Amethyst-Sunset-technique-00Today I took a short trip into the studio to play with an idea I’d come up with the day before.  On a recent to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, I purchased a small chunk of amethyst in their gems gift store.  This little piece cost me $5 and it was worth every cent.

After looking at it for a while I had started to see it as far off alien landscape.  I decided that I could shoot a macro of it and place a painted sunset behind it to give it some more depth.

The first step was to paint the sunset as I didn’t have one small enough.  The entire piece of amethyst is only about 2 inches long.  So I cut off a small piece of canvas and used some acrylic paints to create my backdrop.

Then I set up my shot.  I first tried a 50mm lens on a reversing ring with an extension tube, but found that I just didn’t get enough depth of field.  I switched over to my 100mm macro lens and saw that I didn’t quite get close enough.  With minimal experimentation, I ended up using 2 extension tubes (12mm and 20mm) between the camera and the lens.

Here’s the viewpoint I had:

I used ‘live view’ on the camera to help with focusing.  Positioning was quite simple as I was using the full rock and width of the backdrop.  The only real composition I was concerned with was the angle of shooting, which I decided to do as just straight across.   I did have some choices for focus (due to the limited depth of field) so I focused on the crystal that stood highest against the background.

Lighting was straightforward, I used one 1000w studio light positioned to the left, plus some minimal incidental light.  I used a custom white balance to get natural colors.  Here’s the complete setup:

I took a few shots and felt that it needed just a little something else.  So I grabbed a laser pointer and aimed at random places on the rock as I shot.  The laser reflected off and through the various crystals, so each shot was a little different.  Here’s the laser pointing at the table and on the rock:


With minimal Photoshoppery, here is the final image.  I adjusted for curves and boosted the saturation slightly (I shoot with a neutral camera control). I removed a few dust spots and and sharpened it slightly.

Amethyst Sunset Final
Amethyst Sunset Final

If you have any questions about the technique, ask them below and I’ll answer them.

This image is also for sale on my Print Service website here – or you can contact me directly.

Equipment used:

Nikon D800e Body | Nikon 105mm f/2.8G Micro-Nikkor Lens | Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set Steve Kaiser 1000w Studio Light |

Thanks for reading.

– Art

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