What is the biggest mistake amateurs make in jewelry photography? Read on to find out what the two most essential aspects of great jewelry photography are, and how the successful jewelry photographer manipulates these aspects to achieve dramatic and compelling jewelry photography.
Have you heard the term candela? Yes, it has to do with light that is part of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation that the human eye can see. So what has candela to do with jewelry photography? Well, everyone knows that photography is a form of art made possible by light. Without light, there is no photography. Understanding and controlling light have always been the most essential aspects of great jewelry photography.
The biggest mistake amateurs make when taking pictures is expecting to capture the same range of light on a digital back as seen by the eye. Not so fast: the amount of light you see is a broader range than the amount of light a digital back can capture. While the eye can see a wide range at the same time, digital chips cannot. The difference is that a digital chip can capture light all across the light spectrum, but not all at the same time like your eye can. Let’s examine a few lighting techniques used in digital jewelry photography.
This is the simplest form of lighting for jewelry photography. It is achieved by placing the light source around the camera lens pointing towards the jewelry to be photographed. For example, flash units on top of cameras, ring lights, or soft boxes next to the lens. Front lighting is flat, and is best used for illustrative purposes. When used for jewelry photography, front light is unexciting and sometimes causes glare from certain areas on the reflective surface that reflects the light from opposing angles.
Side lighting gives the impression of three dimensions. By illuminating the jewelry from the side, the viewer gets the impression of depth, as opposed to the flat, two-dimensional effect of front lighting. Side lighting can be most effective in accentuating the surface textures of jewelry. When using side lighting in jewelry photography one must be careful in placing the light to avoid unwanted reflections.
AVAILABLE NATURAL LIGHT
Available natural light completely surrounds a subject. This lighting situation is very even and already exists in an indoor or outdoor setting without adding any artificial illumination by the jewelry photographer. When combined with other reflective surfaces such as silver cards, it can be an effective technique in jewelry photography to achieve soft and pronounced edges on metals and gemstones.
Direct lighting results in high contrast, especially when it’s coming from a single source such as the Sun or a fixture equipped with a fresnel lens. It produces high contrast captures with deep shadows and overall drama. In jewelry photography it’s mostly used in combination with other softer light sources in order to add a certain creative effect to the general capture. Using high contrast lighting adds impact and accentuates jewelry textures. It can also be used to light through diffusing surfaces such as acrylic or cloth to create softer shadows.
Diffused scattered light rays, produce softer light, lessen contrast, and smoothes out details in the jewelry. The resulting images tend to be dreamy and romantic. This technique is very good for showing overall and shadow details. It is the most widely used method in jewelry photography.
Spotlighting is a useful tool to focus attention on a certain area of the jewelry. Direct spotlighting is very dramatic, however, in jewelry photography most surfaces are reflective; therefore special techniques must be applied when spotlighting to diffuse and control the reflections and glare. The end result can yield compelling and dramatic jewelry photography!
Avi Roth’s photography can be seen in publications such as Vogue Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Los Angeles Weddings. His work ranges from advertising to fine art, single products to complex sets, and single models to large crowds. Roth describes his artistic approach as follows: “Every photograph is a story written with light. Like a story without words, it evolves from a concept, thought, or emotion in my mind’s eye, into a latent image, a silhouette of shapes and forms. This shadow-less three-dimensional space is the genesis of my artistic interpretation. I use my personal ‘palette’ of light to create shadow, color, and space, and blend backgrounds to complete my visual composition.” Roth has received numerous awards recognizing his professional virtuosity and fascination with elegance. He attended Tel-Aviv Polytechnic and graduated with honors from the London Film School.