Ori Livney: Taking jewellery photography to greater heights

The first time Ori Livney approached us, he needed parts for his recently acquired (pre-owned) Cambo view camera. Since that day we’ve been in touch every now and then. One thing soon became clear: Ori never runs out of ideas! Luckily, often well-founded ideas.


©Ori Livney for Gil Neuhaus

After getting his degree in Industrial  Engineering, Ori worked as a balloon artist for twenty years. He frequently appeared in Israel’s national TV shows and did projects around the globe. Working on the set of a commercial he met Yoram Aschhaim, a successful Israeli photographer. He showed Ori how much better his balloon sculptures could look, when photographed by a pro. It took him about a year of playing around with his camera and strobes to get the desired results. The images helped a lot to grow his business. And then it was time for a new challenge. Freshly-wed Ori asked the jeweller who designed the wedding rings to do a joined project. Lighting balloons isn’t easy, so it couldn’t be too hard to shoot jewellery. Well, how wrong he could be… Photographing jewellery turned out to be very challenging. And that’s what he loves about it.

Having no traditional photographic background, Ori felt the need to improve his skills. A lot of techniques can be learned from online tutorials. Photigy and Creative Live were of great help. About the latter: “The classes there are amazing, from photography to retouching and business, every class there is a gem. I highly recommend it!” Starting out in jewellery photography turned out to be “a cool puzzle”. Major challenges were mastering the light, the depth-of-field, positioning the jewelry and post-production. Flaws that aren’t visible to the naked eye, will be in a good photograph and retouching is a must.


©Ori Livney for Ari Bar Jewelry

Like most starting photographers, Ori made his first attempts with a DSLR. The lack of depth-of-field when shooting tiny objects was one of the challenges faced. Ori bought his first view camera – a used Cambo Legend – to get more control over the plane of focus. If the plane of focus is narrow, at least it should be there where you need it. The Legend is a nice view camera, but it was designed for 4×5. Ori soon decided to upgrade to a Cambo Ultima-35 with Mamiya RB lenses. From this range fine lenses can be found at very moderate prices. A couple of the superior Schneider Apo-Digitar macro lenses followed. Even with a view camera that provides the best control over the plane of focus, focus stacking is needed. Very often, the depth-of-field isn’t more than a few millimetres. To make stacking easier, Ori bought a Cognisys Stack Shot kit and attached the complete Ultima to it.

The Stack Shot turned out to be a great piece of gear, but there was still room for improvement. To get the best results, it’s crucial to leave the camera in position and move the rear standard instead. Coming from industrial engineering after all, Ori started to design a solution. The Ultima was taken from the focussing rail and the Stack Shot motor – linked by a belt – used to drive the rear standard in small increments. It resulted in a nice stack of focussed shots. The belt had a tendency to slip though. At that time Ori’s dog Kiano had an operation. The poor animal needed a bandage and when looking at it, Ori realized that it would make a perfect drive belt. And it worked! So here we had one of the Ori Livney ideas. It resulted in our mounting bracket for the Cognisys Stack Shot. By then we had replaced the dog’s bandage by a direct drive. Nowadays Ori uses the Stack Shot unit on his Cambo Ultima-35 (upgraded to an Actus-XL) with a Nikon D850 attached. The Schneider Apo-Digitar 120 Macro is his lens of choice.



HyperFocal: 0


After having honed his skills, Ori started to spread the word and reached out to jewellers. From a home studio he moved his business to Tel Aviv’s jewellery district. Now working in a professional environment and very often shooting at odd angles, a good studio stand was needed.

Ori mentions his Cambo UBS as one of the best investments he’s ever made. “This stand allows me to move my 14kg camera setup like it’s floating in air. Precision placement and ease of use have made my whole workflow easier and much better. I really can’t imagine what I would do without it. Sure it wasn’t cheap. But hey, we only have one back and that’s both priceless and without replacement parts!”



©Ori Livney for Oliva Fine Jewelry



To see more of Ori Livney’s work check out his Instagram account!




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