Tuesday 12 January 2021

Lockdown photography - part 2

Ideas to photograph at home

 A few more ideas to get the creative juices flowing whilst we are spending most of our time at home. My brain isn't functioning well enough to go into detail of how to do each one so please excuse that, but hopefully the ideas will prompt further exploration and search engines will help you find full instructions. I have included some useful links to help.


 Oil on water

This is a fairly easy one, although can be a bit fiddly setting up and getting everything just right- take a glass container such as a casserole dish and stand it across two stacks of books, with a gap underneath ( so it looks like a bridge)  or other sturdy props so that you can place something colourful underneath ( I use a tablet with colourful photo). Or use a tall glass/measuring jug and fill it with water and stand that on your chosen colourful backdrop. Once everything is steady and you feel you have the right height of water to get the background you desire then pop in drops of oil and stir gently. Make sure your glass container and stirring item are super clean with no dust. Photograph from above- a tripod can be useful for this and takes a good deal of work out of it - setting the focus up and locking it, then shooting on live view means you can do this more comfortably. If using a macro lens and getting quite close then you can often get away with closing down your aperture to get the drops of oil nicely in focus whilst the backdrop is out of focus due to  close up work. It will take trial and error to get your distances and amounts of water right. One drop of washing up liquid added to the water when everything is still and set up will help with your droplets.

This image below was photographed by a lovely online friend Kathryn Willett - she used an ipad below to get this look. ( Kathryn also produces wonderful animal photography)

Soap bubbles/soap suds - lit up to show irridescent rainbow colours - here is a link to show how to obtain these colour abstract images. Soap bubble technique

Or try photographing bubbles full of smoke by holding an incense stick underneath the bubble blower that comes with a little bottle of kids bubbles liquid. Smoking bubbles  Smoking bubbles 2

Refractions in Droplets on wire or stem/flower 

Raindrops or spray on glass ( or other surfaces) - Handy as textures but also can make wonderful abstracts. This one below is just water sprayed on glass with flowers underneath.

Droplet Splash or droplet collisions
I've not done this in about ten years, so excuse the low res pics. You don't need expensive equipment - some aquarium tubing and a valve to sort drops out, its not so easy getting the collisions this way but I did manage some. Best to read up how to do this for good results - I used to set up in a dark room to avoid ambient light causing issues and adding various substances to your water/liquid can help get more interesting results ( I seem to remember a lot of people used to use something called Rinse aid). A couple of flashes that work at 1/128 speed are very handy too. Its fun and addictive. Try using a a CD for colourful reflections for something unusual or add milk to the water dripping into the bowl. I used to challenge an old friend to produce more creative droplet collisions giving him the idea set ups as he was so much better at it then me - from wine glasses, coffee cups to a boiled egg shell or mushroom. 

Liquids jumping due to vibrations
Another thing Ive not tried myself but would love to. If you type in "Paint on speaker " into your search engine or youtube you will get to see pics and videos. They're very eye catching.

Liquids in bottles or glasses and dripping ink/paint/milk into water
Check out the wonderful creative splash art by Mark Hunter for some creative inspiration using glasses, bottles and much more Mark A Hunter Photography He has also put together info on mixing liquids for photography liquid photography

Ice cubes or containers of ice with items frozen within

Reflections - either at home or on a walk

Items being dropped into water or actually submerged in water - this is a really old pic - I will post a better one soon

Abstract images using ink/paint and alcohol ink or nail varnish floating on water
Make it rain - spray water in a scene and capture the droplets falling either frozen still or using long exposure
Droplets on top of a CD ( Another old pic from about ten years ago just to give an idea) 

Freezing bubbles in the snow or in the freezer can give fun effects
How to photograph bubbles in the snow

Wednesday 6 January 2021

Lockdown photography - Part 1 Plant life

 Lockdown Photography ideas you can do at home.

As we find ourselves in another UK national lockdown and stay at home order I thought I would try to help motivate others with photography from home/garden as Ive made a bit of an art of doing this in my 14 years of having M.E. I thought I could at least pay it forward with things Ive picked up in my years adapting the way I do photography. Starting with closer up work as that compromises most of what I do. The majority of my photography is taken sat at our dining table with everything I need within reach, to conserve energy.

