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Tahitian Pearl Photography


#1

Like someone else here on the list (Dave Sebaste?) I’ve been using
a Sony Mavica digital camera to take photos of jewelry.

The macro mode works fine for what I need right now, and I’ve been
carrying the camera with me everywhere as a digital idea book, too.
(Taking photos of anything that might inspire designs later.)

I only have one problem.

I’ve been working with Tahitian pearls (black pearls) recently, and
I’m trying to find a way to eliminate the reflection of the camera in the
pearl. I don’t have this problem with any other pieces, just the black
pearls because of their high luster.

Does anyone out there have any good tricks for this?

Many thanks in advance…

Kat Tanaka
Carlsbad, CA (next to GIA)


#2

Katherine, I’ve been using the same camera with good success. Are
you using a diffuser on your light source? I also use a
"reflection" box made from off-white tag board that surrounds the
piece on three sides. The Sony is fun. Michael


#3

Mike, I’m still confused.

In order to get the best pictures, I haven’t been using zoom. Even
with a reflection box and diffused light, I get a reflection of the
camera. The 3 sides of the box and diffused light only eliminate
reflection of surrounding things…

Can you explain a little further for me? I must be confused.

Kat


#4

Hello Kat Tanaka

I suggest you try using a flat bed scanner, they can give terrific
results with jewellery pieces. My Umax 1200s has extremely good 3D
resolution and reveals all the colours of a good pearl…opals too!

If you want to see what scanned jewellery looks like I have
several hundred pieces on my site.

I suggest you find someone who has a scanner and get them to make
you a few pictures of stuff that photographically frustrates you. I
guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.

I also suggest you compare the 3D quality of any scanners before
you buy anything other than the Umax. Price is not a factor I
discovered, the Microtek is almost as good it seemed better than
the HP to me

web site: http://www.opalsinthebag.com
e-mail: cutter@nospam@opalsinthebag.com
Vancouver, B.C. CANADA.


#5

Hi:

I’m not Mike. His suggestions are good - and adding a
polarizing filter on your lens will solve your problem.

Regards,
Joe
@Joe_Bokor


#6
In order to get the best pictures, I haven't been using zoom. Even
with a reflection box and diffused light, I get a reflection of the
*camera*.  The 3 sides of the box and diffused light only eliminate
reflection of surrounding things...
Can you explain a little further for me?  I must be confused.

Kat, I’m using one incandescent light and one flourescent
ring/incandescent bulb over the reflection box. I will zoom
about 15% in and watch my light/dark setting. I’m using the
photo-studio program to enhance then, by sharpening focus
slightly and using the contrast/brightness features to adjust.
I’ve attached a shot. I find them fine for recording things, but
if I want really high definition I go back to my SLR 35MM and
send the film to Seattle filmworks if I need it digitalized.
Michael

[Snip] [Snip] [Snip] filename=“mvc-008f.jpg” [Snip] [Snip] [Snip]


#7
If you want to see what scanned jewellery looks like I have
several hundred pieces on my site.

Anthony, Nice site. Were the gold pieces also direct
scanned? Please tell me how you were you able to avoid getting
rainbows on the metal. Like firescale on silver, rainbows are
the bane of my scanning existence I also have a UMAX and would
appreciate any tips you could pass along. BTW, tried to look at
your cut stones, but received “URL not found” message. Thanks,

Nancy <@nbwidmer>
ICQ# 9472643
Bacliff, Texas US on the Gulf Coast just blocks from Galveston Bay


#8

Joe, How does putting a polarizing filter on the lens fix the
problem of the camera reflecting in the pearl?

kat
@Katherine_Tanaka


#9

I find them fine for recording things, but
if I want really high definition I go back to my SLR 35MM and
send the film to Seattle filmworks if I need it digitalized.

Well, if you REALLY want high definition, instead of Seattle
Filmworks digitized images, which though fine for ordinary stuff,
are still only VGA resolution (at least the last time I had it
done, a year ago. Have they improved?), you’d use any photo
processor that offered Kodak Photo CD storage. The Kodak
format, though costlier, gives you a much, much, higher
resolution, especially if you were to ask for the professional
version, which is even higher resolution, and actually produces
an image file size too large for some home computers to handle
quickly in some image editors… The “ordinary” kodak photo-cd
comes with images stored in several resolutions, the highest of
which is, if I recall, something like a 16 meg file, I think.
Maybe only four. Don’t recall, and too lazy tonight to go look
it up. Either way, thats a very large, high resolution image…
Way, way, beyond SVGA for example.

