Photographing Precious Metals

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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source
 the image is in the public domain.
the image is in the public domain. | Source

Gold, silver & bronze is not only a list of metals with some being precious and quite expensive. It is also a list of subjects that can be the focus of yet another photographic project.

There are very few things that are so beautiful as any ornament or item made from these lustrous metals with gold being the undisputed king and silver following a close second. Yet these same metals have also been the cause of numerous conflicts and of great human suffering.

Yet this project focuses on recording images of not only gold artifacts, silver but of any made from bronze. First a little about bronze since most of us know pretty much what gold and silver are:

"Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal....The word Bronze is believed to be cognate with the Italian: bronzo and German: brunst, perhaps ultimately taken from the Persian word for brass, birinj; or possibly from the Latin name of the city of Brindisi (aes Brundusinum—Pliny)."Wikipedia

For this project it is best to stay away from images of gold or silver jewelry otherwise you may as well do a product or jewelry photo shoot. The best subject are any items which are made from any of these three subjects including many musical instruments such as trumpets and trombones.

Statues, even if they are imitations and just colored in any of these three metal colors will do since the camera cannot distinguish a real from an imitation, at least in most cases.

The majority of subjects made from gold, silver can be found in private collections, museums and some antique stores and bronze can be easily found at many of the same locations including many musical stores.

Bronze pieces, with the exception of musical instruments, are however much easier to find as they are often made into decorative pieces for the home or office and many furniture stores and arts & crafts shops have them in supply.

Your goal is to show their images in a new perspective with close ups being the modus operandi. Use diffused light and place them at 45 degree angles as well as using at least one reflector in front of the subject to reflect back some of the light from the main light source.

For subjects found in museums your best bet is to ask for permission to photograph them, you may even have to obtain a special permit to do so and be aware that most museums will not allow photographs of their inventory but it is worth a try.

A good starting point is to advertise in your local media for any such items that are in private hands and ask for authorization to photograph. You may be surprised on how often people will grant you access to their pieces.

Probably the most difficult samples will the ones made from gold as its value often makes people be very reluctant to let anyone close enough. Coins are easily found and can be part of the project but limit their images to a few. More striking subjects are those that are art related. Make a concerted effort to concentrate the majority of your shots to these.

Do close ups that capture detail in workmanship and any intricacies and photograph them at eye level. Your intention is to showcase to an audience the beauty of the item in all its glory and radiance.

Be mindful to keep the light sources some distance away to eliminate the possibility of your reflection being captured in your photos and to photograph them at an opposite angle as it pertains to the direction where the main light source is coming from and your position relative to the subject.

Use your images as a way of perfecting your photographic techniques but also as show pieces in a fine arts gallery.

The images are often used by individuals and by offices as part as their decor. Fine jewelry establishments are often the biggest buyers of these photos and it is worth approaching them.

Fine hotel chains also contribute to their sale-ability and they are generally very pleasing subjects that have a wide appeal to a wide audience.

Some specialized publications that deal with such metals, home decor, the art scene and others can also be sources to contact when selling your images, so long as the images are pleasing to look at and technically sound.

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez

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Comments 4 comments

JEOrtega 4 years ago

Hi Luis!

I have found that some pieces made of the above materials can also be found at estate sales for a very reasonable price or they might allow you to photograph them with the sale environment. Voting up and interesting!


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

JE Ortega: Thank, and you are right, I hadn't thought of estate sales.


lucasaraujo profile image

lucasaraujo 4 years ago from Brasil, Vitoria - ES

Congratulations man, you are awesome!

Yours hubs are very interesting and creative!

Vote up! :D


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

lucasaraujo: Thank you very much

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