Getting Super Sharp Images in Your Photos by Vadim Chiline

Ever wonder how to counter diffraction? Wonder why your images are so soft? Do you want to learn how to create sharp and stunning images?

You've tried to stop down your lens to something like f32 and noticed your image gets fuzzy? I explained the reasons for this in my Science of Diffraction video earlier this year. You’ve probably heard about focus stacking but never really knew much about it, or were too scared to try? 

In partnership with Photigy.com, (seriously, one of the best places to learn about professional product photography, and I'm also instructor there), here's my follow-up video: An introduction to focus stacking. In the first part of this new video, I will show you how to get the most depth of field with your camera of a simple object on white.

Part I:

In Part 2 of the video, you will learn about the various methods you can use to focus stack images as well as the 2 main parameters you can control in the software: radius and softness. Finally, I will compare Adobe Photoshop's implementation of focus stacking vs Helicon Focus' abilities. So check it out... 

Part II:

What aperture is the best for jewelry photography and why: science of the diffraction: Part 1 by Vadim Chiline

Hey there everyone! Some of you might have seen this video previously as it was first posted on photigy.com, but for those of you who might have missed it, here it is! Over the past several years on various forums and through direct contact, I’ve seen many images of jewelry or other product photography that are basically void of sharp detail and contrast. I’ve always replied back with my comments regarding diffraction and its effects.

In 2012, I wrote a blog posting about this very topic and has been a great hit. I decided to recreate it with some additional information. In the first part of this video I will be covering the underlying physics of diffraction in photography and in the second half I will be using a Canon 5D Mark III to showcase real world examples of diffraction.

In the follow-up video blog in the next short while, I will show you how I counteract diffraction or avoid it all together by using a process called focus stacking. I’ll show you my favourite software of choice, Helicon Focus and the various algorithms and variables you can use to produce great diffraction-free images.

Photography Expert Tips: Must-Have Photo Studio Accessories by Vadim Chiline

Hey there, yep, it's been a long while since I've last posted something blog-wise. Well, here's something new, a video blog by yours truly! Having been a jewellery photographer for over 10 years I've come across many tools and accessories I deem really important. I've decided to introduce them to you in this video below.

In addition, you will find links to some of these awesome accessories below over at B&H Photo/Video. They really are top notch for shipping anywhere and fast (including awesome shipping to Canada)!

Live "On-Air" Comments & Critique Session in January

Over at the Photigy.com Pro Corner forum, members can submit up to 2 photos each that I will then go over during a live "on-air" broadcast. The broadcast will be 1 hour long, so first come, first serve. Act quick! There should be more coming as well as an announcement in the the first quarter of 2015. So stay tuned!

Photographing Glass and Metal on Dark Backgrounds by Vadim Chiline

Photographing glass and metal on black

Photographing glass and metal on black

High Precision Diamond Cutting Tool with Optical End Products Hi, and welcome to a new blog entry (finally!). I’ve been kept away from the blog for a while, but here I go again!

In today’s blog I’ll move slightly away from the jewelry photography realm, and showcase a job that we shot a little while ago. The client, K&Y Diamonds, is a global leader in high precision diamond cutting tools used in the automotive, aerospace, optical and medical industries. These tools are used to cut, shape, and polish object for their respective uses. Because most of their tools are small to tiny (2" down to microns), and that they are metallic and have diamonds, they contact us knowing that we work pretty much exclusively with small shiny objects. For this particular job, they wanted to have their tools photographed with "end products" besides them. They also stressed the importance of color, that the tools appear "high tech" and as sharp as possible.

I decided on using the blue color gel as the main highlight color in the series of images. Blue is a very typical color used in technology imagery: it conveys the right emotion to the consumer. Using orange, doesn’t do as well .

High tech tools under blue lighting increases their

Using blue light, we give a "techie" feel to products.

