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Shooting jewelry in individual pieces can be a challenge in itself, but when you have several pieces or a set, the difficulty factor can go off the scale. This does not have to be the case when you apply the right tools for the job.

Some of the issues that come up, such as controlling the light in the room, controlling the contrast and light levels on several items at a time, or keeping unwanted shadows out of your shots, can easily be remedied by using a shooting enclosure.

The LiteRoom is a shooting enclosure manufactured by Photoflex Products designed to give exceptional results easily and consistently. The LiteRoom is also available in kits that include 2 light sources providing a complete product lighting solution in one package. These kits are the right tool for the job and can make shooting your entire line or collection an enjoyable task.

This lesson will take you through the quick and simple steps to getting great images of your jewelry and make shooting consistently good shots every time a breeze.



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

Topics Covered:

  • Preparing the set
  • Arranging the props
  • Making the camera and exposure settings
  • Using the Starlites
  • Adding sparkle with Dedolights

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

Lighting Equipment

  • Dedolight DLH4 light head
  • Dedolight DT24-1 power supply
  • Photoflex LiteDisc Holder
  • Photoflex Starlite Large LiteRoom Kit 2

Set and Props

  • (2) Sawhorses
  • 3x4' ½-inch plywood
  • Seamless paper (white)
  • 12x12" marble tile
  • 12" piece of ¼-inch armature wire

 

Preparing the Set: Placing the LiteRoom

To get started we set up two sawhorses in the studio and set a 3X4 foot piece of 1/2 inch plywood, covered with white seamless paper, on top of them. Then we set our 12X12 inch marble tile towards the front of the table top (figure 1).

A big design advantage of the LiteRoom is that it does not have a floor, or bottom. This allows the propping of your tabletop set to be completed before placing the LiteRoom on the shooting surface. A fully enclosed shooting tent must be placed first before propping your set. This can be awkward and restrictive.

Once we had our surface and background in place we assembled the LiteRoom and placed it on the set (figure 2).

(Note: For detailed assembly instructions on the LiteRoom, please visit photoflex.com. “Assembly instructions” are at the top left of the LiteRoom product pages.)

 

 

Arranging the Props

To arrange our sapphire set, we bent the 1/4-inch armature wire into a coat hanger shape; you could easily use a coat hanger for this as well. We chose to use armature wire because it is made of aluminum and is much easier to control. You can find this wire at most any hobby or art store.

Once we had the shape we wanted, we arranged the props on the wire and attached it to the connector on the top of the LiteRoom. Another unique feature of the LiteRoom is that it uses a rigid connector in the construction giving you a strong, stable place from which to attach and suspend subjects and props (figures 3 and 4).

To get the ring to stand up we placed a very small amount of “funtac” on the bottom of the ring and pressed onto the marble. This is a semi-adhesive clay-like material that many photographers use to stabilize small objects on a set. Funtac can be found at many art supply stores.

 

 

Making the Camera and Exposure Settings

Before starting the lighting process, we set up the Manfrotto 475B tripod and the 468MBC4 Ball Head. We then attached the Olympus E-1 Camera and 14-54mm Lens onto the quick release mount, then onto the tripod.

The camera settings need to be established before shooting images.

 



Figure 5

Adjusting the Aperture and Shutter Speed Settings

In order to control your depth of field and your exposure, you need to manually adjust your aperture and shutter speeds. To be able to manually adjust your aperture and shutter speed settings, first turn the Mode Dial to M (figure 5).

You will notice two sets of numbers displayed next to each other in the control panel. The first indicates your shutter speed and the second indicates your aperture setting.

 

Aperture

The most important thing to remember is that your aperture setting controls your depth of field. The smaller your aperture number, or “f/stop”, the shorter your depth of field will be. You can adjust the aperture number by turning the Sub dial until the desired aperture appears in the control panel (figures 6 & 7).

