“There is no such thing as a bad shot.” If only this applies to photography. But basketball has hardly any connection with photography. And alas! photography, particularly that of jewelry, is peppered with terrible shots. And unlike in basketball, there is no such thing as a perfect shot in jewelry photography—or any photography for that matter. The camera never quite captures subjects as the human eye sees. But unlike in basketball, a shot that is taken can be improved.
Color is especially prone to misrepresentation. Inaccurate color representation can make a jewelry photograph go awry in more ways than one. It may look less vibrant than it actually is, or shinier than ideal, or the gold not quite golden, or perhaps the platinum looks silvery. Where so much is about appearance or depends upon it, this is problematic; no blemish should be tolerated.
Why is color correction for jewelry photos necessary?
There are plenty of reasons. One is that no matter how good the lighting condition is when shooting a piece of jewelry, the camera invariably fails to capture the true essence. The shot almost always looks somewhat off, to a keen eye—and most people interested in jewelry have highly discerning eyes, not to mention delicate taste. Color correction can be used to remove color casts or shadows that may be introduced by differences in color temperature in the light source.
Another not unrelated reason is that jewelers want to make photographs of their ornaments shine and display the radiance of the luster no less brilliant than reality. They want their jewels represented in a manner worthy of their value (or price). Photographs, in their raw format, hardly evince this. Color correction enhances their visual appeal, not to the level of the real perhaps but from the domain of the surreal.
Color correction, though primarily about color accuracy and not style, enhances the aesthetics of jewelry. It can be used to highlight intricate details and ornate designs, such as the facets of gemstones or the texture of metals. This helps in accentuating the quality and craftsmanship of jewelry items and thus attracting attention.
Color correction also makes jewels appear more vibrant. Raw photos are often lifeless, and so specialists called colorists are sometimes employed to breathe life into them. More often than not though, a jewelry photo editing service from a specialized company is enough to enliven the images. It has the expertise, experience, and refined eyes and dexterous hands to bring images to life, giving them the status they are due. Photo editing services can strike the right balance between cost and quality.
Tips for color correction in jewelry photographs
Color casts, shadows, and inaccurate hues in jewelry photo are thankfully not difficult to fix by post-processing with, for example, Adobe Photoshop. But it can be easy to go overboard, too, the supposed fix blotching the subject.
Color correction entails more than just adjusting the hues and saturation of the photograph. Underexposure or overexposure, white balance, contrast, and color temperature all need to be touched and retouched to achieve amazing results.
There are many ways to perform color corrections. Most photo editing software has various tools and features that you can use. As you are working with color, keep in mind that hue is color, saturation is the purity or colorfulness of the color, and lightness is the degree of whiteness or blackness in the image. These three are collectively called HSL.
And before you begin working on the photos, ensure that your monitor is properly calibrated so that it displays colors as accurately as possible. If not well-calibrated, then it’d be like painting an impressionist art with tinted glasses on.
With all those said and set, here are some essential tips that will be handy in color correction in jewelry photo editing.
Adjust the white balance to give a natural look
The point of color correction is to make the photograph look as natural as possible. Adjusting the white balance to match the lighting conditions can help in making the jewelry look more accurate and natural. Ensure that the image is not skewed toward a specific color temperature like the warmer yellow or the cooler blue.
You can use a reference point in the image, like a neutral gray area, or an actual color chart taken under the same lighting conditions. The white balance tools can be used to match the lighting.
Make selective and targeted adjustments
Identify specific elements that need correction, such as gemstone colors or metal tones, and boost or reduce saturation, exposure or temperature as the case may be. This allows you to enhance specific hues without affecting others. Focus on specific colors within the jewelry and be mindful not to disturb the overall color balance.
Use tools like color wheels or selective color sliders to adjust the saturation. And for fine-tuning individual colors, tools like the HSL adjustment can be used.
Preserve the metal tones
When it comes to metallic elements, the emphasis must be on keeping them true to their nature. Gold should look golden and silver silvery but not so much that they appear inauthentic. So avoid over-boosting the saturation for metals.
Understand the direction of light in the original photograph and highlight the contours of the ornament according to how light interacts with its surface. Each metal has unique reflective qualities, so adjustments need to be tailored accordingly. Dodge and burn techniques can be used to highlight intricate details and contours.
Highlight sparkle and apply subtle color enhancement
Very often the brilliance and radiance of a jewel may not be reflected in the photograph, especially when it is overexposed or underexposed. When applying color correction, take particular care not to overexpose the photo, as it can wash out the details of gems and reduce their sparkle. Aim for a well-balanced exposure that accentuates the light play and reflections within the jewelry.
For certain gems, you can subtly enhance their natural hue without making them look unnatural. Make targeted adjustments to bring out their vibrancy and lucence. You may apply soft glows strategically to highlight certain areas and use subtle color grading to enhance their hues.
Let the background complement the foreground
While making enhancements, the background is often overlooked as though it were not part of the picture. This can be a grim mistake. Ignoring the background can, funnily, make it attract attention, thus taking it away from where it ought to be.
Make sure that the background doesn’t stand out too much; its role is supportive. Opt for a neutral background that doesn’t distract. White, gray, or muted tones often work well, providing a clean canvas for the jewelry to stand out. Subtle, diffused lighting can also bring the focus to the subject.
Consider color harmony between the jewelry and the background. Complementary or analogous color schemes can create a harmonious visual balance.
Seeing the true picture
It is easy to get too engrossed in the task of jewelry image retouching and drift away from reality. The job may be overdone and the result may be tacky. So, it’s important to be mindful and exercise restraint. The best correction is the one with the least correction. If excessive correction needs to be applied, then it is a sign that the original image was not great to begin with and that it cannot be salvaged with editing.
After you finish the edit—or occasionally amidst editing—it may be a good idea to step away from the task for a while. Then come back and give it a fresh look with different perspectives.
If all these seem too tedious—for it indeed is—one can choose to outsource jewelry photo retouching services to experts. That is often a pragmatic and economically sensible approach.