Photo Friday: Jewelry on Black is Hit or Miss

The post Lessons Learned From FirstPhoto Session shared my first experiment with my new camera. I thought photographing gold rings on a black background would showcase the items. I have photographed many items with white backgrounds but have noticed that some things look better on black.

After photographing a number of different rings, I have to say that using black is really hit or miss if you are an amateur photographer.

f/5, exp 1/10 sec with -1 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance

With this set up, the gold ring does not stand out against the black background. This was a Miss.

f/6.3 exp 1/6 sec with -1 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance

Perhaps pairing the previous ring with a second ring helped this photograph. This is a Hit.

f/6.3 exp 1/8 sec with -1 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance

Changing the rings orientation changed a Hit into a Miss.

f/6.3 exp 1/4 sec with -0.3 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance

I added a foil covered board as a reflector to bounce more light to the front of the rings. The previous Miss became a Maybe.

f/6.3 exp 1/3 sec with -0.3 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance

This ring, perhaps because it has less gold overall looks nice on the black background. Hit.

f/6.3 exp 1/4 sec with -1 bias, ISO 200, 55 mm Focal Length
Partial Metering Mode, White Fluorescent White Balance
One final ring, this photograph of the two high school rings is a definite possibility. Maybe.


Are there ways on camera and with the positioning of the lights (or a different lens) that I could make a gold ring on a black background look better? Should I should have used the shiny side of the backdrop and not the felt? These are questions to consider if the dark background is the look I have to achieve. However,  I want what's best for the piece and not necessarily a certain 'creative' look.

Next time, we'll examine some of these pieces with a white background.


My adventures in photography supports the chapter in my book 21st Century Family Historian about Photographing Memorabilia. Order your copy of the book through Amazon.com

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