One of the most frustrating things I have encountered over the last few, well, quite a few, months, is how to photograph gold sheen sapphire. Macro photography of gemstones can be tricky at the best of times. Because of the many faceted or curved surfaces, it requires a lot of control of light, light angles, and camera angles. But the additional complication of gold sheen sapphire is capturing the ‘schiller’ effect, which is the sheen in ‘gold sheen’. There are two main problems:
Problem number one is flare. Any light that shows captures the schiller will also create a hot-spot on the gem face that will just look ugly in the photo. Using an indirect light source fixes this, but then the schiller is lost.
Problem number two is reflection. Both for faceted and cabbed stones, the high surface lustre will reflect anything in the background – the lights, the light brackets, the camera, sometimes even the photographer. For a single flat surface, this is easy to avoid with careful camera placement, however for gemstones, the facets or curved cabochon surface will inevitably pick up some undesired reflection. This is doubly problematic for gold sheen sapphire because the light has to be positioned in a fairly narrow range of angles to bring out the sheen, and these angles will always coincide with unwanted reflections.
After numerous trial and error shoots over many months I have ended up with this photography rig:
It lets me control the light and camera angles to a very high degree. Using a strong light source reflected off the white overhead backing card lets me eliminate flare and unwanted reflections. With the LED and point source lights I can get some degree of the gems schiller into the photo. These are the results:
I am still not 100% satisfied with the results, but I feel I am getting there.