Jewellery Photography – Rings

Whether you’re looking to photograph a $50 dollar pair of hand crafted earrings or a $15 000 diamond ring for an advertising campaign, knowing how to photograph jewellery is a useful skill for any photographer.

This product photography class provides solutions to some of the most common challenges associated with jewellery photography, including controlling reflections on shiny surfaces and working at close magnification.

Challenges:

  • Controlling reflection on shiny surfaces
  • How to light small objects on a white background
  • Getting sufficient depth of field at high magnification
  • Best camera settings for product photography

Solutions:

  • Create a light cone to remove reflections
  • Gradient light with pockets of light to highlight key areas
  • Use focus stacking to get the whole image sharp
  • Select a small aperture for maximum depth of field, low ISO and highest sync speed

To overcome the problem of unwanted reflections, I created a light cone, which I placed over the rings. This blocked out any reflections and allowed me to create that graduated lighting that is so great for jewellery photography.

Creating a light cone for jewellery photography

Creating a light cone to reduce reflections on the rings.

The next step was to light the rings. I started with my fill light (a bare bulb point light source), before gradually adding a few more to highlight key elements and add some extra sparkle. Although I used picolites with projection attachments for this shoot, you could achieve the same effect with a tight snoot.

Lighting setup for jewellery photography

The effect of each individual light.

The final stage of the shoot was the focus stack. Even though I was shooting at a small aperture, I couldn’t get sufficient depth of field due to the high magnification. Before I could start my focus stack, I had to finalise my lighting and ensure my camera was locked down (I use my Manfrotto Super Salon, but any sturdy tripod will work). Working in manual focus, I then took a series of images shifting the focus from the front (the diamond) to the back (my background surface).

Here you can see the first image of the focus stack, with the focus on the front of the diamond ring:

Focus stack for jewellery photography

The first image in the rings focus stack.

And here is the final image of the focus stack:

Focus stack for jewellery photography

The last image in the rings focus stack.

In the above image, the last of the focus stack, the focus point is at the base of the ring. I took a total of 12 images to ensure my whole image would be sharp.

Once I’d completed the focus stack, the next step was to put it all together in Photoshop. You can learn how I did that here.

The final image:

Rings photography final image

The final image of the rings jewellery shoot.


To read more about to photograph jewellery, visit our blog post where you’ll learn my top tips for jewellery photography. If you’re interested in watching more jewellery photography classes, I’ve put together a selection of courses you’ll find helpful below.

If you have any questions, please post in the comment section below.

Comments

  1. Hi Karl … I recently shot 28 wedding rings (sets of two LADY and GENT) and I initially struggled to eliminate reflections. I literally had to cover every surface in my small studio with white sheets. Your method is a very simple solution and time saver. Maybe the complexity of it is if the client needs various angles or positioning of the rings. For my case, it was easy to change positions and orientations of the rings without having to move anything around. I used a frosted acrylic on top with bare bulb which gave me amazing gradation on the rings, bottom I place a white which filled the shadows pretty well. I did not glue my rings since the client wanted the various orientations. I am learning alot from you. Keep up the good work. I am based in Kenya … visit us during your next holiday. Come enjoy the Safari experience, wildlife and beautiful beaches.

  2. Hello,Karl I have a question, why you do not use a tilt-shift lens, do not get the same result as the focus stack? I’m thinking if I should buy a tilt-shift lens or continue doing focus stack, thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Mauricio, a tilt and shift lens wouldn’t be of value in this instance as the plane of DOF was already similar to the camera. When you use a tilt and shift lens it is usually to correct a plane of DOF that is different to the standard line of DOF – see this chapter to see this https://www.karltayloreducation.com/class/tilt-and-shift-product-shoot/ you will see that the products are laying in a plane that is different to the angle of the camera, also in many macro cases even with a tilt and shift it won’t cover DOF enough and only in one direction as per the video link. For example it would work on a watch face but not so much the whole watch but you can also use stacking with tilt and shift.

  3. Another very useful video Karl. One question: what did you use to glue the rings without damaging them ? I assume it is some sort of rubberised glue that rubs off – it will be essential that it comes off cleanly.

    So far I’m repeating variants of your course shots with only continuous LED lights (examples are up on my website barryedge.co.uk). I mention this as by using long exposures I can also light paint some shots, which adds options to some compositions – in case anyone is reading this …

    Many thanks, again …

    1. Hi Barry, thank you. The glue is a standard glue stick for a heat glue gun. It sets hard but peels of easily from most surfaces.

  4. Hi Karl,

    Great tutorial as always. I am aware that you are not to keen on continuous LED lights, but if one was doing only jewelry photography then would you consider using continuous light like the Broncolor F160? Would you also considering fashioning some sort of a flexible acrylic paneling system to make it more of a table top setup?

    Barry, i find orthodontics wax to be the best when it comes to mounting jewelry. It is easy to come off and will not damage the polishing. Nice effort with the continuous lights, may I know what type of lights are you using?

    Amit

    1. Hi Amit, I really like the new F160’s because of the way the light is dome shaped and they have a very high CRI so in that respect I’d have no problems using them for jewellery.

    2. Thanks for the glue tip Amit.

      The lights are various:

      Some are high intensity, high CRI LED strip lights (not the cheap ones) that I’ve fashioned into shapes to mimic soft boxes. Then using LED drivers and variable transformers I can control the intensity. All rather DIY, but I thought I’d be able to shape the lights this way rather than use off-the-shelf LED panels.

      The rest of the lights are high CRI LED bulbs, again with DIY electronics to control light levels. I’ve been careful to match the colour temperatures.

      It’s early days for me, but with the latest LEDs the options seem to opening up (for static objects). It’s been way cheaper too to set up, which is nice.

  5. Hi Karl,

    Great tutorial!

    What is the purpose of that plastic you put under the Lee diffusion material? Tnx

  6. Hi Karl,
    as you mention it seems to get really challenging to achieve specularity with this small light cone.
    Would you build it like this again or would you create a bigger one – or would you maybe try a different solution?
    Thanks a lot!
    Jens

    1. Hi Jens, I’d build it again like this as the control on the smooth lighting is so easy for the metal. I’d consider taking the cone away though and then lighting the diamonds separately or making a hole and inserting a fibreoptic light (like used on the live cheese shoot) to find some specularity.

  7. Hello Karl,

    how do you ensure in this case without exposure meter for an identical exposure of the white background in the event that different rings should be photographed, but the surface should be identical – because the photos should appear side by side?

    Many thanks from Germany

    Gert Lapoehn

    1. Hi Gert, in the software that I’m using to shoot the pictures I can measure the RGB values very precisely from any specific point and then I can compare those values with any new image, so there is no need for a light meter, the tethered shooting software is far more accurate.

    1. Hi Andrea, I’ve never used one but I know some photographers that do. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with it myself.

  8. Hi Karl,

    Can I use a simple paperboard to create the light cone or do you recommend some specific material? What can I use to don’t change the color and have a good result?

    Thank you ! 😉

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