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To show off sparkling jewellery is an interesting and exciting task. Taking pictures of luminous and reflective objects brings some challenges with it and therefore requires a little more time and concentration. However, we have put together a few tips and ideas to help you master this photo project.
Make preparations and create a stylish setting
Before you begin with the setup of the set and the installation of the lighting, you should take a closer look at your piece of jewellery. Check that the jewellery you want to photograph is free of blemishes and clean all around. Also be careful not to leave fingerprints on the reflective metal. This is the only way to show jewellery to its best advantage on photos.
When designing the set, you should focus entirely on the jewellery. Avoid unnecessary details and decorations that could distract the viewer from the main motif. For a stylish presentation of your jewellery you can either use a model or set up a small backdrop. If you decide for a model, the observer immediately recognises how the jewellery looks on the body. However, the model can also distract from the small details of the jewellery.
If you want to create a set instead, it is best to use a neutral and uniform background for all photos. For example, a white or black acrylic glass plate is particularly suitable. This reflects the light easily and gently. This allows you to create beautiful plays of light in the photo that let the jewellery shine. Another idea to create atmospheric effects in the background is the use of sequined fabric. With some light and the right distance you can create an interesting bokeh effect, which does not distract from the jewellery and sets beautiful highlights. Depending on the type of jewellery, natural materials such as wood or stones can also create a suitable atmosphere. You will also find further suggestions on the subject of “Set construction” in our article“Studio equipment for your own four walls”. However, it is important that the jewellery and the setting fit together and that you set them up in a place that offers enough possibilities and space for the right lighting.
Correct lighting – the key to successful jewellery photos
The correct illumination of jewellery can be a challenge and requires a little patience. It is advantageous to work with two to three light sources at the same time to avoid annoying shadows as much as possible. Align all lamps with your jewelry to illuminate it well from different angles. Softboxes are particularly suitable for this purpose as they provide diffuse light and therefore only soft shadows. Alternatively you can stretch a cloth or a thin sheet of paper in front of the light source. But be careful with conventional light bulbs: Due to the heat generated by the light bulb, the cloth or paper can quickly catch fire. If you don’t have any lamps, you can also set up your set directly at the window. The midday sun around 13-14 o’clock is well suited for the illumination. If you would like to photograph jewellery more frequently, a light tent could also be of use, as it ensures good lighting from all sides.
Once the setup is complete, it is important to find the right place for the piece of jewellery. Place the jewellery in such a way that it does not reflect too much. Turn and move the jewellery to illuminate it correctly. Placing a lamp under the set can also reduce reflections and shadows.
The correct camera settings for macro photography of jewelry
Since jewellery often contains small and filigree details, you should use macro mode here. Macro lenses with a focal length of 60 mm are ideal, as sharp images can be taken at a distance of only 20 cm from the subject. This allows you to show off the seemingly inconspicuous details impressively.
When adjusting the aperture, you should take care to avoid blurring in order to be able to reproduce the jewel in all its details. In order to achieve the correct depth of field in your jewellery photography, you should therefore work with an aperture that is as closed as possible. Aperture values between f/5.6 and f/16 (depending on lighting conditions) create this effect. In order to avoid noise, the ISO value should be kept as low as possible, which in turn requires a longer exposure time. For longer exposure times, use a tripod to avoid camera shaking.
To ensure that your jewellery is depicted as authentically as possible, you should set the white balance manually. White elements should appear as pure white as possible, i.e. free of blue and yellow influences. To find the right setting for the white balance, a handkerchief can be attached over the lens. You can use these test images to check and select the appropriate white balance. The colour temperature should also be set correctly in order to reproduce the colours as realistically as possible. Ideally, you should choose a colour temperature between 5000 and 6000 Kelvin, because this range corresponds to daylight. If the white balance is not optimal despite the manual settings and the test photos, it can be corrected during post-processing. Photograph in RAW format in order to have the best possible conditions for post-processing.
Once the set has been prepared and the camera set to your satisfaction, you can now venture on to the actual jewelry photography. If you want to sell your jewellery in a shop, try to always photograph it from the same perspective. This way you will achieve a uniform presentation and thus serious product images.
With a little patience and good preparation, pictures of your homemade jewellery can be made very easily. Even if the illumination of reflective surfaces can be difficult, don’t lose your courage and always try different angles. Jewellery is the star of your photo, so try to avoid distracting picture elements. If the photos are to be used to illustrate a shop, then you should take care to make the pictures as uniform as possible in order to look serious and professional. Further information on successful product photos can also be found here.