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Taking pictures of loose diamonds


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Good pictures are hard to take and skill at it is one of the important trade secrets of the Internet diamond sellers. For entirely sensible reasons, they tend not to be especially forthcoming about their techniques in public forums like this one. They won't be anxious to share how to produce those stunning photos that can make a mudball look like it belongs in the crown jewels. Here’s a few tips for consumers who want to share images of their new purchase:


Use the macro setting on your camera. That will generally be the little flower icon and it allows you to focus closer up than the other settings. The pro’s don’t do this, they prefer to control everything and they develop their favorite settings by trial and error and keeping careful notes about what works with their setup and what doesn’t. More light makes it easier, less light means you can have a longer exposure and your depth of field increases so everything stays in focus. Find a balance that works for you.


Use a small tripod or some other really stable platform.


Lighting is the key. Bright, diffused lights are good for beginners. Try making a diffuser tent out of a translucent material like a plastic bowl and cut a hole in the side to make an igloo. A tent made from copy paper can work ok too. This is an area where the pros tend to go wild and with great affect. They use light tents, spotlights from various directions, different translucency in different areas of the diffuser, different kinds lights etc. Fluorescent lights suck unless you're using the 'daylight' bulbs.


If you’re too close, the camera body itself makes a big shadow in the stone. Try to be as far away as possible without needing to use the ‘digital’ zoom feature. With most cameras this is 6 inches or so but it varies quite a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer.


Good backgrounds usually aren’t very interesting in their own right. You want something that is lightly reflective but that’s not going to be distracting in your final image. Don’t forget the background behind the camera. When you look into a diamond, you’re looking into a mirror. What you see reflected in the mirror will also be in the image. Pros will put dark black shades over the camera with lighted white behind to bring out the ‘arrows’ or will put bright colorful things about the room so that the stone looks like it has colorful fire.


For the dealers: Practice practice practice. You’re thousandth picture is going to be better than your first and your ten thousandth will be better still. If you keep good notes so you learn from your mistakes, it will be a lot better. It’s worth the time, trouble and expense to get good at this. Don’t cheap out on the equipment. You can do quite a bit with a $200 camera and an old beer cup for a diffuser but you’ll do a lot better if you loosen up the budget a bit and still work twice as hard as the other guy. I’m all for doing things on the cheap but this is part of every single customer transaction you have, even the customers who look at your site and decide not to buy. Increasing the number of people who go from lookers to buyers by even a few percent is an enormous payoff. Those top dealers who are eating your lunch tend to have a 'money is no object' aproach to equipment. They'll do whatever it takes to make the best possible images.


It’s a good idea to make you’re images recognizably yours by always using similar backgrounds, equipment and techniques. Adding a digital watermark will reduce the incidences of people stealing your images and makes the image itself an advertisement when your customers start email it around.


Happy shooting.



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