HELP ME! See embedded video..

I now tried so many different setups – and I’m still not satisfied with how my ring shots come out. I do make one or two images here and there that looks perfectly ok but as soon as I change ring with a different shape everything has to be changed / or lots of work in post (PS) has to be done. See video for more info on what I want from you, you could help me more than you think. :)

The opal plastic sheet that I have is 1.5 x 2.5m (about). I have four flashes that I can use, although I think two or three around and one below shining through somehow could be the best solution. (I need it to be a really white background).

Watch it in HD please. :) Also, for my Chinese audience. I have 500MB per week to upload in VIMEO and my limit for this week is up, I will try to post stuff there as well so that you can see videos. If you want any video (like the videos from last post and post it on some chinese version of youtube, then please mail me and I’ll send those to you!.

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. :)
This entry was posted in 105mm, Adobe Lightroom, Flash, Movie, Studio. Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to HELP ME! See embedded video..

  1. Ted Johnson says:

    Hi Carl,

    The video freezes for me at 2:37.



  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ll wait. :p

  3. I embedded using html5, perhaps that’s why? I hope it’s just a processing thing and hopefully it will be done soon. So yeah.. Wait a moment and play again. :)

  4. uri c says:

    hello carl

    it’s uri

    insted of that reflection plates use this “polystyrene Foam Board”
    here is a picture of that.
    [img] polystyrene.jpg[/img]

    it’s much better that the one you use now

    or try that one.

    have a nice day
    i will ask my freind is known photographer in israel

  5. uri c says:

    Carl use a Polarizers to remove the redlactions

  6. Uri, if it was that simple. hmm.. You know what? I will try.

  7. spalbird says:

    Hi Carl,

    in the meantime you should understand a polished ring is a mirror which is sensitive to all angles. (The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection). The further away the reflective area, the bigger it has to be not to be seen as a single object. The further away the reflected or direct light source, the less difference is between light reflected from front and backside. Due to the tiny ring compared to the distance to the light source, don’t expect any significant difference in contrasts.

    What you see is actually the reflected background. The more polished the ring, the more important is the background is even and perfect not to occur with its texture in the ring. If you need a contrast on a certain place you simply have to place a grey…black object on a place in the reflected ray which automatically will appear as incident light to your lens. It is not easy, but I think you should be able to experiment and learn faster with a 3D modelling program and a ray tracer ;)

    Beside that, I have to say I am lucky that I don’t have your problems and hope you can do it soon to your wishes, with all the advice others will offer ;)

  8. javamonk says:

    Chinese audience, me? Thanks Carl :)

    We can’t access VIMEO too. But I can access through VPN, and download by KeepVid.

    There’s a funny way to shot rings:

  9. Ricky says:

    don’t stress you too much!
    And, No, I have nothing to teach you.

  10. Manuel DF says:

    I got to agree with spalbird, thats difficult stuff you are dealing with. For your shooting environment I’m also pretty clueless. but perhaps this could help you to get some reflections where you want them with not too much PS:

    – take two pictures, each with a different origin of light. Adding these two in PS is not much work and you can get a) things away from the picture wich don’t belong there b) perhaps more contrast in specified areas c) surreal lightning for whatever it’s worth

    – you got that ringflash, don’t you? Placing it parallel to the subject could give some nice effects. Ring on ring :D

    – your subject won’t run away. What about long time shots? Painting the ring with light?

    By and good luck Carl!

  11. Just putting my 2c worth in. My idea would be something like <this. Hope it helps or at least gives others ideas


  12. Isiah says:

    Hey Carl,

    Try a light dome made from 2 or 3 light umbrellas… use cookies and tape to create details in the ubrellas


  13. Clive says:

    Hei Carl, just to let you know I watched it through here also. I had felt this was a very challenging job from the beginning….

    Spalbird has good technical advice for visualizing what you are doing. I thought of using a 3d program – I have one. It’s not trivial to set it up, especially with realistic rings. And it’s not trivial to learn how to use, so I’m not sending you straight to it.

    Your jeweler wanting the shot more from the top makes this more difficult, because it means the black circle of the camera lens is more in the field of reflected view of the ring surfaces.

    it’s not the same problem to solve as uri c’s photographer with the necklace.

    I’m thinking for the moment of some way you could take two shots with the camera and view-hole shifted, calibrated so it’s consistent and easy to merge them, to replace the lens reflected part rather than painting to take it out. There would be some shift in geometry, but maybe it could work.

    It’s this particular problem which makes me think the 3-d program isn’t helpful enough — you have to solve it straight. You are already good at lighting and arranging ‘stuff’ for soft contrast in reflections. That’s one problem. The camera aperature is another problem, I think. Working on the two problems quite separately may help, I think, gain you a sense of control.

    Free work for soft reflections, and free work for the camera ‘eye’ reflection, I think. If you can get that setup for two shots to remove the ‘eye’, it seems the work would begin to be within reason.

