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How To Photograph Fossils

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Category: Specialist

Studio Photography - Shooting Fossils - This article by Edwin Brosens will give you some top tips on how to shoot fossils in the studio.

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Words and images by Edwin Brosens - www.edwinbrosens.com




As we are working in a studio there are various creative lighting effects we can use but first, we'll start with a basic lighting setup.
fossil photography

You need your black background paper to not only hang in the background but also lay over the surface you're sitting your fossils on. Place a reflector, or if you don't have one, silver foil to the side of your set up and check that everything is stable before you set up your camera. Having the reflector to the side will produce a nice soft light on the fossil.

A 90mm or 105mm macro lens should be used as a 180mm macro lens has less depth of field. With a ratio of 1:1 it has a depth of field of 1.8 mm with f/5.6. But with studio work we need to get the whole fossil sharp.

You need to secure your camera to your tripod and always turn the image stabilizer of your lens or camera off. I always work with an aperture between f/16 and f/22, together with a low ISO of 100 or 200. This will give us slightly longer exposure times but the quality of the images will be better. Turn your camera to manual focus so you can select the place of depth of field. Experiment and take your time with this.

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Make sure you check your white-balance as the temperature of your flash can change the look of your shot. Personally, I always shoot in RAW so I can make any adjustments in post production.

fossil 5


I always use a light meter to measure the exposure time and flash. I also use a flash diffuser so I can lower the output level of my flash gun, so the light isn't as harsh. Experiment with different levels to find out which is the best level for your set up.

fossil 3

Flash is needed to bring out the colours of the minerals found in some fossils. Minerals reflect light so by firing flash on to the fossil and by turning it to see which parts produce the best colour and pleasing composition, I am able to produce the best shot possible every time.

Words and images by Edwin Brosens - www.edwinbrosens.com

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