The setup was photographed on a large piece of brushed aluminum provided by a contact at Electrolux/GE. Collecting many different types of materials is really important for the product photographer: you never know when you might use a certain surface. The brushed aluminum worked great because the tool itself has a brushed finish – thus creating unity.

The tricky part of this job was the glass products: 3 pieces of glass used in the optical industry (the final end-product are eyeglass lenses). They posed some difficulties with respect to where lighting can be put, at what height and at what intensity. Everything gets reflected and warped via internal refraction.

The lighting setup I used was composed of 3 lights. The key light was a softbox mounted to the left of the camera, this illuminates the tool and gives the nice bright highlight on the diamond tip. A secondary, fill-light was placed further away to the right of the camera, and the intensity was reduced to simply bring back some detail on the tool’s right side. Finally, a blue colored gel mounted with barn doors was pointed on a black paper background approximately 3’ away, and 1.5’ higher than the setup. Raising or lowering this light affected the amount of blue that showed-up in the frame.

The options are limitless when it comes to painting with light. Using various light modifiers, as discussed in my previous blog entry, you can create stunning combinations, even without Photoshop. In this last image below, I have added a yellow gel on the camera right to give additional color. The pink/red hue was added in post-production via Photoshop. As a photographer, go as far as your mind can see (or a client's ability to pay for good work).

Photographing glass and metal on black, the lighting diagram

Photographing glass and metal on black, the lighting diagram

Here's the lighting diagram to the top image.

Engine part shot under colored gels

Engine part shot under colored gels

Using colored gels, we can sculpt a rather unexciting piece metal into something much more interesting (object is part of a car piston).

Jewelry Photography Tutorial – How to make your image pop by keeping it simple by Vadim Chiline

Rollover the image to see the original, as shot.

The task was to create a holiday-themed ad and I was given a diverse set of jewelry items to work with: various pearl items, diamond key pendants, and a diamond sapphire ring. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to incorporate so many unrelated pieces onto a festive background and maintain a professional tone. In marketing, less is more and a common theme is an important starting point.

A mistake many jewelers make is to request too many items with incongruent styles in a single ad. Their goal is to please every type of client with one ad, but this often backfires and ultimately cheapens the ad.

Ads should have one focal point, not 10. That doesn’t mean you’re limited to one ring. You can group a few pieces together in an interesting composition, carefully placing each object. I chose three key-shaped, diamond pendants.

The holiday theme presents a setup challenge since festive props tend to be quite colorful and, if used in the wrong way, steal the spotlight away from the jewelry. An additional obstacle when photographing jewelry is its small size relative to other props. If you do manage to find small enough props not to overshadow the main subject, when photographed close up, the props are more likely to show production faults and ruin a beautiful photo.

I visited a few stores, collecting a number of props that could set the right mood—but once I got to the shooting table, I realized they simply didn’t work with the pendants. I had bought fabrics, artisanal papers, ornaments—heck, even a bottle of wine! Sometimes an idea is only good on paper and when you actually prep the scene, it fails miserably. Who said ad design was easy?

I finally settled on light-colored Christmas tree ornaments. I blurred them slightly by shooting at a wider aperture of f8 for a shallower depth of field so that the ornament was recognizable, but didn’t detract from the diamond pendants. The setup included a total of 4 lights. 3 lights had 24x36 softboxes mounted, and one light with a 20-degree grid. If you aren't familiar with certain light modifiers, check my previous blog post here. Pendants where hung via flexible arm clamp. I retouched the image in Photoshop, de-saturating the pendants to remove some of the color cast, adding saturation and color to both the paper background and ornaments, and finally darkening above and below the image to accommodate the text and logo. Overall, retouching was minor. The text and logo were added in InDesign for a final press version delivered as a PDF.

Jewellery Photography Lighting Diagram

Jewellery Photography Lighting Diagram

The setup included a total of 4 lights. 3 lights had 24x36 softboxes mounted, and one light with a 20-degree grid. Pendants where hung via flexible arm clamp.

If you have questions or suggestions for this and other blogs, please contact me.