Walls can be turned into art, and outdoor wall murals are increasingly popular. I would cite the artist’s name but I took this some time back and no longer have it. This is only a piece of the whole and in black and white I think it makes a different and interesting impression.
When you look around you with an eye for photography, you notice things you might not otherwise notice. This week’s photographs are of walls. Walls are interesting as they age; they get changed, painted over and can become subjects of good photographs. In this case the renovation of the wall and shadows, etc. make for a minimalist canvass.
In my experiments in still life photography, I have used some of what I have learned in doing macro and close up photography of insects in the field. But there is nothing like having every element of the photograph in your control. I start with a completely black photo, so that as I add light all the light is my decision, my creation.
As you can see I was working with things around the house. I may even try the same subject under different lighting patterns. I use black cardboard or a scarf for a background, the table is a 40 dollar Ikea table and I have placed a red hot plate under the cup. Black boards block light and white boards reflect light. There is a lot of fun in experimenting.
When studying table top photography a good understanding of diffusion helps, as well as the various tools to help with diffusion (not just soft boxes, but things like bed sheets and shower curtains). The larger the source of light and closer it is to the subject, the softer it will be and the farther away the harder the light.
There are some very good lessons on studio lighting on Youtube – see Adorama, for example. When they talk about one light lighting, they usual mean one light and a reflector (which could just be a piece of white board to fill in shadows). Still life, table top photography calls for ingenuity and inventiveness (e.g DIY).
Most things have reflective surfaces that can cause hot spots, some of these may help your composition, most will not. Spending time understanding the angles that reduce hot spots is a necessary skill (move the camera or the light, find the angle with the best light and least hot spots).
Most of the points I make will sound obvious but believe me they matter. The first is about dust, no matter how clean your surface seems, there will always be dust. You won’t see it in camera or even looking closely at the set but it is there. While some can be fixed in processing it’s good to have a blower and cloth and go over the set several times.
This week I will write about doing still life photography at home (table top photography).I use a real table and not a product box. I use different kinds of flash, mainly Godox brand; reliable and relatively inexpensive. I also use various stands and background, some store bought some DIY. Being able to control all the light and in doing so learn about light is a great way to improve my photography.
Having revealed my thinking on photography this week, let me end by saying photography is many things to many people. Memories, art, information, and entertainment are all reasons for photography, and these too are all a part of why I am a photographer.
Photography has a steep learning curve just to get the basics under one’s belt. And then there are the varieties and types of photography. Photojournalism was an early love, that became street photography, concert photography, later nature photography, macro photography and a keen interest in studio work. In each I learned, in each I have had my ups and downs, but the successes and satisfaction far outweighed the failures.
Photography has introduced me to people who have become good friends, the world of insects, a love of the technique and applications of photography and a host of other things. It has expanded my world in a way nothing else could for me.
In normal times I would say photography gets me out of the house and into nature. But even in these times tainted by the pandemic, I end up working out both physically and mentally when working on photography. Or so my back tells me.
I’ll start by saying it’s been years since I made a buck on my photography and frankly that is a good thing. Being an an amateur frees me up to do things my way, shoot what I want to shoot etc. “Why, am I photographer” is the question of the week.
It is clear that backgrounds are very important. We don’t want them to distract. However, an oddity in a background can be support for the foreground. Depending on your own tastes the tilt of the wall could be an example.
Cormorants tend be far out on the water when sunning themselves, or flying faster than I can capture them. At 500mm it is still a stretch to get a shot like this, but the Nikon 200-500 5.6 is a brilliant lens.
This great blue heron was walking on the lawn beside the path towards me. I just waited until he was parallel to the path and hedge. The black and white shows how easy it would have been to just to walk by and miss this four foot bird if one was not observant.
Pulling out the detail in the flower exaggerated the noise. Today we go a long way to remove noise without thinking that with film we used grain as one of the compositional tools. You can argue they are different but the look is often the same.
Depth of field is underrated. Most cameras and most zoom lenses sold, limit the use of depth of field because they do not permit the use of the same aperture throughout the range of the zoom. Buying your first F2.8 zoom is the day you really get on the road to your own style.
My processing addresses exposure for the most part, as well as sharpness and composition. Within those there is a fair amount of latitude for creativity; how sharp, how bright, what colour filter etc. Brash or subtle it makes the final product unique.
Shooting things around the house may look easy but shiny surfaces, angles of light, types of lighting are all a little complicated to solve. The many tutorials on line help, but in the end, I think table top lighting has an interesting and fun learning curve.
This was as close as I will ever get to Czar Nicholas II and frankly he’s not in such great shape. Reflection was created with a black acrylic sheet under the coin. The coin was held steady by some wax.
Normally when I talk about reflections it’s about a bird on the water, but it’s a bit too cold for that now. So a scotch tasting glass made for an interesting subject. Even alone the glass looked great, but stacked on top of another similar glass you would think that a mirror was causing the effect.