May 2012

cherry blog feature

Tongue-Tied!

Several years ago, when I first started playing around in photography, I did a shoot where I attempted to take a picture of a cherry with the stem tied into a knot. The idea, of course, being to capture that sexy little joke that we sometimes see in a movie, where a girl puts a cherry in her mouth, and then swirls around with her tongue and out she pops the stem tied in a knot.  This should conjure up all kinds of ideas of her prowess with her magic tongue! :-D

The shoot was semi-successful. I did get a photo of a cherry with the stem tied, but was just learning and had done it for a contest where no editing was allowed. The cherry kept toppling over and I remember that distinctly as I used a piece of chewing gum to hold it upright and the old photograph had a bit of that green chewing gum showing behind the cherry.  The idea was there, the execution wasn’t and the photograph was extremely grainy taken with a consumer camera.

I’ve been wanting to redo this shoot every since.  Cherries are in season right now and very sweet and inexpensive, I thought before I gobbled down a bunch, why not attempt to do this shoot first.  It is starting to be a little funny to me, as it seems that everyone will know exactly what I eat as much of what comes out of my fridge,  gets passed to the camera first before entering my mouth.

The shoot was anything but fancy.  I set up a mirror on my kitchen counter and set a chair behind it. I placed a large cardboard on the chair and put a dark sweater on it for a quick background.  Some people make me laugh when they say they can’t take good pictures because they don’t have a fancy studio.  Sure, being set up in a studio setting would make things easier and obviously look more professional. But any photographer worth their salt will tell you that you can pull it off anywhere with a few clever work-arounds.

  • Quick tip:  Spritzing fruit with a bit of water may seem cliché, but oh, yummm.. how much more delicious and sinful do they look with all that liquid, glimmering and slowly sliding down the fruit.  I always have a small spritz bottle around.  I often bring it with me in my bag if I go into the woods, because guess what… looks great on flowers too!
  • Instead of chewing gum, using a paring knife; cut a very small bit off the bottom of the cherry. and voilà, a cherry that will stand on it’s own.
  • Don’t be afraid to set up in your kitchen, or your outdoor patio. You are the artist and you can make it work by using simple things around you to create simple yet elegant sets.

So, here are a few photos from this very quick shoot that I hope you’ll like. Little sinful, don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

Blow Job

Blow Job!

Probably not what you were looking for, but got you in here, didn’t it? Also, it is accurate! :-D

I always hear people saying that photography is easy. You press a button and you have art. Yeah, sometimes it is like that. Everything in the universe comes together at a specific moment and by some incredible luck, you are there and you click and it’s been captured. Most of the time though, luck comes from hard work and practice. When you take a picture of a beautiful tree just snapping a shot of the tree probably won’t give anyone a moment of ah!… what a wonderful tree. Good photography is often a mixture of luck, talent and lots of hard work. Especially hard work. Sometimes you can even physically hurt yourself, but more of that later.

Last evening, I was bored and felt like shooting something fun, so although I’ve done bubbles before, I thought I’d do them again.  I remember the last time I did some that they are not easy to shoot. There are all kinds of problems that arise since you can’t simply set your camera on a tripod as you never know exactly how big the bubble you make will  be, so having an extra pair of hands is helpful because otherwise, you have to handle the camera and do your bubbles and move lights on your own.

I started off with just a black background, my lights to my right and my camera handheld.  To do this properly, I think you need lots of good light, so you can lower your ISO and  stop-down your f-stop to have more in sharp focus.  Doing this in the evening, indoors,  without strong studio lights was not my best option and I had to add ceiling lights which is the bright arc of lightness you are seeing in most of the images below.

Shooting bubbles is a trial and error process and quite challenging; doubly so, if you are doing it by yourself.  Trying to blow bubbles, while keeping your camera safe and to the side and then as soon as you get one, bring the camera back to your eye and get focus before it bursts is tricky.

