Old 07-14-2016, 11:33 PM   #1
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Default bmah's Crystal Photography

Several years back, I made a promise to Xiz to make a thread documenting my photography, just like he did with his own photography back in 2012. Better late than never, but here it is!

For those of you who don't know, one of my favorite hobbies is collecting rocks and minerals. As my collection grew, I eventually needed to archive my collection on a spreadsheet. More recently, I decided to photograph my collection as part of my documentation. And as I took more photos, I tried to refine my macro photography as well.

I posted some old photos in a 2014 thread here, but now that I have a lot more photos since then, I decided to make my own thread.

I concurrently post most of these images on both my DeviantArt and Instagram accounts, so I'll update this thread as well when I have something new.

Feel free to comment. Enjoy!


Mineral(s): Phenakite
Origin: Phenakite Mine, Khetchel Village, Momeik Township, Shan State, Myanmar

This is the very first picture I took that resulted from image stacking. Image stacking is the process of increasing a photo's depth of field by taking multiple photos without moving the camera but changing the focus distance. (tl;dr a sharper image for generally smaller objects)
The photos are then merged by using a focus stacking program. The first few I managed via Photoshop CS4, but the sheer amount of photos eventually proved too much for the program. I eventually used Zerene Stacker which is superior in handling all the data as well as producing a higher quality output. As you can see from the outlines of the crystal, a few areas are blurry, and so I didn't focus stack very well.
This crystal is only 1.2 cm long, so quite small.




Mineral(s): Zoisite var. Tanzanite
Origin: Karo Mine, Merelani Hills, Tanzania

Gem crystal of tanzanite. These two photos were still stacked with Photoshop, and as you can see from the side view photo, some areas look almost fused due to mediocre stacking quality. I also probably did not take enough photos for the stacking process.



Mineral(s): Azurite, Gartrellite
Origin: Tsumeb Mine (Tsumcorp Mine), Tsumeb, Otjikoto Region, Namibia

Deep blue crystals of azurite associated with a grass-green crust of rare gartrellite. The product of 33 images, this is when I realized that Photoshop would freeze my entire computer after trying to handle this many images at once. This is the first image stacked with Zerene Stacker.




Mineral(s): Fluorapophyllite-(K) and Scolecite with Stilbite
Origin: Junnar, Pune District, Maharashtra, India

Blocky pale green apophyllite crystals nestled amongst a needle-like spray of scolecite crystals.



Mineral(s): Boltwoodite with Gypsum
Origin: Goanikontes Claim, Goanikontes, Swakopmund District, Erongo Region, Namibia

Yellowish orange sprays of boltwoodite crystals frozen like ice in colorless calcite. This is a radioactive mineral.
You might also notice that there's considerable graininess (noise) in this picture, and it's most evidently seen in the black areas. For a long time, I've always had an issue with sufficient lighting for my minerals. To compensate for the lack of lighting, my ISO values tend to be high, creating the noise as a result. I didn't end up addressing this issue until very recently.



Mineral(s): Erythrite
Origin(s): Agoudal, Bou Azer District, Morocco

Purplish-burgundy bladed crystals of the cobalt mineral erythrite. Only partial image stacking to focus mainly on the bigger crystals.
Also, graininess at its worst.



Mineral(s): Azurite, minor Malachite
Origin: Tsumeb Mine (Tsumcorp Mine), Tsumeb, Otjikoto Region, Namibia

Sharp, dark blue azurite crystals with a bit of green malachite on matrix.




Mineral(s): Azurite
Origin: Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico

Awesome dark blue, well-defined azurite crystals on a contrasting white clay matrix. I think I did the color balancing on these pictures pretty well, particularly the top photo.



Mineral(s): Annabergite
Origin: Km-3 Mine, Lavrion (Laurion; Laurium), Attikí Prefecture, Greece

A cavity is host to a number of green annabergite crystals. Annabergite is colored green by its nickel content.



Mineral(s): Saléeite
Origin: Ranger No. 3 Pit, Ranger Mine, Jabiru, Northern Territory, Australia

Yellow platy crystals of the radioactive mineral saléeite. Many radioactive minerals are also fluorescent - the right photo was taken under long wave UV light, and the crystals are now a bright neon green.



