Although I have been away from it for some time, I used to study
photography some. When I was challanged to photograph stones for our
website, I did a lot of relearning as well as lots of trial and error.
I have also come to a copromise similar to yours - I use a digital
camera and flash - I put up with some glare (which, with my subjects
is very hard to get rid of) because I decided that we are used to
seeing this kind of subject with some glare anyway.
photographer) getting the “drama” you seek requires some exceptional
care in lighting especially when you are talking about really small
subjects. Some one suggested (in a previous set of photography
questions a few weeks ago) using a cone or cylinder arrangement like
yours made from photo filter paper with ordinary lights placed outside
the cone all around it. I haven’t tried it but that should be a good
routine. Another suggestion (which is probably the proper
professional solution) is to get a light box. Someone mentioned a
source and the product was about $150 I think.
Anything that allows light from multiple angles is going to give you
more “drama”. The light box solution will allow you to change camera
and subject angles more easily. It’s always a compromise between
time, money and results.
You can review my results at www.worldwidegemstones.net