First off, you need lighting! Lighting is the key to any and all good product photography shots. Now, not just any old lighting works though, you need what is referred to as Diffused Light. One can do this many ways, easiest it to purchase special Photography lights that come with special diffusers on them, this is fine and dandy but super expensive!! Or you can use a light tent with normal lights, but these light tents are still quite expensive IMHO, and I know many people are on a budget, atleast I am, lol. So, here is my way of doing it.... Building a light box!
What you need:8x 6" long pieces of 1/2" PVC Pipe (You will buy 1 long piece and have them cut it down for you).--Now you can use larger then 6" pieces, the longer the pieces the larger your box will be. I chose 6" for my Gemstone/Jewelry Box and 18" for my large product box.
4x Side Outlet 90's or PVC Corners in 1/2" size (for your 1/2" pipe)
4x End Caps
1-2yrds. Of white Polyester/Cotton/Nylon Blend Material (Wal-Mart)
1/2 yrd. White Muslin and Black Muslin Material (Silk, Satin, or even very fine Velvet can work as well)
3x 6" (small box) or 8" (for large box) Silver Domed Clamp on Shop Lights (Wal-Mart Automotive Dept.)
3x 100w Reveal Light Bulbs for small box or 150w for the large box (except for Canon cameras, use standard White Lights)
1x 4in (larger if needed) square piece of White Plexi or Lexan
1x 4in square piece of Black/Bronze/Smoke Plexi or Lexan
Now to get started, all you need to do is assemble your light box frame, the PVC pipes + fittings. Make the top first and then insert the leg pieces and the end caps. You may need to sand or file down the ends to make your box sit steady, this is not difficult. Now you will drape the small piecee of fabric (the muslin/Silk/Satin/Fine Velvet) from the back pipe down the back and rolled out to the front. Place your Plexi/Lexan piece on top of this in the center of the box. And now you can use you large peice of white material to drape over the outside of the box double layered, this is what actually diffuses/softens your light. Next, position your lights so that one is on top and one on each side of the light box. Place your item to be photographed onto the Plexi/Lexan piece. Now, you may need to move the side lights a little further away or one close and one further to get your lighting how you want it, and with some the light on top is enough.
Now you are ready to set your camera up! You will most likely need your paper manual or the online manual for your camera handy. Do the following list in this order:
1. Set ISO to lowest (80 or 100) setting
2. Turn noise reduction in camera either Off or on Low if you can
3. If your camera has settings for the style of images, select "Natural".
4. Turn your Flash Off
5. Set your camera in to Macro Mode
6. Select the Center most focal point if you have a choice
7. If you can select Metering Modes, for Gemstones use "Spot Metering" and if an entire piece of Jewelry then set it to "Center Weighted Average" or something similar.
The next step is setting your white balance. If your camera can, you need to set a Custom White Balance. Every camera is different so follow your manuals instructions. If you can not set a custom White Balance then set it for either "Indoors" or "Incandescent" lighting for best results. If you can set the Custom White Balance then you will need to do this for every different piece you plan on shooting.
Using a tripod is a big plus, it will help you get sharper and more detailed images. Also, when shooting on the white background/Plexi then you will want to adjust your "Exposure Compensation" (again, check your Manual) to between +.5 to +1 to make the camera expose the scene properly. If you are shooting on the dark background/Plex then you will need to do the opposite and set your "Exposure Compensation" to - .5 to -1 to assure for proper exposure.
Now you can take your pictures like a Professional does with your own little Light box Studio that will cost you less then $50 including all the lights!!
Here is a picture of the side outlets:
Looking in the light box:
Remember to try different angles and different distances on the side light for effect. You can also use some Aluminum Foil crinkled up for the light to reflect off of to give some extra sparkles. You can also use a Cross Filter for the end of your lens to get the little star like reflections off of your objects/reflections (like you will see below). You could also use a soft filter to make things kind of dreamy too!
Here are a few samples:
I hope you find/found this useful.