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Mineral PhotographyJon Aurich, photo comments.

15th Aug 2018 18:29 BSTLarry Maltby Expert

Jon, I thought that we should discuss this in a new thread in case there is more conversation. The first “before and after” photo shows that your focus was probably as good as your phone camera is capable of. The editing that I did was to change the background, increase the sharpness and add a little more contrast.

The silver photo also looks like it was focused OK and I changed the background, reduced some of the shadows and sharpened.

The original gold photo was out of focus. All lenses are limited as to how close you can get to the specimen and still have the auto focus work properly. The specimen is smaller than the others and I think that you moved the camera too close to the specimen. You may want to run a test to determine the capability of your camera’s auto focus. For instance take photos of the same specimen at 5,6,7 inches etc. to see where the limit of the auto focus is. Then use a scale to be sure that you don’t exceed the limit.

On this specimen I changed the background again, added more space to the edges of the specimen, sharpened as much as I could, and removed the saw marks. As others have said a good digital camera would help a lot. I suggest go to Best Buy in Vegas and take a small rock. Tell the salesman that you want a good point and shoot camera that will do a good job photographing the rock. There are some very good products available. I use a Canon S100 that fits in my shirt pocket and I take everything in auto mode. All of the photos in my article on the Seaman Museum were taken with that camera, hand held.

15th Aug 2018 18:34 BSTReiner Mielke Expert

Looks much better Larry.

15th Aug 2018 18:57 BSTKevin Conroy

Jon, you may also want to try experimenting with different backgrounds. Even just a piece of paper (white or colored) will give good results versus a "busy" background.

15th Aug 2018 19:43 BSTJon Aurich

Larry, I appreciate your time and help on this subject. I am in Goldfield Nevada for a few more weeks, I will look into a camera down in Vegas when I get back there.... I definitely need a camera that will accurately capture the dark Sulphides, and the metallic silvery needles of Bismuthinite. I guess that the 300 or so Photos that I have of the Goldfield specimens will have to be as a reference. There are only a couple of high grade specimens from Goldfield that were put on by others, so good photographs of specimens from this area are important as they are a rare combination of Sulphides in this. complex high acid Epithermal deposit.

15th Aug 2018 19:47 BSTJon Aurich

Kevin, I will test different backgrounds to see what would Properly host each specimen. As you say, a busy background can take away character of the specimen shown.... Thanks, Jon.

15th Aug 2018 20:42 BSTHiro Inukai

Some of the cameras in the more recent models of mobile phone are so good that, as long as the specimen is not so tiny that the required magnification is too large for the camera's minimum focusing distance, the overriding factors for a good image are not related to the camera at all. Specifically, a good clean backdrop, thoughtful specimen presentation, and controlled, bright lighting, can really make the difference between a "casual snapshot" and one that looks like a professional took it.

Don't fall into the trap that bigger, "badder" hardware = better photos. Yes, there are technical limitations that can be overcome with more sophisticated imaging equipment. But a lot of what makes a photo good has to do with the effort put into setting it up. And that's what's so great about mineral photography, because rocks don't throw temper tantrums, run around erratically, blink their eyes, object to being turned around, or have to take breaks. They are ideal models and you have all the time in the world to get it just right. And it's really only once you've learned the precise ways in which your existing camera limits you, and how something else will remove that limit, that I think buying new gear is something to seriously consider.

This gives me a great idea. I'm going to take a mineral photo with my phone's camera, and one with my big camera, and let you see that the difference isn't as dramatic as one might be led to believe.

15th Aug 2018 21:06 BSTJon Aurich

Hiro, that sounds like a good idea !! I have a Apple phone that I thought took great pictures, it was when I was placing these photos on another thread that someone said that they weren’t good enough for the thread. Maybe by tinkering a little more with the camera, backdrop and lighting, I can achieve a better, more professional looking photo......... I’d like to see those differences Hiro...... Thanks... Jon.

15th Aug 2018 21:26 BSTJon Aurich

Hiro, what do you think of the quality of this photo specimen, it’s a two pound specimen, it seems that you are right about taking a photograph many inches away from it and bringing the image closer, then taking the photograph of it.

15th Aug 2018 21:31 BSTJon Aurich

. Hiro, here is one more. Do you think that the color and focus are satisfactory? The color looks very accurate to me.

15th Aug 2018 21:39 BSTThomas Lühr Expert

I fully agree with Hiro. There is (still) no need for a new camera, if you have a nearly modern cell phone with a reasonable built-in camera.

Even more, the cell phone camera gives a better DOV than a big camera. This may be the only one advantage of a small sensor size. On the other hand you can not play with the apperture and for example let the background intendedly unsharp. But this is a rare case in mineral photography generally.

Using a tripod also with a cell phone is recommended as well as with a DLSR.

You can buy them for small money and in many variants in the web.

Also, one can buy for cheap macro lenses as add-on for cell phones. Most as "3-in-one" Macro/tele/wide angle.

The free app "open camera" gives you the full manual control over all functions/settings of the camera, the options of real(!) HDR, triggering by voice (very helpful !), and much more.

Don't understand me wrong, I'm not saying that a cell phone photo is the non-plus-ultra, but it is well able to produce very reasonable photos.

Jon, photographing high reflective metallic objects is not (mainly) a matter of the camera but of good and clever lighting. You need very very diffuse "soft" light.


15th Aug 2018 21:50 BSTJon Aurich

Thomas, I will also try different lighting patterns.... Thanks, Jon.

15th Aug 2018 22:17 BSTScott Rider

Jon, you also may want to try to get something that has a blank background to make it easier to edit your images... That way you can take an image and use the software to touch it up and not have to worry about changing the background...

Perhaps you should try looking at a photography "tent" that goes on a desktop, like this one:

Note I don't suggest buying the one above (albeit I'm not saying don't buy it), but I have a similar setup that I made from PVC pipes, large reflective lights and a cheap eBay photography tent; and its worked pretty well until I moved and it fell apart and the tent went missing...

However, I plan on eventually getting this one as it has rave reviews across the internet, however it is a little pricy:

15th Aug 2018 22:29 BSTJon Aurich

Scott, the desk top tent is a good idea. The one for $200 isn’t too bad, I may be able to get the same one off of Ebay cheaper..... Thanks for your advice....... Jon.

15th Aug 2018 22:40 BSTThomas Lühr Expert

What's about that ;))

Many similar solutions on youtube ...

15th Aug 2018 22:50 BSTAndrew Debnam

Jon, I bought one of these fold tents/boxes on ebay. It came with led strip lighting. It was very cheap -under 20 bucks I think. The only hitch was it came from China so it took forever and a day to arrive- approx. 5-6 weeks.

15th Aug 2018 23:14 BSTJon Aurich

Andrew, your right, there are great deals out there. I do like the ones with LED lighting !!!

15th Aug 2018 23:20 BSTScott Rider

My setup was rather cheap too, I got one of the tents off eBay for around $20. The PVC piping and lighting was another $15-20ish. It worked pretty well, but was a little hard to move around. I'd take a pic of the setup but its storage at the moment. I don't move into my new home until mid-next month...

But the point of the background is to remove the "noise" of other details that can confuse point and shoot cameras. It'll help the camera focus on the object you want to image. And the MyStudio in a way adds a professional look to the background because of the curves in the back, I swear it softens the backdrop for better images.

16th Aug 2018 16:09 BSTJon Aurich

It’s amazing to see all the different ways to the photograph specimens, you almost have to go to a Photograghy class to get a good feel of this complex field.....
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