Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Jewelry Photography-Tips and tricks

Carol Dekle-Foss
While taking photos to fill my website for this holiday season, I thought what a perfect time to do a post on jewelry photography. If you struggle with your photography, don't be too hard on yourself.  Jewelry photography, or macro photography, is one of the hardest things to learn. Even for professionals! 

 Here's one of my very first photos posted to Etsy back in 2011. And I thought this was good! Oh my. You can't see the details in the pendant, the background is distracting and there is no focal point to the image. It's hideous.
I tried EVERYTHING back then to get good shots. All sorts of backdrops and props, shooting inside and out, different cameras..etc etc. Finally, I've reached a point where I feel SOMEWHAT comfortable with my photography. It only took me FOUR years! 

As a visual type, I had a difficult time grasping photography basics and how each camera setting affected one another. With the below cheat sheet I had an aha moment. 
Thank you Miguel for this helpful guide! I printed it out and kept it wherever I took photos to remind me how each setting worked. Keep in mind, even if you only have a basic camera, it's bound to have one or two of these settings that you can play with. 

The two most important settings I look for when taking pictures are APERTURE and ISO. Let me SHOW you why. I only changed the aperture on all the below photos and let the camera decide for the rest of the settings. Also, no flash. Never...ever. It flattens your image, gives it harsh light and icky shadows. 
Looking at this photo, you can see shooting at f/2.8, which is a large aperture, you get a shallow depth of field. They call it a large aperture, because if you look at the cheat sheet, you can see the hole is wide open and allowing more light in. THAT took me awhile to understand. 

Okay, now the important part. If more light is coming through that little hole, then the ISO can be lower which gives you a CRISPER photo. So looking at the photo shot at aperture f/8, there was enough light in my lightbox for the camera to still choose an ISO of 100. At f/8 there is a deeper depth of field, so more of the background will be in focus. Not a bad setting for jewelry, as long as you can maintain a low ISO setting with enough light to maintain a crisp photo.

With the aperture set all the way to f/32 you get a real deep depth of field. Unfortunately, because not a lot of light is coming through that little hole, you lose the crisp ISO setting and start to see YUCKY noise.

I added a dark background here so you can see how lighting affects the ISO. The background made it darker in my lightbox, so when shooting at an aperture of f/32, the camera chose a higher ISO of 2000. If you compare the first photo to the last, you can see the noise or graininess. Bleck.

So there you have it. One little piece of the photography puzzle to help you with your jewelry photos. I hope that sheds some light, ha... on how aperture and ISO work together. I encourage you to play with your camera's settings, and see what changes you can make to your photos.

I have one more little trick to share. Do you like to hang your earrings for visual effect? I like the look, but what happens sometimes is you get shadows that hide the details, like in the below photo. Here is a way to prevent that.

 I picked this tip up from a post on how to make your silver jewelry shine. It works great to prevent shadows as well.

By using a reflective surface you can bounce light back up to highlight your jewelry and avoid shadows

Pretty clever! You can make your own reflective surface using aluminum foil as in the post, or purchase some from a craft store. Here is some from Joann.

I hope this information will be useful to someone!

If you have any tips or tricks you'd like to share, we would love to hear from you!


Kathy Lindemer said...

Great tips! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Oh, now I think I get it! Thanks so much for these great tips...right into my favorites!

Carol Dekle said...

Your welcome Kathy!

I'm glad it was helpful for you Lynda!

Patti Vanderbloemen said...

Okay....I have to actually print our your blog post (and I WILL) and have it in front of me...with my camera for my next photo shoot!! Silver is always the hardest, for me, to photograph. I will be trying a reflective surface next time, as well! Great post...thanks for the tips!!!

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