Thro’ A Crystal Ball – 21

I’ve been photographing black and white geometric patterns through a crystal ball. In fact, two crystal balls in the second image – a small ball balanced precariously on top of the larger one.

The challenge proved to be getting the shot without reflections for the lights. I ended up using a long exposure and painting in the lights with different torches and video lights.

The Live Bulb exposure facility on the Olympus OM-D EM1 was very useful here as you can see the image build as well as being able to monitor the histogram develops

Crystal Balls by John Allen-2

Crystal Balls by John Allen-3

Crystal Balls by John Allen

All taken on the Olympus EM-1 with a 12 – 100mm f4 Pro lens, imported into Lightroom Classic CC  and then tweaked  and cleaned up in Photoshop CC. The background pattern was also created in Photoshop and then printed out as an A3 image.

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SMOKE & MIRRORS – 19

This week I’ve been making smoke! Joss stick smoke, in fact.

All of these images started off as a shot of smoke lit with a single flash unit, against a black ( very black ) background. Each was then post-processed ( ie manipulated ) in Photoshop CC,  which is where all of the colour and the reflections were added in.

Like inkblot images, you can see things in most of these shots! Well, I can!

01-SMOKING by John AllenAngels?

02-SMOKING by John AllenKissing Ducks?

04-SMOKING by John Allen

05-SMOKING by John Allen

A burning joss stick – multi-layered, the exposure for the joss stick layer was flash plus 2 seconds to catch the red of the burn.

CORMORANT & CATCH – 39

On our trip to Berwick-upon-Tweed I decided to walk down the river to get underneath the famous railway viaduct. ( More of that later, perhaps.)

On the way I came across this cormorant that had caught itself some lunch! A huge flat-fish of some type, that seemed far too large to swallow. And, indeed, the bird did seem to spend some time trying to decide how it was going to eat its meal. Note also how much of the cormorant in the first two shots appears to be under water!!

Eventually, as shown in the final image, it swallowed the thing whole! Amazing!

CORMORANT & CATCH by John Allen-1CORMORANT & CATCH by John Allen-2CORMORANT & CATCH by John Allen-3CORMORANT & CATCH by John Allen-4

It sat for a while on the water, made a couple of attempts to take off, and on the third go it flew along the river and under the arches of the viaduct. What a catch.

IN THE WORKSHOP – 34

A still-life set up using many of my father’s old tools, including the wooden tool chest.

IN THE WORKSHOP by John Allen

Lit with a single continuous video lamp, through a cardboard snoot and a couple of layers of tracing paper to soften the light. The lamp glow was from a small torch behind the lamp – but the resulting very blue light needed significant ‘warming’ in Photoshop.

I hope it was worth it!

SEED POTATO – 31

I took the first images of this potato back in January ( Resting Seed Potato – 03 ), just after it sprouted ‘eyes’ and began to look a touch more interesting than just a plain spud. ( My apologies to the vegetable-lovers amongst you. )

SEED POTATO by John Allen

Since then its sprouts, or shoots, have grown incredibly long! All this time the potato has been sitting in my garage with little TLC given to it – in fact, very little attention paid to it at all.

Recently however I noticed that it was collapsing in on itself, and it looked as though it was very much on its way out. So I took this final image before it was consigned to the food-waste recycling-box.

Taken on the Olympus EM-1 MkII with a single flash head and reflector. Post-production in Lightroom with a touch of Photoshop.

BLOOD MOON – 30

BLOOD MOON by John Allen

Not taken at the absolute full moon – or at the eclipse, unfortunately, when East Anglia appeared to be blanketed in cloud, preventing any view at all of the moon.

This was taken two nights earlier, using the Olympus E-M1 Mk II with a 300 mm lens ( 600mm the 35mm equivalent ) ISO 2000 to give me a shutter speed of 1/500 at f/8, all on a secure tripod and triggered with a wireless remote. I wanted that high shutter speed because it’s surprising how quickly the moon appears to move when you are looking at it through the viewfinder of a camera!!

I also had to play with the White Balance to get the colour in the image. At Auto White Balance it kept recording at almost black and white monochrome.

RUSTIC FLOWERS – 19

RUSTIC FLOWERS by John Allen

Another still life.

Here I was looking for the contrast in textures and colours – mainly between the old food can ( six weeks in the garden, filled with water, to make it go rusty ) and the beauty of the flowers. But I think the muted, soft tones of the background also help.

Key, of course, is the lighting which really makes the image pop – although, at the same time, it is subtle and not overdone. One strobe with a soft box as the main light ( from the left ) and a second light, also softened,  overhead to light the background.