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Sunday, 15 September 2013
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Friday, 30 March 2012
I'm very interested in photographing objects that bend and distort light by themselves. I noticed when I was drinking a bottle of coke that the patterns in the plastic cast interesting shadows so these pictures are the result of a fun afternoon playing with the idea. The setup was really simple, I took a few plastic coke bottles, filled them with water (to get a stronger refraction of the light), then used a desklamp as the light source and a piece of paper as the background. I used a tripod for stability with the long exposure times and in most cases used a small amount of underexposure to exaggerate the shadows.
For some reason these abstract views seem kind of sci-fi to me. They look like strange chrome or glass objects that to me seem a little alien.
Coke bottle abstract
I really had a lot of fun with this....
Coke bottle abstract 2
I'm going to keep my eye out for more interestingly textured plastic bottles...
Coke bottle abstract 3
Sunday, 26 June 2011
Sunday, 20 March 2011
I did cross a line though (actually it was a wall) and took a chance that no-one would spot me hopping over the knee-high wall into the complex of buildings which were obviously disused. I was spotted though, and Mr Houston himself showed up to ask me what I was up to. I felt pretty bad about trespassing, and after I explained what I was doing he seemed OK with it and said I could carry on. Still, it taught me a lesson that I've read in a lot of photography texts - always get permission. If Mr Houston had been less of a nice guy I could have landed in trouble. So from now on there will be no wall hopping for me....
Once we started chatting I asked Mr Houston what these buildings had been used for. Apparently this was a family business, which started as a piggery before becoming a haulage and engineering firm. The buildings I was photographing were mainly used as storage. The collapsed building to the right of the first photograph here was the family home in which all the 'and sons' (including the Mr Houston I met) were born and raised.
It led me to thinking, that the derelict old buildings I'd spotted from the road as a cool photo-op were actually an important part of someone's history. That even industrial buildings can have deep personal connections, and that in barging in with my camera I was intruding on more than just a piece of private property. It highlighted the need to approach each subject respectfully (as well as lawfully).
So an interesting lesson was learned through todays photo adventures, not just about the pictures themselves.
The atmosphere in the buildings was quite magical. I find it really intriguing to come across random items that show evidence of human occupation that have managed to outlive parts of the buildings themselves, like the remains here of what I assume was a mattress or bed of some kind.
Here a big porcelain sink appears to have a tree growing through it. All over the site was evidence of nature taking back the land.
There were no roofs on any of these buildings and it seemed really odd to see electrical sockets, and fuse boxes, sitting open to the elements.
It was a very atmospheric place. I'm glad I found it, and that it's owner was so understanding. It seems a shame that it's fallen into ruin now, but there's still something about the place that I think is rather beautiful.
Sunday, 23 January 2011
I'm still really intrigued by the idea of intentionally photographing buildings that aren't considered to be beautiful.
When I moved to Leven, one of the biggest downsides that I could see was the hulking giant of Methil Power Station, which sits on the shorefront and dominates over the beach at Leven (which is otherwise a very beautiful bit of beach). The longer I've lived here though the more my opinion of this building has changed. When I was running in the summer months it was the halfway point in my route, which left me with an odd feeling for it because it became a place I ran towards - a place that I struggled to reach and celebrated when I got there. It became a symbol of achievement. As a structure it's impossible to ignore. I've photographed it many times now and I now feel quite an affection for it. It's got character...but not for long. It's being dismantled and taken away piece by piece. I was surprised when I first realised that I felt sad about that....
So what of the future of the Leven skyline? Well change has already begun, with the opening of a wind turbine that sits right behind the site of Methil power station. It's a part of Scotland's commitment to renewable energy, it's a symbol in it's own right of things to come and hope for the future. A lot of people object to wind turbines for spoiling the landscape, but I think they're really rather beautiful. There's something so wonderfully elegant about it, depite its massive size it seems somehow delicate. I think that drawing some photographic comparisons between these two structures will defiantely form part of my submission for this module.
