taking pictures of pearl jewellery

New Zealand Natural Pearl

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I had to take a few pictures of pearl necklaces today. I must say that I struggled a bit to find the right position, light and shape to bring out the features.

A few of you might have had the same problem, ones you upload the pictures onto your computer it does not show the same glow of the pearls or the way you placed the necklace looks a bit ..well boring?
After one hour of trying to take a picture of Robs pearl necklace, it ended up around "Smeagols" neck (pic attached) and I will have another go tomorrow.
Any inspiration or experience here?!

Greetings
Belinda
 

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Yeah? That squinty eyed look doesn't give you pause? Like Belinda hasn't already gotten on Smeagol's last nerve?

Very good pic, Belinda! You know there have been rumblings about putting all photographing pearls posts into one thread...remarks about establishing what is 'white' for your camera, to zooming all the way in on macro then moving back a little ( I'm not sure if that means yourself or the lens)...

I guess we could try an advanced search for photographing pearls. Let's see...
 
That cat's not far away from losing his patience, I reckon.....
 
Ok, I've started reading old posts delivered from the advanced search, and I'm going cross eyed on my phone. There has to be a better way. Can we just go ahead and get a photographing pearls thread up and running?

Along with a huge thank you to Wendy for making the initial list of questions for the What do I have forum,
I'll continue going through old posts but there are basics:

White background; matte surface, not reflective or glossy (use things like paper towel, cloth dinner napkin, etc)
Shaded light, mid-day, outdoors (Equatorial light is the gold standard, but can't always get what you want)
- or - indoors, daylight bulb;
- or - by northern exposure window;
**you don't want to create strong shadows or confuse the camera's light meter**
No Flash!
Macro setting (that's the flower, although haven't found mine yet)
Full zoom, then back off a bit (needs clarifying, back off the lens or You back off w your camera?)

Take pictures of:
The whole item, then
Close ups of:
The center pearls, and pearls near the clasp
The clasp, back and front;
and then any marks on the sections of the opened clasp, like maker, or gold, silver or platinum marks

Single pearls, all of the above lighting
plus top view
bottom (if there is one)
rotate the pearl to show the sides
show bad spots too
 
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Then we have a need to find out which of our scientists posted about setting a 'white' standard, and beg him to post again, if he wouldn't mind.

And I know Josh H posted something about websites and the quality of a website dorking out his pics. That might yield some info.

Then a quick set of instructions re taking indoor photos, like compensating for fluorescent, incandescent/tungsten light.
New cameras and iPhones seem to handle different indoor lighting issues very well, hurray!

GG and Pattye had some interesting stuff about candling, and Smetzler had a cool set-up of Flashlight Candling, with cotton batting.

We can do this!
 
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Yeah? That squinty eyed look doesn't give you pause? Like Belinda hasn't already gotten on Smeagol's last nerve?

Lisa, you read that kitty pretty well, me thinks, lol!

The struggle for decent photos, never ending! Yes, it would be great to have info in one place. Thanks much for leading the charge, Lisa!
 
We should have at least a thread on pearl photos. All the posts are scattered in other threads! Let's keep it on this one. If you see posts that belong in this thread, let me know, and I will move them over. We could get some old posts with the same old instructions...
 
Ha ha ha hahahaha, Pattye! More like me trying to sweep all the cool posters ahead of me to get it done, you know? I'm so NOT tech savvy as you see I can't get my phone to cooperate, but I can read old posts and write down what I find. And I mean to find out the recent poster who got the glorious colors to pop out of the rough looking ?mikis? ( The poster was Brixxy).

Then of course my phone will spas,

and drown me if I try to use edit.
 
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Thanks, Caitlin! Yes, we'll keep it here, great! (see why some are Chiefs, and some are Indians? Caitlin made the connection I missed! Of course, keep it here, doh!)
 
Ok, I've started reading old posts delivered from the advanced search, and I'm going cross eyed on my phone. There has to be a better way. Can we just go ahead and get a photographing pearls thread up and running?

I'll continue going through old posts but there are basics:
White background
Indirect light, mid-day, outdoors (Equatorial light is the gold standard, but can't always get what you want)
No Flash!
Macro setting (that's the flower, although haven't found mine yet)
Full zoom, then back off a bit (needs clarifying, back off the lens or You back off w your camera?)

