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How to take good photos of your diamonds.

Discussion in 'Show Me the Bling! (Rings,Earrings,Jewelry)' started by Schell, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. Schell
    Rough_Rock

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    by Schell » Dec 23, 2008
    Several people have asked this and I thought I would put together something a bit more comprehensive than "use macro mode". If anyone has anything else to add or information below to edit, please feel free to weigh in.

    CAVEAT: This how-to is geared towards people using point and shoot cameras, if you are using an SLR or a DSLR, you can overcome many of the shortcomings of a point and shoot by manually adjusting the settings.

    Diamonds are very challenging to take photos of - especially appealing photos. This is even more of an issue when you use a point and shoot camera with autofocus.

    When you use a point and shoot autofocus camera in macro or "flower mode" (close focus), it has a very narrow depth of view (plane of focus). In macro mode, the camera has a very shallow depth of view. A bit of photography 101 here - The depth of view is the plane perpendicular to the camera that is in focus on the resulting image. This can range from very wide (landscape mode) to very narrow (using macro or high zoom). The depth of view is dictated on the ability of the camera to gather light. Wider in bright outdoor areas, and very shallow when you''re up close to something or at night time. So, depending on how the camera interprets the incoming light, the shallow plane of the diamond that is the most appealing, may not be the one that ends up in focus. Think of this as a very thin slice of your diamond that the camera can focus on. This is because what you see (the light reflected off the pavilion of the diamond is then projected and refracted (scattered) off the surface as it leaves the stone (giving you fire), so ideally, the camera would focus on the external table of the diamond (what your eye sees which is a projected image of the pavilion, as opposed to the pavilion itself), but most of the time it actually focuses on the pavilion since the table is essentially a window into the diamond when looking at it from straight on.

    So how do you take a good photo? I would suggest using a tripod. If you don''t have one, get one. One of those small, flexible leg, or table-top tripods are very inexpensive (about $10) and are very versatile. You want to use a tripod because when you get very close to a diamond with the lens of the camera, you are, in effect, blocking most of the light entering the stone and thus the light reflecting back out. So in order for the image to be properly exposed (not to light or to dark), the camera will alter the speed of the shutter in order for the camera to collect enough light to properly exposed the image. When you hold the camera with your hand, it is very difficult to take a sharp image in these conditions. When the shutter is open for longer, the camera is susceptible to your hand shaking and you will likely get a blurry image.

    Taking the photo with a dark background will make this worse because the darker the background, the less light there is for the camera to collect and make your image. Using a light colored or semi-reflective background will help you take a sharper image. Be careful though, make sure the camera is focused on the diamond, because the camera will adjust to properly expose the subject (diamond), and not the background. If you don''t do this, the subject will appear very dark compared to the background. The inverse goes for dark backgrounds (the stone will appear light compared to the dark background).

    Flower shots are an ideal way to have a light, colorful and interesting background to a diamond you are photographing. It seems like these are favorites not only because they combine interesting components, but because they are often times they result in the clearest, most detailed images.

    Tips:

    1) Try to have a background close behind your subject. Otherwise this tends to confuse the autofocus, especially if your subject is small in the frame. If you are trying to hold up your diamond and take a photo of it without a background immediately behind the stone, the camera will be confused and try to focus on whatever is behind the diamond.

    2) The lighter the better. Trying to take photos in a dark room will surely get you blurry images. The flash usually doesn''t help as it will just reflect back off of the table and it will look opaque and white in the photo

    3) Try to have the camera as close to your subject as possible using the least zoom possible (zooming in marco mode really confuses most cameras and usually doesn''t get you anything other than a smaller, albeit brighter, image of your subject). This will get you the widest depth of view that your camera can have while still in macro mode. Zooming in results in a shallower depth of view (plane of focus) to work with - see above.

    4) I am going to contradict myself a little bit here. Having the camera close to the subject is going to result in the most detailed image of your subject, but having the camera and lens that close is also going to block most of the light entering the diamond and may result in a somewhat lifeless photo. Keeping the camera farther away from the diamond will allow more light to enter the stone and will give you a lighter image and you are more likely to get those fire shots (especially if you are not looking straight into the table of the stone). Try playing around with this, your camera will probably have it''s own happy medium between being close enough to the stone to get a large image and being far enough (using zoom) to focus and to get a nice bright image.

    5) Having a light source from behind the stone is nice because the light is entering the pavilion and not the table, so you can get closer to the diamond without blocking the light entering the stone with the camera. You may want to use diffuse light though instead of direct sunlight so you don''t have a back-lighting effect (light background with a dark subject). Diffuse lighting on a cloudy day works well, otherwise a thin white curtain or a piece of printer paper taped to a window works well too. This also satisfies having a background behind your subject.

    6) Keep both the camera and ring as stationary as possible. Handshots are nice, but due to the hand shaking issue (see above), it is hard to get a large, clear image of your diamond when it is on your hand, especially if you are taking the picture using your non-dominant hand. Having the ring resting on a stationary surface and using a tripod works well.

