How do they photography diamond rings like that?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by laughing buddha productions, Apr 19, 2007.

  1. Hi, I am starting to photography jewelry for a friend. We're comparing my work
    to some Cartier ads for diamond rings in a magazine. I assume a lot of that is
    Photoshop but I want some other opinions on a couple of things that seem very
    tough to replicate (me duplicating what we see in the ad.)

    First my setup: photoflex lightent with two daylight fluorescents on the sides.
    Sometimes an SB-800 on remote at the back firing of the top of the tent or from
    the front at the piece - I move it around for each piece till it looks nice.
    Also used a monolight with a softbox from top down.

    Nikon D70 with Nikkor 105mm lens. Usually f16 or f22 and around 1/60 or 1/125
    at ISO 400.

    So what I am trying to figure out is:

    1) The facets of the round brilliant cut diamond are amazingly defined with
    great edges and some nice black, gray, whites that really show the cuts of the

    I am shooting with some black tape/cards, but I'm assuming a lot of that is
    post-produced in PS?

    2) They get incredible depth of field on their rings. I can't seem to match
    that with my 105mm lens. Especially if I am not shooting the ring 'flat on.'

    Are they merging a couple different shots or using Smart Sharpen in PS?

    I am just wondering if I need to do a lot more of the work in PS on these rings.

  2. Obviously there's likely to be some PP work - but skilled photographers use the computer to enhance good images, not to rescue bad ones, so computer work, although important, is secondary. Work of this quality has been around for generations, long before we had computers.

    Top end jewellery photography is a skilled speciality. In terms of equipment, the very least they'll be using is medium format (but very likely large format)which will allow them to shift the plane of sharp focus and get the apparent depth of field you're seeing. Stopping the lens down on a small digital camera to f/16 or f/22 won't give you enough depth of field, it will however give you diffraction - f/11 is probably the smallest safe aperture for your camera.

    Lighting is usually a large light source for fill plus a number of small, hard light sources - spotlights, gobo-ed lights, maybe a light brush, plus various absorbers and reflectors.

    I don't know what lighting might have been used for the shots you've seen, but I'm sure it wasn't done with a light tent!

    I'm also sure that they'll be using very slow film (or low ISO digital) to get the required image quality - certainly not 400 ISO.
  3. Nikon sells the 85mm f2.8 PC lens with tilt/shift--I've done similar work with a PB4 bellows and an enlarging lens to tilt the plane of focus.
  4. "2) They get incredible depth of field on their rings."

    They're probably using movements on a large format camera.

    You can attack the problem another way. Take a look at software such as:

    Google this topic as well. It's a problem people run into with microscopy as well. There're a number of open source and research packages which does essentially the same.
  5. We were taught to use tents which will equalize your light and soften it up so there isn't too much highlight - Other photographers might use photoshop and others might collaborate photoshop with photoraphing the object and lighting it piece by piece and then interposing the pictures into one to create the perfect lighting situation.
  6. High end gemstone photography is a highly specialized area. No I don't do this high end lighting myself, but I can tell you whomever is shooting Tiffany, Cartier, Bulgari, etc. isn't using light tents for individual stones (large collections of stones, rings, etc. might be a different story, but I doubt it). There's usually a lighting specialist whose only job is to light the diamonds. My guess is that fiber optics, lots of gobos, and hours and hours of time are all required just for one piece. Of course there's post production too... there's always retouching.
    Sometimes for things like wristwatches, they will shoot the face, strap, crystal, etc. all separately so each part can be lit perfectly, and combine them in the computer. I suppose the same thing could be done for individual facets of a gemstone.
    Your question deals more with lighting than with the camera or lens, but they are probably using the best digital back possible on a view camera of some sort.
  7. Google "hosemaster fiberoptic"
  8. Thanks guys, very helpful. I am getting some fantastic shots, but it's not easy to repeat without altering the setup for each ring or piece. I do use a tent and have a couple of these LEDs on flex necks (some cheaper ones available sold as BBQ lights!). So I guess it's just experimenting with all kinds of constant lighting, gobos, etc.

    Well, photography is an art after all right?

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