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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Need Help Capturing Sparkle
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02/02/2005 10:42:04 PM · #1
Can anyone give some advice on how to take photos of some minerals that have tiny black opaque crystals on irregular surfaces. These guys sparkle enough that a tiny one (less than .5 cm cube) catches your attention while you're standing up. But I've not been able to get that across in a photo. These guys look as good or better than miniature diamonds and I want to get that across in the photos.

Message edited by author 2005-02-02 22:43:36.
02/02/2005 11:00:05 PM · #2
Starburst fx filter.

Or you can do it post-shot in Photoshop.
02/02/2005 11:25:53 PM · #3
I've generally found that low angle light helps when photographing geologic subjects. I've never been trying to make things sparkle for my work (I've taken a lot of photos to illustrate paleontological concepts), but it helps show variation across surfaces.
02/02/2005 11:32:14 PM · #4
Make sure to try it in very bright light (like out in the sun).
Work without filters on - the polarizer, for example, could be doing such a good job cutting glare, that it is cutting sparkle, too.
02/03/2005 11:48:19 AM · #5
Thanks for all the suggestions. Will be experimenting over the next couple of days and share the results.
02/03/2005 12:15:12 PM · #6
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This was taken on a low ISO (100) and it was a very bright day.

The small file on the web doesn't seem to show the sparkles.. sorry.

Message edited by author 2005-02-03 12:16:08.
02/03/2005 12:46:21 PM · #7
Originally posted by DebN2003:

Can anyone give some advice on how to take photos of some minerals that have tiny black opaque crystals on irregular surfaces. These guys sparkle enough that a tiny one (less than .5 cm cube) catches your attention while you're standing up. But I've not been able to get that across in a photo. These guys look as good or better than miniature diamonds and I want to get that across in the photos.

Have you tried taking any macro shots of the crystals, like 1:1 or even larger?


02/04/2005 10:51:38 AM · #8
Originally posted by micknewton:

Have you tried taking any macro shots of the crystals, like 1:1 or even larger?

Not yet, but it's on the slate for today. Yesterday's shots in sunlight had mixed results. There were a few natural starbursts in some of the shots, but not enough to make them sparkle.
Also: Went into Elements and by golly there *is* a star brush. Wasn't sure just what we had since the software was bundled with the computer. Gonna be looking at the other features a bit more this weekend.
02/04/2005 11:33:30 AM · #9
Melanite 1
Melanite2

OK now ignoring the obvious focus problem these are the starting photos. The crystals are approx .025mm or less each. And the surface is quite irregular as the crystals grow in fractures on the matrix. There are some natural stars and I'll add more. But it's difficult to get them to look like more than a bowl of black oatmeal. Further suggestions welcome.
02/04/2005 12:30:57 PM · #10
Here is photo of silicon carbide crystals I made last year. Used a 4 point cross filter and bounced flash.

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02/04/2005 01:18:39 PM · #11
Originally posted by DebN2003:

Melanite 1
Melanite2

OK now ignoring the obvious focus problem these are the starting photos. The crystals are approx .025mm or less each. And the surface is quite irregular as the crystals grow in fractures on the matrix. There are some natural stars and I'll add more. But it's difficult to get them to look like more than a bowl of black oatmeal. Further suggestions welcome.

I suggest getting rid of the current background (paper towel?) and go with something smooth--perhaps piece of solid colored plastic.

Next, I'd try to get a lot more light on the crystals. You want refraction and specular highlights. Try spotlighting the crystals from different angles, and de-emphasize the background by keeping it dark and/or simple. Try some shoots at your max aperture to throw the background out of focus.

Good luck.

02/04/2005 01:53:03 PM · #12
Use a really small aperture (high F number). That usually does the trick.
02/08/2005 06:39:05 AM · #13
I'd have thought that "sparkle" would be exceedingly difficult to capture, at least how we percieve it, with a still camera - what catches your eye are the rapid changes in light and flashes when the tiny crystals (or whatever is doing the sparkling) catch the light for a moment as you move round the object.

If the object and the viewer are perfectly still, at best you'll just get a few bright points on an object. I suppose given enough bright points you could get across the feel of sparkle though... also, a star filter would probably help with that by highlighting the bright points, but would also be extremely cheesy :)
02/15/2005 11:12:30 AM · #14
Originally posted by riot:

I'd have thought that "sparkle" would be exceedingly difficult to capture, at least how we percieve it, with a still camera - what catches your eye are the rapid changes in light and flashes when the tiny crystals (or whatever is doing the sparkling) catch the light for a moment as you move round the object.

Thanks for your perspective. This is very true. One of the charactaristics that attracted me to these pieces was that they looked frosty as I walked in temps well above freezing. But the changing perspective is what made them stand out.
I also agree that too many stars added in would look cheesy. So I'm walking them back in intensity.
And when it stops raiing again more pictures will be taken with a different lens and/or an extender.

From soggy central California -- Good Day!
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