I was commissioned this week to shoot some jade (pounamu - pronounced po-nar-moo) for the local Polytechnic Jade Carving School. I used to shoot jade for collection purposes when I was director of the Left Bank Art Gallery here in Greymouth, and this was a fairly similar gig - just record shots mainly. They also however, wanted some more 'advertorial' images to use for brochures, advertising etc.
I went to the local fabric store in town and bought a meter of black velvet for the backdrop ($20NZ), which I taped to the top of a plastic pipe strung between two light stands. In front of this I placed a small table with my SB600 flashgun pointing up from behind to give the strong backlight.
Then I set up a boom arm on another lighting stand from which I hung the jade using nylon fishing line (I will photoshop this out afterwards).
My Nikon D300 was placed on a tripod, with the 105mm macro attached, and the camera set for wireless flash mode so that it is acting as a commander to fire the SB600.
Fairly straight forward - and it works a treat. I reckon the result speaks for itself.
BTW - the 'studio' shot was taken with my iPhone. My first 'published' camera phone image :-)