Capturing the glitter in jewelry

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I shot some jewelry as the first half of a photo project: I want to make pairs of images with jewelry alone and worn by a model. I am doing this project with two friends: Chatou the model who also provided the sets of jewelry and Annick the makeup artist. Chatou provided a diverse selection of jewelry, each set presenting its own challenges, from different shapes, specularity and colors.

This project appealed to me because I wanted to try shooting shiny and reflective objects like jewelry and also because I am certain that shooting a pretty face modeling jewelry will equally be as interesting… The project centers around the jewelry so the makeup will be designed accordingly. I am looking forward to see what Annick comes up with based on the pictures.

I settled on dark backgrounds for the jewelry. I might make some high key pictures as well so I get a wider choice to mix the jewelry with portraits to form pairs. I tried three different backgrounds: a sheet of dark plexiglass, black velvet and dark river pebbles normally used as decorative elements when filling a jar or vase. I tend to like the dark plexiglass in the end because of the mirror-like effect.

Most of the sets are lit the same way: with two softboxes, one of each side and an additional flash with snoot to focus extra light on some elements like the sparking ring in the first shot for example.

I drew two main lessons learned from the exercise:

  1. No matter how much you clean the jewelry, dust still shows up everywhere. Using the plexiglass background makes it ten times as bad. I must get some compressed air to see if it performs better. I spent A LOT of time to clone out dust.
  2. Gold screws up the AWB of the camera. I really needed to adjust the color balance to get gold jewelry to show up as a gold color.

I performed the exercise fairly quickly since I did not want to retain possession of the jewelry for longer than I needed. It seems quite valuable to me so it must be quite valuable to somebody else!

Next comes the interesting part: the portrait session. This should prove quite challenging as we integrate jewelry and makeup design in portraits.

I inserted a gallery of some of the candidate images for the project.

Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Sigma 180mm f/3.5 EX macro lens

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