Hope this helps.

Peter Rowe


#10
    Joe, How does putting a polarizing filter on the lens fix
the problem of the camera reflecting in the pearl? 

Hi:

The polarizing filter re-arranges light wawes in a manner that
eliminates reflections. I used it to eliminate reflection from
photos ion glass frames, showcases, etc. The lens screws onto the
front of your lens - be sure to know the exact diameter of the
lens screw mount (usually between 49 - 55 mm on standard lenses).
The instructions included with the filter will enable you to
select the best setting for the filter and apperture.

I suggest to take your camera to a photoshop a have them insure
that the filter screws on properly.

There is another, possibly more expensive alternative: mounting
large, gelantine or vinyl based polarizing filters in front of
your flood light/or other light source - these will give the same
effect.

Regards,

Joe
@Joe_Bokor


#11

Kat,

You may try putting up a piece of white material with a small
hole cut in for the lens of your camera to go through. This may
eliminate the reflection of the camera.

Joe Kilpatrick
@jeweler
http://www.expressionswithmetal.com


#12
 Even with a reflection box and diffused light, I get a
reflection of the *camera*.  

The best way to prevent reflection of the camera is to keep the
lights off the camera. Also can use flat black paper or fabric
to cover the camera (except the lens, of course) which will
minimize reflections.


#13

Hello Nancy,

I have been trying to photograph jewellery and especially opals
for over 25 years, I have spent considerable funds on
photographic equipment and cameras over they years but with
limited success, my home made pin hole attachments to a cheap
35mm SLR have so far provided the best results, and yes a light
box with at least 2 incandescent, 2 fluorescent, 2 photofloods
and 1 quartz spot also a variety of drops and filters. An
incredible rigamarole with underwhelming results.

The Computer system I use was assembled with the one singular
purpose of providing acceptable digital images. My version of a
digital camera. Anything less than 100 megabytes I find
completely unacceptable and impossible to sell, therefore it’s
necessary to have a bare minimum of 128 megs in order to produce
an image in a reasonable time.

My printer resolves 1440 dpi and the closer I can get to
providing that, the better and more easily saleable the printed
images.

I became aware of the effects that you describe the first time
that I tried a low dpi scan, my monitor screen is set to 600 x
480 so scanning artifacting, or rainbows as you so delightfully
put it will show up quicker than if set to a higher dpi/lower
resolution. I avoided them by making the high resolution image
and then preferably rescaling it, or if you have to, resizing it
to the image size and colour depth you require using your
favourite graphics software. To try to save time and steps by
scanning a low dpi image that will fit the size you need is
indeed going to cause image problems. Always start with the best
picture you can get and then do to it what you need to. When you
have the smaller image that suits your purpose the huge ones get
erased. For my web site the images were all acquired from the
scanner as follows. First I scan the image, then I reduce the
image, modify the image if necessary, reduce colour depth, test
compression, save, repeat for thumbnail save. Then erase unwanted
images. No of course I didn’t get them the way I wanted them
first time, my critique plus my customers, sometimes meant I had
several many goes at scanning an object. The placement of an
object on the scanning table can affect the resultant image in as
much as the lighting direction and shadows are concerned. Often
I have to stand pieces up right again with software after
finding that they needed to be rotated to find the best direction
to reveal the required details. My animated winking kangaroo of
course is a multiple scanned gif. Every effort should be made to
exclude stray light from the scan area and boxes and drop cloths
should be employed to do this. I use a third hand
i.e.tweezers/clip in a vise to hold the jewellery if necessary.
Radio Shack item, discard the magnifying glass. The new version
of my site is well under way and I will do my utmost to avoid
broken links, sorry.

.
\ () || |/
\ /
/
web site: http://www.opalsinthebag.com
e-mail: cutter@nospam@opalsinthebag.com

Vancouver, B.C. CANADA.


#14

We’ve tried that, and what we get is an “eyeball” effect on the
pearl.