I kept moving my bubbles higher and moving my lights around trying to get those very elusive colors that slide down the bubble as the soap and water separates. Here is where the juggle comes in.  Move camera to left breast, plunge hand-made bubble maker into soapy water, attempt bubble creation. Blow too hard — Ploof! gone. Missed it. Repeat. Blow slower now, oh, not enough, the bubble won’t go. Wash, rinse repeat until finally, you get that  bubble, Now quickly bring your camera to your eye, and focus on the top of the bubble where the colors are while at the same time,  with right foot, pull the lights to the direction you think will bring the colors boldly forward. Sometimes, 1 in 10 bubble attempts work. But then, sometimes 4 in a row.

It was all very fun until I had to cut short my shoot, as moving the lights back and forth with my feet and pushing down on the center of the tripod, I caused a little accident. The tripod legs are metal, but the contraption that keeps them together, is plastic and it cracked and down slammed my lights and cut two toes with them.  Nothing very tragic, but kind of bloody.  It bled quite a bit so was hard to see actually where I was cut; everytime I tried to see, the blood was obscuring my view.  Finally I washed them and just covered them with lots of tissue paper and it finally stopped bleeding.  I’m fine. The blood made it seem worse than it really was, but I have 2 little plasters and not really any pain.  None of this would have happened had I been wearing something on my feet, but the warm weather brings out the bohemian in me and I love being bare-foot.

So, not that many photos and you will find that  they are quite similar. One of them has a polar-coordinates filter set on it just to break up the monotony of having all the images so alike.  Another is a close-up of the bright, and beautiful swirling colors.  I hope you like them.

  • Tip 1:  Thinking of doing this? Get a helping hand. Even a child would be a great assistant and would probably love it.
  • Tip 2:  I found that if you used something like a lens cap, flipped with some soapy water all around the rim, that blowing a bubble in it would be more successful that simply blowing on a plate or on something dry and it also kept your bubble (although different sizes) at a reasonable distance so you had a better chance getting good focus.

Questions or comments? Don’t be shy; that’s what the little box down there is for! ;-)

 

star fruit blog featured image

Are you Sirius? Not quite!

Today I took pictures of a starfruit, hence the not quite Sirius title. You know I’ve been thinking about taking pictures of one for awhile yet had not even ever tasted one before today. I had heard many great things about this celestial impersonator, about how it was a super fruit and good for your health and that it tasted great to boot!  Sweet and tangy they said. Hmm… I must have tried the moonfruit as its flavor didn’t shine nearly as strongly as I had hoped. It was mild and a bit crunchy but far from the punch of flavor I was expecting To me, it was more like a mild pear with a hint of lemon, but not quite.

No loss though, as it was to be my victim for today’s shoot. I struggled a bit with it a bit, perhaps simply because its flavor didn’t inspire me.

I started off doing shots of the ends; both the pointy star end and then the end with the stem. Tried them on a white background, then a bluish black one and then finally took the plunge with the knife through the star’s heart and got to the pretty star shape.  The sides of the fruit are nothing special and I think I could have done a decent shot if I had more of them and created something that was abstract and would fill the frame.

What I didn’t want to end up doing a cliché shot of the star shape dangling on the edge of a glass of something refreshing, but that is mostly what I ended up doing.  I thought using blue Curaçao liqueur would look nice with the golden hues but didn’t have any so simply used a bit of blue food coloring which amazingly turned out to be pretty much the same color.  I did play around with the colors in post-processing, attempting to bring something a little original to the plate, or the glass if you prefer. ;-)

  • Photo Tip:  Sometimes when you are doing a shoot, you may get frustrated and start to  feel uninspired. Try playing  around with perspective;  change your background; move up, then down and take your photos from different angles. Move your object to different positions. Move your light and look for some appealing texture.  Even though you are indoors, try a zoom lens.   Zoom lenses are not only for capturing birds and scenes that are far away;  back up and then zoom in really close. If after several attempts, you still find no inspiration, play around during your post-processing and change colors, add vignettes and just allow yourself to be creative without worrying about the final outcome.  No.1, you ‘ll have fun  and no. 2, you’ll learn something new that will stay affixed in your brain for a future date.

