The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Posts tagged “Still Life

Hot Cocoa

It’s frigid outside. Time for a nice cozy mug of hot cocoa.

cocoamug


Rings and Sparkles

A few months back, I saw a post on ring shots, and I decided I wanted to try something similar to some of the shots. I wasn’t a big fan of the sparklers or fried chicken, but the glittery stuff looked kind of cool. Thus inspired, I took a couple of rings, a mirror, a flashlight, and some sparkly stuff I had around the house, then got out the macro and started experimenting. Obviously, my rose ring is a cheap adjustable, but I thought it would be fun just for the experiment.

rosering

amethystring


Argus C3

I was looking for a 35mm camera from the 40s or 50s for my collection when I found this one at an estate sale. A little worn and dusty, but he’s cute. This is an Argus C3 made in Michigan either before or after WWII. Eventually, I’d like to do more research on this camera, but for now I’ve just cleaned and photographed it. Poor thing was pretty dirty. I did quite a bit of Photoshop work on the camera because of the dust even though I cleaned it a lot before shooting. For more information about Argus cameras, visit http://argusinfo.net

ArgusSideViewArgusFrontDials

 

Next Time: More Table Top or Nature

Maybe you can tell, I’m pretty rusty with the still life/table top right now. Due to other commitments, I shot very little last fall and winter. Right now, I think maybe getting back to more of the basics would be good, so I might do some objects on white. Otherwise, we’ll see what Spring brings.


Club Shoot Archive

Here are a couple of archive photos from January’s photo club table top night. I brought my own light source and reflectors as well as some subject matter, but it is kind of a free for all, so I ended up photographing mostly items the other members brought. Mine ended up being mostly floral items and a vintage green glass dish.

YellowFlowerInGreenDish

PinkScarf

Next Time: Sand Dunes

I went to Michigan and checked out a National Lakeshore area.


Turquoise Mug and Books

Spring is starting to show up, but it’s not quite ready yet. I posted a different photograph of this mug awhile back, but I just didn’t think I did my favorite mug justice. I love this one. It is a nice color, large, heavy, holds heat, and was rather unfortunately chipped (no, you can’t see it in the photo – Photoshop). Because of the last attribute, I will have to give it up someday. So I’m kind of pre-memorializing it. I’ll admit that’s weird – especially since the mug is much more likely to be found on my grey laminate desk next to an LCD monitor than on a nice wooden surface with an old musty book of fiction. But this blog is more about photography as art than photography as a true historical record, so I’m taking artistic license. Anyway, here is the new, better photo of my favorite mug:

TurquoiseMugAndBooks

Next Time: Spring Flowers

Some of them just got here today, more are coming.


Spring Cup of Tea

Spring is playing hide and seek with us. One day, it looks like Spring is finally here! . . . then we get four inches of snow again. Unfortunately, that means no nature photos yet. So I turned to one of my favorite indoor subjects – mugs. This little mug/teacup/coffee cup is one I’ve had for a long time. Since it is rather old, I decided to go with a vintage theme and photograph it on a table from the 1970s with the matching china cabinet behind.

SpringTeacup TeacupAndCannister

I also shot it with a tea canister that includes many of the same colors. However, I think I like the photo of the teacup by itself better.

Next Time: More Mugs or Finally The Great Outdoors


Valentine Flowers

A bit of a late Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. This is the time of year I really start wanting it to be Spring. It is also the time of year you can easily purchase a floral bouquet. Last week, I purchased a single rose and some “pompoms” at a local supermarket. I’m pretty sure “pompom” is just florist for big showy mum. Anyway, I set up the light and some backgrounds and pulled out the macro lens.

This was my pinkish rose. Lovely while she lasted.

BacklitRose

Twirly in the center and a beautiful hue.

ECURose

I stuck one of my old rings in it in honor of Valentine’s Day. There is nothing like a macro lens to show you how cheep your costume jewelry is. I spent some time retouching this one, and I’m about to swear I will never shoot it again. Nonetheless, it does look kind of romantic.

RingInRose

A little less seasonal, here is the “pompom”. This was more fun with the macro lens than the rose. I loved the long, spiky petals in the center.

LgPurpleMum

Kind of off topic, but I wanted to say I know this can be a tough day for single people. Personally, I think our culture is a little overboard when it comes to celebrating romantic love. There are other kinds of love and relationships in most people’s lives that are worth remembering and celebrating on this day. So if you can this weekend, take a few minutes to call or message a friend or relative and let them know you love them. And remember, the chocolate goes on sale tomorrow.

 

 


More Nail Polish Necklaces

I’ve decided to photograph some more of my old craft project necklaces and list them for sale on Etsy. At first, I shot them with the 500 watt bulb and no diffusion, but I decided that was a bit harsh for most of them. I’ve kept one shot from that shoot.

PinkGlitterSquare

After looking around a bit to see how others photographed similar necklaces for sale. I decided to use window light, reflectors, and the scrim as I felt I needed it. I also changed the backgrounds.

DarkPurpleAndGlitterCrackle

GreenAndGlitterCrackle

GreenGlitterSquare

As before, very little retouch was done on these for truth in advertising.

And yes, the shameless commerce division (as they say on Car Talk): https://www.etsy.com/shop/NecklaceArtAndCraft?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Next Time: Snow or Valentine’s Day


Back to Still Life – Mini Trees and Mirror Lake

I was going for something that looked like an imaginary world with this. The idea had been bouncing around in my head for several months. Fortunately, the Christmas season intervened and the right tree props became available. The snow is quilt batting, the mirror is from the dollar store, and the “rocks” are flat marbles for flower arranging with nail polish painted on the bottom (like the necklaces I did last year). I decided to put a silver-grey poster board behind it all fearing white would be too blank. It’s supposed to look unreal/otherworldly anyway. In post, I did some cloning on the “rocks”, cleaned up the mirror, fussed with the color, and added some glow filter.

