Shell Reference Photos
I'm working on a painting that has shells in it. I have a basket of shells from New England shores and Florida that I pull out for reference. Sometimes I'll stage them in a tray of sand. I've even staged them in a tray of sand with flip flops for a painting. You can see a peek at the results on my blog header above.
I photograph them as well. When they sit in sunlight it allows me to see the true colors and where the natural highlights and shadows lie . It's also really helpful to have photos too when something fragile like a shell is suddenly in pieces on the floor. While looking for guilty faces, you can still move forward on your painting.
A really simple way way of photographing them is to lay them on a piece of foam board. The foam board is sturdy enough to move around with the shells to adjust the way the light falls or carry the whole set up outside. I photograph outside in sunlight or set up next to a sunny window. The white of the foam board allows me to see how the shadows of the shells fall. The piece of sea glass on the lower right photo has an interesting shadow. Here is some of my shell reference photos: