When taking catalog photography, it is essential to be efficient with your time and to be consistent with lighting as well as presentation. Tony Roslund walks us through the process he used to capture amazingly sharp and clear product photos of jewelry using simple techniques and tools:
For rings, Roslund hot glues the ring standing up to white sintra board or matte board. When he goes to shoot them, he can easily maneuver the board in order to capture different angles of the ring. For pendants, Roslund cuts a 1.5” to 2” frame out of white matte board and hangs the pendant from the frame with small clamps or clothespins.
Moving into the studio, Roslund shoots with a Phase One Medium Format Camera with an IQ series digital back. His lens is a Mamiya 120mm Macro lens with an Extension Tube #3. He mounts a Really Right Stuff L-bracket and Macro Focusing Rail to the camera to minimize camera shake as well as allow the camera to move closer and further away from the object to adjust focus. Roslund usually takes between six and fifteen shots at different focal lengths and compiles them using the program Helicon Focus in order to make one sharp shot out of all of them. He also attaches the camera to a computer so that he can see the images at a larger size when shooting and so he can shoot using the computer rather than pressing the camera button, which could cause shake.
As for lighting, Roslund sets up one Profoto Acute D4 Head with a Zoom 2 Reflector attached to a 20 degree grid by the camera, which he adjusts in order to perfect the lighting on the product. He sets up another of the same light behind the product. Above the product, he sets up a Profoto 60-inch Octobox; however, any large light source would work as well for a general fill light. He also puts a Rosca #3008 filter roll between the camera and adjustable light to help the jewelry metal not reflect the studio equipment; he cuts a hole for the camera lens in the roll, as well. Lastly, he sets up two stands with white board that create a triangle in front of the jewelry to bounce back light to the product.
Roslund’s final step is to enable the mirror lock-up setting, minimizing camera shake. He uses a remote or a computer to fire the shutter rather than pressing the button. He is then ready to start taking pictures.
“The idea behind catalog photography is to be efficient; we want to be consistent in our lighting and uniform in how we present each piece.”
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