    7) Using magnification. A microscope or a magnifying glass works well for getting a large image, but may distort the real-life look of the stone (magnifying glasses tend to give a fish-eyed image - not the same as the dreaded fish-eye under the table).

    8) Have fun and experiment.
     
    Matthews1127 likes this.
  2. lightningbug
    Shiny_Rock

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    by lightningbug » Dec 23, 2008
    Thanks, Schell! These are great tips, and I can''t wait to try them! :)
     
  3. Skippy123
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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  4. mirachelo
    Rough_Rock

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  5. chiquitapet
    Ideal_Rock

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    by chiquitapet » Dec 29, 2008
    Thank You for your advice. It`s a big help.
     
  6. rparker1998
    Shiny_Rock

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    by rparker1998 » Dec 29, 2008
    Schel, Ok, so i really suck at this photo thing. I'm using a canon powershot a85 4.0 megapixel camera. I tried this shot in macro mode, using my kitchen lighting and bowl of grapes as an additional object (based on what I gathered from your first post) Can you help me with what i'm doing wrong based on my photo? I have a tripod but don't know where it is at the moment. I really would like to get the ring in super clear focus and the grapes less so. Much like the close up on the forum recently that showed the pollen in the photo. Do i just need a better camera?

    Thanks for your help!

    Img_2438.jpg
     
  7. Schell
    Rough_Rock

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    by Schell » Jan 3, 2009
    I can say that you are doing nothing wrong. I may not have been as clear as I could have or perhaps should have been, but a HUGE limitation of an auto focusing camera is that the camera "decides" what it thinks you are trying to take a photo of and then focuses on that. One of the huge advantages of some of the more featured point and shoots and all SLR type cameras is that they allow you to focus on what you as the shooter what to capture and not the other way around. The other BIG advantage of an SLR camera is you can get a wide variety of lenses, some of which allow you to magnify your subject up to 5x. Getting a better camera with all the fancy lenses can be a pricey prospect, so the cheaper option may be to just take a couple dozen photos and choose the best of. Try to dig up your tripod if you can. That will definitely help you out by keeping what you want in focus to stay in focus. At small depths of view, the plane of focus can be very very thin (a millimeter or two), so keeping your hand still when you're talking about tiny tollerances is very difficult.

    I hope that helps. Keep at it, you're doing fine. That looks like a great photo. The subject is mostly in focus and not blurry. Can you tell me in more detail what you'd like to convey with your image? Perhaps I can provide some additional details. I also think that most people on this site realize that photographs are almost always inadequate of capturing the character of their diamonds.

    Good luck.
     
  8. SandraPaneczko
    Shiny_Rock

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    by SandraPaneczko » Jan 4, 2009
    Hello,

    I am not too good with my camera and I don't use micro mode. I zoom in the highest I can and try to get good lighting. This is how they come out.

    Lighting is dull but its pretty clear

    sdgjrhgdfihkdk.JPG
     
  9. SandraPaneczko
    Shiny_Rock

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  10. rparker1998
    Shiny_Rock

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    by rparker1998 » Jan 4, 2009
    Nce Photos sandra!

    Schell,

    I''d like to take photo''s like these photos

    What I specifically like about the photos of the ring in the lilly is that you can see the ring very clearly but you can also see the depth of the pollen too if that makes sense.... I also love the photo of the profile - You can see the diamond so clearly and all of the millgrain work. I feel like my photo''s don''t have the clarity on either item.

    I love this photo too - again for the same claritity reasons. secondary clairity photo

    If you do a search for my 10th anniversary set on the SMTR forum you''ll find some of my other photo''s - nothin nearly as clear. Just like this pariaba...its fuzzy...pariaba post



    Thanks! I willl keep trying - hubby just bought me a tripod and a photography set of books.
     
  11. rparker1998
    Shiny_Rock

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    by rparker1998 » Jan 5, 2009
    So i was playing with my tripod, tell me what you think...better?

    Img_2469a.jpg
     
  12. rparker1998
    Shiny_Rock

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    by rparker1998 » Jan 5, 2009
    playing peekaboo on the pointsetta..

    Img_2462a.jpg
     
  13. rparker1998
    Shiny_Rock

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  14. rparker1998
    Shiny_Rock

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    by rparker1998 » Jan 5, 2009
    ok i''m done now lol..i have some fun photos using red/green tissue paper covering the flash and a really cool photo of where my finger covered my flash...if you want to see those too, i''ll post them in their own thread...

    Img_2464a.jpg
     
  15. strmrdr
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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  16. rparker1998
    Shiny_Rock

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    by rparker1998 » Jan 5, 2009
    Thanks Karl, Ill try those tips
     
  17. glitterata
    Ideal_Rock

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    by glitterata » Jan 11, 2009
    Here''s another trick I''ve used: toning down (or diffusing?) the flash by holding a piece of white paper or a business card in front of it. Sometimes you need a little more light, but the flash is just too much. You have to make sure not to hold the paper in front of the camera lens, of course.

