We're often asked "how do you make photographs of such tiny crystals?". Well, it's easy actually. Or complicated. Depends how you look at it ;) One thing's for sure: expensive equipment will not automagically give you good photographs. The complete setup we use, incl.camera, costs ca. 950 euro. Components are usually not produced anymore, and are only available second-hand via Ebay etc. This is the same setup as used by great photographers as Jean-Marc Johannet, Gerhard Niceus, Fred Kruijen and others. The difference is in the used macro/micro-lenses. And... they are better artists ;)
The setup consists of a heavy, vibration-free, table, a bellows-unit connected to a DSLR, then, perhaps the most important part: an old Zeiss Luminar macro/micro objective. With that objective we can shoot 0,3mm crystals... The FOV (field of view) with this objective is usually between 1 and 8 mm wide. The second most important part of the kit is the lights... I usually only shoot with two diffused LED-lamps (made by Jean-Marc), pointing on white cardboard, which reflects light indirectly on the specimen. Or I shoot with an LED-ringlight (made by André Marent). Direct light is usually no good but sometimes necessary for nice reflections on little crystal faces. Third most important is the mechanics to position a specimen fast and solid into the right angle. That asks for a XYZ-stage. In the near future that process will be further automated with a better XYZ-stage and automated stepper motoring.
Then the shooting starts...... The camera is controlled from a laptop with remote control software, to prevent vibrations. And we watch the action live on my laptop above. Ergo: we don't look at the specimen, we only look at the laptop. If you don't see a keyboard, that's correct, it's a tablet-laptop with touchscreen ;) Each image you see here on the webshop needs ca.10-20 individual images (ergo: ca.75 pictures per specimen). Those ca.10-20 pics are stacked either with HeliconFocus, or with CombineZP, depending of the color of the crystals, the structure, etc. Sometimes we try both and use the best results... So, you can calculate now how much time that takes. Then the pictures are cropped, and processed into the webshop. We don't use Photoshop or other enhancements for our photos. Never... We love our models raw ;)
And this is one of our models in the spotlight on the catwalk... ;)
By the way: every model has her own character... Some minerals are a bitch to photograph. Other minerals are easy as a sunday morning. Each mineral has different rules. Different colors and transparencies ask for other light-setups. Different reflectors. Double diffused lights. Etc. Unfortinately, that's where the experience kicks in.
If you want us to photograph your micro-specimens, contact us and we'll arrange a beauty-shoot ;)
And click here for our workshop photography.