A dog park friend saw my recent macro photographs of shells I found actually at the dog park and approached me last week with a rare shell she found herself on a local beach thinking I might like to photograph it as well. She gave me a shell she said was called a Baby's Ear Shell for how its soft curves and translucent shell looks. It is a very delicate looking shell when held in one's hand. However, to photograph it I wanted to bring out as much detail as possible, which meant using a strobist technique. The other challenge was how to prop or stand the shell so it could be cleanly photographed. My solution for that is represented in the last image below.
For the above shot I placed a speedlight just under the shell adjusting the strobe's power to illuminate without blowing out too much of the bottom of the shell. Slight movements produced different shadows, but it did not take long until I was pleased with the results I got above.
To photograph the under side of the shell I placed the speedlight behind the shell for a more traditional backlit look. This created shadows which show the depth of the dome of the shell and the underside ring portion of it. I was surprised to be able to pull blue out of the dome portion, which is not visible with the shell just in hand.
The method I came up with to photograph the shell was simply to hang it by a piece of tape from a wire rack plant holder I have in my living room. Then I simply painted over in black the tape and the wire in Photoshop. The black background was created in camera by choosing a fast shutter speed of 1/200th while shooting in my living room with the blinds closed.
Thank you Mari for thinking of me and sharing your shell!