Jewellery Photography - Part - II / by Harminder Singh

Professional photography is best executed on a CCD sensor that is housed in Digital backs, unlike CMOS sensors in DSLRS.

CCD sensors produce crisp images when compared with CMOS sensors. Images shot on either of the sensors have an option to capture images in RAW format.

All professionals must shoot in 16 bit RAW because it gives the highest quality in tonal range and colour accuracy. The down side is that it adds a very time consuming process to convert these images from RAW to Tiff on very expensive softwares. Of course there are cheap converters available and some are even free with the DSLRS.

RAW conversion is a process where you can tweak the image to perfection in terms of tonality, colour correction and sharpness overall or to localized areas of the image. This is a lossless process as compared to using Photoshop for these tweaks. During this stage it is important that you use professionally calibrated display.

Great care should be taken to handle jewellery before it is photographed. Always clean the jewellery and handle with lint free fabric to move it on the set. Fingerprints and lint stuck in the prongs can ruin the perfect shot. In spite of all the care there still is a chance to come across these disturbances. It is to get rid of these problems that photoshop is used.

Retouching

Once the image has been converted to 8 bit RGB tiff format, it is ready for the next stage of treatment in photoshop.

Photoshop must be used to remove flaws and enhance the image, not to correct mistakes. Great care is required while retouching. Overdoing takes away the natural look and feel of the jewellery. This is why, the image originally should be shot to perfection, so that one does not later take the refuge, to painting the jewellery with a heavy hand.

Retouching of jewellery photographs is always required to fix the imperfections in production or crafting the jewellery, like poor setting of diamonds, pitting of metal, dust and scratches, that show up upon magnification once the image is blown up for full page advertisements or hoardings

The sharp  and detailed image that we strive to create can also exaggerate  the flaws.

Colour correction

Each image has to be colour corrected individually. Diamond surrounded by gold will appear to have warm colour as compared to a diamond with platinum or silver surround. This is because the surrounding colour is casting its colour on the diamond. Thus Rubies, emeralds, topaz and diamonds when fixed into a same area can play havoc. Colour from the backgrounds can very easily contaminate the colour of the product. This is the reflection of the background. Sometimes it adds environment and is very interesting, but sometimes it needs to be removed. It all depends from case to case.

In photo editing, the most laborious job is to do cutouts of jewellery pcs. for putting different backgrounds below the image.

Cut outs, are mostly required for web uploading with consistent and similar backdrops with gradation and believable shadows, reflections etc. for a uniform look. It adds value, pleasantness, cohesiveness and great character to the pages. These cutouts are also used for blending with creative backgrounds and spl. fx. etc.

One requires great amount of patience, time and hundreds of clicks to do a single cutout, imagine outlining an entire necklace that has very fine intricate weave. It takes about 2 to 6 man-hours.

There are many software’s that allow you to do these cutouts, but if accuracy is the objective, then there is no shortcut, but to use a pen tool in Photoshop.

Scaling images

When different images are brought together in one canvas, they have to have a proper scale in relation to one another. Example, when earing, ring and pendant are shot separately and require to be shown in one canvas, they should represent proper size and dimension.