Nantan nickel-iron meteorite specimen #4 © 2016 Bali Charm.
Meteorites are notoriously irregular in shape - and our Nantan specimens are no exception. To show them only from one or two angles isn't fair to a buyer.
A look behind the scenes at how we photographed our 1516 Nantan meteorites at the Bali Charm studio...
Uniformity and consistency
Stage One was to photograph all of our specimens, in soft interior light, to demonstrate each meteorite's individual shape. All were taken on a tripod at the same camera-to-subject ratio, enabling a visual size-comparison between each meteorite.
Composite image of Nantan meteorite specimen #1 © 2016 Bali Charm.
Up close... with a lighting variation
Stage Two was a hot afternoon in the sun with the Fuji X100 - at 99.31 percent nickel-iron, the Nantan meteorites come alive in strong, directional light. A white balance reading is taken before we photograph each specimen to ensure accurate color rendition.
Composite image of Nantan meteorite specimen #12 © 2016 Bali Charm.
Nantan nickel-iron meteorite specimen #7 © 2016 Bali Charm.
Nantan nickel-iron meteorite specimen #13 © 2016 Bali Charm.
There's a lot of extraordinary detail in the patina of Nantans that isn't obvious to the human eye. Extreme close-ups of the meteorites were achieved with a 30 percent crop of the original 4288px by 2848px image file.
Composite image of Nantan meteorite specimen #6 with 30% crop © 2016 Bali Charm.
Close-up of Nantan meteorite specimen #6 © 2016 Bali Charm.
Close-up of Nantan meteorite specimen #13 © 2016 Bali Charm.
... and personal
The last stage was to re-photograph every specimen in the palm of a model's hand. Far more interesting than using a ruler to show their relative sizes.
Composite image of model holding Nantan meteorite specimens © 2016 Bali Charm.
No product-shoot can take place without a highly disciplined approach - particularly when the specimens look intensely similar. To make a mistake would mean a complete re-shoot.
We photograph each meteorite in its labeled bag before we take it out and shoot it, and return it to its bag before we photograph the next. This provides us with a labeled, visual cue when we're editing the files - a plastic bag means a new specimen. The end result is that our customers always see exactly what they're going to buy.
Bagged Nantan nickel-iron meteorite during the product shoot © 2016 Bali Charm.
Bagged, labeled meteorite specimens during the product shoot © 2016 Bali Charm.
Images and Search Engine Optimization
But it isn't all about photography.
Google needs to find these images once they're online, and calling a file 'DSF1284.jpg' isn't going to help identify it. All image files are renamed with core keywords - for example 'nantan_meteorite_guangxi_china_DSF1284.jpg' - before we upload them to the site.
The finishing touch is to maximize their potential for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and to do this we assign each image an accurate alt tag. 'Nantan Nickel-Iron Composition Meteorite from Guangxi, China #02 (112 gm)' is fine - but we also deliberately include misspellings such as 'guanxi', 'guanqxi' and 'nickle' to cover all bases. Google loves it.
At Bali Charm, it's all in the detail. The big picture's the easy bit.