Newsletter -  February 27, 2013

The Jewelry Crafter

A newsletter for the home jeweler

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Photographing Jewelry


Mary Harvey

If you’ve ever tried to take pictures of your jewelry creations, you know that it can be a daunting task.  Getting the lighting just right, eliminating “hotspots” and shadows on your pieces, especially those with gemstones, and getting the color balance correct takes a bit of doing.  There are many ways to take good photos of your jewelry, and in this issue, we will tell you about some ways to do just that.

Probably the easiest way to get images of your jewelry is with a scanner.  You lay the piece on the scanner bed, and scan the picture directly into your computer.  This  method works only if your piece isn’t very 3-dimensional.  Also, there is the problem of glare that must be dealt with using post processing software.

In order to eliminate shadows and “hotspots” or glare from your photos is to use some sort of light diffusion.  If you shine a light directly on a piece of jewelry, the metal and the stone will reflect the light, causing a bright spot that detracts from the overall picture.  By diffusing (or filtering) the light, you eliminate these bright spots.  An easy and inexpensive way to do this is with a gallon milk carton.  Cut off the bottom of the carton, place it over your jewelry piece, and put the lens through the top.  Shine some daylight bulbs through the plastic and take the picture.  The plastic evens out the light and illuminates the piece without glare.

While the milk carton method works OK, you are limited in terms of size and shape of the pieces you can photograph.  If you need more 3-dimensional pictures, or are photographing larger items, you may want to invest in a “tabletop studio”.   There are several kits on the market that are great for taking jewelry pictures.  Personally, I use a Cloud Dome setup.  This consists of a large white plastic dome with a bracket on top to hold your camera, which makes things much easier when you are photographing multiple items.  There are different collars and wraps available for larger pieces, or taking angled pictures, etc.   You have to add your own lighting, however.  I use 2 desk-type lamps with full-spectrum daylight bulbs.

Along the same lines of the Cloud Dome is EZ Cube tabletop studio system.  Available in several different sizes, this collapsable fabric cube also diffuses the light.  You place the object you want to photograph into it, shine your lights through it, and take your picture.  The EZ Cube is available separately, or in a kit with lighting and other accessories.  The advantage this has over the Cloud Dome is that it is collapsable, and doesn’t take much room to store.

Another system that I just saw recently (at Wal Mart) was a Sunpak Portable Mini Studio-In-A-Box.  For $39, you get everything you need to take high quality pictures - a diffusion tent, two backgrounds, a tabletop tripod for your camera and two video lights.

Whichever method you use, you will need some sort of photo-editing software to post-process your photos (adjust lighting and color balance, crop, rotate, etc.).  Most digital cameras come with some limited software which can suffice, but if you want to have total control over your photos, you will need a program like Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Corel Photo Paint, Microsoft Digital Photo Suite, or one of many others on the market.  

If you want to learn more about taking quality jewelry photos, both the Cloud Dome site and the EZ Cube site have tons of interesting articles.  Whether you need pictures for a website, Ebay or your own portfolio, having the right tools can make the job much easier.

In the next issue, we will talk about digital cameras, and settings used to take good jewelry photos.


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