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    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    I get by with a little help from ...

    OK, the Annual Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show gets started this weekend, and runs for two weeks; it's a really big deal with lots of beautiful and interesting things to shoot. I'm hoping to get some good shots of subjects not often seen here. But it will be a challenge shooting in crowded public places, usually through display glass, limited angles, and who-knows-what sort of lighting. I'm hoping I can get some advice in advance for situations like this, if anyone has some to offer. I have 100mm and 60mm lenses (both f/2.8) that should be good for the job, and the 100mm is IS. Crowds will generally not allow use of a tripod, so I'm planning on taking a sturdy Manfrotto monopod, as the next best thing. Suggestions for other lenses? Tactics for getting a steady shot among so many people? Advice for shooting crystals and minerals? Any other helpful hints? Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

    I tried to get a little practice at the local museum last weekend, and the shot below is one result (SOOC). I'm not happy with the result, but I did learn a little from the experience. I thought I would pick the brains here, to see if I could collect any gems of wisdom before the event. The crystal shown is called Wulfenite.


    Canon 7D 50mm@f/4.0 1/60sec ISO800
    I get by with a little help from ...

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    Camellia's Avatar
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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Hi Al

    I would absolutely love to go that gem show!

    I don't have any tips for you unfortunately, but please bring me back a really big rock! Do you know what the one above is? Is it quartz?

    Only tip I can think of is be careful of your white balance to maximise the colours of the gems. Some tourmaline specimens would be great to photograph because of the colours.

    You are so lucky!

    I'm looking forward to you reporting back. Have fun.

    R

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    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Thanks, Raylee. I hadn't thought of taking a gray card, so I'll add that to the list. The upcoming show is one of the largest such shows in the world, and it's spread out all over town (over 50 different locations), so I couldn't cover all of it, even if I took vacation and spent the entire time shooting. It's huge... every hotel, convention center, and parking lot will be jammed with rock displays from all over the world. Seems like everyone who has or wants a rock of any sort is here in February. I'm looking forward to it, but the crowds will make this a real challenge. I'm thinking I need a ball head for the monopod.

    Wulfenite (in the photo above) is a lead molybdate crystal. The color is pretty much dead-on. It's pretty, but too soft to be used as a gemstone.

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    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Al,
    If you are able to do a couple days of the show why not go "bare bones" the 1st time out?Take the 60 and the 100 and get a feel for the shooting conditions with the crowds.
    Might make the decision on a using monopod easier.
    Maybe take a CPL filter for shooting stuff in display cases outside.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Hi Al,

    So far, we have;
    Monopod with ball head
    Whi-Bal or Grey card - but don't forget to use it (like I know I would)
    CPL (circular polariser) filter

    To which I'll add;
    Lens hood(s)

    IF* you can get to touching the display case glass and have a soft rubber circular lens hood that can deform to form a seal even when shooting at an angle, it will keep out extraneous reflections. Any kind of hood will be extra protection from VES (visitor elbow syndrome) up the spout. and may also help shade any spill from display lighting getting onto the front of the lens.

    Don't forget to take some people reaction shots if you can, but be careful as you'll be on private property and if anyone takes offense and reports you, you could get ejected. Perhaps be subtle and shoot through the case and out the other side to include a face.

    I don't disagree with your lens choices, but as you'll have found, you can't actually shoot at f/2.8 as the subject won't have sufficient DoF

    I think the 'bare bones' idea on at least part of day 1 is wise (leave it in the car at the first venue, although you're probably unlikely to go to the same place twice anyway if it is that spread out.

    My thought on the test shot is that although it is the correct white balance and hence colour, it looks wrong (to me anyway), it looks like it was shot under tungsten light with a daylight WB, probably because there is nothing else in the frame that one instinctively 'knows' the colour of in order to satisfy oneself that WB is correct and it is that colour.

    I guess what I am saying is if you go this close and the display is monochromatic, it may not, to others that didn't see it 'in the flesh', look right. That's not so much a tip, as something to consider in composition.

    One last thought:
    Better to bump the iso up as high as needed on the day to avoid risk of camera shake, you can deal with any noise at leisure in PP, but a heap of soft/blurred shots are unusable.

    Good luck,

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    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Thanks, Jim. The monopod isn't much trouble to carry around, so I'll keep it with me and see how it goes the 1st day. A CPL can do funny things to color, as many crystals polarize light, and the internal reflections within the stone also produce polarization. A CPL might produce some interesting shots, but they will likely be very different in appearance than the natural appearance... some stones may turn very dark or change colors when viewed through a polarizer.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Quote Originally Posted by Snarkbyte View Post
    A CPL can do funny things to color, as many crystals polarize light, and the internal reflections within the stone also produce polarization. A CPL might produce some interesting shots, but they will likely be very different in appearance than the natural appearance... some stones may turn very dark or change colors when viewed through a polarizer.
    There; I learnt something (which I have a feeling I really shoulda known anyway)

    Thanks, Al, you gotta luv CiC

    Cheers,

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    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    There; I learnt something (which I have a feeling I really shoulda known anyway)

    Thanks, Al, you gotta luv CiC

    Cheers,
    Quite likely you already knew, but forgot... children's kaleidoscopes use polarizing filters and crystals of various sorts to produce all sorts of colors (often with an arrangement of mirrors to produce geometric patterns).

