Book Review

Better Photographs

Photographing Minerals and Lapidary Materials, by Jeffrey Scovil. 1996. 176 pages. 30 color, 276 black/white photos. $40.(JCK Data Center MR-013) To order call 1-800-234-5308.

Here’s a great how-to book on photographing minerals, fossils and other lapidary materials such as carvings, cabochons and faceted stones. The author comprehensively covers film, equipment, light sources and techniques, filters, backgrounds, photomacrography and photomicrography.

I like the fact an amateur can read this book from start to finish and, with practice, confidently photograph virtually any mineral or gemstone. Even more seasoned photographers can learn some valuable techniques.

Written by a professional photographer, the material is presented in a straightforward, easy-to-read manner. While the book appears in classic “textbook” form, the reading is not tedious and you don’t have to hunt for information. It includes a comprehensive glossary and index and a handy “source of supplies.” Perhaps an outline at the beginning of a few of the chapters would have been helpful – especially the chapters on cameras, lenses, and equipment – to give the reader an idea of essential and optional equipment needed to get started.

The color photos illustrate a range of techniques and subjects photographed by various people. They help you to compare what you read about with what you’re supposed to be doing. If the book lacks anything, it’s enough color photos. However, the 39 color photos that are included offer a wide and varied representation.

My photographs have improved since practicing some of these techniques; I hope you find the same is true for you. – Roma Strong Zanders, TIMIO 24K Custom Designs, Tempe, Ariz., JCK Book Judge.