Mineral(s): Veszelyite
Origin: Black Pine Mine, Philipsburg District, Granite Co., Montana, USA

This is a small piece - 1.3 cm long. A cluster of teal-colored crystals of the rare copper phosphate mineral veszelyite.



Mineral(s): Adamite
Origin: Ojuela Mine, Mapimi, Durango, Mexico

Semi-lame attempt of long wave UV photo on a group of yellow adamite crystals, which fluoresce a neon yellowish green.


Expect more photos later!
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Old 07-14-2016, 11:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

This rocks! (I'm sorry)

Cool to see a thread with your works. I've been following from dA since you mentioned back then.
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Old 07-14-2016, 11:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

this thread rocks

i like your photo comments, especially on stacking because i didn't even know that was a thing you could do

edit DAMMIT

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Old 07-15-2016, 12:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

This is amazing! I Used to collect minerals and crystals, and such years and years ago! I Also love the quality of the images. Brings me back
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Old 07-15-2016, 01:48 AM   #5
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

What focus rail do you use? Just curious.

Awesome pictures man
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Old 07-15-2016, 02:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

That's awesome bmah!
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Old 07-15-2016, 04:44 AM   #7
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

I know next to nothing about rocks and minerals but they've always fascinated me. Very impressive set of crystals you got here imo

My favourite has got to be the Erythrite. Although it seems a touch out of focus with the closer crystals (you did mention that you were focusing on the bigger crystals), it's still a very nice pic

The Veszelyite is probably the sexiest though.
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Old 07-15-2016, 06:00 AM   #8
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

I'm a fan, keep it up
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wow
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Old 07-15-2016, 04:45 PM   #9
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

Pretty cool man. The thing that sucks about UV light is the colour burn on the blue end but pretty nice results nonetheless.

You do have this on a tripod ye? You should attempt to do light painting with these if lighting is consistently an issue, with a darker environment and longer exposure, it can turn out quite well.

All your stuff is rendered very nicely and I could see em in some sort of catalogue about them avec the details. Macro photography is sweet so nice taste
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Old 07-15-2016, 05:16 PM   #10
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

this is the coolest thing i've seen on this site in years
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Old 07-16-2016, 01:39 AM   #11
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

please never let this thread die
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Old 07-16-2016, 02:25 AM   #12
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

Oh wow the Azurite you have are really cool!
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Old 07-16-2016, 02:43 AM   #13
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by AutotelicBrown View Post
This rocks! (I'm sorry)

Cool to see a thread with your works. I've been following from dA since you mentioned back then.
Thanks! Everyone seems to have the urge to make the usual puns associated with the field, so I'm used to it. Also, didn't know you were watching me on dA - thanks! I don't often pay a whole lot of attention on followers though.

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Originally Posted by hi19hi19 View Post
What focus rail do you use? Just curious.
I don't use a focus rail. If I had a non-SLR/DSLR camera, then I would definitely invest in one however. My older pictures (not shown here) were taken with a regular handheld digital camera, and a focus rail would've come in handy back then.

The way I take these pictures is to move the lens ring to essentially change the zoom levels. Each time I zoom in, I take a shot. Then incrementally I zoom in a little more and take another shot. Rinse and repeat however many times until I get full "coverage" (or the coverage I want) of the image in crisp detail. All of this is done with the DSLR camera on a tripod.

With my older digital camera, focus stacking would not be possible unless I had a focus rail. So my older pictures were rather blurry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sickufully View Post
My favourite has got to be the Erythrite. Although it seems a touch out of focus with the closer crystals (you did mention that you were focusing on the bigger crystals), it's still a very nice pic
This pic would be an example of me being probably a little lazy and not taking as many pictures as needed to get full coverage of the image in terms of depth of field (see my description above). I only cared about that main crystal and didn't care to capture the surrounding context. Also, with the picture's field of view being probably only 1 cm or so, the magnification makes the output really susceptible to digital noise as well.

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Originally Posted by Spenner View Post
Pretty cool man. The thing that sucks about UV light is the colour burn on the blue end but pretty nice results nonetheless.

You do have this on a tripod ye? You should attempt to do light painting with these if lighting is consistently an issue, with a darker environment and longer exposure, it can turn out quite well.

