Photographing Jewelry for Commercial Use

Jewelry is a subject often used in commercial photography. They are often seen in print ads, e-commerce shops and stock photos and they always appear to be all shiny and glittery. What is not commonly known is that a whole lot of effort has been placed to get those stunning shots. Jewelry is one of the most challenging objects to shoot, often being very small and made of metal or crystal, therefore having highly reflective surfaces. 

If the purpose of the jewelry shots is for commercial use, then it is essential that the shots be perfect, especially in online stores where consumers buy the products based on the visual impact of the photographs, rather than that of the actual pieces. No matter how pretty or expensive the jewelry item is, if it is presented poorly in a picture, then online buyers will be turned off from purchasing the product. 

When photographing jewelry, there are three main things to consider:

1.Proper lighting is crucial – it can’t be stressed enough how important the lighting setup is to getting great jewelry shots. Pieces have to be very well and evenly lit, with hardly any shadows. It can be easy to get blown up areas since gems and metals are highly reflective and bounce back the light. A light tent is a great way to diffuse the glare of the light while softening the shadows as well. Although you can buy a light tent in camera shops, you can also make one yourself with a few cheap materials. 

You must also remember that each jewelry piece is different from the next and therefore, the lighting varies as well. A diamond ring is lighted differently compared to pearl earrings in order to show it off best. Surfaces may be opaque or translucent, glossy or matted, smooth or faceted, etc. Knowing how to light jewelry properly is a result of practice and experience and this brings me to the next point:

2.Experience is the best teacher – it takes lots of practice to achieve good and consistent results when shooting jewelry. There are so many things to consider, from the cut of the gem to its size, kind, brilliance, opacity, color, and so on and so forth. Jewelry items are all shaped differently as well, and one must know how to present each piece in the best way possible. Although you can use guides and tips from photo books, other people or the internet, there’s a whole lot more to learn from constant practice, from trial and error, and from experimenting to find out the ways that lighting and set up can wholly capture the beauty of the jewelry piece. 

3.Use a capable camera and lens – a camera with a good macro lens or a macro mode would be satisfactory although ideally a high quality macro lens can best do the job.  Since the camera must not get too close to the jewelry because of the possibility of reflection, a good macro lens can capture pin sharp details and high magnification even from two feet away.  A great macro lens may cost a lot but it can truly deliver and if you constantly take jewelry shots for commercial photography, investing in this lens might be a good idea. 

4. Use a model – you can shoot jewelry by themselves on a platform or in their case but you can also make use of a model to give customers an idea how the jewelry would look on the body. For instance, you can have a close up shot of an earring dangling from an earlobe or a watch around a wrist.

Additional tips when shooting jewelry:

• Use wax to make the jewelry stand. If you want a pendant or a charm to be propped up while you are shooting it, place a tiny ball of wax at the bottom of the jewelry to keep it upright. 

•Add sparkle or brilliance by training light directly on the faceted gem. Move this light around until the gem starts to shine in certain areas without causing severe blown out highlights. There should also be a light on each side of the jewelry, separated by the light tent. 

•Create reflection for added visual interest. A black reflection, for example, can be achieved using a high gloss black acrylic platform. 

• Use one light source to make pearls more round. Two or more could make the pearls appear flat. Position the light source above the pearls and you can use a clear/white high gloss acrylic platform as its base to get a soft reflection. 

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Photographing Black and White Macro


Macro photography can have many themes such as nature macro, super macro, abstract macro and such. We’ve touched on nature macro and explored how to capture the intricate details that only nature can create. Now let’s have a closer look at black and white macro, where the image is still presented really close up but where it is devoid of color. In black and white images, the patterns, shapes and textures become more prominent. To top this off, by using macro, we are presenting the subject in an uncommon perspective and showing off details that we ordinarily would not notice.

Since you are dealing with two techniques, macro and also black and white, you might find it challenging to shoot, especially if you are just starting out. Here are some suggestions you might find helpful:

Choose black or white subjects – since the objects you will be shooting are already black or white (or both), it can be easier to compose. You can already see the details of the object without the distractions color can cause.