    Best ideas for this evening, anyway, Carl.

  14. Mark Alan Thomas says:

    I think I’d solve this by using a 3D program, but maybe you could set up some sort of a mirror which would allow you to get the shot without actually placing the camera above the ring?

  15. Clive says:

    Mark, I think the mirror would still show as a black circle, wouldn’t it? It’s just the geometry of the situation.

    I had thought about ways to get a double exposure with control and least upset, to avoid having to paint out the camera opening. Possibly tilting or sliding the floor the ring is on might be easiest.

    Thinking about the geometry for an alternate solution, I wonder, Carl, if you could get what the shop owner is after without taking such an overhead camera angle which emphasizes the camera reflection.

    What someone suggested last week about using Photoshop to change the apparent perspective so that its as if you did a close shot, so that the bottom of the ring were smaller. I think you’d want to do it with Photoshop distortion, because if you did it with the camera you’d be closer with a wide angle, and the dark image of the lens would show larger. You can defocus the bottom at the same time, if useful, which softens reflections as well as writing and metal finish.

    Mark, I admit thinking about the 3d setup helped me visualize the geometry, which is the control…!

  16. Rowan, Your way is likely working on something that has a semi reflecting surface – good for product shots.. As everything surrounding the ring will be seen (at least in some cases, with some rings). But you do get a white background that’s easy to clean up – especially with a flash under that chair. :)


  17. Spalbird, well, my thought is like this. I want the light source to look beautifully faded – and it only does that when it’s out of focus – so if I use the small tent, then light will appear to be sharper and less diffused, and if I move it away it will just look like a tiny square – but if I use a huge circle of opal plastic around my ring so that everything reflecting (except something closer like black plastic or paper for the sake of contrast) then I hope that 90% of the surrounding will appear to be nicely oof (out of focus) and that way I’ll need much less attention in photoshop.

    hmm.. Ray-trace is a good idea. I actually lived inside 3D Studio when it was in DOS environment and then as MAX in Windows and I should be able to recreate a pretty good environment using that. hmm.. Do they make that for Mac these days?

  18. [img][/img] Perhaps this would work.

  19. Jens Flachmann says:

    Carl Rytterfalk: Do they make that for Mac these days?

    No they still don’t. I would recommend the much more contemporary modo by luxology dot com (I swear that I don’t get paid for this, but I’m a modo user). Looking into their forums, there are a lot of photographers working with it, and luxology claims photographers are part of their target audience. They even have an optional system for simulating a complete photostudio “Studio Lighting & Illumination Kit”, but that is a bit slow and not really necessary in my opinion. Anyway, you can work very nicely in modo with different light sources, scene elements, reflectors, quickly modeling things, moving them around in a nearly real time global illumination environment. I would even pay the $25 for the complete evaluation package (there is a free trial too), because it brings the content files and most importantly the spotlight tutorial video series, which are essential for understanding such a complex software. And it’s fun, because the guy who does those tutorials is imho some kind of a genius.

  20. Thanks Jens.. I just built my box as I sketched above and will see how it looks, but I will definitely take a look at Modo (I know about it.. ) – Thanks for the tip!

  21. mauersegler says:

    Hey Carl

    First at all the photos are already very good, I think you are not far of. I goggled some gold rings and I believe the last little bit you are after is there as soon it is well presented in a flyer.
    All I would do add a little shadow on the ground to give the ring a base. A tiny bit more depth of field could help as well.

    I don´t know much about lightboxes, but how about think out of the box. literally ;-) And get something ready-made I could imagine something like a white round glass lamp could help.
    or even the classic rice paper one. You could add some white or grey paper or tape to get some reflections.

    good luck

  22. Video of te new “opal” setup.
    The video is exported to youtube directly from ScreenShow and it squeezes the movie. But it’s only ment as a comment so I’ll live..

  23. It looks great can’t wait to see some finished shots!

  24. Ted Johnson says:


    The vertical cylinder is an elegant solution!


  25. Carl,

    I feel you need to change your way of thinking in regard to jewelry photography.

    Simply put, don’t photograph the ring, photograph the landscape surrounding the ring. I know this sounds counter intuitive, but the ring acts as a reflective optical element with positive and negative focal lengths, spectral filtering characteristics, sharp or diffuse reflectance, all bounded by physical edges. Unlike the lens elements of your camera lens, the ring, when thought of as an optical element, falls completely within the field of view.

    You need a scene to photograph, that scene is viewed through an optical element external to your lens, the ring. The scene is distorted by the ring’s curvature, filtered by the metal’s spectral characteristics, and clarity varied by the surface texture from diffuse to highly clear.

    Surrounding your ring with “nothingness” means you capture a scene devoid of any interesting elements. Using a macro lens of high magnification positioned close to the ring brings the camera into view.

