Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Something for the Ladies (Suni’s Jewellery)

As some of you may already be knowing, my wife Suni is into making  jewellery. This is one of her really serious passions, I should say. She has so many hobbies that we have lost count of them longtime ago :-)

The onus of photographing her jewellery, naturally lies with me. And since I can’t charge her for the work, I take my own sweet time before I get interested enough to shoot them. Often we end up fighting on how to photograph a particular jewellery. The “creative difference” arise especially on the background to use and angle to shoot from. :-) Sometimes the fights are so serious that we have to suspend the shooting sessions to finish the fight :-)

Here are some of the fruits of our fights!

I generally use two setups. A macro-box, which I made at home, to photograph the close-ups of jewellery using flash. About 90% of jewellery close-ups are shot using this macro-box. And the sunlight + diffuser setup. This gives the subjects a more natural look.

Here is the link of how to make the macro-box or light-box. I used the instructions in this blog to make my macro-box


The Setup: Here are my 2 Setups

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I use both FL-50R and FL-36R for when using the box. I use them in the wireless TTL mode, as can be seen. This means they are not connected in anyway to my E-30. The E-30’s built-in flash acts as a transmitter which triggers these flashes.
Picture shows the triggered flashes. The external flashes are extremely expensive. If you want a cheaper version of this setup, then you can also use 2 150W white lamps on either side, instead of flashes. They will be less than 1/10th of the price of flash.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The diffuser setup is cheap and easy. All you need is a window from which you get direct sunlight (morning or evening) and a diffuser. The big white, round thing in the picture is the diffuser  - setup directly in the path of the sunlight.
The object is placed in front of the diffuser.
The diffuser softens the harsh sunlight so that the object gets illuminated evenly.
This is the cheapest form of setup (about $40 for 5-in-1 diffuser/reflectors set) for macro photography. But here you may not have the luxury of changing the direction of light as you wish.

 Point to Ponder: What works best for jewellery photography

  • Always shoot from a low angle, this gives the jewellery you are shooting a perspective. Sometimes the top angle works, but I generally prefer low angle.
  • Jewellery items are not big subjects, so always try to get as close as possible without losing any part of the jewellery. The jewelry should should fill the frame. If it doesn’t then people may wonder “what the heck is the subject here?”
  • Shoot earrings in bunch – they not only help fill the frame, but they also make the picture interesting.
  • Add accents, items (such as a flower, twig etc) which enhance the effect of jewellery. Generally accents with contrasting colors work.
  • Choose a contrasting background which makes the jewellery stand out.
  • Shallow depth of field (small f-number) works best. It gives the jewellery an interesting tone. Always ensure that the front most part of the jewellery is in sharp focus. If you have the mid-section or the back part in focus then the whole picture will look odd and uninteresting.
  • Use post processing to enhance colors and contrasts.

NOTE: All designs are copyright of Sunita Purushottam

Click on the images to enlarge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Red necklace (“kundan”). This was taken in natural light using diffuser
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The kundan taken using the macro box.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Kundan on the red box inside the macro-box
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Pearl and gold bead necklace. Macro-box. Shot from top using tripod and 2 150W lamps.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The black bead necklace inside the macro box. Using 2 flashes.
Glass bead necklace
Woven seed bead necklace
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Black glass bead necklace
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Assorted earrings + 1. Shot inside the macro-box.
The onyx bead necklace