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Making your jewelry photographs look interesting and different can set your designs apart from the competition. The old cliché stands true, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” In the on-line world of e-commerce, the more you stand out, the more you are remembered, this will translate directly into sales for your sites.

Setting up the camera from a new angle and using controlled lighting to highlight the features of your products are some of the tricks we will cover in this lesson. Looking into different props and backgrounds are also ways to increase the impact of your images. So, with this said, let’s get started.

(Click on any image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  • Choosing and Setting up Props and Backgrounds
  • Setting up the Tripod
  • Programming the Camera Settings
  • Adding the Macro Extension Tube
  • Choosing Your Camera Angle
  • Setting up the Quantum Q-Flash
  • Setting up Dedo Spot lights
  • Using gels and the Dedo gel holder
  • Using a LiteDisc to control reflections

Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

Lighting Equipment

  • Photoflex Boom
  • Photoflex BoomStand
  • Photoflex LiteDisc 12" White/Silver
  • Photoflex LiteDisc Holder
  • Photoflex LiteDome X-Small 12x16x9
  • Strobe Light with Accessories
  • Focusable Lightsource with Gels


Choosing a Background

Over the past few years we have developed a great relationship with a local jeweler, we give them the photos we take in exchange for the loan of some exquisite pieces. For this trade, we had the opportunity to shoot a set of sapphire pieces, including the ring we will shoot for this lesson.

Because this item is made of platinum, we felt a dark background would be a good choice to set off the subject and add some drama in the form of contrast.

While on a trip to the local garden shop, I found some stepping stones that looked very interesting. Although we did not need them at home, they were so cool I had to get a few. When this assignment to shoot a new jewelry lesson came along, these stones found their purpose.



The black speckled finish on the stepping stone offers the contrast we wanted to set off the ring. As we mentioned, looking at the subject from an unusual angle will add more interest to the shot, so we decided to set the stone on end and placed the ring on top.

This position gives us the opportunity to set the camera low so we can look up at the subject. To accomplish this setup, we used a large spring clamp to hold the stone in position on the black seamless paper we covered our table with (figure 1 and 2).


Utilizing a Tripod and Choosing a Camera Angle

With our props arranged, we could then position the camera. To add more drama to the shot, we chose to set the camera below the subject and look up at it. This added implied power and importance to the subject.

We set up our tripod (figure 3), in a position so that the camera would be approximately level with the center of the stone then attached the camera.

Figure 3

Programming the Camera Settings

With the camera now in position we can make our adjustments to the settings. First, set the exposure to manual by setting the mode dial to M (figure 4).

Figure 4


The rest of the camera setting were programmed to the following:



Adding the Macro Extension Tube

When shooting jewelry, it is important to get as close to the item as possible to better capture the details that make the piece so special.

There are physical limitations to camera lenses that restrict how close a lens can focus on an object. Fortunately, many lenses can be used with macro extension tubes which greatly decrease the minimum distance required between the lens and the object to achieve sharp focus.

We illustrate this point in figures 5 and 6. The first shot of these chess pieces was shot with the 14-54mm telephoto lens set to 54mm without using the extension tube. The minimum focusing distance of about 6-7 inches restricted how close we could get to our subject.


Figure 5


Notice that we were able to get relatively close to the chess pieces with both pieces in acceptable focus. After this shot, we added a 25mm extension tube so we could get still closer to our subject (figure 6).


Figure 6


Notice that we were able to get much closer to our subject. There is much greater detail in our foreground object. Also notice how any focus on the background object has been drastically lost. Very shallow depth of field is characteristic of using extension tubes.

There is also a drop-off in the exposure level when using an extension tube. Expect to increase your exposure by one full f-stop when using a 25mm extension tube.


The extension tube seats between the camera body and the rear of the lens. Figure 7 shows the E1 body with the 14-54mm lens attached before the 25mm extension tube is inserted.

Figure 7

Before adding the extension tube, the lens needs to be removed from the camera body. To remove the lens, press the lens release button on the front of the E1 body (figure 8).

