Ahhh, the wedding ring. A classic staple in most marriages and has been for centuries. Whether you live white gold or yellow, there are a few things you should know.
FOR THE BRIDE: It's so funny to me how often ladies forget to get their rings cleaned. I get it, I do! It's a super busy time, you're stressed about everything and it just slips your mind... but don't let it! Of course I would always recommend getting it cleaned by a jeweler, but even opting for some home treatments would be better than nothing. If you decide to DIY anything, be sure you test it out on another piece of jewelry of the same metal! Check out some of these Pinterest Ideas!
On the day of the wedding, make sure ALL of the rings are in one place for your photographer. It's so easy to get caught up in the tradition where he holds onto your ring, or vice versa. However, this makes it a nightmare for your photographer, especially if you are getting ready in different venues! Have them both in their boxes, in one central bag, ready to go!
Now, since I don't have my own engagement ring, my expertise ends there. However, I can shine a little more light on the photography side!
FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I'm always super flattered every time another photographer mentions my ring shots. I really do blush because it's something that I was AWFUL at. I'm no where near an expert on the topic but I have learned a considerable amount in just the last year. There are a few tips and tricks that will really help make a huge difference in your work.
- BACKGROUND: Before I actually shoot any of the wedding rings, I look for things to use as a backdrop. A diamond is beautiful on just about anything but it REALLY with a little outside help. From there, I find things that are meaningful to the bride or groom. For example, the photo on the left was taken on a fishing lure from her grandfather that had passed away. The photo on the right was taken on lace from her mother's wedding dress. Finding something meaningful will bring a deeper emotional connection than just a pretty ring on a pretty flower (which I also do all the time).
From there, I look for colors, sparkles, or texture. I have used anything from the bottom of a plate, a sock, and a bridesmaid dress for ring shots. Your options are virtually limitless and this is really the time to get creative! It took me a really long time to figure out what worked and what didn't. You can throw a ring into a bunch of glitter and it looks gorgeous to the eye, but on camera, it disappears. I usually schedule out at least 30 minutes of my morning to just shooting the rings... call me crazy, but I'm obsessed!
- THE LIGHT: Easily the most important factor of shooting rings (other than the rings) is your light source. You can use almost any light source but the best is natural sunlight. A big window is your best friend when shooting details... or even better is an open shaded area outside. I prefer sitting outside because it's an excuse to get some peace and quiet before the big day, but wherever will work.
There are two ways to position the center. You can either face it directly at the sun, which is a great way to photograph the side of the setting and the profile of the ring. If I'm shooting the center of the diamond, I don't want it in my direct light source, because it will reflect light off and cause a rainbow effect. Some photographers may tell you to face the center to the light source and you can! It's all about experimenting. I've just found that having it to the side creates depth.
Below is my example of light placement. The window was off to the left and the folds in the fabric created texture and shadows that just made the photo more interesting.
Can you tell where the light source was below? It was a window directly to the right.
- SHOOTING: So you have your awesome backdrop, your light source, and you're ready to shoot, so let's talk about camera settings. Consider it a good rule of thumb to not shoot below an aperture of f/2.8. If you shoot below that, you risk the chance of the ring being out of focus in some weird places. Now, that's not to say that some photographers don't rock it out at anything below that, because they totally do! It's just a good idea to stick to what you know, especially ON a wedding day!
Focus is another huge factor that will really affect the quality of your ring shot. When I first began, I always though to set my center focus on the diamond in the middle! Sounds legit, right? Well, not so much. Depending on how the ring is facing you, you'll want to focus on different parts of the ring. If the ring is facing straight forward like above, you'll want to set your focus points to the prongs of the ring. See those four little prongs on either side? They are a sure bet to getting the center in focus. You can try to focus on the diamond itself, but you won't always be working with a 2 carat diamond. If you're shooting the setting, try focusing on the the part of the band that is closest to you. This takes a lot of practice and it was very hit or miss when I first began, I definitely recommend experimenting on your own before a wedding day to find out what works and why.
The lens you use can have a huge difference on quality as well but you can get a decent ring shot with almost any lens. If you're working with a wider angle lens, then you'll want to shoot with a higher fstop to ensure that the ring is in your DOF. If you are shooting with a macro lens, then you can get away with using a more shallow depth of field, like f/1.8.
Take a look at the photos below, can you tell which rings were taken with which lens?
Click on them to make them larger!!
Leave your guesses in the comments!
- Your options are
When you click on the images one by one, you may or may not be able to distinguish which shot is taken with what. The point is, you can really get a great shot from any lens you are working with, you just need a little *magic* which brings me to.....
- POST PROCESSING: Now that you have a killer ring shot on the back of your camera, there are a few things you can do to really make it kick ass. Open your photo into your editing program, whether it's Photoshop, Lightroom, whatever. First, you need to do your initial adjustments like brightness, contrast, etc.
From there, you will most likely have a little color cast on your diamond from whatever backdrop you were using or the shade of light. Simply use a spot-adjustment tool and desaturate the entire ring. I highly recommend doing the entire ring, not just the gemstones, because it will look more natural. While you're using the spot adjustment brush, take the sharpness and clarity up JUST A LITTLE. You don't want it to look to obvious, but just the right amount will knock your socks off.
Take a look at the before and after. This is a screenshot from Lightroom.
After a little editing, you get this:
And that's it! That's literally all the little nuggets of wisdom I have. It's been a monumental year for trial and error. I look back at my earlier weddings and I know that I could have done better and now I have. I truly hope this inspires the brides out there to get their rings cleaned for the big moment, and the photographers to get the most gorgeous shots ever!
I would love to see your own ring posts! Share them with me on Facebook!!!