So here are the fruits of my labor, literally!

Have a question or a comment? Please don’t be shy. I love to answer questions and love comments even more.

Stay tuned for more shoots in the near future. :-)

Maggie

featured blog post Pomegranate

When life gives you lemons…

 

You know what they say. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Although this is the long weekend for Victoria day and is usually the weekend that gardeners get out and start planting their annuals, the weather this year just has not been co-operating. We’ve had highs with no rain and then cold. Night before last there was snow. Yes SNOW! I look out and see only brown and grey and the beginnings of tulips, but no buds as of yet. I’ve been itching to do some photography but have really not been inspired to go out. So, I decided to do what I did last week, raid the fridge and shoot from inside.

At first I wanted to shoot some starfruit, but decided to keep that for another day and do the pomegranates. They are in season now and are around for such a short amount of time. I love them because their skin is as tough as leather and sometimes even have battle scars which makes their interior surprise of delicate ruby jewels all the more wonderful.  Like a tattered and worn old book which contains a wonderful story, the pomegranate offers so much more than its exterior could ever hint at.

Okay, enough of me waxing poetically and on to my shoot.  It was late morning and although almost noon, I wanted to do the shoot and get it out of my system. I sometimes get antsy to do things that are creative and can get really moody if I don’t. Some will tell you I’m moody all the time, but that’s just because I need to be creative all the time.

At first I took some photos with the starfruit and some strawberries and green apples, but decided to concentrate mostly on the pomegranates.  I decided to try and get that feeling of an old master’s oil painting where the tones are dark and the fruit looks luscious and sinful. I tried different cloths and even an old wooden tray that used to belong to my mom. I didn’t want anything bright or modern looking.

  • A good tip for people who like to do still life photography but don’t have a lot of backdrops is to ask either a decorator or a store where you can buy custom made drapes etc., if you can get the drapery fabric samples that are discontinued. They come attached to a hanger and are bolted on. Sometimes you can just unscrew those or you may have to cut them off with scissors but it is not difficult to do. I have mine in an old filing cabinet and when I need something, I just look through them for the appropriate colors and style. They are not big, (perhaps 3 feet by 4 feet) so don’t take a lot of space. Obviously not intended for backdrops for portraits but great for small still life photography.

The shoot wasn’t long, perhaps 30 minutes including making backdrop changes, so many of the photos are similar in style. To view them, simply click on the thumbnails below.

Have questions or comments? Don’t be shy, I love questions and comments even more!

:-)

Maggie

 

Featured Mushroom Photo

A shroomy fun shoot!

Okay, the mushrooms I took pictures of yesterday were not really shrooms, but magical in their own way. To me, Enoki mushrooms are so pretty and graceful, the ballerinas of the mushroom world. I’ve seen photos of them before, but they all seem just to be photographed as the ingredients you top off your egg-drop soup with and not the elegant creature they are.

I first surrounded a small bunch with stones to give it that earthy natural feeling and  wanted the glow of the light from behind to light through them as they are quite delicate and almost ethereal. I can’t help finding that they look like some underwater sea-creature or a small bouquet of flowers that are sensual and divine.

I then played around with white background to get a completely different feel to the final image.  With the white, I think they are looking more exotic and foreign and our focus is taken away from their sensuality to the strangeness of their forms, the texture and the very slight color.

All in all a fun shoot and one to take away the blues of how dull, grey and brown everything outside seems to be. It’s raining today, so hopefully in a few days, we’ll finally see the first signs of green growth this spring and I’ll feel a bit more excited about getting out and taking pictures.

To see some of the outtakes of this shoot, click on the thumbnails below.  Hope you enjoy them, and feel free to leave a comment;  I love comments! :-)