Photo Friday: Something Shiny

Not everyone is blessed with a stash of pageant memorabilia in their personal effects, or that of their ancestors, but many people have something shiny. I’ll attempt to share what I’ve learned about photographing my shiny, pageant crown.

I’ve set up my lightbox on an ironing board. Yep. An ironing board. When the tripod is maxed out for its height, I can raise and lower the ironing board to compensate. Plus, it’s more portable than a heavy desk, so I can place the lightbox where ever good lighting occurs in my home. It works for me.

I learned to lower the ISO setting as low as possible. The lower setting reduces grainy photographs and increases detail in the photos. I was previously using an 800 ISO setting. This setting is best for moving subjects. Since my jewelry should stay stationary and my set-up involves a tripod, I can lower the ISO down to 80 and take some fabulous pictures.

Pageant Crown
Exposure: 1/50, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 12.8 mm, ISO 80
My first attempt turned out nice. I placed my son’s squishy football under a white cloth. I placed the crown on top of this pedestal. Again, all of this was inside my lightbox. I was taking this pictures in the early afternoon and utilized the soft light streaming in from the window on the left side of the photo set-up.

I attempted to place aim a light directly onto the crown to make the rhinestones sparkle. I don’t like the effect that this light is having. I later discovered the light needed to be filtered in order to make the effect work. Regardless, I abandoned the light for now and tried something else. 

Pageant Crown
Exposure: 1/15, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 10.3 mm, ISO 80

Eliminating the front light instantly improved the color quality of the photos. I decided I didn’t like the orientation of the crown and decided to rotate it. 


Pageant Crown
Exposure: 1/60, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 10.3 mm, ISO 80

This time, I added a light through the lightbox on the right of the photo, with the natural light on the left side. I reset the custom white balance before I placed the crown in the lightbox. The resulting picture seemed to have more sparkle on the crown. Sparkle is good on some shiny things. To me, this crown orientation looks better, but that’s just my opinion. 

Pageant Crown
Exposure: 1/60, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 10.3 mm, ISO 80

I left everything the same as far as the set-up and settings go but rotated the crown a touch more. There was a pleasing balance of sparkle and softness to the photo. In a photo editing software, I might lighten the overall photo, but I think this looks wonderful. 


Pageant Crown
Exposure: 1/50, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 16.1 mm, ISO 80

When I zoomed in closer, I eliminated some of the distracting background at the bottom of the photo. However, perhaps I zoomed in too much. There are times I really like this close up. There are times when I like the one proceeding this picture better. In any case, I’m very pleased with these results. I can now include this picture on scrapbook pages about my pageant experiences.

Some other post-photo shoot analysis. I see the reflection of my clothing in the bottom rim of the crown. Perhaps next time I take photos of something so reflective, I’ll remember to hold up a white cloth in front of myself so that I can keep the overall environment neutral. One website suggested using a higher aperture (f/5.6 for jewelry, I’m assuming for small items) for greater depth of field. Perhaps that is what would have downplayed the background in these pictures. I’ll have to try it next time around.

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