Today felt unproductive even though I got some things done. Perhaps because I was doing things I didn’t really want to do?
It was a case of “plan A” falling apart this weekend.
I had hoped to capture a dramatic sky at sunrise on my morning walk but it was dull and void of interest, the light was flat and perhaps I was too. The recent spate of hot days have sapped my focus and the strong North winds make the outdoors unpleasant.
Then there are the fires nearby today. I can see and smell the smoke from my window and I’m hoping that it gets no closer. One was headed directly towards us but a wind change turned it away.
I decided that I would do some lighting experiments with my assistant Edwood. (By experiments, I mean mucking around to keep my mind off things…)
The lighting is basic. Manual flash powered down to 1/16 power with small diffuser, about arms length from the subject. Camera less than a hand’s span away. 1/60 sec shutter with apertures between f16 and f22. Edwood was posed on a post that let me light from beneath for some drama.
These small scale lighting set-ups can be scaled up and are a good way to learn the limits of equipment and to understand the quality and direction of light.
A work in progress…
This image is an element of a still life image I’m working on for university. I wanted to show a progression of change in photography with the introduction of digital imaging and social media. The large space above the main subjects is for some supporting information as part of an infographic that will be published in a few weeks.
The image was made using a light tent to reduce highlight blowouts and reflections. A single speedlight set to 1/16 power is on a stand, placed above the tent to provide the main light with some light bouncing off the tent walls. The flash and camera were on manual and the image was underexposed 1 stop to reduce detail in the black background and get a low key lighting effect.
At this point I have the lighting right, apart from the iPhone display. I had it switched on but it is a little darker than I would like. A slightly slower shutter speed should resolve this and save using a composite. What I really need to do is refine the composition. In this image the items are too close to one another and the size variance makes it challenging to place them well. There are also two limitations I can’t ignore. The background is a fixed width and there is not a lot of space to work with. Changing the order of appearance from left to right will disrupt the timeline. I also need to place each object on the same imaginary line to ensure they are all in focus due to the shallow depth-of-field from shooting wide open.
For the collectors out there the camera on the left is a Dixon Cadet 6x9cm that could make 8 images on a roll of 620 film. The roll sitting next to it is undeveloped. I have had this happen before. I used to get cameras given to me by older relatives and the last time I processed a film I found in one of them it contained what I think are images of Australian troops marching down the main street of a country town, probably taken shortly after the end of World War 2. That film had spent 50 years in the camera and this one may be older.
Processing it presents a problem. I gave my niece all my darkroom equipment although she recently mentioned wanting to give it back. I would still have to get the chemicals and then try to work out what the best approach is for developing a film that is so old. I don’t even know what ISO/ASA it is so this would be a stab in the dark. I doubt commercial processing is possible except by hand. Either way it seems a lot of effort to go to for a film that could be ruined. Then again if there is anything on it could be a time capsule.
I feel better now that I have admitted I have a problem though
So how did I end up being the guy that posts photographs of crescent wrenches? I think it comes down to opportunity and abundance.
The opportunity to get out a look at other things has been limited by weather and free time for exploration will be further curtailed as second semester begins but I will push the photography as a reward for study and see if that works as a motivator.
I also own more than one crescent wrench. I had reason to pull another one out of the shed and instead of putting both tools back I lazily left them laying around. Seeing them together prompted me to make some more images and experiment with lighting.
The lighting proved more challenging this time because the smaller wrench is in better condition and quite shiny, so lots more reflections and hot spots. I have a light tent and using that would have worked well but I opted for a small diffuser/reflector and played with softening the light source or bouncing light into the shadow areas.
Here are some images from the session straight from the camera.
There is some purpose to this repetition. That being an image in my head which requires several compositional elements to work. I have a redgum sleeper wall I could use as a background but I will be on the look out for something more industrial. Then there is the larger wrench which you are all too familiar with. What I need to find is someone with hands that have some real character to hold it. If you know someone, drop a line in the comments box…
I kind of see it as an homage to this image by Lewis Hine but cropped much closer to the hands and wrench. I want to focus on the anatomy as well at the tool, show the strain in the muscle and get all the textures. When all this comes together, I hope to have something special.