This is a GREAT idea - figuring out the right lighting, white balance, filtering and settings just to get a picture that still actually looks like the pearls do in reality can take a long time to figure out IMO - it would be awesome to have a couple of described setups (including type of camera), that results in the best photos.

For instance, i absolutely adore my Canon SX130 IS. It's a 12x optical zoom digital camera of 12.1 megapixels. It has a Macro setting (i've taken clear pics as close as 1.5 inches from the object), but perhaps more importantly, it's one of the few digital cameras for under $300 that allows you to turn off auto-focus and go full manual focus. Personally, I love this camera, and went through 4 others before finding this one and seeing its ability to take better shots. Of course I don't know if it would be able to stand up against higher priced models.
 
What a clever thread; great idea Belinda and Lisa C. I desperately need to hone up on my skills.

Well, I am no expert but if you find my photographs (see my albums) and posts decent enough, I'm happy to share.

I have eschewed my husband's fancy Nikon SLR as it is (a) heavy and cumbersome, and, (b) I need a light portable camera as I take all my pics with one hand, the other hand being my display board for the pearls.

Like Mophius, I, your baseline amateur (6 months into shooting pearls, the very moment I made the bold step and joined PG in fact) find my cheap and trusty point-and-shoot good enough for my needs. My photojournalist turned pilot brother - Can I crow, can I... I'm very proud of him, he's a captain with Singapore Airlines and flies a 380, has had a couple of hard knocks and is now looking for a wife, any takers? Sorry for digressing :) - declared the Canon Ixus 870IS as sufficient for my needs as that's what the journo folk use (info is backdated to about three years ago, I hasten to add) apparently in lieu of their fancy equipment when forced to.

I read earlier from a post that Jeremy did about how in China the factories have windows facing the north as northern light is best for pearl sorting and grading so that's what I did. I found the northern aspect in my house, the garden that is, and photograph my designs in both direct (brings out the sparkle in the gems) and indirect light (best for the lustre and overtones of the pearls).

I learnt from Pattye and Caitlin to press the flower icon till "macro" appears; my brother sneered (not cool, bro, not cool at all) as he taught me how to disable the auto-flash function (on my Canon, it is the thunderbolt icon) as the flash always seems to overexpose the pics. Flowers and thunderbolts, how juvenile am I sounding!

I will tell it to you straight that I gave up at the very first reading of complicated technical set-ups a long time ago; too intimidating for a novice like me with the lightboxes, backlighting and angled lamps and the like.

Am afraid that is all this amateur knows. Pros like Belinda had better ignore my naive post :)
 
this is a cool and necessary thread for PG devos !!

have to admit I've given up and dumped my old camera, and am now reseaching for a new one

Blaire has been helpful - she is the PG photo Queen, and knows all the tricks, so don't forget to ask her advice :cool:
 
Like Mophius, I, your baseline amateur (6 months into shooting pearls, the very moment I made the bold step and joined PG in fact) find my cheap and trusty point-and-shoot good enough for my needs. My photojournalist turned pilot brother - Can I crow, can I... I'm very proud of him, he's a captain with Singapore Airlines and flies a 380, has had a couple of hard knocks and is now looking for a wife, any takers? Sorry for digressing :) - declared the Canon Ixus 870IS as sufficient for my needs as that's what the journo folk use (info is backdated to about three years ago, I hasten to add) apparently in lieu of their fancy equipment when forced to.

Well, I would - but I don't think Dearly Beloved would like it, much. He's a pilot, too, but only of the private tiny plane variety (-:

North, indirect, light is great for photographing all sorts of things, including jewellary, coins, other small artifacts.

I'm not quite sure what you all mean by the "white" issue?
 
Second on Blaire. She is very good with her excellent camera and a good teacher, to boot. Me, I point and shoot in indirect light, on macro, flash off, on a white paper towel which is less reflective- and I rarely get much of value. I do get ok pix, but just ok.
 
You might need to think about metering light from a grey card? That would solve some of the white issue. Otherwise you might well get photos which are underexposed.
 
Hi Adeline! Well my remark about Equatorial light was a bit tongue in cheek and a bit serious.

Take for instance CathyBear (Australia), whose lighting is of the 'under-the-shade-roof' kind, and Inger of RainbowIslandPearls (south Florida) who even in Winter, on a sunny day has intense light. Sarah of Kojima had issues with lighting her pearls after she moved to more Northern climes.

The quality of light differs.
 
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