Thanks for all the suggestions…It’s good to know that we
haven’t left too many stones unturned!

for a sample of Tahitian pearl digital imaging on the Mavica, you
can look at
http://www.tahitiperles.com/public/jewelry/lagoon.html (Actually,
take a look at the whole site and let me know what you think. You
can send me e-mail via webmaster@tahitiperles.com We’ve only
been up for a few days, and I’d really appreciate the
feedback…)

Kat Tanaka
kat@vincent-tanaka.com
webmaster@tahitiperles.com
http://www.tahitiperles.com


#15
The polarizing filter re-arranges light wawes in a manner that
eliminates reflections.  I used it to eliminate reflection from
photos ion glass frames, showcases, etc  (snip).

A simplified explanation is that light reflected off a surface -
the swimming pool, a sheet of glass, a pearl - is largely
polarlized. That is the original light which was transmitted on
all planes is now allowed to reflect light mainly on one plane,
as if it had passed through a set of parallel slots.

Likewise a polarizing filter allows light through only on one
plane. If the polarizing lens is rotated so that its filtering
plane is at right angles to the polarized reflected light (
largely guesswork as to the position with the dimmest image),
most of the unwanted reflections will be eliminated. This
allows the wearer of Polaroid sunglasses to see the bottom of a
swimming pool as illustrated in those TV ads.

Kelvin Mok (klmok@shaw.wave.ca)

Home: (403) 463-4099 | Home FAX: (403) 430-7120


#16

Regarding the reflection problem, do what the pros do with the
non-digital cameras, make a tent. I use a box made of foam core,
with a top of tracing paper. If I were having the problem that
you are, I would add white fabric across the front of the box,
with a slit in the middle, stick the camera through the little
slit. The reflection is reduced to just the camera lens. I don’t
know how to minimize it any more than that.

By the way, I based my system on both the way we shot jewelry at
the appraisal co. where I used to work and Charles’s many
articles on the web site. Charles said to use Tungston film and
lights – 500 on top and 250 on either side. So far I’ve done 3
or 4 photo shoots and haven’t blown any bulbs. The results have
been fabulous – the lighting is very even, not a shadow
anywhere. beautiful. I encourage anyone who’s been hesitating to
go ahead and set up a system like that. It’s only difficult the
first time-- sourcing the bulbs, etc. After that, you just drag
it all out and set it up. Hope that helps.

Elaine
Chicago, IL
US
Great Lakes


#17

Here is an idea, since I’m not familiar with all the details of
your camera and setup arrangement of the environment in which you
are taking photographs.

If your camera has a built in flash, turn it off. Use an
auxilary light with some type of diffusing material (such as
white silk stretched over a frame) which you can transmit the
light through. You will want to experiment with orienting the
light in different positions to gain the best visual conditions.
This should eliminate a significant amount of the reflection of
your camera. Good luck! Experimentation is the key.

Sincerely,
Greg


#18

My thanks to everyone who responded to my plea for help.

To summarize.

The actual problem I asked about was not about the reflection of
light sources into the camera, which is the usual problem with
gemstone photography, but the reflection of the image of the
camera itself
in the Tahitian pearl.

Essentially the answer I got was the one I was afraid of, which
is that you can’t, except to try to minimize it.

The other responses I got were all terrific, and had to do with
diffuse, even light. Again, I find this is mostly a problem
with and not with Tahitian pearls. (I usually
photograph Tahitian pearls in natural light, outdoors because
they have better color that way.)

If people are interested, perhaps there should be a digested
version of this available. I think I have all the
messages which were sent, but they are on 3 different machines
(I’ve been travelling a lot in the last 3 weeks) so it will take
some time to compile. (OTOH, perhaps it’s already been
DIGEST-ed?)

Thanks again to the orchid community for all the help!

Kat Tanaka
kht@vincent-tanaka.com


#19
      I've been working with Tahitian pearls (black pearls)
recently, and I'm trying to find a way to eliminate the
reflection of the camera in the pearl.  I don't have this
problem with any other pieces, just the black pearls because of
their high luster. 

A piece of cloth or poster board with a hole cut in it for the
lens. Posaition the cloth/board between the camera and subject.
Shoot through the hole.

++ Everyone has a right to be stupid. Some just abuse the privilege…++