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Taking good pictures of pearls is such a challenge!

Photographic Inspirations
Part 2 of 3
Jewelry artisans use either natural light or a light tent to take pictures of their work. Stephanie of Crystal Allure Designs and the author of Behind the Designs blog uses a light tent - you can see her set up below. She recently emailed me after searching unsuccessfully on my blog.  She was looking for a way to lighten her pictures of pearls. Light colored pearls are tricky especially on a white background because there isn't enough contrast to make them stand out. 

There was a solution on the internet. The have all kinds of great tips including how to photography jewelry. Their advice for pearls involves using a light tent and have only one light source above and from one side (see below). This gives the pearls better definition.  As it turns out, Stephanie not only knew about the tip but she had purchased their equipment!

She did what they recommended but still wasn't satisfied with the results - her pearl pictures were too dark for her liking. She thought it could be because she still hadn't figured out her newish camera's settings.

She is constantly trying to upgrade her photography skills and judging from the pictures on her website, she is doing great! She credits her better picture taking results largely to her new camera. So it is worth getting a good one with an excellent macro lens for closeups.

This picture was taken with her old camera :

This picture with her new camera (Canon Rebel XL) before Photoshop:

The picture below is the final rendered effort.  Stephanie has high standards and she reckons it's still not as good as the professional one at the top. Stephanie even tried using two lights on one side instead of 1 but there wasn't a significant difference.  Does anyone have any suggestions?

BTW Thanks Stephanie for sending me your photos and for being the inspiration behind this post!

For more tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips

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  1. Thanks for the write up Pearl! Reading it from your perspective having it laid out and organized like it is, makes the last picture not so horrible. :-)

    But I'm definately looking to hear other artisans tips and techniques. I figure by the time I figure out how to take them against a white background, I'll be interested in learning how to take pictures against various backgrounds! Always something to learn.

    In fact, I was inspired by your heart jewelry post, created some earrings, blogged about it and gave credit to my inspiration -you!

    Thanks Pearl!

  2. Yes, I do believe your pictures are pretty good! But do continue experimenting. If we don't try, how else can we improve.

    I'm always thrilled to hear that my posts have inspired readers. That's the whole point of my blog!

  3. Wonderful post know I think Stephanie's photos are very good!!! The last one is awesome. Having said that I know how she feels, we are never least I'm not!

    I don't use the the last three years I've tried everything I could think of, a tent idea included, to take decent photos, I was just never happy...for me using a window that faces east, with 3 white walls surrounding the piece seems to give my most favorable results...a sunny day is best but a bright cloudy day is alright, depending on the item to be photographed.

    While I've seen improvement in my photographs...I've a long way to go...


  4. Not being able to take wonderful professional pics either, I totally understand her frustration. I don't have any professional advice, but I did notice on the "professional pic" that I could see the shadow under the pearls in a more defined manner. I think that may show the luster of the pearls better. Would love to know if there is a solution to that issue. :) Blessings, Shirley

  5. I won't profess to being an expert but I have noticed that taking the picture at an angle closer to the surface the pearls are resting on gets better results that a picture taken from straight above. The shadow cast by the pearls gives them more dimension. And unless it's mirrored, a matte finish on the resting surface works best when photographing on white. I use a piece of fancy textured fabric.

    Also, if the item is facing a little to the side, versus straight toward you, it gives the photograph a more real-life appearance. Less staged and more like someone is about to pick it up to put it on.

    As for the tent vs natural lighting, I prefer to use natural lighting and setup under a big window, preferably in the early afternoon. But that's just a personal preference. Good luck to all you other artists!

  6. Thanks for your helpful hints, Cinna. Hope this helps everyone. I too prefer natural light which I think is easier for most photo amateurs like us.

  7. her pictures are fine! i think it's just composition that's weaker than the professional picture. Maybe try to take the picture from a lower angle to create a more depth?

  8. I am definitely not the one to ask!

  9. Thanks everyone for your thoughts, comments and suggestions. I do think Cinna is on to something about the position of the item. I think I have such stress over taking pictures to begin with that by the time I work up the courage, I just want to get the picture to be clear and crisp and I forget about positioning. Will definately keep that in mind!


You're AWESOME! Thanks for the comment and feedback. You do make a difference on my blog!

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