NATURAL VS. ARTIFICAL LIGHT for gems photography


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7 min

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Gem-related Field
Natural Daylight
Gemstone photography is an art where the play of light is paramount. With their unique colors and depths, these precious stones come alive when correctly illuminated.

???? Use natural daylight when possible. It reveals the genuine colors and inclusions, ensuring authenticity in your shots.

???? Avoid direct sunlight, which might cause harsh shadows and overexpose certain facets.

???? Experiment with diffused lighting. Softboxes or light tents can create an even spread of light, minimizing reflections and maximizing brilliance.

???? Direction matters! Side lighting accentuates gemstone textures, while backlighting can showcase their translucence.
Natural VS. Artificial Light
I used to be all about those studio-style artificial lights for my gem shots, but I've hit the brakes.

???? Too Good to Be True: Artificial lights sometimes made the gems look... well, fake. The colors were often too perfect, misleading some potential customers.

???? Authenticity Wins: Natural sunlight doesn't exaggerate. It brings out the honest beauty of each gem, no sneaky tweaks.

???? Realness Factor: The sun? It doesn't lie. Natural light showcases gems as they truly are, no filter.

???? Too Bright for Comfort: Some stones, especially light-coloured beauties like aquamarine or certain emeralds, would just glare under artificial lights. It was like a spotlight on a shy gem – not the vibe!

With its broad spectrum and varied intensities, natural light (left) reveals the intricate nuances and authentic details of subjects more vividly than artificial sources. In contrast, artificial light (right), often more uniform, can miss out on showcasing the subtle intricacies that natural light effortlessly brings to the fore.
Natural sunlight is unparalleled in its spectral distribution. Unlike many artificial light sources, which may offer a discontinuous or uneven spectrum, sunlight showers every hue of the visible spectrum. This means that when a gemstone is bathed in natural light, every colour within it can shimmer and shine. For gems that pride themselves on their vibrant hues, the continuous spectrum of sunlight ensures their beauty is showcased in its entirety.
Photos taken during different times of the day: morning (1), midday (2), and evening (3). A single day can offer a myriad of lighting conditions, from the soft diffused light of an overcast sky to the dramatic contrasts during sunrise or sunset.
The concept of colour temperature is crucial in photography. It refers to the warmth or coolness of light. While artificial lights might lean excessively towards either end, making scenes look too yellow or too blue, sunlight strikes a near-perfect balance. Some gemstones have properties like pleochroism, where they showcase different colors when viewed from distinct angles. The broad spectrum of sunlight can reveal this mesmerizing phenomenon in all its glory.
Artificial Light: Amplified Brilliance, at a Cost
When not controlled or calibrated correctly, artificial lighting can exaggerate a gemstone's brilliance. This can sometimes result in an over-saturation or misrepresentation of the stone's natural colours. For example, a blue sapphire might appear unnaturally bright or even veer towards an aqua shade under certain artificial lights. While this hyper-real portrayal might make the gemstone look more attractive or dazzling in photos, it can mislead viewers or potential buyers about its genuine appearance.

Additionally, artificial light might obscure some of its natural flaws by excessively highlighting a gemstone's brilliance. This is particularly pertinent when showcasing stones marketed as "eye clean," meaning that while they may have inclusions or imperfections, they aren't visible to the naked eye. Under artificial lighting, the reflections and refractions can be manipulated so that even the minute flaws that might be visible under closer scrutiny get masked.
Both red spinels exhibit a nuanced hue, blending pink with a subtle purple undertone. Under natural daylight, their authentic color is evident. In contrast, artificial lighting might exaggerate the red tones, potentially misleading customers by presenting a brighter and less accurate shade.
Natural Light: Authenticity in Every Ray
On the other hand, natural light has an inherent honesty. With its broad and balanced spectrum, sunlight illuminates a gemstone in a way that accurately represents its colours. There's little risk of over-saturation or hue distortion. This means that a ruby will radiate its deep reds, an emerald will gleam with its lush greens, and a sapphire will shimmer in its true blues when bathed in sunlight.

Moreover, daylight's natural and often diffused nature means it doesn't excessively glamorize the stone. This is especially important for eye-clean gemstones. Natural light allows the viewer to see the stone in its unembellished form, revealing even the subtle flaws that give each gemstone its individual character.

Do not hesitate to send us a message if you have any questions about our stones! Our contact information is available at the bottom of this page.

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Benjamin Poudevigne
Social Media Manager at GemMatrix
With over ten years of marketing experience, I finally decided to settle down in Bangkok to work in an area that I have always been interested in: the gemstones industry. I'm still learning how the market works on a daily basis, and I enjoy sharing my experience with those who are interested in learning more about gems in general.