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.

A Week In Kent – 18

Just back from a week away in Kent. We stayed south of Canterbury, on a farm in a small village called Stelling Minnis. Came back with too many images – can’t show you them all but here are a favourite four that might just interest you!

Maybe next week I’ll show you some more. On the other hand …..

The cloisters at Canterbury Cathedral. A superb building, but unfortunately covered in scaffold for a much need clean. 01-KENT by John Allen

The White Cliffs of Dover. We were lucky enough to see a ( two seater ) Spitfire ( maybe from Biggin Hill? ) that did a run past the cliffs then came back and barrel-rolled overhead the docks. Sadly, wrong lens on the camera – I was travelling light that day!02-KENT by John Allen

Coloured chairs outside the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery at Margate. Is this ‘Still Life’? Or just a picture of four chairs?03-KENT by John Allen

The evening sky the night before we left. Not quite my last shot of the week, but it certainly made me feel good.04-KENT by John Allen

More next week? Maybe. 🙂

Dinosaur – 15

This week I’ve been playing with Chroma Key effects. ( If that is the wrong expression, I apologise!! ) To most of us we know this as green-screening, but my attempt this week was actually using a blue background because, in an earlier shot, I had something green that I wanted to retain in the final image – but I later dropped that idea, but stayed with the blue backdrop.

So this is how the dinosaur ended up in Epping Forest. First of all I photographed the animal against a blue background. The objective here is to get the background as evenly illuminated as possible. Not that I succeeded here, but I was able to rectify this later in Photoshop CC.

01-DINASOUR by John Allen

Then, using the ‘Select > Colour Range’ in Photoshop I selected all of the blue and using Select > Select and Mask ( again in Photoshop ) tidied up the selection and created a new layer with a mask of the inverted selection. ( Colour Range selects the background and, of course, that’s not the bit we want in our final image. ) This was the result.

03-DINASOUR by John Allen

Because this is a JPEG copy of that result, all of the pixels I masked out have now been replaced by white. If you save the image as a tiff or psd file those transparent areas ( where there are ’empty’ pixels ) will be preserved.

Next I hunted through my Lightroom library for a suitable new background. This one happens to be Epping Forest, just down the road from me. I copied the images into my working image of the dinosaur and dragged the ‘forest’ layer so that it was positioned underneath the beast.

A few tiny adjustments and ….

02-DINASOUR by John Allen

Success, I would say!!

SHOOTING GLASS (2) – 12

As a follow on from last week’s post, I’ve re-tried the image of the wine glass against the dark background.

Most of the shoot was taken up with trying to eliminate the reflections in the bowl of the glass – the difficulty I highlighted last time! And I think that I got there, apart from those two ‘vertical’ ( ish ) lines near the centre of the frame. I think they are reflections of the light source – maybe even reflections of reflections – the glass being curved, there must be light being bounced all over the place.

All of the other reflections – of what was either side and behind the camera ( the contents of me garage – were eliminated by draping a black cloth over the whole set and down behind the camera. It made it a bit difficult to fire the camera – perhaps I should have used a remote or tethered it to the computer ( but I didn’t ). Anyway, here’s the result!

Wine Glass by John Allen

Still one to come back to, I think!

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.

Flower Portraits – 47

It’s been much colder this week – and the light outside has gone grey and flat.

So I’ve retreated into my small studio in the garage and been experimenting with studio shots of shop-bought flowers. Maybe as Winter passes and Spring arrives I’ll try something similar with the seasonal wild-flowers as they appear during the year. Maybe even try to achieve this outside where the plants are growing. Maybe!!!

Flower by John Allen-1Flower by John Allen-4Flower by John Allen-3Flower by John Allen-2

All taken on the Olympus OMD EM-II with a 12-100mm Pro lens and a couple of flash guns. Plus a little bit of Photoshop magic. 🙂

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!