Figure 8

Figure 9

Rotate the lens barrel counter-clockwise (about 1/8 turn) until it releases from the E-1's lens mount. Put the lens safely aside (figure 9).

Figure 10

Use the red registration dot on the extension tube to line-up with the registration dot on the E-1 lens mount plate (figure 10).

Place the extension tube into the lens mount plate. Make sure the plate on the back of the extension tube sits flush on the lens mount plate.

Rotate the extension tube clockwise (about 1/8 turn) until it clicks into the lock position (figure 11).

Figure 11

Remount the lens using the red dot on the plate of the extension tube to line-up with the red registration dot on the lens (figure 12). Rotate the lens clockwise (about 1/8 turn) until the lens locks into postion.

Figure 12

Setting up a Strobe Main Light

We set up our Main, or Key, Light strobe on a boom, attached a light dome. We then attached the battery pack and Radio slave (not shown).

We then positioned the light to shine down from above the subject (figure 13).

Figure 13


With our main/key light in place we made some minor adjustments to the ring and checked our exposure with our flash meter. The meter read 1/60 @ f /8.0 so we set the camera accordingly and made out first shot (figure 14).


Figure 14

Figure 15

Our results showed that we needed to move the main/key light forward to let some light fall on the front of the ring.

We adjusted the light and repositioned the ring (figure 15).

We checked the light with our meter and got the same reading so we shot a second exposure.

Figure 16


This result shows the light we wanted on the top of the ring. The metal looked good, with clean highlights and good shape (figure 16). The stones now needed some work, we wanted to see the facets in the stones and the color of the sapphire come through more vividly.



Utilizing Focusable Spot Lights

To open up the stones and add some color and life to them, we employed a few Dedo Spot lights.

The lights we used were Dedo 150 watt, tungsten focusable light units. We would use three total and would utilize a focusing lens and an assortment of gels.

For the first spot light, we set up a simple light stand and attached a light to it (figure 17).

We then attached an 85mm focusing lens to the Dedo light (shown on boom) (figure 18).



We set this light to the left side of our set at 90 degrees from the camera and focused it on the ring. To correct the color of the Dedo light, we inserted a blue correction gel into the gel holder slot on the Dedo light (figures 19 and 20).



We checked the effect of the light through the view finder and had our assistant make some adjustment to fine tune the light. We also made a change to the position of the ring to show more of the stones on both sides. When we were happy with the look, we took another exposure (figure 21).


Figure 21


Our result showed a great improvement in the detail of the stones, we were finally seeing some sparkle in the facets on the right side. As a nice bonus, the rock we were using for our prop now had some wonderful texture.

To add some of the same look to the left side of the ring, we then set up a second Dedo Spot light on the right of the set. For this light, however, we attached the Dedo light to a DL-Holder so we could boom the light in closer (figures 22 and 23).



Again we had our assistant make some final adjustments to the lights while I looked through the view finder. When we were set we took our next exposure (figure 24).


Figure 24


Now we were getting close to a noteworthy shot. The addition of the second spot light did the trick for the stones on the right side of the ring. For the last action, we will add a 12 inch LiteDisc to bounce some light back into the subject and open up the metal on the front of the ring (figures 25 and 26).



Now with the final pieces in place we were ready to make the hero shot (figure 27).


Figure 27


Here is a comparison of our results shot, you can see the progression of the lighting solution for this lesson clearly when you see them side by side (figure 28).


Figure 28


As always there are no hard-set or fast rules to photography, this is just one interesting way to shoot jewelry. Once you have set up the lights, take the time to look at the subjects. You will find many other unique possiblities. These kinds of shots are always different, so have fun with it, and good luck.


Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

Lighting Equipment

  • Photoflex Boom
  • Photoflex BoomStand
  • Photoflex LiteDisc 12" White/Silver
  • Photoflex LiteDisc Holder
  • Photoflex LiteDome X-Small 12x16x9
  • Strobe Light with Accessories
  • Focusable Lightsource with Gels

Recommended Links

  • To learn more about Photoflex equipment, go to www.photoflex.com
  • For more tips and techniques on lighting and cameras, visit www.webphotoschool.com and sign
    up for access to the Member Lessons.

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