    I propose that you set up a table out side, on a sunny day in natural light with either a clear blue sky or an assortment of clouds, the time of day also allows different angles of lighting, light character, or spectral quality. This setup could be positioned within a garden with trees of other ornamental plants, amongst a city scape of architecturally interesting buildings, in a scenic landscape with neighboring mountains, if you have such near you, or simply out in an open field where nothing is visible but sky. Position your camera away from the ring, by at least a meter – this will reduce the camera reflections to sub-pixel size, use a long focal length lens, with the camera in mirror-up mode.

    Now photograph the landscape seen through the optical effects that the ring imparts to the image. But, there are two potential focus settings. You could focus near infinity to bring the greatest clarity to the landscape as distorted by the ring optical element, or you can focus close, on the ring optical element itself, which will preserve the landscape out of focus in the ring itself.

    The surface beneath the ring can be a mirror, metallic reflective, semi-gloss, or mat surface – you can experiment with color as well since all these will become part of the scene captured through the optical effects of the ring.

    Another great aspect of my proposed method is that the ring photographs would have a real world flavor. Instead of a barren empty nothingness, the viewer can see the ring in all it’s glory in a real world setting.

    Good Luck and I hope this helps


  26. Hi Stephany,
    (thanks for adding as a comment here as well)

    In my case I have a jeweler guy that has an idea, and he wants a clean white cut out for prints etc, and doing that outdoors is simply put not that easy, AND he wants this black / white softish look – with no distractions so to speak but still colorful.

    BUT, me my self and I we love your thinking and – that could bring an entire world into account – each ring, or set of rings could have their own setting outdoor, indoor etc etc..

    Thanks for your opinion, it’s appreciated and gives ideas for future projects..

    Oh, if you have any examples from someone else that done the same thing – please share!

    // Carl

  27. Ted Johnsson says:

    Hi Carl;

    I’m no strobist, but I remembered something from 25 years ago. When I was putting together a catalog for the Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette I drove the car up to a photographer’s studio in Boston. He did work for BMW and other companies, and his studio was in a warehouse space with high ceilings, etc. The only “wall” visible was a huge curved, neutral grey form that was shaped like a 10 meter wide “C”. It curved over the floor, which was also painted grey. There were no hard edges where the back met the floor or the ceiling. Everything outside this area was painted flat black. The reflections produced off the car were beautiful in the final prints, and of course their was no Photoshop then to clean things up.

    I’ve enclosed a sketch that simulates this setup using the plastic sheet you have. I hope it helps.


    [img] setup.jpg[/img]

  28. Carl says:

    First test.. (ring wasn’t cleaned and I’m not done with reflections, but still.. )
    [img] shot 2010-09-08 at 17.41.29.jpg[/img]

  29. Ted Johnson says:


  30. Clive says:

    Smart idea with the ‘opal’ tube, Carl. To be candid, though, the circular top I think is showing pretty dominantly in your first example photographs…it is very tricky to illuminate the end, isn’t it. You would really like a half-sphere for a cap.

    I wonder what would happen if you put the big opal tube on its side???

    Ring and its planar rest stays right-side-up, sitting now on the sides of the tube, and so the ends of the tube tend to be much farther from important reflective paths.

    This kind of borrows from Ted’s soft-backing, but keeps the soft nearly 360 in the forward plane, as you have with the small camera hole via the slide-in pieces. Video was good to see what you’d done there.

    An idea, anyway…you are getting lots of good ones.

  31. Carl says:

    Here is two more “real” versions from the new setup. I googled the word gold and found some good shots that looked like realistic gold that I mimicked the best I could. But no painting done now, only some smaller adjustments. Here you see the LR version and the “fixed” version. Shadow will always be the same.. :)

    I made two, one more square shaped and another rounded.

    Clive, better like this?


  32. Pingback: Jewelry photography - The Opal way! | Carl Rytterfalk Fotografi

  33. Jens Flachmann says:

    Just a little simulation test in the modo: I (by no means an expert in such things) tried to construct a scene after Steaphany’s recipe by using just a HDRI environment and a so called “physical sun” for lighting and reflections. The HDR-image in this case is made from a photo taken inside a garden with a big tree, grass, a building and blue sunny sky, light probe projected – it’s really all around the model.
    I put the ring model on a very small round desk at a height of about 80 cm above the virtual ground and rendered with 3 different “desktop”-materials: simple white, blue and mirror.
    While I quite like the way how the sky makes the gemstone shine, I don’t like the gold, its too dark and dirty looking and the shape of the ring gets to much obscured.
    So it may become a bit difficult to control the reflections in a real life outdoor situation, but it could be an interesting try on a sunny day.

  34. LionelB says:

    For a white, neutral surface I thought an option to explore was the end of a white bath (opposite the taps !) With the side panel off a light underneath a resin bath should show through I think. This is taken with just a mains LED lamp head on but it illustrates the idea. DP2 far from ideal for this task but …

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