SHOOTING GLASS – 11

This week I set myself the task of getting to grips with photographing glass. From a photography viewpoint ( pun intended ) glass is, by its very nature, invisible. Somehow we need to capture the shapes and the textures but all to often reflections spoil the outcome!

There seems to be two basic solutions: one is to shoot against a very dark background – and the second is to shoot against a very bright background. In both cases the glass is back lit with a largish light source diffused through some some type of ‘diffusion’ material – a lighting soft-box, a plastic shower curtain ( often quoted in the literature ) or a piece of translucent white perspex. That’s what I used for these shots.

The light source is a matter of choice – continuous light or flash both work well! The first image, of the wine glass, was taken using diffused flash – the others were taken with medium sized LED light panel through the white perspex.

This is the wine glass was taken against a piece of black foam board and standing on a piece of reflective black perspex. Nice enough, and quite satisfying, but those reflections don’t help. More on the lighting set-up for this one later.

01-GLASS by John Allen

This is a glass jar taken against a bright background – that same diffusion material and light source, but no black foam board. This time the the jar is standing on a piece of white reflective perspex.

06-GLASS by John Allen

And this is the set up – taken from further back to show the light source which has been masked off with black card around the jar . You can see the unmasked corners of the diffusion material in the top left and top right of the image.

05-GLASS by John Allen

This time we have the jar against a black background, exactly the same set-up as I used for the wine glass shown above – but now using continuous lighting.

04-GLASS by John Allen

An arty touch……..

03-GLASS by John Allen

And here’s the set-up. Now the black foam board masks off the light from directly behind the jar which is only illuminated by the light coming round the board to pick out the edges of the object.

02-GLASS by John Allen

So am I pleased with the results? I think I am. I just need to work on how to eliminate those unwanted reflections in the wine glass. Why didn’t they show up in the dark background version of the glass jar?  Mmmm …..

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Still life – Fruit – 10

It’s been a bit of a still life week, driven mainly by upcoming competitions at our club Harlow Seniors Photographic Group  Here are a couple of images I have been working on.

01-Fruit by John Allen02-Fruit by John Allen

My most recent, and best, investment has been a 24″ soft box that I can now hang, with a small strobe flash head, from a boom  over these setups. This is all clamped to a lighting stand and was quite unstable until I used an exercise weight on the other end of the boom to balance the set up. ( No, I didn’t have the weight – I purchased it from a local sports shop!! )

The soft box has made the lighting much more satisfactory and easier to control.

Both taken on the Olympus OMD EM-1 Mk II with a 12-100mm f4 Pro Lens tethered to an iMac desktop running Olympus’s Capture software.

Saturday Morning Walk – 09

Another quite photographic week, but yesterday morning we walked along the River Stort going north out of Sawbridgeworth towards Bishops Stortford.

I didn’t even take my Olympus along with me this time – but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you – and I had my iPhone. These were all taken using the Lightroom app on the iPhone enabling you to capture RAW images on the phone, and wirelessly transfer them to your computer!

01-River Stort by John Allen

This is one big animal – enjoying a box of old apples with a younger family member.02-River Stort by John Allen03-River Stort by John Allen

For those into vintage cars, this appears to be an old Ford. ( Shame about the No Parking sign – ironic, I suppose! )05-River Stort by John Allen
04-River Stort by John Allen

Enjoy!!

Spring In The Park – 07

Images of spring flowers taken this very morning on an early(ish) walk through our town park.

I won’t attempt to name them – I can just about recognise a Snowdrop – but all were taken on my Olympus EM-1 Mk II with a 60mm macro lens; all natural light with some ‘tweaking’ in Lightroom.

And followed by breakfast in the Park Café. A perfect morning.

Stroboscopic Flash – 06

A new experience this week – I’ve had a go at Stroboscopic Flash. Impressive name, difficult technique. With a bit of a learning curve to climb!

