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zeolite

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Let me explain this in 4 levels, from cheapest and biggest improvement, on down, to best equipment and highest cost.


Also, let me mention two types of cameras. Most people have digital point and shoot cameras, meaning small cameras with a single lens that can’t be removed. The second type is the DSLR (digital single lens reflex). This could also be a film SLR. This type of camera is more expensive. It allows interchangeable lenses, and more importantly, extremely precise and accurate manual focus, and control of the lens opening.


1. The lighting must be very broad angle and diffused. Outside on an overcast day is excellent. Direct sunlight on a sunny day, or a single light bulb is a photographic disaster. This first step does not require expensive equipment.


There are a number of ways to get diffused light, but I think this way is best. The following are two pictures are of a diffuser I made myself. Basically, it is a piece of white acrylic supported at a 45 degree angle with a center opening to place the camera lens. The lighting is two or more fluorescents or 2 to 4 incandescent bulbs behind and on all sides of the camera. My fixture allows the acrylic diffuser to be placed at an angle from 30 degrees to about 60 degrees, but I don’t think this flexibility is necessary.


It is important that the light sources be very close and behind the camera body. You need to experiment with each gem, placing the light source close and behind the camera to more to the side.




difuser12.jpg
 

zeolite

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This is another view of the diffuser. This diffused light is the most important step you can do for quality photography.

diffuser3.jpg
 

zeolite

Brilliant_Rock
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2. Use a tripod. This is less important with a point and shoot camera, but still helpful. It avoids blurred pictures from hand holding the camera. Most cameras have a ¼ inch 20 threads per inch hole in the bottom of the camera to attach a tripod. Bigger and professional camera may take a euro thread (3/8 inch, 16 threads per inch). It is required if you go to step 3, using a DSLR camera


3. Use a DSLR camera. You could use a zoom lens or a 100mm fixed focal length lens and extension tubes, but the best by far is a dedicated macro lens (not a zoom lens with macro capability). A macro lens can focus very close, and this is required since gemstones are so small. I use a Canon 5D digital camera with a Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens.


The huge advantage with a DSLR is that you can look through the viewfinder and very accurately place the focus exactly where you want it. Equally important, you can manually stop down the lens to f16 or f22 and get a much deeper range of gemstones in sharp focus. This is how I got the 9 CC garnets to all be in focus.


4 Software programs such as Canon Raw (DPP) and Photoshop. Canon Raw allows me to set the white balance, exposure and color very accurately, even after the picture is taken. These are very complex programs.



 

zeolite

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Mochi and Arjunajane, you are getting some very fine pictures!
 

chrono

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Thank for the tips. I''ll keep them in mind when I try again next time.
 

T L

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Is there a "gemstone photography for dummies" course?


Wow, Mr. Zeolite, you really go all out in photographing your stones. I think my brain turned to mush after reading your instructions, but I do give you credit!! I''m impressed!
 

LaurenThePartier

Super_Ideal_Rock
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10,100
Awesome write up Zeolite! I''m loving your diffuser set up! Looks like an easy enough project to start on . . . for my husband!


I''m in the market for a DSLR, thinking about going with the Nikon D90 (I have a film F4e from the old days and the lenses are more likely to fit) with a Tamron macro lens. I''m just looking for a kit with the best kit lens out there at the moment, but kit lenses are 1 mile wide, but only an inch deep, so I need something that will work well with food/gemstone pics, as well as one that will work well for everyday snapshots, so I''m thinking of buying the body solo, and lenses separately.

I intend on learning how to use it to it''s full capabilities, and have started shooting predominantly Manual on my Canon P&S. I still need that DSLRs for Dummies book.
 

stephanhoglund

Rough_Rock
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Apr 23, 2009
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Hi! brilliant Idea, What is the minimum shoot distance for the 100mm 2.0 (2.8?)I spent a couple hundred bucks on a cloud dome unit that started getting brittle and cracking everytime it was dropped and this looks better tho the angle seems a bit high for nice laid down type shots for jewelry perhaps some sort of hood like a rooftop stairwell cover would work with this?
 

arjunajane

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Date: 4/21/2009 2:10:55 AM
Author: zeolite
Mochi and Arjunajane, you are getting some very fine pictures!
Oh wow! Thankyou zeolite, I feel honoured for a "special mention"

I really like your setup, very creative.
I did make a lightbox of my own, but it wasn't very successful - I'm sure it is likely the type of bulbs I'm using.?
Do you have a suggestion of what bulbs I should use in some regular household lamps to go with my lightbox? (I just did the simple
one like on Strobist )
 

Gailey

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 14, 2008
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3,778
Hey Mr Z,

Thank you for this. BTW, I haven''t gotten down the list to your new garnet post, but I''m headed in that direction!

Did you make your "easel"? Now I believe your quite the accomplished photographer - wildlife? Not bad at the oboe either - am I right?
 

zeolite

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Date: 4/23/2009 10:14:59 AM
Author: stephanhoglund
Hi! brilliant Idea, What is the minimum shoot distance for the 100mm 2.0 (2.8?)I spent a couple hundred bucks on a cloud dome unit that started getting brittle and cracking everytime it was dropped and this looks better tho the angle seems a bit high for nice laid down type shots for jewelry perhaps some sort of hood like a rooftop stairwell cover would work with this?
Sorry about my slow answer. I didn''t see your post. At closest focus, the front of the lens is 5 3/4" from the gem. But often I use the Canon lens shade; from the front of the lens shade to the gem is 2 3/4".

Here is a new diffuser. I took an old picture frame and cut 2 acrylic rectangles to fit it. Now I can vary the width of the slit (by moving the spacing of the two plastic pieces), and now I have much more freedom to shoot at a higher or lower angle.

Yes, using a white skylight or even a translucent white milk bottle, you could shooot down on the subject.

4854slit.jpg
 

zeolite

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
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Date: 4/23/2009 10:37:45 AM
Author: arjunajane


Date: 4/21/2009 2:10:55 AM
Author: zeolite
Mochi and Arjunajane, you are getting some very fine pictures!
Oh wow! Thankyou zeolite, I feel honoured for a 'special mention'

I really like your setup, very creative.
I did make a lightbox of my own, but it wasn't very successful - I'm sure it is likely the type of bulbs I'm using.?
Do you have a suggestion of what bulbs I should use in some regular household lamps to go with my lightbox? (I just did the simple
one like on Strobist )
Yes, use GE Reveal bulbs. You can find them in your grocery store or drug store. Besides making blues better, they also make pink and reds better. They help throughout the color range. Here's a link with more information on Revel bulbs. I also use Excella full spectrum fluorescent lamps
 

zeolite

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 13, 2008
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Date: 4/23/2009 10:47:03 AM
Author: Gailey
Hey Mr Z,

Thank you for this. BTW, I haven't gotten down the list to your new garnet post, but I'm headed in that direction!

Did you make your 'easel'? Now I believe your quite the accomplished photographer - wildlife? Not bad at the oboe either - am I right?
Yes, I made the easel. How did you find out about the wildlife and the oboe? Did you find the reference to the Gemmy's award in Lapidary Journal and Colored Stone magazine?

Slightly more than a year ago, I spent 3 months non-stop taking wildlife pictures in Yellowstone. In a National Wildlife photo contest, they picked 11 winners from 4500 entries, and one of my pcitures was selected and printed. And last sunday, I played in the Palos Verdes Symphony, performing Bizet's Carmen, Saint-Saen's Piano Concerto #5 and Franck's D minor Symphony.
 

icekid

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 17, 2004
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7,470
My photos are decent, I think.. but I am excited to try out these ideas fo my next photo shoot!
 
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