jewellery photographer

Jewelry Photography Fashion Shoot for EckSand Jewellers by Vadim Chiline

Jewelry photography fashion shoot image 1

Jewelry photography fashion shoot image 1

We've been quite busy at the studio for the past couple of weeks (what's new?). Our client EckSand Jewellers wanted to refresh their look with their latest collection with some new fashion images. It was a pleasure to work on a different, much more human project, it has been a while. With today's economy and the fact that creating real fashion shoots costs money because of model, makeup-artist, retouching, post-fx work, etc., oh yeah, and me the photographer, the bill adds up quickly. Jewellers typically resort to using stock images, from the royalty free type to some rights managed ones. But honestly, nothing beats doing your own shoot - there's much more direction possible.

My favorite image from the shoot. Simple setup using 1 light, 1 reflector and some background lights: Canon 85 f1.2 II lens, high ISO shot.

EckSand wanted an emotional image that was both dark and sensual in nature.They wanted it to contrast with their delicate pearl and diamond collections. With the makeup wizardry provided by Ekaterina Ulyanoff and model Caroline, we had a blast shooting.

Jewelry photography fashion shoot image 2

Jewelry photography fashion shoot image 2

The setup was quite simple using 1 light with a grid coming from about 8' high, 2' left of camera. There was also a reflector being held by my amazing assistant Sophie. I used the modeling light only because I wanted to keep the lovely blurred lights in the background (very weak lights of a few watts each) giving it an "evening out" mood. Because of this, I shot between 800 and 1600 ISO with the Canon 85 f1.2 lens shooting quite open because of the low light and sometimes needing to freeze the jewelry on the model. I had to ask the model to hold her poses a wee-bit longer than usual because of the slow shutter speed. I must say, the Canon 85 f1.2 has always been one of my favorites... it's a true gem creating fantastic bokeh/blurs.

Jewelry photography fashion shoot image 3

Jewelry photography fashion shoot image 3

Anyways, I hope you liked the images. Next blog I'm hoping to post some insights on how we perform white gold to colored/yellow gold conversions in Photoshop. Stay tuned!

Jewelry Photography & Retouching: Realistic Expectations & Budgets by Vadim Chiline

In today’s highly retouched advertising world, people assume everything can be solved with a quick airbrushing in Photoshop. It’s widespread knowledge that yes indeed, most if not all advertising material goes under the loupe and gets a big changeover: Think of fashion photos where skin, hair and makeup are made blemish-less. Same goes for food, where stylists work tirelessly to make it look the most appetizing, and then more adjustment are done in post-production. The world of jewelry photography is no different, or maybe it is? Relying on post-production is a “must-do”. How does a Tiffany’s image look out of camera? How about some David Yurman pieces? Birks & Mayors? Everybody pays big money to get images perfect and stylized to their branding needs: gold color is adjusted; diamond contrast and colors fixed; stones copy and pasted to replace less-than-stellar ones, etc.

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after

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Fig. 1: Drag the slider to see a before and after of a 4.3 ct diamond engagement ring.

Unfortunately, because of the “that’s the way it is and done” nature of the industry, we think Photoshop can solve every problem and give you a “Tiffany’s” look. Before being a running EpicMind Studio, I was a programmer for a few years, having studied Computer Science and learned quite early on the motto: “Garbage in = Garbage out”. If you input bad data, you will get out bad data in return. In jewelry photography, the same can be applied. Start with very low quality photography, where you have blurred out portions, color casts, and bad lighting, unless you are ready to spend lots of money, there’s no way this will turn into your dream “Tiffany’s” image. Jewelry that is bargain priced, or has been heavily worn, and not fresh from production the so-called "vendor samples" requires lots of time and effort in post-production: hence money. These jobs are more doable, if the photography is alright (see Fig. 2)

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Fig. 2: Drag the slider to see a before and after of a

heavily used "vendor sample" ring. Notice the scratches, and dirty stains.

Worse than the above case is when we are asked to retouch somebody else's photography where it suffers from very low resolution, may have blurred out portions, color casts, and bad lighting: unless you are ready to spend lots of money, there’s no way this will turn into a winning shot. Garbage in = Garbage out. See Fig 3. for a sample image I created using my unlock iphone 4 (you would be surprised what requests we sometimes get).

We tell our clients that most of the budget for catalog style photography is spent on retouching – especially on lower-end jewelry, but there are limits to what we are willing to do. We do get requests where we are asked to edit photos that they will provide us thinking it bring the images to the next level. I don’t say we can’t, I just say that the likelihood of it depends on the source image and how it was captured. Start with a great image, and you will end with a great image – at least that’s what I think.

Quality jewelry on the other hand, requires generally less retouching than lower-end. Although this is a general rule I’ve noticed, some higher-end clients still require that it is retouched above-and-beyond. Jewelry being used on backlight posters at shows such as JCK Las Vegas, that blow-up the jewelry to a 6’ size, will require tons of retouching no matter what – jewelry is not designed to be shown at larger than life sizes – some are machine made, some man made, and precision has its limits.

Bad jewelry photography

Bad jewelry photography

Fig. 3: A sample of bad lighting, focus and low resolution;

sometimes there's just so much retouching you can do within a budget.

I try to coach clients approaching me with “home brew” photos – it doesn’t hurt to learn to produce better in-house photos that we will need to retouch. They win in the end – getting amazing marketing material.

Finally, it’s got a lot to do with economics: if you want great work, you need to spend money to get it done right. If you cut corners, then more money it spent to make-up the problems incurred by the cut corner. Money isn’t the only driving factor, but with today’s economy, today’s jeweler is more price-conscious than ever and wants to stretch their marketing dollar further because of shrinking margins. Unfortunately, cutting corners when "first impressions" matters just isn't an option.

