Whenever we meet an engaged couple for the first time, whether they’re our clients or not, one of the first things we ask to see is the bride-to-be’s sparkling new engagement ring. We love watching her light up as she tells us how he proposed, how she can’t stop smiling every time she looks down, and how much heavier it feels than she even expected! We remember exactly what that was like, and it’s just so much fun! Rings are also really fun to photograph once you have a solid strategy and know what you’re doing. For us, that wasn’t always the case (and maybe it’s not for you), because when we first started out, we tried something different every time. We didn’t have a mental checklist. We didn’t know where to start. It felt like we were starting over every time we shot a new ring. So, if you’re struggling with the same thing or just need a refresher, today’s post is for you! Here are our top five tips for shooting wedding rings!
1. Shoot with a Macro Lens
We love our Canon 100mm 2.8L Macro IS lens and use it for every single one of our ring shots. When we were first getting started, the macro was the second lens we bought because, for the price, you can’t beat its value as a detail lens (and portrait lens, too!). Every lens has a limit on how close it can be to its subject before it’s too close and won’t focus properly. Even though we love our 50mm 1.2 for portraits and large sets of details (like a full table shot, for example), it just doesn’t get the job done the way a macro lens does. It’s like the macro lens was made for ring shots. It was born for ring shots. So we don’t leave home without it!
2. Shoot with Manual Focus
With our 5D Mark IIIs and Canon L-Series lenses, auto focus works well for us 99% of the time — except for ring shots and other small details. Just remember, when you’re focusing on manual, make sure your IS (image stabilization) is on, and stabilize yourself the best you can, too. Since you’re focusing on such a small point, it may take a few shots before you get one in focus, especially if you’re not used to it, but hang in there, because when you do, you’ll love the results.
3. Focus on the Prong, Not the Diamond
It took us a while to figure out that when we focused on the actual diamond, the image didn’t look as crisp as we wanted it to. The shot didn’t look sharp, and that’s because the prongs of a ring are almost always closer to the lens than the diamond itself. Over time, we realized that if we focus on the prong closest to the camera (which all depends on the tilt of the ring in relation to your lens) it makes the entire ring appear to be in a sharper focus, and the actual diamond still looks great!
4. Shoot with a Shallow Depth of Field
Commercial ring photographers who work for companies like Shane Co. or Jared, for example, shoot rings with elaborate lighting setups at their camera’s maximum depth of field (like f/22) and then stitch multiple photos together to create a composite in Photoshop for their final product — and it looks awesome. Seriously, it does. We mean, have you seen those diamond ads in the magazines?! They’re unreal! But that’s not what we do, because it’s not cohesive with the rest of our style and it isn’t practical for real wedding days. We have limited time and have to work with what we’ve got! We love a creamy background, too, so we prefer an aperture of f/2.8 for our rings. This, of course, is just our stylistic preference.
5. Bring Down the Saturation in Post Production
We learned this trick a few years back when our good friend and extremely talented photographer, Katelyn James, blogged about it, and we totally stole this fab idea from her! We WISH we could take credit for this! She’s a genius. When we’re processing our ring shots in Lightroom, we use the adjustment brush to pull the saturation out of the diamond. In other words, we take all the color out of the diamond (the same way some photographers produce their black and whites). By desaturating the diamond, we eliminate all the distracting colors the diamond is reflecting from the surrounding environment and instead get a neutral-colored diamond that brings the attention back to where it should be: the bling!
We hope these tips have been helpful to you! If YOU have any tips that might help others, please share them below!
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