Look at objects from various angles – an object may look different at certain angles, especially if the focus is very close to it. Find out what is the main attraction of the object; is it its shape and form? Does it have distinctive patterns? Once you’ve answered that, shoot the object at the angle that best shows off the asset.

Think out of the box – Aside from documentation, photographs can also be used to tell a story or to make a statement. Flex your imagination by creating the photo, not just taking it. Instead of taking pictures of objects that are already there and shooting them as is, create something by having a hand in how they will look in the shot. See if you can do something to the subject so it shows your creative touch. Since the image will be black and white, experiment with how the blacks relate to the whites, how the lighting will create or remove shadows, and how the subject can look unique.

Notice what’s around you – we’re so used to ignoring the things around us. Either they are too small to be obvious, or we look at them so often that we don’t really see them anymore. It might also be that some objects, such as black or white items, are not as obvious as colored ones so they hardly catch our attention. Holding a camera poised to take a picture can make you suddenly more observant, and ordinary things strewn around the surroundings begin to seem more eye-catching. 

Convert to black and white in post processing – most digital cameras nowadays have a black and white mode but it is advisable to convert photos to monochrome during post processing instead. This way, not only will you still have a colored photo if you changed your mind, but you will also have more options to play with in controlling tonal contrast.

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5 Useful Tips on Shooting Nature Macro

One favorite photo theme is nature macro. Nature is a willing and attractive subject and it does not take very much effort for us to get good shots. By using the macro technique, we can present nature in ways that others wouldn’t normally see, perhaps the furry edges of a moth wing or the cracked vein patterns of a leaf. Listed below are a few suggestions for getting great nature macro shots:

Be observant – nature abounds with millions of fascinating details and chances of hidden beauty and all we have to do is look. It’s astounding just how varied natural patterns, colors, or textures are. The trick is to notice them. By capturing them in an image, you will have the opportunity to share with others a world that is seldom noticed and appreciated. When Mother Nature is your subject, there is no lack of something appealing to shoot.

Be patient – when taking macro shots of creatures such as insects, patience is a must since it can be difficult to make them pose the way you want them to. They fly, they crawl, they jump, they do anything it seems but stay still long enough for you to get a good focus on them for a shot. If you want to take a picture of a butterfly fluttering from flower to flower, you might have to follow it around and shoot as soon as it lands on a blossom. You will probably end up with a lot of blurry shots but with enough patience, you might find one or two gems in the bunch. 

Camera capabilities – most point and shoots have a macro mode which can take fantastic images. Some even have a super macro mode for extreme close up shots. DSLRs can be fitted with macro lenses that can take fine and crisp shots. Optical zooms can also make the subject appear much closer than normal. Whatever camera you have, find out if it is capable of taking decent close up shots. If you can’t get any closer to the subject without it becoming blurry, you can make a shot appear macro by cropping the image in post processing.

Get down and dirty – when photographing nature macro, there are two common ways to go about setting up the shot. One is in a studio with all the lights and umbrella stands and maybe a few special macro lenses. The other is down on your knees, hunting for creepy crawlies, flowers or leaf patterns. Although the second option will get you dirty, it might also be more fun. Shooting the subject in its natural habitat has its pros and cons. Although you will not have as much control as in a studio, the subject (if a creature) will appear more at ease if shot in its surroundings. Flowers and leaves can also be photographed without you having to pluck and discard them after the shoot. Indirect sunlight is also one of the best light sources around and can beautifully illuminate the subject.

Capture color – one reason why nature is so visually appealing is that color plays a big part in it. Colors are used to entice prey or to ward off predators, and flowers are breathtaking in their display of colors, from the deep dark crimson of roses to the most delicate of lavender hues of, well, lavender. Solid colors, color blends, pastel shades, vivid hues, just look around and you’ll be amazed at the splashes of color that only nature can provide in abundance. Try to capture color in your macro shots, whether it is a flower petal or the iridescent wing of an insect.



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A Closer Look at Macro Photography

Macro photography is one of the most popular techniques being used and if you haven't tried it out yet, now would be a good time. Simply put, it's taking close up shots of the subject and that means really close up. The world around us is full of fascinating details, mostly unnoticed since these are so small. By taking macro shots, we are bringing attention to the intricate and unusual features of objects that normally go beneath our notice.

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