Stroboscopic Flash – a single, longish exposure ( perhaps 2 or 3 seconds ), where the subject is moving in the frame and the strobe/flash light goes off a number of times whilst the shutter remains open. Best executed in as dark a room as you can manage with a plain black background set up as far back from the subject as possible. ( You may want to keep a low-level light on to stop you tripping over tripods and light stands, etc – but if the light is too bright and the exposure very long, that light will show in the final image ).

You’ll need a strobe that will fire a set number of times at a set frequency ( numbers such as 4Hz are oft quoted, meaning 4 flashes in 1 second ).

So 8 flashes at 4 Hz will require an shutter speed of 2 seconds ( to accommodate all 8 flashes ).

I set the Olympus to Manual mode, 1/250 sec and an f stop determined by trial and error. I told you I was learning! And I used a wireless remote to trigger the strobe.

These images are not perfect, I know that, but they demonstrate the principle and give me a base from which to improve.

If you try it, have fun. And be prepared to take LOADS of images to catch the ones that work!

A single swinging nut!01-Strobe Flash by John Allen

A toy bird that shudders itself down its shiny pole!   02-Strobe Flash by John Allen

Just TWO coloured pig-pong balls dropped onto a table. Shame about the background at the top of the frame. 03-Strobe Flash by John Allen

Ice Patterns – 05

These fantastic patterns appeared on our conservatory windows one morning earlier this week. To good to miss, I took the opportunity to take a few shots using a 60mm macro lens on the Olympus EM1 Mark II – and a tripod.

All backlit with natural light from the garden – and tweaked ( a touch ) in Lightroom Classic CC.

01-ICE PATTERNS by John Allen

02-ICE PATTERNS by John Allen

03-ICE PATTERNS by John Allen

04-ICE PATTERNS by John Allen

Texture – 04

A quiet photography week since our return from Aldeburgh ( see ALDEBURGH – 03 ), so this week I’ve been looking through some older images and, for some reason, homed in on the topic of texture.

It’s been said many times before, but it’s worth repeating – good or bad lighting can make or break a potential image. And this is particularly true if you are looking to capture texture in your image. Have I achieved that in these four images? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

An appropriate subject plus directional side lighting is often the key, although my second image is more ‘soft’ light than directional.

1 & 2 Taken on Northumberland beaches01-texture by john allen03-texture by john allen

3 Aldeburgh Boat04-texture by john allen

4 JohnB through Wet Glass02-texture by john allen

ALDEBURGH – 03

Just returned from a couple of days in Aldeburgh on the Suffolk – North Sea coast. Bracing – but beautiful. A fabulous mix of coastland and places to visit inland – Snape Maltings, the ruins of Leiston Abbey – and much more.

Here are some images from Aldeburgh itself, the last one being of Maggi Hambling’s controversial Scallop – originally situated closer to to the town, but moved because some residents felt it spoilt the beach! You decide. The shot was taken just as the sun was coming up, some of the colour on the Scallop being reflected sunlight,

01-aldeburgh by john allen02-aldeburgh by john allen03-aldeburgh by john allen04-aldeburgh by john allen

Flash In The Garden – 02

One of my previously broken New Year’s Resolutions was to get to grips with off-camera, outdoor flash photography – away from my usual safety net of a home studio and lots of time!

So eventually, a couple of days ago, I ventured outside into the garden with my Olympus OMD MKII, a 60mm macro lens and flash gun ( on an extension lead ) to catch whatever was about.

The first three images are of a clump of fungi Daphne had spotted growing in a sheltered corner of the garden. Fungi in January? A little unexpected – but then our winter, so far, has been quite mild – nothing to the atrocious weather that has struck parts of continental Europe. Our thoughts go to anyone who is suffering as a result!

01-garden flora by john allen02-garden flora by john allen03-garden floraby john allen

The final image is of grass growing in the crevices of an old tree stump (thanks, Trevor!!). This is probably the result of bird food left in the stump for the passing wildlife – but then again, we’ve not seen much of that over the past few weeks. They are obviously being fed somewhat better further down the road.

04-garden flora by john allen