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Advanced Jewelry Photography
How to take pictures of jewelry on black acrylic or glass

jewelry pictures
If you sell jewelry online, you want to display your products in the most flattering way possible to attract more customers. Many times it is not possible to hire a professional photographer due to cost or timing related issues, and you are faced with having to take your own photos. It is possible for you to get great shots of your items if you have the proper equipment such as lighting and camera as well as a plan of action regarding the look you are trying to achieve. We will discuss here how to photograph your jewelry in one particular attractive manner popular in high end fashion magazines.

The technique shown here requires the use of some very specific items to have success. We will list the equipment used as we go along, and a complete list can be found at the end of this document. This technique uses an "open photographic set" which does not require the use of a light tent, such as the EZcube. We will be using a softbox and diffusion paper to soften the lighting instead.

Using high gloss black acrylic or black glass for photography...

Professional photographers will use black glass to achieve this effect shown below, but high gloss black acrylic can be used in place of real glass for a safer setup. By looking at the setup below, the results are somewaht unexpected. The very shiny black background resembles a softly airbrushed background in the final image, instead of a reflective mirror.

A small 5" reflector diffused by a sheet of translucent mylar creates a beautiful soft halo around the necklace focal point.

It requires a great deal of patience to correctly line up the halo, produced by the lights 5" reflector, exactly where you would intend it to be.

The "halo" or "bright spot" is created by positioning a light with a 5" reflector, behind a diffusion panel made of a white translucent mylar material. This small light is placed on the opposite side of the table from the camera, and on the backside of the jewelry. You will not be able to tell if the halo is in the right spot unless you look through the camera lens. Contrary to what you may think, this light does not need to be pointed downward.

Raising or lowering the light stand will move the halo location toward the camera or away. The position of the light shown in these examples is the setup that produced these photos.

setup for jewelry
black acrylic
swarovski photography

The primary light source for the necklace shown, was positioned on the side of the table, facing downward toward the jewelry and table surface. A single soft box was used to soften the primary light source and prevent glare and hotspots on the surface of the crystals. We used one single 20" x 20" Kuhl Lite 120 soft box for this. This light holds four 30 Wattcamera angle compact flourescent bulbs, putting out a substantial amount of light, which allows you to shoot with your camera set to a faster shutter speed.

The large acrylic sheet used, has a protective sheet on both sides; we highly recommend leaving the second side covered with the protective sheeting until you intend to use it. The acrylic does scratch easily, so dragging jewelry across the surface is to be avoided when at all possible. Glass is more durable and can be used instead of acrylic; however it is more hazardous to work with due to the fragile nature of glass.

This technique works especially well for jewelry that lies flat like the necklace shown. Because this is an open set and the black acrylic is highly reflective, it will take some patience to line things up just right so the acrylic is not reflecting things you do not wish to see in your image. If you have the opportunity to work in an area with high ceilings, that helps to reduce the overhead reflections a bit. Be sure to keep looking through the camera lens after repositioning any part of the setup. Unwanted reflections have a way of sneaking in just when you think you're all set.

Be sure that all of your lights match in color or you will not be happy with the results. NEVER mix different light source bulb colors. I use all 5000K daylight balanced bulbs for all of my example images.


"Black Ice" Jewelry Photography Equipment

The equipment shown here works great for taking pictures of jewelry in the specific style shown above. This is a very popular style of photography seen often in high end fashion magazines.

kuhl lite

Kuhl Lite 120 soft box

  • 20" flood light & stand mount

  • Ideal for soft lighting
  • Four 30W daylight CFL bulbs
  • Adjustable 6' light stand
  • Removable diffusion panel
  • Sparkler Light

  • Creates the "halo" effect shown
  • 5" reflector

  • Daylight color bulb
  • Cool to touch {very little heat}
  • 23"x 23" Black Acrylic

  • Double sided
  • {top & bottom are high gloss}
  • High gloss

    8' Heavy duty stand with arm

  • Ideal for hanging the diffuser
  • Built in adjustable support clips

    Translucent sheet

  • Ideal diffuser for the second light
  • Large size provides flexibility
  • Durable mylar material
  • translucent material
    black ice jewelry photo kit
    halo light

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