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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    "The color is pretty much dead-on."

    I don't doubt you, but my eyes do. You might do well to get something of known color in the picture some how, or something to help us judge the color subconsciously. I think that would make it pop more. It must have been on some kind of stand or table. I understand the temptation to get just the stone, but it is a distraction trying to sort out if the color is an artifact of the photography, or real life.

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    Camellia's Avatar
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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Quote Originally Posted by Snarkbyte View Post
    Thanks, Raylee. I hadn't thought of taking a gray card, so I'll add that to the list. The upcoming show is one of the largest such shows in the world, and it's spread out all over town (over 50 different locations), so I couldn't cover all of it, even if I took vacation and spent the entire time shooting. It's huge... every hotel, convention center, and parking lot will be jammed with rock displays from all over the world. Seems like everyone who has or wants a rock of any sort is here in February. I'm looking forward to it, but the crowds will make this a real challenge. I'm thinking I need a ball head for the monopod.

    Wulfenite (in the photo above) is a lead molybdate crystal. The color is pretty much dead-on. It's pretty, but too soft to be used as a gemstone.
    I'm looking for my gemstone book now to look up wulfenite. You are so lucky!

    R

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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Hi Al

    Yes you are very lucky. I hope you get lots of lovely shots. To me, the pic of Wulfenite is good, maybe a little soft in the foreground, but I can appreciate the colour & the composition & I don't need a contrasting colour to locate it.

    Cheers
    Nihia

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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Just drawing from my marble collecting experience as we have shows which are set up much the same way. Jemstones can be as difficult to light properly as those little glass spheres. Most of the shows I have been to, lighting was a struggle unless outside on a nice day, We all actually carry flashlights with us for the ability to inspect. I made a note to myself to look into some kind of ring light or macro style flash for the next show. Can't wait to see the pics, have fun!

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    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Thanks to everyone for the comments and suggestions. I do hope to get some good shots, and I'll be sure to post some of them here for C&C. February will be a busy month... immediately after the Gems and Minerals show, the rodeo starts and lasts for 9 days. Like the rock show, the rodeo is a very big event, and I hope to get some good action shots (another thing I have no experience shooting). Some great opportunities and lots to learn in the next few weeks!

    Paul - Now that you mention it, I do have a loupe with white LED lights for sensor cleaning. It may be worth taking along, since it's small and light enough to stick in a pocket; no big deal if it turns out to be useless, but it may turn out to be a great aid. Thanks for the suggestion!

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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Hi Al,

    As usual there are great comments here. Two things for you to consider - make sure you leave enough room around the shots so you can frame later. I do not know if you cropped this shot but the top of the gem is very close to the top of the frame and slightly lower down would provide a better balanced shot.

    The other is - take your time. Walk the exhibition, stand back and look at the light, angles and think of compositions before you start and then work the subject with images in both portrait and landscape, try tilting the lens, close up further away – you know the drill.

    In post production I think a little more sharpening would bring out the detail more but that comes after the capture.

    Good luck and I look forward to seeing your images.

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    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    Re: I get by with a little help from...

    Thanks, Peter. Your observations are well considered and useful, especially the part about taking time to scope out the displays and planning shots in advance. This will also allow me to observe the general flow of the crowd, and "pick my spot" in the line. Hopefully, I'll be able to position myself away from any groups of people that include small children, and reduce the amount of time I need for each shot, at the display.

    I think I can rig a small portable "reflection shade" to eliminate reflections from the display case glass. Some of the displays are in parking lots, in tents or under open awnings, so reflections could be a real problem. I'm trying to use the extension pieces from a couple of plamp gadgets, a piece of white linen (maybe black is better? Take both and let angle/light be the decisive factor?), and some clamp-type paper clips to hold the linen on the plamp arms. It won't need to be a large piece of linen, just big enough to block the area I need to shoot thru (think table napkin size). Come to think of it, the plamps just might work to hold up the linen between themselves, if the table has some place available for the plamp clamps. It might even work for some vertical display cases... hmmmm. Again, the walk-thru would allow for some planning in this respect.

    As for the shot above, it was cropped on all sides, and could definitely use a bit more space at the top. I considered this shoot a training exercise for the upcoming event, and it was well worth the effort... I expect to get better shots because of what I learned from this.

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