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Fig. 4: Drag the slider to see a before and after of an image I did a couple of years ago. The client wanted a very "blue" oriented image, a little in the Tiffany's style.

Simple Jewelry Photography Using 2 Lights by Vadim Chiline

I’ve finally made it back to my blog after a long absence – work has consumed most if not all of my time: We’ve been busy shooting hundreds of photos and videos for the fall season which includes the ever popular Thanksgiving/Black Friday and December holidays. It’s the time of the year most retailers make their money. Today’s blog will showcase a very simple 2 LED ceiling lights light setup that can give quite a lovely metallic shine to a ring shot tabletop. The setup consists of using 1 softbox, 1 diffusion panel (in this case, a run-of-the-mill 5-in-1 circular one easily available at any quality photo store) and finally a strobe with a 30-degree grid mounted on it. Scroll down to see the before and after version rollovers.

A before and after image for jewelry photography

A before and after image for jewelry photography

In the my previous blog post entitled Cosmetic Product Photography Using a Simple 1-Light Setup I showed how we can use a simple 1 light setup to get a lovely gradient shimmer on metallic objects. That time I bounced light on an opaque white foamcore panel. The strobe had a grid modifier mounted on it as well. I re-iterate the purpose: A gridded-strobe hitting a surface will generally diffuse itself somewhat in a nice gradient-like fashion. This will give metals more character and shape.

Normally at our studio we employ 2-3 techniques to light our jewelry or other metallic objects:

Softbox: This gives even light across metallic object – it doesn’t sculpt the object much as the light is rather flat. The “empty space” between softboxes gives the shadow areas that define the object. This is why I normally rarely if ever recommend light-tents – you normally have too little areas with no light therefore your photo will look generally flatly lit, and dull.

Bounced light off white card/foamcore This method is very similar to passing light through a diffusion panel – it’s similar to the above method – it’s a simpler method than nearly anybody can just undertake. The problem with this technique comes when multiple lights are used and several bounces are needed – you need to use flags to block out the light that might created an unpleasant specular highlight on the jewellery. I normally use this technique the least though I do often use this when photographing the collection coins for the Royal Canadian Mint, see the next image. I'll try to discuss that technique in a future blog when time permits.

Bounce lighting technique applied

Bounce lighting technique applied

A coin we shot for the Royal Canadian Mint recently using the bounced light technique.

Diffusion panel based lighting: This is a technique we’re using a little more these days here – I find it gives jewelry a more sculpted, nearly CGI or post-processed look – on quality rings its surreal.

Lighting diagram for 2-light jewelry photography

Lighting diagram for 2-light jewelry photography

In any case, and without further a due, here is the setup I used to photograph the image you see above using diffusion lighting: Here's the lighting diagram for the above image. Very simple indeed

The camera was set slightly above table-top level with the diamond engagement ring. As you can see in the reflection in the "before" image, you can see the camera reflection in the prongs holding the center stone. The purpose of the softbox behind the camera was to light-up the diamonds. I could have added additional lights or bounce cards, but I wanted to illustrate here how such a simple setup can lead to a nice image.

The gridded-strobe was aimed to give a pleasant graduated feathering of light on the top portion of metal - play around with it; we're in the digital age, so play around and see where you like the light, and at what strength.

In post-processing, we cleaned up the ring and diamonds: we desaturated the gold and then applied a color balance of cyan/blue to make it more "metallic" - take this as "artistic liberty". The diamonds are adjusted on their own layer. I kept the original background and again, simply cleaned it and adjusted the curves on it.

It's quite a simple setup - but one that gives great results fast. We use more complex setups for jewelry angled differently (such as a standing ring etc), but it's generally a similar principle.

Here is the original image out of camera:

New Jewelry Photography & Videography Blog by Vadim Chiline

EpicMind is first and foremost a product photography and videography studio that specializes in jewelry, or should I say small highly reflective and refractive objects. With clients throughout Canada and the United States, we’ve had our images published in several leading consumer and industry publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Modern Bride, Elle, Let’s Get Married, Modern Jeweler, Jewellery Business, Canadian Jeweller, and more.  We also create ads, catalogs, promotional mailers, and in-store marketing collateral under one roof. Vadim Chiline Now here’s a little a bit about myself, the author of this blog, Vadim Chiline. Like many other photographers out there, I first started photography when I was in my teenage years, with an old point & shoot film camera.  Loving it and wanting to get better at it, I saved up money and moved up the ladder with a film SLR. In the coming years, with more money saved, I purchased several lenses, professional camera bodies and several “how to” books. This led me to try several paths throughout the years: wildlife, event, fashion, and wedding photography.  With the advent of digital technology, and the purchase of my first digital camera, the Canon 10D, it made the learning process much quicker and affordable for me during my college days.

Jewelry photography honestly fell into my lap by pure chance.  After a long flight back to Canada from an event photography shoot in Las Vegas, I met a wonderful person who later became a friend. She convinced me to do a free photography gig for a masquerade ball in Montreal. The agreement was that I would provide photography on the spot for the masked guests and they would pass my name around. Sure enough, I meet my destiny quickly. A dressed-up guest asked me if I photographed jewelry.  I answered, “Yes, of course”.  For the next few weeks it was trial by fire, but so began my career in jewelry advertising.

This blog was started for several reasons: First to showcase ongoing projects, new technology, or trends in the industry as well as tips & techniques behind the camera and various software applications. Stay tuned; there will be plenty to learn.