 

 

Shutter Speed

The first group of numbers displays your current shutter speed. Once the aperture is set, the shutter speed can be adjusted to accommodate the proper exposure. You can adjust your shutter speed by turning the Main dial until the desired shutter speed appears in the control panel (figure 7).

One of the nice things about digital cameras is that if you take a shot and it's either too light or too dark, you can immediately make adjustments to the shutter speed until you render the proper exposure. Likewise, if you want to maintain a certain shutter speed, you can make adjustments to the aperture to render the proper exposure.

Other Camera Settings

We set the camera to the following:

Then we placed the camera on the set, framed our shot and sealed up the LiteRoom around the camera lens to block out and control all the ambient light in the studio (figures 8 and 9).

 

 

Using the Starlites

To start the lighting process, we assembled the first of the two Medium Starlite Kits included with the LiteRoom Kit. Once the kit was put together, we placed it to the right side of the set about 135 degrees from the camera's point of view, or just off the back right corner of the LiteRoom and about 3 inches away from the enclosure (figures 10 and 11).

 

 

With the main light in place, we made our light meter reading. This is a very simple action to take when using the LiteRoom. Simply un-zip the front panel of the LiteRoom just enough to reach in, then take the reading and seal it back up without having to move anything on the set. Try this with another enclosure and you will most likely have to move the camera and re-set the props when your done (figure 12).

Our meter read 1/30 @f/8.0, so we set the exposure on the camera and made our first shot (figure 13). Our result shot shows that the first light is doing its job well. We have a beautiful rimmed highlight on the subjects and the perfect light level on the marble surface.

 

 

The next step in the lighting process was to add the second Starlite Kit as our fill light. Once we had the Kit assembled we placed on the set to the left side of the camera approximately 180 degrees from the first Starlite Kit and about 8 inches from the LiteRoom (figure 14). Figure 15 shows this setup from the rear of the set.

 

We turned off the main light and took a shot using only the second light, or fill. Figure 16 shows the effects of using only the fill light.

The fill light is adding highlights to the left side of each piece of jewelry.



Figure 16

 

In figure 17 we see a comparison of the main light only, the fill light only and both lights working together. We could call this a wrap at this point and have a great shot.

 



Figure 17


 

Figure 18 shows a comparison of the one-light setup and the two-light setup. Notice how the second light added nice highlights to darker areas on the jewelry.

 



Figure 18

 

Adding Sparkle with Dedolights

To add some sparkle to the stones in our set, we will add a focusing spotlight from Dedolight. This is also a tungsten light so it will match the white balance setting of the Starlites. Because it is a point source of light, it will add some specular highlights to the stones giving them more life.

To get this in the LiteRoom, we set up a light stand with a LiteDisc holder and mounted the Dedolight on the end creating a mini boom. Then we set the stand to the left side of the set just behind the fill Starlite. We adjusted the arm so that the focusing lens of the light was directly over the camera and pointing straight down. We then opened up the front port on the LiteRoom as we did when we took our meter reading and rotated the light to point at the subjects. We slipped the lens into the hole and then sealed the LiteRoom back up (figures 19 and 20).

 

In figure 21, we see the effect of the Dedolight only. Notice how only the stones and some of the metal now have the bright specular highlights we were after.



Figure 21



Figure 22

In figure 22, we see the results with all the lights back on. We have a balance of light from foreground to background and the sparkle in the stones we were looking for.

 

In figures 23 and 24, we see the comparison of the lighting with just the Starlites and the Starlites with the Dedolight. Here you can really see how the specular highlights finish the shot and give it the sparkle and life your competitors product shots probably do not have.

 

 

All in all a very nice shot was made in less than half an hour from start to finish. Now that the set and lighting is set up, we could replace these products and keep shooting with just a few minor changes to the lighting.

 


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

Lighting Equipment

  • Dedolight DLH4 light head
  • Dedolight DT24-1 power supply
  • Photoflex LiteDisc Holder
  • Photoflex Starlite Large LiteRoom Kit 2

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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