Learning Gemstone Studio Photography


Gemstone fever. We usually call it akik in Indonesia. A lot of my friends and family members talk about their gemstone collection. I personally am not too interested about gemstone myself. But its discourse surrounding me over and over finally got my mind poisoned, more over when some practiced how to see the gemstone feature. I was a bit curious when they lighted the gemstone using flashlight and cellphone torch. The biggest question was how the gemstone would look like when it was lighted by studio lighting. So then I was honoured when Mr Arya Ndhut, Mr Ucu, and Dr Foki allowed me to borrow some of their akik collections and I brought them to photography laboratory of communication science, Al Azhar University of Indonesia by the permission of Mas Edo, Mas Viand, Mas Yuda, and Bung Qiday.

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I do apologize that I couldn’t mention the name of each gemstone name because I didn’t notice that even though the owners were telling me about its each names and stories. I placed the gemstones on a still-life/multi table then I lighted them using 4 softboxes, generally from the right-top, left-top, below the table, and rear the table. The greatest test and difficulty were about getting the best light reflection and the through lighting out of the gemstones to reveal the inner motives. Some gemstones were not having transparent characteristics so they didn’t have rear through light as the aesthetics factor. Some gemstones were in white or bright feature so I had difficulties about the overexposed and I was unable to reveal its inner or surface aesthetics. For example like these ones :

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When I discussed about how to photograph white, transparent, or bright feature gemstone with the photography lecturer Om Arryadianta and Mas Bagus (a senior photographer), they told me that my biggest mistake was I didn’t use black background to place the gemstone. A very simple mistake and I stupidly forgot about. The other tips from Om Arrya and Mas Bagus was, when photographing a non-transparent gemstones or jewelry is don’t forget to use black cloth and black base on it so the still-life/multi table and the softboxes reflection doesn’t disturbed the gemstone motives. We can see my mistake on these ones :

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One technical problem was that I didn’t have a macro lens so I couldn’t get a closer focus on the gemstone. I’m sure I would get a better close looks of the gemstone if I used that.

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Maybe you have experiences about photographing gemstones in a studio, I’m humbly eager to hear and learn about that more. This is my first time photographing gemstones in a studio and I frankly share my mistakes in revealing its natural aesthetics. Thank you for Mas Arya Ndhut, Pak Ucu, and Dr Foki for the gemstone collections. Thank you for Om Arryadianta and Mas Bagus for the constructive, challenging, and honest critics. Thank you for Mas Edoardo Irfan, Mas Viand Isword, Mas Yuda, and mas Rizky “Bung Qiday” for the opportunity to use the photography studio.

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2 thoughts on “Learning Gemstone Studio Photography

  1. Aha, thank you for your explanation. That’s very valuable information for me. Refraction and don’t light the surface directly. Noted. Thank you very much indeed.

  2. I don’t have any experience about gem photography and dont know what the basic techniques. But, speaking for myself, in optical physics there are refraction and reflection laws in gems as transparant materials. Based on that law, don’t strike your camera’s light rays perpendicular to surface of the gem, because you can’t get the effect of refraction. Second, you should know the Index of Refraction (IR) of the gems. Through this you can get the best angle that you should take to gem photography.
    Mmmm…if we know the IR, we can determine the critical angle of refraction. The critical angle cause reflection, thus by take photo with this angle we can get the brilliance result. 🙂

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