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Tips on Selling, Feature Stories, Jewellery Photography Tips



Retailers can now take their own quality images
Retailers can now take their own quality images
 











Smartphone jewellery photography: studio images from your desktop

PART 1: Studio photographer Lex McColl discusses how jewellers can take high-quality photos of product using only their smartphones and a few low-cost accessories.

The social media explosion is providing retailers with a virtual window display where customers can come to view merchandise in the privacy and comfort of their own homes at a time of their own choosing. All they have to do is log on and go window shopping. Why is it then that the pages of so many businesses lack high-quality images of their stock?

Professional photographers can be expensive, and taking "happy snaps" often delivers sub-standard results, causing retailers to avoid photo promotion when it is by far the best way to generate interest in a jewellery piece.

Photography doesn't have to be a grey area. When suppliers are slow to deliver high-quality images, or when the only examples are already in-store, retailers can turn to their phones to get the shots they need.


The latest Smartphone cameras have reached a level of quality that makes them serious contenders for capturing great product photographs. Combine a smartphone with one of the many user-friendly apps in the Android or iPhone marketplace, together with some inexpensive accessories, and retailers can easily shoot jewellery photos that will show off product.

Straight out the box, smartphones make various presumptions about the photo being taken, typically assuming every shot is a family get-together with blue skies, green trees and pink to red faces. These cameras might even lock the focus on a bowl of upturned bananas after mistaking them for smiling faces!
 

Smartphone on a simple mount
Smartphone on a simple mount

The social media explosion is providing retailers with a virtual window display where customers can come to view merchandise in the privacy and comfort of their own homes at a time of their own choosing. All they have to do is log on and go window shopping. Why is it then that the pages of so many businesses lack high-quality images of their stock?

Professional photographers can be expensive, and taking "happy snaps" often delivers sub-standard results, causing retailers to avoid photo promotion when it is by far the best way to generate interest in a jewellery piece.

Photography doesn't have to be a grey area. When suppliers are slow to deliver high-quality images, or when the only examples are already in-store, retailers can turn to their phones to get the shots they need.


The latest Smartphone cameras have reached a level of quality that makes them serious contenders for capturing great product photographs. Combine a smartphone with one of the many user-friendly apps in the Android or iPhone marketplace, together with some inexpensive accessories, and retailers can easily shoot jewellery photos that will show off product.

Straight out the box, smartphones make various presumptions about the photo being taken, typically assuming every shot is a family get-together with blue skies, green trees and pink to red faces. These cameras might even lock the focus on a bowl of upturned bananas after mistaking them for smiling faces!
 

Composition

This diamond bracelet was shot using a Samsung Galaxy SIII on a coloured background – a vintage photo-album cover – to deliver general mid-tones. This is the right zone for the camera’s default meter settings while the coloured background gives an ideal level of contrast between the white gold and diamonds in the bracelet. The two other key factors in achieving this result are light control and a solid camera support.

Diamond bracelet photographed with Samsung Galaxy SIII, Jansjo LED lights AND Modahaus SS200 Steady Stand with elevated platform
Diamond bracelet photographed with Samsung Galaxy SIII, Jansjo LED lights AND Modahaus SS200 Steady Stand with elevated platform

This diamond bracelet was shot using a Samsung Galaxy SIII on a coloured background – a vintage photo-album cover – to deliver general mid-tones. This is the right zone for the camera’s default meter settings while the coloured background gives an ideal level of contrast between the white gold and diamonds in the bracelet. The two other key factors in achieving this result are light control and a solid camera support.

Lighting

There's no need to invest in a wide range of expensive photographic lighting and other equipment. The three lights used in this shot are gooseneck LED table lamps from Ikea called Jansjo costing around $20 each.

These lights were not daylight-balanced but the auto white balance (AWB) on the Galaxy SIII is very accurate and guessed the lighting colour temperature accurately.  Other smartphones may not have an auto white balance feature that is as accurate as this one, but the "Camera FV 5" app for android allows the user to set custom white balance and has some other really neat features.

TIP: Download the Camera FV 5 app for android smartphones
The success of controlling any light is in diffusing the light source so that there are soft shadows, and so that light doesn't burn out the highlights. While there was an option to use natural daylight in this shot, mixing daylight with artificial lights can cause trouble with colour casts.
TIP: Never mix your light sources.
TIP: Switch off the camera’s flash and never use it for jewellery photography. Also, set the image resolution to the maximum quality.

Jansjo Gooseneck LED Table Lamps provide a cost-effective lighting option
Jansjo Gooseneck LED Table Lamps provide a cost-effective lighting option

There's no need to invest in a wide range of expensive photographic lighting and other equipment. The three lights used in this shot are gooseneck LED table lamps from Ikea called Jansjo costing around $20 each.

These lights were not daylight-balanced but the auto white balance (AWB) on the Galaxy SIII is very accurate and guessed the lighting colour temperature accurately.  Other smartphones may not have an auto white balance feature that is as accurate as this one, but the "Camera FV 5" app for android allows the user to set custom white balance and has some other really neat features.

TIP: Download the Camera FV 5 app for android smartphones
The success of controlling any light is in diffusing the light source so that there are soft shadows, and so that light doesn't burn out the highlights. While there was an option to use natural daylight in this shot, mixing daylight with artificial lights can cause trouble with colour casts.
TIP: Never mix your light sources.
TIP: Switch off the camera’s flash and never use it for jewellery photography. Also, set the image resolution to the maximum quality.

Camera support

ss200 on ts216 elevated platform
ss200 on ts216 elevated platform

To support the phone during the shot, a Modahaus Steady Stand SS200 was employed.

This is effectively an overhead tripod for all smartphones and compact cameras with built-in light-diffusing side panels.

By creating an elevated platform beneath the item being photographed, jewellery can be brought even closer to the camera. The overhead viewpoint is often ideal for shooting jewellery; it makes it very easy to control light and shadows and eliminates the need to prop up pieces.

Keeping the camera completely still is essential when shooting product photography. The slightest movement will lose sharp focus.

TIP: Set the camera’s self-timer (2 seconds is fine) to avoid movement when releasing the shutter.

iPhone 4S – earrings

Equipment: iPhone 4S; Camera+ App; Modahaus Steady Stand SS200 with elevated platform
Equipment: iPhone 4S; Camera+ App; Modahaus Steady Stand SS200 with elevated platform
The earrings were photographed with an iPhone 4S. While jewellery experts will notice these are not real diamonds, what the shot demonstrates is that the camera can achieve edge-to-edge sharpness by keeping the subject on an even plane.

Unlike the Samsung SIII, the iPhone’s native camera has very basic functions.


Retailers should










ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lex McColl

Contributor • Founder of Modahaus


Lex operates the UK-based Modahaus online photography accessories store. Modahaus develops and sells tabletop photo studios for use with all types of cameras. Visit: modahaus.com






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Monday, 16 July, 2018 08:19pm
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