Macro/Close up - Plants/seedheads/leaves/berries

You dont have to own a macro lens to get up close - you can try macro extension tubes for as little as £20 ( I often use one or two with a 50mm lens or an old Helios lens) or a macro filter that screws or clips onto the end of your lens - I use my partners Raynox 250 and highly recommend it. If you would like to know more about these then do look at my blog post about them. Extension tubes / macro filters blog post You could also look into reversing lenses to get closer.

Plants/seedheads/leaves/berries/branches - from the garden, or snipped whilst on daily exercise, or ordered online. There are so many ways you can photograph plants/flowers/seedheads/pine cones etc - the list is endless - but a few suggestions -
Look for patterns , shape and light, or even colours to experiment with abstract photography

Intentional camera movement - Whilst I use this mostly for trees there is nothing stopping us trying it with plants too.

Backlighting - this can easily be set up at home
Add smoke or mist into your image, using a mini mist maker, or incense sticks, or smoke bombs if outdoors

Use branches, seedheads, berries etc in still life, - I know there arent many flowers in bloom so look for seedheads on your walks - teasels, money plant seeds, pine cones

with reflections ( place in water or on black glass or perspex),

spray water on them, this image is a Pulsatilla seedhead brought inside with water sprayed on

Try a triptych,

Use a light box or lay out your items in a nice arrangement on a surface of your choice for flat lay images, ( I highly recommend pressing flowers and leaves in a book ( or freezing in ice) for future use - especially given the chances that lockdowns may reoccur

Spray leaves/flowers with water and stick them on a window,

Try using shallow depth of field and holding something between the lens and your subject to get a haze/bokeh or place items behind your subject for distanced bokeh ( fairy lights), For the image below I used sparkling fibres blue tacked around the end of my lens which created bokeh as the light hit them.
These two images were obtained by ripping a jagged hole in a sheet of crinkled transparent irridescent material and placing it over the end of my lens

Use crystals and beads in front of your lens to get extra creative effects ( try Lensbaby Omni filters or irridescent materials) The Salvia image below was photographed in the garden with an Omni filter creating the rainbow effect.

This one is taken at my dining table with fairy lights behind

As its winter you could set up seedheads in your garden or on a verge outside by sticking them in the ground and wait for a very frosty morning and capture them covered in frost, or in the snow,

Freeze flowers/leaves in a plastic dish in your freezer and photograph these frozen - maybe backlight them? , or submerge them in water/fizzy water/coloured in a glass dish and snap away.

Or if you have access to one of the vintage lenses such as a Helios or a Meyer optik primoplan , or a Lensbaby lens you could get creative with those. Below are two taken with a Meyer optik primoplan 58 coupled with a macro extension tube

Try spraying water on a stem placed in front of a flower and capture the flower refracted within the droplets. See my blog on the-multiple-personalities-of-plants for more ideas and inspiration, plus kit that is useful.

The images below were taken with an old Helios lens paired with an extension tube ( the lens was only £20)

Both of these dead ferns were photographed sat at my dining table with different backgrounds, the top one had a lovely green glass vase behind it and the bottom one had a gold reflector in the background - just use what you have at home - you will be surprised at the results. Or if you want ready made backgrounds there are so many beautiful ones you can but online - Ive produced a large range myself which I print out and place on boards behind my subjects - email me if you would like to purchase some Textures

Add textures to your floral/plant life images - below is an example of my own textures on one image.

Get as close as you can 

Try focus stacking - this image was taken with a macro lens plus extension tubes and a borrowed Raynox 250. camera on a mini tripod, 36 images stacked in a free trial of Helicon software. Its a Tulip stamen, photographed on our dining table.

Photograph insects on your plants

I hope this gives a few ideas to start with, please watch for more to follow in the coming days, staying with macro and close up ideas :)

Blessed Ostara and submerged flowers

 I am still tinkering away creating submerged floral images and thoroughly enjoying myself. Lots of people have been in touch asking questio...