Glossy Jewelry


That's my challenge. Photograph some glossy (epoxied) jewelry and reduce the glare.
The first thing I did was to take some outdoor photos with the bohemian-esque accessories (shout out to the awesome Leafy Season Designs - Etsy store, Instagram). Those came out pretty neat, I think. I tried to match the feel I got from the product, itself.

I grabbed an old piece of wood and chopped it up with an ax, which felt cool. I also grabbed some leaves from volunteer plants by my fence, as well as my dog's chew toy antler. I put together a nice series (all shot with the 6D MII and 70 - 200 f/2.8 L). Here's a handful for the total feel:
Leafy Season, indeed
It might look like a mess from the above phone shot
Much different from this angle
I edited each ring like this - I liked the ability to make a collage or use them individually
Some leaves were sacrificed for this project
Looked like a blue-eyed monster with an underbite

These would make good Instagram/other social media posting. Looking back, what would have been good is to add a diffuser above to further even out the light from the sky, even though the sun was covered by clouds this day to assist in that. So, that's the first lesson - though for social media purposes, these are definitely still shareable, just a step below what I know I'm capable of in hindsight.

Overall the first part was a relative success. Next, I did a few shots on black and white reflectors and speedlights. This was where the challenge began. I'm limited on the amount of equipment I have when it comes to studio lighting, and I found I could have used more diffusers! 
First, I put the items on black and shot with the 70-200. 





Not bad overall, but the glare's pretty prominent off the glossy epoxy. They also came off dark on the bottom, as well. Overall, not the best look (not for this product). White was the way to go.

THE GLARE!
Not the worst, buuuuuut super shiny. There are a couple ways to fix this. First, I had three light sources, which was unnecessary.
I was just toying around with lighting
That top light was totally not needed and eventually removed. Also, yes, I am definitely using PA speakers as a stand (band room doubles as a studio). What I needed to do here was adjust levels and orientation to reduce the glare coming from the diffused light on the left (my only good diffuser - which worked well). One route I could have taken is to make use of my limited good diffuser and take one shot with flash from the left, then one from the right and do some post magic to blend the two adequately lit but non-glared sides to get a good shot. I chose the way of trying to get it all in one because I like pain.
Another day, a different lens and setup
This was my next attempt (switched to my Tamron lens just because - trying to get used to its abilities - incidentally, the AF on it is kind of hit or miss). I adjusted the flash on the left (behind the separate diffuser) to not be pointed directly at the product. I then adjusted the one on the right to point up, so there was not a direct flash pushing through the slim diffuser. It didn't quite get the results I wanted, to I had to go a bit deeper into what light equipment I had to break it up a bit more from the right side. This is where a second, separate diffuser would have been awesome. The left was also still a bit harsh, so I needed to continue to reposition that flash. Really, matching equipment would have been awesome to reduce the variables, but I'll get there.

How did I further diffuse the right site? Witchcraft? Not this time!



So, what's all happening now? The umbrella above is to break up the overhead light that was leaving a tiny spot on the top of things (but that light was needed for my focus). The umbrella on the right was cutting up that flash a bit more to reduce the harshness. So, here's how it went through four photograph progressions. One with the black and then white base with three flashes, one with two flashes, then one with further diffusal care (diffusal's a word, and that red squiggly line doesn't prove anything).
I do like the contrast of the one with black.
I was actually surprised when comparing these and seeing the first one with the white base was actually great on glare with the exception of the large overhead. But, through the progressions, it is clear the one on the right was well exposed, shows the characteristics of the ring, and only has minor highlights on the sides from the flash. Wayyyy more acceptable and here are a few more shots from the most recent trial:

I'm proud of the earring composition with the bokeh action







Far less glare and very easy to see the details of the jewelry after trial and error. I've learned a lot of what not to do and already will be able to start in a better position next time. Really, that's what life's all about. Learn and get better. I also know I should probably splurge for a second diffuser. 

I have nothing in particular on the agenda next, so I think I'll write a post about nature photography, since I find myself outdoors with my dog and camera nearly once a week. I'll work through what I've learned over the last two years and what I plan on doing in the future. One cool thing coming up is a camping trip Wednesday night to try to get some shots of the milky way. That's why I recently traded in my old wide angle for the Sigma.


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