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LIGHTING FOR 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 of 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

FRONT LIGHTING
The simplest form of lighting. It is achieved by placing the light source around the camera lens pointing towards the object 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 is unexciting, flat and sometimes causes glare from certain areas on the reflective surface that reflects the light from opposing angles.

SIDE LIGHTING
Side lighting gives the impression of three dimensions. By illuminating the subject 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 textures of surfaces. Used in jewelry photography one must be careful placing the light to avoid unwanted reflections.

AVAILABLE NATURAL LIGHT
It 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 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
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 as well as accentuates textures. It can also be used to light through diffusing surfaces such as acrylic or cloth to create a softer shadows.

DIFFUSED LIGHTING
Diffused scattered light rays, produce softer light, lessen contrast and smoothes out details in the subject. The resulting images tend to be dreamy, romantic. This technique is very good for showing overall and shadow details. It is the most widely used method in jewelry photography.

SPOT LIGHTING
Spotlighting is a useful tool to focus attention on a certain area. 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 be quite compelling.

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