Photographing Jewels on Ice
Ice and jewelry, at least most jewelry, have something in common and that is that both tend to have a sparkle. A typical jewelry product theme is to photograph both articles or subjects together as part of one photographic composition; jewelry pieces alongside ice. This is in fact a type of product photography that has been very popular amongst product photographers for some time now.
The project is very simple to create and shoot with some minor preparations, one being in keeping the ice in a cold storage area until it is ready to be used or alternatively keeping the location where the composition will be shot very cold.
Once you have chosen which pieces of jewelry to feature you should arrange them in an artistic and pleasant setting on top, inside or next to the ice with some ice pieces surrounding it also. If you are able to obtain some ice sculptures, small or large doesn't really matter, then the composition becomes even more attractive and interesting. However very good photographs can be obtained with rough pieces of ice just the same.
The light is another of the factors that must be carefully considered since not only does the ice reflect light back but so does most of the jewelry that you will be using, and it is this reflection that produces the sparkle which is much sought after by photographers and the product manufacturers. Use diffused light and a black background to maximize the effect of the photos and if possible, use a snoot to direct the light directly at the composition.You can use simulated ice but if doing so go for the higher quality ones as the cheaper artificial ones are easily distinguished as being so by most people.
Try to use diamonds, silver or gold and gemstones, even if they are not the real things, since these make the most impressive images with diamonds being the top. Many jewelers will let you borrow and shoot their products in exchange for some copies of your work, and off course the vast majority will only let you record the images on site. It is also acceptable to use copies or faux jewelry since they make great images due to the improvement in the technology to make them and which virtually makes them indistinguishable from the real things.
A variation to this theme is to photograph ice by itself wherever it happens to form such as when icicles form on the branches of trees or on roofs. If the opportunity presents itself look for samples that have encapsulated any foreign objects such as blooms, flowers or even insects. Especially be aware of ice trapped air bubbles which are typically found in rivers, lakes and streams once they have frozen over.
If recording images of ice forms try to use a low yield flash unit with a diffuser and try to record them during the early dawn hours to maximize the effect and the light produced by the early Sun is often tinged with shades of yellow and reddish light making for more attractive images.
Be creative with your photography. A good technique is to use a model wearing the jewelery and photograph her next to some naturally formed ice crystals or icicles. Other alternatives are to secure the use of an ice storage area such as in a cold storage warehouse and shoot the entire project there. The breath expired by the model adds to the general atmosphere and you don't need to concern yourself with keeping the ice from melting.
Use your imagination when shooting ice, such as simulating an "ice berg"; shape a portion of the ice to resemble an small and manageable "ice berg", let it float on a colored liquid which is contained in a glass container such as a fish tank, illuminate the container from below or side and record an image that shows the ice half submerged and the other half above the water. You can also enclose some imitation jewelry pieces in water, freeze them and then shoot the images. Carefully arrange the subjects to be close to the edge so that they become visible once the water freezes and set them on the water once it has begun to freeze, otherwise they will just sink to the bottom.
Another fun project to do with ice is once you have your ice pieces in place or ready made, you can place them on top of a clear surface such as a sturdy piece of glass which has been raised from the floor and illuminated it from below with either a clear light source of with a colored one. The ice particles will absorb some of the light but will also serve as a natural diffuser spreading the illumination throughout the entire ice piece. This particular technique is also quite useful when recording jewelry and ice together.
Practice this technique until it becomes second nature to you since you will have some periods of trial and error due to the instability of ice under hot photographic lamps or where not kept in a cold storage or the sparkle does not come out to your expectations.
Locate some willing jewelers and perhaps some ice artists that may be willing to let you use their products and skills in your photography. You can always supply them with copies which they will probably use in advertising, marketing and promotional campaigns anyways.
Another very innovative technique is to combine ice, jewelry and fire into one photographic composition.
Not just putting an ice, a jewelry piece and something in flames near each other, but making an ice cube or other shape, interring a wick in its inside with the portion that will burn left outside off course, Note: the wick must be totally covered in wax before putting in into the ice, otherwise it will become water soaked and will not catch on fire. Place a piece of jewelry in the interior of the ice also. Take the ice piece, arrange the jewelry, light the wick and quickly shoot several images in a darken studio setting. Don't forget to adjust the camera settings for candle light and to use a tripod and a shutter release mechanism. These will help avoid blur.
You may just be exceptionally pleased with the resulting images. Again, all it takes is some creative thinking.
- 50 Incredible Photography Techniques and Tutorials | Smashing Magazine
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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez