How to Photograph Shiny Items with a Cloud Dome
5 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Preparing and Uploading Your eBay Images
Some of the more challenging types of eBay merchandise to photograph are coins and jewelry. A common problem is that when you use techniques that work fine for most items, silver can appear gold, and vice versa. Fortunately, the solution is simple: use ambient, or naturally occurring, light. Ambient light is the best light for photographing many types of items, especially shiny ones.
An easy way to bring ambient light into your photos is to use a cloud dome, a giant bowl that you place upside-down over the object you want to photograph. This bowl evenly diffuses ambient room light over the surface area of the object. This way, you can produce quality digital images in average room lighting. The cloud dome also helps with the following:
Eliminating camera shake: When taking close-focus, highly zoomed-in pictures, holding your camera steady is of utmost importance. Using a tripod is difficult with close-up pictures, so using a cloud dome is the best option because your camera mounts directly to the cloud dome and is held as still as if you were using a tripod.
Consistent lighting: When you use flash or flood lighting alone (without a cloud dome) for pictures of metallic objects, your photographs can include shiny hotspots from reflections (off walls and ceilings), washed-out areas from the glare of the lights, shadows, and loss of proper color.A cloud dome being set up to photograph jewelry.
Follow these steps to take a picture with the cloud dome:
Attach your camera to the cloud dome’s mount with the lens positioned so that it peers into the hole at the top of the dome.
Place your item on top of a contrasting background.
Place the Dome with camera attached over your item.
Check the item’s position through your camera’s viewfinder or LCD screen.
If the item is not in the center, center it. If you feel you need additional lighting to bring out a highlight, use a lamp outside the cloud dome.
Focus your camera and shoot the picture.
Many items benefit from being photographed through a cloud dome, especially the following:
Jewelry: Taking pictures with the cloud dome keeps the gold color gold and the silver color silver. Also, using the cloud dome helps your camera pick up details such as engraving and the metal surrounding cloisonné work. It also gives pearls and gold their unique luster and soft reflection.
Gems and stones: You can take beautiful pictures of gems and stones with the cloud dome. To achieve a special look, you can use a cloud dome accessory, a reversible gold-and-silver reflector. Especially when you use the silver side, facets of diamonds glisten as if they were in the pinpoint lights at the jeweler’s. You may also want to focus a floodlight or lamp on the outside of the dome for extra sparkle.
Coins and stamps: The cloud dome allows you to hold the camera steady for extreme close-ups. It also allows you to photograph coins without getting any coloration that is not on the coin. For both coins and stamps, the cloud dome helps you achieve sharp focus and true color.
Holographic or metallic accented items: If you’ve ever tried to photograph collector cards, you know that the metal accents glare and holograms are impossible to capture. Also, the glossy coatings confuse the camera’s light sensors, causing overexposed highlights.Computer chips, before and after shooting with the cloud dome.
Reflective objects: Items such as silverware or even computer chips reflect a lot of light. The cloud dome diffuses the light so that the pictures become clear.