Would you advise obtaining or printing a graduated background and
using it as a physical background for photographing or would it be
best to photoshop in a grey, graduated background afterwards?
Since this topic came up, Im going to pass on some lessons learned
over the past 10 years of photographing my own jewelry. Mind you this
may not apply to everyone and is purely my experience, I havent
mastered the process yet, but I am getting very close. To preface
this, I have just about done it all, DIY, point and shoot, makeshift,
lighting, film, digital, etc...etc...
1) You either have a photographic eye or you dont, if you dont, just
hire a professional.
2) Buy a full body digital SLR, point and shoots are nice, but
professionals dont use them why should you. With this, get a decent
2.a) Learn your camera, see section 7.
3) Buy a professional gradient background (tabletopstudio.com) for
$50 or less, get the vinyl printed ones they last longer than the
paper ones. The reason gradient backgrounds work is they are easy on
the eye and dissappear into the backgound focusing your attention on
the jewelry. This is one of those make or break items, you shouldnt
notice the background but the jewelry.
4) Get semi-pro flashes, I used to think these were hella expensive,
and some of them are, but ones found at skaeser.com, specifically the
BY-160 is an AMAZING flash. Priced at $80 each, they are worth every
penny. One will work in a pinch, two is even better. Side note on
cool lights (flourscent), they work and ive done some great shots
with them, but semi-pro flashes take many hours off of the setup
time. This (just recently) single handedly changed my game.
4.a.) Stands to hold the flashes are cool, not totally necessary,
but help a lot. Making your own is always an option. Prebuilt stands
save a lot of time tho.
4.b.) Flash Meter, kinda spendy for a good one and not totally
necessary, see section 7. This will be my next investment down the
5) Softboxes, Ezcubes and reflection control. There is so much out
there its almost a blessing. The key thing is to diffuse the light
and control your reflections off the jewelry so you dont get any
unnecessary hot spots and images. Ill leave this up to you as they
are so many options.
6) Photoshop and other digital photo editing tools. I am a firm
beliver of garbage in garbage out. A great photo should require
MINIMAL photo editing.
7) Learn the many settings on your digital SLR. If you know how to
adjust white balance, shutter speed, apeture, and ISO to get the
shot, it will help you immensly. Also, lean to read the histogram
that most digital SLR's provide, this will help adjust the prior
settings (search reading camera histogram on your favorite search
engine). Understanding this can eliminate the need for a flash meter.
8) Set aside a dedicated space for photography. This way you dont
have to tear down the setup once you get it right. Second to this, is
to photograph your setup for reference once you get it dialed in to
get repeatable shots.
Well, in a nut shell, there you have it. You too can get
professional shots with the RIGHT equipment. Personally I had the
toughest time with lighting and background, and Ill reiterate,
semi-pro flashes and pro backgrounds will make a world of difference.
If there is a need to expand on any of this, just post and ill go
into more detail as I can. Good luck and happy shooting.