    Also, you can deploy pieces of white paper around your set up as reflectors to throw light back at the piece you''re trying to photograph.

    My husband walked in on me taking photos with my bits of paper reflecting and diffusing light one day & laughed. "Very clever, darling," he said. "You''ve reinvented the wheel."
     
  18. llonergirl
    Rough_Rock

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    by llonergirl » Jan 12, 2009
    Ok, this is totally different. Another thing that works, is if you have the option of a "text" mode on your camera, ive found out that works well for jewelry.
     
  19. misskitty
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by misskitty » Jan 14, 2009
    Thanks for posting this! A friend of mine has been asking how to take non-blurry photos, and I''m happy to be able to point her to this thread.
     
  20. wannaBMrsH
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by wannaBMrsH » Jan 25, 2009
    For those of you with Canon Powershot cameras, there is a "Digital Macro" setting that is different from the Macro (flower) setting and I have found that I can take much better pics of my diamond head on with this setting and a light source behind the stone as suggested above.
     
  21. edl
    Shiny_Rock

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    by edl » Jan 28, 2009
    Thanks for posting this. Overall these are good rules to follow for improving your photographs.

    I would also suggest that while it is not necessary to update your cameras, it doesn't hurt to consider it. For example, many of the "prosumer" point-and-shoot cameras nowadays can take excellent macro shots of small things like jewelery. Sometimes even better than a SLR/DSLR.

    I recently picked up a Panasonic LX3, and while it's not the best camera for everyone it absolutely takes awesome ring pics. Have a look at this wedding photographer's site:

    Panasonic LX3 - Ring Shots

    Two quick tips:

    1. We all drink coffee and have shaky hands. So if you don't have a tripod, try this - put your camera on a flat surface and frame your shot. Focus. Activate the built-in timer on your camera, and let it trip the shutter by itself. Since your hands aren't holding the camera, you won't have any problems with shake.

    2. Don't use flash. Diffused light is your friend. How do you get it? Well, do you have a shoebox, a lightbulb, and some white paper?

    Strobist: Light Tent
     
  22. edl
    Shiny_Rock

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    by edl » Jan 28, 2009
    Rparker, I highly suspect that those photos were taken with a DSLR and a dedicated macro lens. I used a similar setup to photograph my FI''s rings (look for the Van Craeynest 484 & 584 thread).

    But you''re doing great work with the equipment that you have! If you want to get an SLR, any of the Canon or Pentax models can take a screwmount macro lens with adapter (not Nikon). So the lens would cost you about $100-200, and the body would be anywhere from $250 used to $$$$.

    I use plenty of 30 year old lenses on my dSLR with excellent results.
     
  23. edl
    Shiny_Rock

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    by edl » Jan 28, 2009
    I sense a budding Strobist! If you want to bounce, use something like white foamboard, it reflects better than paper (which lets some light through).

    For a homemade diffuser, you can also take any clear/white plastic bottle (like a used shampoo bottle), cut a piece and tape it over your flash.
     
  24. beau13
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  25. jaylex
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by jaylex » Mar 25, 2009
    Thank you for the great tips! Now all i need is for the bf to propose! My camera is armed and ready [​IMG]
     
  26. CravingDiamonds
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by CravingDiamonds » Apr 3, 2009
    Thanks for the tips. If my camera ever decides to start working again I will have to take a couple of pictures of the beautiful rings that I got my from Firenze Jewels (my favorite jeweler).
     
  27. lillinh
    Rough_Rock

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    by lillinh » May 5, 2009
    I tried Setp 7: Using Magnification

    I didn''t have a microscope or a magnifying glass, but I had my loupe so I used it. Here''s how the picture of my diamond came out.

    DSC00684 (1).jpg
     
  28. lillinh
    Rough_Rock

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    by lillinh » May 5, 2009
    This is before I cropped the picture. Overall, it''s not WF/GOG-like quality photo, but I think it''s a great tip and I''m satisfied with the results. Thanks!

    DSC00684 (2).jpg
     
  29. DiamondFlame
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by DiamondFlame » May 8, 2009
    I use a point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix DS3. The image stabiliser is fantastic. I didn''t have to use a tripod to take this one. Just use the macro zoom and get close to your stone without blocking the light source. [​IMG]

    DF-231x.JPG
     
  30. rparker1998
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    by rparker1998 » May 25, 2009
    So I am SO VERY EXCITED. I am getting a new camera in 2 days...we ordered a Nikon D5000 and since i do a ton of macro shots, we picked up a 200mm SR dedicated macro lens. I also gott a light box, and once I get my new camera I''m going to have to take some new shots of the ring in my previous photos as well as my new ring, attached here....

    IMG_3034.jpg
     

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