All your stuff is rendered very nicely and I could see em in some sort of catalogue about them avec the details. Macro photography is sweet so nice taste
Thanks!

The issue with the UV light actually has to do with the light itself. High-quality UV lights do not emit a residual blue light, but those cost hundreds of dollars ($400-800) and I'm not ready to invest in one of those yet. I probably will look into getting a short wave UV light first, as many minerals only fluoresce under those shorter wavelengths. Right now, all I have is a long wave UV flashlight and a long wave UV bar light (that I bought from one of those birthday party stores).

Yup, everything's on a tripod. I'm lucky that I'm not in a high-traffic area, or else vibrations from outdoor vehicles would make focus stacking a real hassle.
Can you explain what light painting is? I'm not quite sure what you mean. Would the fact that I'm merging multiple images via focus stacking create an issue for light painting? None of these photos are taken from a single shot.

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Originally Posted by Xiz View Post
please never let this thread die
If I update with the same regularly that I do with Instagram, then this thread should last a fair while!

Last edited by bmah; 07-16-2016 at 02:45 AM..
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Old 07-16-2016, 03:38 AM   #14
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

I'll be continuing to update with loads of pictures until I catch up to my latest image. Then I'll probably update with individual pics from that point on.


Mineral(s): Variscite var. Ferrian Variscite
Origin: Iron Monarch Quarry, Iron Knob, South Australia, Australia

Variscite is a phosphate mineral that is usually green and sometimes is made into lapidary material for semi-precious jewelry. But here we have a rare example of crystalline variscite, colored an intense raspberry red from the presence of iron. Really sparkly.



Mineral(s): Elbaite Tourmaline var. Rubellite
Origin: Cruzeiro Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil

The production of this photo was rather tricky and more of an experimentation than anything. This 3 cm tourmaline crystal looked gorgeous in sunlight compared to the usual diffuse light from the CFL bulbs I normally use in my light box. But the problem was that the area where I shot this photo lit up brilliantly only at dusk. I also shot this photo in winter, so the sun set pretty quickly. Considering how it takes a bit of time to shoot a series of photos for focus stacking, I literally had the sun setting on me during the process; in fact, there was a bit of shadow developing upon my last few photos. Within about 10 minutes, there was no more sunlight.
I was worried about the inconsistent light source in my series of photos, but decided to process them anyways. The result was still pretty pleasing, though I suspect the bands of light you see in the crystal might be due to different amounts of light in each picture of the stack.



Mineral(s): Azurite
Origin: Rubtsovskiy Mine, Altaiskiy Krai, Western-Siberian Region, Russia

Bladed azurite crystals forming a tight rosette. The crystalline depiction of Blue Rose. I was pretty shocked that all of the intricate detail was maintained and not lost. But that's part of the magic of focus stacking.



Mineral(s): Dioptase
Origin: Altyn-Tyube deposit, Kirghiz Steppes, Karagandy Province, Kazakhstan

If only I had better lighting and shot this photo with a lower ISO value...I would've loved to see this one without the graininess. I've seen a lot of dioptase crystals, and many of them are lustrous, but I haven't seen any as lustrous as this group. This specimen is only 1.4 cm big (which may partially explain the digital noise).
Also, the colors of some minerals can be difficult to portray, and dioptase is one of them. I think all cameras seem to have issues with the blue-green spectrum for whatever reason. The actual color of this specimen is a bit deeper green, though I attempted to color correct it a bit in Photoshop.
Finally, you can see how a white background can be a disadvantage in some cases. In this photo, you can see how I angled the specimen in a somewhat unfortunate way in that the reflection of some of the crystal faces are blindingly white and can even blend in amongst the white background. That's something I payed more attention to later on.



Mineral(s): Beryl var. Goshenite, Schorl Tourmaline
Origin: Erongo Mountain, Erongo Region, Namibia

There are several species and varieties of beryl. Everyone knows of emerald (green) and aquamarine (blue), but when beryl is colorless, it is known as goshenite. Here we have little sticks of barrel-shaped goshenite crystals growing on a black spray of black tourmaline known as schorl.
All of the photos with a black reflective surface were shot with the specimen on my Western Digital 1TB hard drive lol. It has proved very useful, though it now has a ton of scratches from all of the rocks it supported. I need to get a pane of glass. Photoshopping out all of the scratches is a pain in the ass.



