’t know how get the “drama” that you see in the
professionally shot pieces so I am looking for any help or suggstions
in this area. Hope this will be of some help or interest.

GRACE @tom_grace_stokes

Take a look at:

This shows a way to get uniform lighting. I use something similar but
larger. I use draftsmans frosted mylar film to diffuse the light .
This is much cheaper than filter gels. You might also use white opal
plastic (this may hurt the light color balance). With my digital
camera I have been using standard halogen bulbs in the reflectors.
With the digital camera it is easy to change the color balance to suit
using photoshop.

See the base site:

This has nice work .


Hi all,

back to the site after quite some time away. I recently
splurged/invested on a Nikon 950 digital camera. I can only say that
it is outragously great to be able to know what your image looks like
right away. gone are the days of shooting a piece that needs to get
out of the studio and getting back unusable images. The camera has
some odd design qualities such as the flash card on the bottom of the
camera (which is a pain when you use a tripod), but I have been
extremely pleased with the camera’s ability and versatility. The
color balance feature is fantastic considering the alternative with
light sensitive color film. I still love my SLR 35mm, but tend to
use it more for fun rather than studio work.

Also, I have found that working with Counter top material from a
building center works great for backdrops. There is an amazing range
of color and surface, cleans up well, does not mark like many of the
gradated paper backgrounds I have used over the years and if need be
you can glue a piece to the material and the glue cleans up pretty


Although I have been away from it for some time, I used to study
photography some. When I was challanged to photograph stones for our
website, I did a lot of relearning as well as lots of trial and error.
I have also come to a copromise similar to yours - I use a digital
camera and flash - I put up with some glare (which, with my subjects
is very hard to get rid of) because I decided that we are used to
seeing this kind of subject with some glare anyway.

photographer) getting the “drama” you seek requires some exceptional
care in lighting especially when you are talking about really small
subjects. Some one suggested (in a previous set of photography
questions a few weeks ago) using a cone or cylinder arrangement like
yours made from photo filter paper with ordinary lights placed outside
the cone all around it. I haven’t tried it but that should be a good
routine. Another suggestion (which is probably the proper
professional solution) is to get a light box. Someone mentioned a
source and the product was about $150 I think.

Anything that allows light from multiple angles is going to give you
more “drama”. The light box solution will allow you to change camera
and subject angles more easily. It’s always a compromise between
time, money and results.

You can review my results at

Lee LeFaivre
Worldwide Gemstones

Hello Lee

You mention about the light box. Do you know off hand the source
where you could find it? I appreciate your help.


Something that was suggested to me by a photographer who specialized
in product work is not to use a light box. A light box does give a
great,even fill light, but it also tends to flatten things. On his
suggestion I tried going with one light (with the barn doors closed
down almost completely) with a single gel to soften it some. I
positioned the light at about 30 to 40 degrees to one side and
slightly above of the object. Using the single source of light gives
great depth and drama, but also leaves very dark sides to the image.
So to even things out add one, or two reflectors (of white, or
reflective surface) opposite of the light source which can be
directed to highlight specific areas, or contours. I got my very
best results when the reflector was placed very close to the object,
but just out of the frame of the camera. It took a number of shoots,
but I was amazed at how much of an improvement was gained. Shooting
like this you will need a longer exposure time, so you will
definitely need a good tripod and cable release. Give it a try.


Any about Black Coral (flamboyant)