Rings & Things Or Jewelry Photography Tips

When I was 10, my parents sent me off for Two Whole Months to a distant boy’s camp while they traveled in Europe. Besides becoming extremely homesick, I got caught up in an activity right next to Arts & Crafts called Silver Shop. Here, one learned how to use a jeweler’s saw, torch, files, proper sanding and finishing. Working with sterling silver, you first made a simple band ring; after that you could make all kinds of neat stuff. I subsequently returned to that camp 4 more times, at the end becoming the counselor instructing Silver Shop.

So fairly early on I was designing rings of increasing sophistication along with pendants, earrings, pins, etc. but mainly rings. Later when my mineral collecting morphed into lapidary, the semi-precious stones I cut into cabochons were used in my creations. A few years ago when I got most of the rings together and did a count, it was determined that The Wife could wear a different ring every day of the year and then some, so I figured That Was Enough. Some 23 years ago, putting my skills to practical purpose, I made The Wife’s engagement and our wedding rings.

Starting with sterling silver (or “925″: 92.5% pure silver, 7.5% copper), I soon moved on to gold: preferably “rose” or red gold (higher copper content) along with white gold. (There’s even something called “green” gold, but after trying it a couple times, I was of the opinion that it just looked like gold that wasn’t feeling well).

All my work was fabricated; never got into casting — that’s a whole different animal. Working with some sheet but mostly wire, I’d experiment with twisting varied numbers of strands different ways. Certain machine-shop techniques, including the use of a metal lathe were also employed. For economic reasons, initial experiments were done with with copper and/or brass.

Small jewelry items (like rings) are best photographed by using DIFFUSED light so as to minimize “hot spots.” I’ve found the best way to do this is by using a light “tent” or box or as we’re about to create, light “cylinder.”

light tent

If you don’t have access to some 10 or 12 gauge wire, get two or three regular wire coat-hangers and straighten them out. Pliers make it easier, but you can do a fair (if crude) job by hand. Make a circle with the wire (aprox. 12″ diameter) and tape it together with strong tape (e.g. duct-tape). Make a second. Get some heavy-weight WHITE construction paper (I used two sheets of 13 x 19 photography paper taped together) and make a cylinder the same size as your wire circle. (Actually you’ll get a better “fit” if you reverse the process: make your paper cylinder first and then size the wire to fit). Tape the wire circles to the cylinder top and bottom. Use the cylinder as a guide to mark and cut out a circle of the white paper the same size and tape on top. Cut a hole approximately 1/3rd of the way down from the top slightly larger than your camera’s lens . Of course if you want to shoot directly from above (e.g. “Coconut Shell Pendant”), it makes sense to cut a lens-hole on top; in fact you can cut several for different vantage points, cover and tape all but the one in use with white paper. Now you can photograph your subject in full sun, but without hot-spots or shadows. It may not be elegant, but it works.

Other than using a light “tent,” the actual set-up (in terms of background) is similar to that employed when photographing shells (“Shells are Swell”) or any other small object: my often used “aquarium” coral spray-painted matte black or other natural forms (e.g. cacti, lava, etc.), so long as they can fit inside your cylinder. Once again, it’s a matter of showing off the subject in a revealing way that gives a sense of that object’s specialness.


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


Jewelry Photography


More from Warren Krupsaw

16 Behaviors of the Serious Photographer
Memories of Ansel Adams
16 Fantastic Images of Fungi Fun
Ice is Nice – A Showcase by Warren Krupsaw

Please check out Warren’s latest Moth Photography in his new self-published calendar Mothography 2012.

Warren KrupsawWarren Krupsaw, a one-time student (and house guest) of Ansel Adams is a nature photographer concentrating on landscape & detail. After participating in the first year of a new graduate program in Photography at M.I.T. with Minor White, he earned his M.F.A. in Photography under Harry Callahan at the R.I.S.D. in 1968.
Gallery: http://www.pbase.com/thekrupgallery
Book: Portraits of Passion and Other Dalliances


Warren Krupsaw

Warren Krupsaw

Warren Krupsaw, a one-time student (and house guest) of Ansel Adams is a nature photographer concentrating on landscape & detail. After participating in the first year of a new graduate program in Photography at M.I.T. with Minor White, he earned his M.F.A. in Photography under Harry Callahan at the R.I.S.D. in 1968. Gallery: http://www.pbase.com/thekrupgallery Book: Portraits of Passion and Other Dalliances

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What Our Readers have to say

  1. June Krupsaw says:

    They have never and will never look better.

  2. Lisa Barry says:

    The backdrops are almost as captivating as the jewelry. Beautiful.

  3. Ted says:

    Really liked the one made of brass casings, great recycling!

  4. Anise Cloverleaves says:

    Nice jewellery, really interesting backdrops, but your speculars are mostly out of control, and from the reflections, I would say that a lot of these were not shot in a light tent of any description (which is what these photos are supposed to be examples of?) Some of them are great, but a lot of them have speculars that are blown, the light is harsh and not wrapping well, so you can’t see the texture, colour and shape very well. And that, after all, is the point of manufacturing your light to suit your subject. I’d have cut the collection down to about half a dozen of your best shots – you’d improve the quality of the post no end and give people a better indication of what can be achieved on the cheap with DIY light mods.

  5. Joel E. Cohen says:

    Amazingly inventive and beautiful jewelry, exquisitely photographed. The Wife in this story is One Lucky Woman.

  6. Doug says:

    Another way to photograph jewelry is to use a small softbox directly over the piece, top down. Now you have nice, even light w/o speculars. If you need some sort of light difference, use a black card off to the side. The card reflects on the jewelry w/o creating any hot spots, but gives the piece a nice shape.

  7. James says:

    The photograph looks awesome.. Great jewellery photography tips. These tips would definitely worth following. The jewellery photos displayed here are the best example.

  8. Louise says:

    Exquisite jewelry! The wedding bands are particularly creative and original looking. You’ve taken this area of jewelry to a whole new level. I thought your photos show each piece off beautifully.

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