Mineral(s): Beryl var. Goshenite capped with Beryl var. Aquamarine
Origin: Erongo Mountain, Erongo Region, Namibia

How cool is this? Colorless white goshenite grades into blue aquamarine at the tips of the crystals! The beryl crystals once again lie on a spray of black schorl tourmaline.



Mineral(s): Hemimorphite
Origin: Ojuela Mine, Mapimí, Durango, Mexico

Delicate, bladed white crystals of hemimorphite in beautiful flower-like groups, sitting on a sugary matrix of either quartz or crystalline hemimorphite. I am not entirely sure why one of the crystal groups is a brighter white than the others. I can stare at this piece for hours...
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Old 07-16-2016, 08:19 AM   #15
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

Since you are focus stacking then indeed light painting will be a problem. However, the fact that you can cleanly shoot at f/16 or even more permits you to have a way around that. What I mean by light painting is literally dancing a light around a high f-stop, low ISO exposure, highlighting whatever facets you are wanting to showcase, while in a dark environment. And then it'll pick up whatever the light has licked, so you can make it appear as though you have a much more elaborate light source (even using a flashlight or something can work as long as it's a pretty white LED).

It's only viable if you a have a solid rig but it appears you do :P anyhow just an idea if you feel restricted, but you are having solid results with what you're doing.
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Old 07-16-2016, 01:30 PM   #16
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

I see. Looking at some examples online, I see this being an issue for highlighting the crystals, because it would probably be hard to control which crystal faces are reflected, and to what degree. Lighting is everything for mineral photography, and light painting is probably too dynamic to make that work properly.
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Old 07-16-2016, 02:22 PM   #17
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

Hard thing to master ye. But is indeed possible.
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Old 07-16-2016, 03:28 PM   #18
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

Cool that just the lens ring alone of a DLSR is enough to get the precise control you need for focus stacking. I didn't know that!
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Old 07-19-2016, 12:04 AM   #19
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

More stuff.


Mineral(s): Adamite
Origin: Ojuela Mine, Mapimí, Durango, Mexico

Adamite is an arsenic mineral - beautiful but poisonous. It is usually yellow, but the presence of manganese can turn the crystals pink/purple/magenta. In this case, manganoan adamite is at the tip of regular adamite crystals.



Mineral(s): Beryl var. Cesium Beryl var. Vorobyevite
Origin: Deo Darrah, Khash & Kuran Wa Munjan Districts, Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan

Visit my DeviantArt page for a full description of this mineral, but long story short: this is a new variety of beryl that has been recently contested by scientists in regards to its exact classification. It's not aquamarine. Just know that it's beryl with the rare earth element cesium present in its crystal structure. Sometimes vorobyevite forms strange layering like the crystals seen in this picture.



Mineral(s): Ludlamite
Origin: Santa Eulalia District, Chihuahua, Mexico

Ludlamite is a rather rare phosphate mineral. The crystals are characteristically bladed with an apple-green color.



Mineral(s): Colemanite
Origin: U.S. Borax Mine, Kramer Borate deposit, Boron, Kern Co., California, USA

Colemanite is a borate mineral that is often mined to make borax powder. You can typically find that powder in various household products such as baby powder.




Mineral(s): Azurite and Smithsonite
Origin: Touissit, Oriental Region, Morocco

Lustrous dark blue azurite crystals with milky white balls of smithsonite, sitting on a matrix of tan colored dolomite. There is also a bit of green malachite as well. The second picture is a close-up of some azurite.



Mineral(s): Gypsum var. Selenite
Origin: Willow Creek, Nanton, Alberta, Canada

A single crystal of gypsum, which happens to be only fluorescent in certain areas of the crystal. Some people call it an "hourglass" zone.

note: you can probably see this pic more easily with the smaller image featured here.
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Old 06-2-2017, 12:02 AM   #20
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Default Re: bmah's Crystal Photography

I'm not dead!

(p.s. these are still old pics, relatively speaking)
(p.p.s. I'm not adding descriptions anymore unless people are interested)





















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