This final image is one I'm not too sure about. I would love some feedback on this if you feel like leaving a comment....In this picture I've taken just the reflected image of the wind turbine and rotated it make it look like the real deal. It has a ghostly misty quality that I liked. What I'm not sure about is the 'sky'which shows rocks and debris that were in the water. Initially I liked the idea that this turbine is a symbol of clean energy, and the sky appears to be full of debris, but now I'm wondering if its just confusing to look at. What do you think? Critical feedback is always very welcome!
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
The technical stuff:
This is Corrie's example setup that I replicated in my kitchen with an upturned chair.
An example of a droplet setup (see Corrie's guide for more...)
The drinks cans were to create big splatty droplets that would stir up the water a lot and these created some of the most interesting shapes and multi-drop pictures (see below).
The camera/lighting setup that gave me the best results was as follows: Camera was tripod mounted, I used my Nikon 105mm macro lens with VR off (since this can actually add camera shake when you're using a tripod), on manual focussing (more on this later). I used ISO 200, f10-18 depending on the light levels, and a shutter speed of 1/250 to sync with the flashgun. I used both the on camera flash and wirelessly commanded my SB600 from it. Both operated on rear-sync. I positioned the flashgun at 90 degrees to the lens to give strong side-lighting to highlight the shapes made by the splashing water.
Tricks I used:
Focussing was a major pain. The key point is to make sure the 'dripper' (whatever it may be) is securely fixed and therefore dripping into the same point each time, when using a dropper I found this was really hard because just squeezing the dropper bulb was enough to wiggle the dropper around by a mm or so and this caused a lot of variation in the impact site. For later experiments when I was using punctured drinks cans a lot of the water was running off along the bottom of the can and dripping elsewhere, and depending on the amount of water in the can and the speed of the stream it's direction changed by a huge amount. It was worth the pain though because some of the coolest pictures came from the giant drops that these big streams created. For a fixed drip site you can put a focussing aid into the bowl centered under the drip stream (I used a small fridge magnet) so that you can then easily focus on that point, remove it and then away you go. For the big dripper like the cans, whose drip streams constantly changed direction, you just have to look through and manually refocus on what little you can see of the stream as it flashes past whilst tracking with the tripod. This is a painful process and you're relying on luck more than anything.
One thing to consider is the background you use. With a tray you can put stuff in the bottom, like coloured card, which works really well and 'colours' the water. For my favourite pictures I used a blue cleaning cloth and tucked under and around the pyrex bowl I was using. The texture of the cloth comes through in some of the shots and gives an impression of waves (you can see this effect clearly in the 'vortex' under the single droplet at the top of this post).
I found this to be seriously addictive. What I love about this type of photography is that there is a massive amount of luck involved, so you never know what you're going to get when you look at that viewscreen. You can spend hours (or at least I can!) fiddling with all the messy details and taking hundreds and hundreds of shots because you're convinced that the next one is going to be awesome. What happens most often is that there's no water in the photograph at all, or there is and it's badly focussed. But that doesn't matter if you just believe...I can see how droplet photography can become an obsession and why people would fork out $500 for the electronics to chase that dream of the perfect drop.
Sunday, 24 October 2010
The lighting was the hardest part, and it took me a few hours before I started getting the sort of thing I was looking for. The rainbow reflections are created by diffuse light, and Steve fired his flash through a soft box. I ran into difficulty with this because my Nikon SB600 can't be triggered off-camera without being slaved to the on-camera flash. The full frontal flash from the on-camera totally kills the rainbow reflections, so I had to use the SB600 on camera and angled to bounce off a diffuser. The problem this caused was that my bubbles were only lit from one side. The next time I do this I might try to rig up some reflectors. In addition to this I had to figure out the right combination of flash power/underexposure/aperture to get vibrant colours. It was frustrating because I could see it through the lens, I just couldn't capture it!
In the end I found a combination that worked with the setup. I blew hundreds of bubbles and had a whale of a time. I finally figured out the the most exciting bubble colour combinations come just when the bubble is getting ready to burst; the oil slides off the bubble surface into the liquid and then it pops. If you blow on the bubble with a straw it mixes the remaining oil with the black water and you get some gorgeous mixtures. The final image here was taken when there was virtually no oil left, just milliseconds before it popped.