Photographing Fluorescent Minerals

flintlock42003's picture

I was an old film guy but any suggestions for the digital photography world?


Michael_Isaacson's picture

Re: Photographing Fluorescent Minerals

Hello David,

There are others on this forum who are very expert at making these shots but I'll tell you what I do that seems to be quick and effective. I shoot with specimens placed on a table set up with a piece of black posterboard, cheap and replaceable, with one end taped to the table in front and the back curving up and taped to a support.  This provides a nice, seamless background with about 14" of room to place specimens at an optimal distance from your camera. 

My digital camera, currently a Pansonic Lumix Fz35 has plenty of pre-programmed "scene" settings, most of which will never see use ('Food', 'Party', 'Pet'?) but there is one for "Starry Night" which keep the shutter open for the selected period of time.  I choose "15 seconds".  When possible, you want to shoot specimens with no need to crop because it's nice to be able to flip from daylight to UV shots and had the speciemen in the exact same position.  It's more elegant and allows a much easier comparison of any given area with different lighting. So with your camera on a tripod, pre-crop by setting the composition the way you want it to be for a lighted shot before turning the ligts off and swicthing to the "Starry sky" mode or equivalent.  Once I open the shutter, I will simply wave the UV source (SW or LW) around to light the specimen to create better coverage and reduce discernable shadows.  Since it's difficult to predict the correct exposure for any particular specimen, I just count based on previous experience before physically covering the lens with my hand after the desired exposure until the 15 seconds expires and the camera closes the shutter. It sounds a bit hodgepodge photographically but it allows you and your hand to quicky bracket shots and not have to reset or touch the camera other than to shoot again. After some practice, you'll get good at realizing whether two seconds of exposure will suffice or four, based on the response of the mineral being photographed.  Using this method, I can crank out acceptable photos (for eBay) very quickly.  If you're shooting a rock to get the best image, a few test shots will get you to the best exposure.  After that, some post-prod in a photo program can be used to eliminate some of the excess blue in the image, if necessary.

It's no professional procedure, but it works.

Michael @ Higher Orbit Products




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