Jewelry photography. Day 1.

A jewelry firm wants me to take photos for their catalog and I’m now deep into finding all kinds of information for jewelry photography and retouching. It will mainly be pictures of rings from above onto a white surface and my own experience you more or less see below so that helps and this time I have a much greater starting point although this guy, the designer is¬†extremely¬†picky – I saw some shots taken by another photographer for him, and really nice shots I might add but he was not satisfied with reflections and colors and of course wants me to perform much better.

So hopefully in the coming days I might be able to show you a thing or two from what I learn – and if you have any good pointers and ideas then please share! :) Both links, text and pictures in the comments field are welcome!

Continue to day 2.

Product photography 2

About Carl Rytterfalk

Welcome to my blog! I'm Carl Rytterfalk, a swedish photographer who loves everything that is interesting in the world of photography. In 2002 I fell in love with the three layered Foveon sensor and has since then been an addicted user of Sigma cameras. Though I use Canon and Nikon as well. :)
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12 Responses to Jewelry photography. Day 1.

  1. I’m pretty much going for the “tiffany” look. :) http://www.tiffany.com

  2. Bob van Ooik says:

    Lastolite school of photography has some interesting videos on product photography; http://www.lastoliteschoolofphotography.com/

    And I think Olga can provide you with some Russian examples, they love diamonds ;)

  3. Hi Bob, I just have such hard time listening to that guy, Mark.. He’s talking to the girls like, good girl, good kid, smily smily, that’s good girl etc.. It’s really like he’s talking to a dog. :D

    I watched the product video and I will not use a tent this time, I have one but I really don’t like it as light comes from every angle and flattens the ring quite a lot. I’ll try to be a little more advanced. haha

    Tell Olga to post her rings here!! :D

  4. marc says:

    Hi Carl, A tent is not a bad starting point, however you can work with black cardboard boards placed inside the tent to re-create some reflections in a very controlled way … it’s easier than having to bother with unwanted reflections beforehand.

  5. Bob van Ooik says:

    I do agree with you about the tent, can make things pretty boring. But it is interesting to see how he thinks when setting up for a product shot. Very mathematically and step by step.

    And listening to the guy is not easy… the stuttering also doesn’t help :D

  6. Clive says:

    Really glad Olga & Bob come right back to you, as that was first thought of experience.

    Carl, wonder _how_ the guy didn’t like colors or reflections. It would be interesting to know.

    I just looked at the Tiffany online rings, if he likes that, and what strikes me is the closed, tight control of just about everything, especially what is specular.

    And then, the important presence of the shadow gradients – becomes like using photoshop or indesign to heighten and context things.

    Also that all impact actually seems played down. That may be the intent – a kind of purity.

    Here’s another showing of rings, from David.Anderson, in Oslo, a fine shop I have been in. http://www.david-andersen.no/produktkategori/13_ring.aspx

    If you look through these, there’s more variation in how shadow gradients are used. Sometimes like Tiffany, sometimes not there.

    Also, one thing that seems to stick out is some kind of light-dark in the reflections from metal, a kind of sky/ground effect which is pretty bold. It reminds me of the effects of some visual thing you can put in during 3-d modeling, just the same for reflection.

    This light-dark for reflection helps show off the metal when that is in focus and is shiny, but also works when the metal has a diffusing pattern, or when the focus is on a gem or other setting.

    I am going to stop here, as the rest of my ideas had to do with what doesn’t seem to be the style at all, but rather would work with strong color. These guys seem to have a very close idea of what this kind of jewelry photography should look like, and sounds you need to stick with that. Maybe the David.Anderson could give you some talking point with him, ask him which he likes of the kinds of variations.

    Any ideas useful here, you are welcome. It’s all very far from anything I am expert in ;), so it is just ideas

    C.

  7. Anonymous says:

    meant to say, it occurred to me that the use of tight or deep focus is present in the variations of David.Anderson as well — and that this is another form of variation with effects like the shadow gradients.

    It’s just possible your person would like variation in these things, so that everything is not the same, even while keeping in the boundaries of his vision of it.

    Enough from here I am sure ;)

  8. marc says:

    Clive I think the images from David Andersen might be pulled together from various sources (ie product shots) for some which might explain some of the variations. Otherwise it looks like it’s shot with a big softbox overhead which creates the kind of ‘horizont line’ drawing on the pieces. I don’t think complicated lighting setups will get you anywhere as key is more to create the idea of an environnement which then reflects on the pieces. So it’s more about a darkened out studio (with no reflections from walls) and 1-3 white reflective surfaces which model the ‘environement’

    A lot of work goes often into retouching … for advertising shots for the big houses like Cartier and Tiffany many facettes of the diamond get partially redrawn, emphasized etc. the interior of the rings also often gets ‘redrawn’ as it is often less finely machined than the outer part etc etc.

  9. Clive says:

    Hi Marc,

    Yes, that was actually my point on the ‘horizontal horizon’, how what seemed a simple lighting approach would give a quite generally useful effect. Thanks for filling in how you think it was probably done – in a much more nice-to-work-in environment than the tent.

    Very interesting about the degree of retouchings you know about, also.

    In fact, the shots particularly at Tiffany look pretty unnatural to my eyes, anyway, and you are likely explaining why. It is a style.

    I’m kind of thinking I shouldn’t have said even as much as I did about any other ideas, as this is clearly a very special area, wanting to set a certain kind of scene.

  10. By looking at the best of Clives link and other shots from various places (google is king) and by zooming in close you soon find how they placed light and reflectors. haha.. Most of them uses big softbox from above surrounded with reflectors (and anti reflectors – black stuff) – camera is more or less always retouched away or hidden in the black shadows.

    And Clive, he didn’t like how gold looked like – And I think I found how to solve that – one of the reflectors should be goldish. :D Well.. As soon I’m done building my set I’ll know if it works.

    Retouching seams to be extremely important.

    Marc, tent could work. I used it on my other shots but I feel it’s very tricky to get good contrast and shape somehow. I might try it. :)

    And I agree, I don’t want it to be complicated – simple is probably the best way to do it. Still I think BIG reflectors that move BELOW the rings is important. I will try to make ONE light work. hehe.

  11. spalbird says:

    With a tent it should be still possible to use some cartoon outside to keep direct light off and some not so reflective paper from inside to get more contrast…

  12. marc says:

    If you’re trying with a tent it would be good to use a big one … I have a 90cm by 90cm which allows he placement of bleck cardboards, otherwise a studio setup is fine on condition that you can eliminate reflections of walls and unwanted objects.

    I don’t have any specifics about jewellery retouching, I just know that there are retouchers who are solely specialized in jewelry and watches, just as some are in cars and others in fashion / models (the skintones, texture) … on the other hand I think that the overly bold, over-retouched look is something that is going out of fashion, people just get tired of it … it’s also mostly reserved for big campaign visuals for big brands, I don’t think it is absolutely necessary for a more artistic and niche jewelry designer, on the contrary … maybe think about something quite creative maybe playing with lights and DOF … I really like this guys work, Pol Baril, it’s shot mostly handheld, snapshot really, continous lighting … very free and creative, not the typical ‘serious’ studio shot, I think it is fresher and more creative than ‘perfect’ industrial photography:

    http://julianmeijer.com/photographers/baril/17

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