A Short Course Book
Digital Desktop Studio Photography
The Complete Guide To Lighting and Photographing Small Objects with your Digital Camera

Case Study—A Turquoise Necklace

 
Jewelry can be both fun and challenging to photograph. Here we are photographing a turquoise necklace made from stones on many shapes.

The Assignment

The assignment is to photograph a turquoise necklace for a web site and brochure. We need dramatic lighting to show it off.

1. Composition

The first step is to arrange the long necklace in an attractive, compact way so it fills the frame. It's placed on a sheet of white plexiglass that's raised on two paint cans so we can get a light underneath. The camera is positioned so it looks down on the necklace at an angle and "sees" only the reflected diffuser in the plexiglass on which the necklace rests.

2. Lighting

Two lights are used, one below the plexiglass and facing up, the other behind the necklace and facing forward through a diffuser. Two fill cards are used to bounce light back to illuminate the front and sides of the stones making up the necklace.

3. Camera Settings

Depth of field is a concern so a small aperture is used. Color is also important, so white balance is adjusted.

The setup has two lights (the one below the plexiglass is off in this picture), a diffuser, and two fill cards. The background the camera sees is the diffuser reflected in the white plexiglass.

With the light below the plexiglass turned off, the rear light casts nice shadows in front of the necklace, making it look like it's sitting on melting ice. If you look closely, you'll see that some of the shadows are sharper (harder) than others. The sharper ones are formed by the hot spot in the center of the diffuser because it's small and harder light. The softer shadows are formed from the areas of the diffuser that are not quite so bright, but larger.By moving the light around behind the diffuser you can change which are sharp and which are soft. Keep in mind that this effect diminishes as you move the light farther away from the diffuser and its surface become more evenly lit.

This picture was taken on the same setup but with the light below the plexiglass turned on to brighten the background and eliminate all shadows the background is dropped out.


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