Garlic, twice

two garlic bulbs

365/22

By 22nd January 2009, I was resorting to food for my 365.  Two garlic bulbs, edited and shared twice, in 2009 and now.

My photography is mainly outdoors, where I am happiest.  But, although I don’t tend to make still life images (perhaps you can tell!), I very much admire the work of others in this genre.  It seems to me, the best still life photographers have not only a superb technical knowledge of photography and lighting, but also a designer’s eye.  Respect.

Life itself

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“Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor; canst not be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fillest us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars (1939)

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”
Loran Eisley, The Immense Journey (1957)

“All the water that will ever be is, right now.”
National Geographic, October 1993

“I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man.”
Henry David Thoreau

“I never drink water. I’m afraid it will become habit-forming.”
W.C. Fields

By torchlight

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Do you have any favourite home studio techniques?

Lightbox fun

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Today the weather is truly dreadful. Cold, relentless rain and high winds. While, for photographers, there is no such thing as bad weather, some delicate souls (me!) might be tempted to stay firmly indoors. But that doesn’t mean the photography has to stop. The top image was taken in my kitchen using a lightbox. My A4 lightbox set me back £50 but has been worth every penny. It works best for semi-transparent subjects where the backlighting of the lightbox reveals internal details that might otherwise go unnoticed.

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Some tips:
– lightboxes can take a while to warm up and reach maximum brightness. You can use that time to make your arrangement.
– the bright light may fool the camera into underexposing so dial in some exposure compensation.
– if your subject is wet, use a sheet of clear acetate to protect the lightbox. This also makes it easier for you to move the arrangement round to find the best composition.
– for an arrangement like the one at the top here, try to select as small an aperture as you can to get maximum sharpness from corner to corner. Using a tripod will help. As will making sure your lens is parallel to the arrangement.
– don’t be afraid to experiment with your processing. Inverting the image can produce some weird and eye-catching results. In the shots below, a physalis fruit became an alien pod and a sea thistle exploded!

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Coffee break

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Nespresso doesn’t really need any advertising help from me. After all, they have George Clooney. But much as I like (lust after) the Cloonster, I was already a fan of those little capsules. And not for the coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I love to drink it. Indeed, my day hasn’t started right until I’ve had a cosy lungo, and my status as homemaker-in-chief is seriously threatened if we run out before I remember to order more. But the real reason I like Nespresso is because the capsules are so darned photogenic. They are colourful, and have a nice shape. And they go well with the espresso cups we bought on holiday in Portugal. The only downside is the coffee tends to get cold while I am photographing it. But I can hardly blame Nespresso for that. Until they invent a never-gets-cold coffee, I will just have to put up with it.

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