By torchlight


When I first started digital photography I spent quite a lot of time playing around with torchlight and reflections in my kitchen worktop. It was a great way to learn about my camera.


Making do with props from around the home was fun. My son’s school lever arch files made handy backdrops. In the next shot, I suspended the leaves from the extractor hood using blu-tack and cotton thread.


I find that using a handheld torch stimulates creativity. In the final shot, the subject is a shell, its ridges illuminated by a torch. I like the way the eye is fooled into not being sure whether the spiral moves away from or towards it.


Do you have any favourite home studio techniques?

Forgotten skills?


I am a member of a camera club and often enter images in their competitions. One night I entered this image, called “Floral Fireworks”. It did very well, earning me 10 out of 10. The judge was complimentary but she assumed the blurring had been achieved in Photoshop. In fact, this shot was, apart from a small crop and the frame, straight out of camera. The blur is simply the result of using a wide aperture (f2.8) and focusing on the centre of a cup shaped bloom. The petals, being nearer the sensor than the centre, are soft.
I think Photoshop is a powerful and effective tool and I enjoy using it. But I wonder whether it has caused us sometimes to forget what can be achieved in camera? For me, the most powerful tool of all is understanding how my camera works. What do you think?