Photographing Your Rocks and Minerals
I was scrolling through some rockhounding Facebook groups today and noticed a trend.
I’m talking about the blurry, finger-in-the-way, bad lighting, can’t really tell if that’s a mineral or a clump of Play-Do type of pictures.
Then…the person who posted the picture asks for help identifying the rock. 😆
Unfortunately, an ID on the rock simply isn’t going to be possible in these situations. Nor is it going to be pleasant for anyone to look at.
The truth is…there are many times you can even have 5 experienced rockhounds in the same room, looking at the same specimen sitting on a table and still not completely agree on what it is!
Throw in an out of focus picture and it’s a lost cause!
Now, I’m not a professional photographer by any means. But I do enjoy taking pictures.
I’m always tinkering around with the settings on my phone camera and experimenting with different features.
Taking descent pictures is something everyone can do. We all have a camera in our hands most of the day, so it doesn’t cost us anything either! (Bonus!)
So I just wanted to share a few tips that I’ve learned that can go a long way in helping you take great pictures of your rocks and minerals.
Tips For Better Rock and Mineral Photography
Choosing Your Background
Choose something that will help the specimen pop. Don’t use loud colors or patterns that distract from the stone. A few good backgrounds to consider are white paper, tissue paper, cardboard, paper towel, etc.
What’s in the Foreground?
Note what’s in the foreground, or in front of the mineral. Because that’s what your camera, and people, are going to want to focus on. Are you holding the stone? Make sure your fingers are not in front and that they’re neat and clean!
Angle of Attack
Photograph your specimen at a 45 degree angle to get the best refraction of light. Don’t take a picture from directly above or directly beside your specimen. You might have to adjust this a little in order to reduce reflections.
It can be difficult to tell just how big, or small, a rock is when looking at a picture. Place something in the photo that everyone else is familiar with to reference the size. A penny or quarter works well. Have a large object? Use a banana for scale. 😁
The Right Kind of Lighting
Use natural daylight as much as possible. Stay away from direct sunlight. Take pictures near a window with filtered natural light. If you don’t have natural daylight available, you can use a full spectrum light bulb.
When photographing highly polished rocks or reflective crystals, reflections of light can be a pain. Try filtering/diffusing the light by placing a sheet of paper in front of it. Also keep in mind that even your clothes or appliances in your house can cause a reflection in your specimen.
Focus First Then Zoom
If you’re wanting to take a close-up of your rock or mineral, try setting up the image for a normal picture, at a regular distance and make sure it’s in focus. After it’s in focus, then zoom in and take the picture.
Wet or not?
Everyone likes to see a rock when it’s wet. It brings out so much more detail. But wet stones can create a reflection making it a little more difficult to get a good shot. If you can’t get rid of the reflection, use a thin sheet of paper/tissue paper to diffuse the light and reduce the reflection.
Hopefully these tips help if you’re trying to take better pictures of your finds!