SingleTreeLS

TwoTreesReflection

Next Time: More Still Life

I haven’t exactly decided what it’s going to be yet. Maybe more like this or maybe more mugs.


Returning Indoors: Mugs

It’s cold outside, so I’ve turned my attention back to indoor photography. Mugs were a subject I’ve been thinking to shoot again, so I chose a couple and began dusting off my tabletop skills.

This is a recent mug I bought for my father after I knocked another mug out of the cupboard on top of his old one and cracked it badly on the rim. Incase you think me extra clumsy, I was not the only person in the household to make that blunder. Someone else did it to my mug. Anyway, I owed Dad a new mug. It is sturdy and manly and not made in China, so he is satisfied.

DadMugMorning

This is my mug. The very same one that was chipped just as I chipped my father’s former mug. I can’t fix it in real life, but I can Photoshop the chip. For this shot, I decided to leave the teabag in and use the base of an old lamp and a book for props. I am much more likely to blog or otherwise work on the computer while drinking tea than I would be to read a book, but the old book looks way better in a photo than my computer would.

MyMugAndTea

Next Time: Christmas

I’ll be photographing decorations or some other Christmas related items in honor of the season.


Black on Black Part 1: Shoe Toes

I need to work on my black on black, so for some silly reason, I started with a tough subject: patent leather shoes with fabric bows and gold ornaments. The basic strategy is to use black velvet for a background, get the subject as far from the background as possible, and set the subject on a smaller elevated surface so you can keep as much light as possible off the black velvet. Not always easy.

First, I tried a more side on view. I’m pretty happy with the lighting (though I did touch-up in Photoshop). The angle, however, was not the best.

sideBlackonBlack

I had a little more trouble lighting the 3/4 view, but overall, I like it better.

3-quarterBlackonBlack

Next Time: Archive or Black on Black


Measurement

Measurement is a vital part of our lives. Everything that is built requires some kind of measuring to make sure it goes together right.

tapemeasurer

 

If you ever tried to bake bread or a cake without measuring how much of each ingredient you put in the batter, it probably wouldn’t turn out very well.

measuringspoons

 

drymeasure

 

Yes it is important, but let’s not be absurd. Your morning “cup” of orange juice doesn’t have to be exactly eight ounces. Ten or twelve will be OK.

liquidmeasure

 

Next Time: Nature or Portrait

 

 


Christmas Colors

Everybody knows the old traditional Christmas colors: red and green. But increasingly, stores are offering decor in any color you fancy. Although I prefer the traditional, I followed the counter-culture this year and included a little pink in my decorating pallet. This was more of a “Man, where am I gonna store those pink vases?” moment than a brash throwing off of tradition. I bought some silver and white artificial flowers to accommodate my storage plans. While I was at it, I decided I may as well leave out this darling beaded angel. She’s probably a craft made by some housewife decades ago. I found her in a small town thriftshop a few years back and thought she was pretty.
pinkandsilverangel
Another slightly more traditional approach is the cream and gold color scheme. It’s rich and warm, but not very colorful. I’m in favor of having a little of it here and there.
goldangel
So yes, I favor the traditional. Christmas comes at a dark, bleak, and often snowy time of the year in my corner of the world. Red is warm and bright, while green reminds us of life and vegetation. It’s what we need right now. Warmth, brightness, life, and beauty.
redandgreen

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Next Time: 2012 Year in Review


Real Mug Shots, Literally

I finally finished my mug shots this week (that’s photos of mugs, not criminals). Confession: I cheated. This is obviously a teacup, but it’s cute. I wanted to try a white on white sort of shot, and this tells me I had better give myself some time when I do it again in January.

strawberryteacup

This is my “puppy mug” from my childhood. It’s an English “beaker” as I’ve heard mugs called on the britcoms. Back in the day, my mom let my sister and I each pick out a secondhand mug as our own. I had a thing for spaniels at that time, so this was an easy choice. Digging into the mug’s national origin, I chose to accent it with an old Shakespeare book and some shortbread cookies. I had the strongest visualization for this shot.

puppymug

Lastly, I wanted to do something with hot cocoa and a ’70s vibe. My mother kindly let me borrow this wonderful tall old mug she has. It went well with the cocoa and the tall spoon, but I confess the cookies were an afterthought. Your order at the cafe is ready.

hotchocolate

I tried out a method for adding steam in Photoshop. It’s something I’ve been playing with recently. Let me know what you think.

Next Time: Thoughts on Christmas and Color

I’ve seen pink trees, overheard talk of blue trees, and strolled down aisle after aisle filled with ornaments of non-traditional colors. Yet I still prefer the traditional.


Marbles

When my sister and I were little, we played with a toy called Marble Works. It was basically a bunch of curvy ramps and various other parts you built a structure with and watched your marbles twirl around in. Strange as it may seem, we could spend hours building these mazes and watching our marbles navigate them. Of course, this was only for normal sized marbles. The large “shooter” kind did not fit through the holes.

Recently, I dug my marbles out of hiding and put them in a glass jar on my dresser. Most of the ones I still have came from a booth at a historical reenactment. My favorite, however, I found in the dirt at my grandparent’s home. No one is sure how it got there.

 

Next Time: Nature or Old Camera

Yes, those are probably the two most common subjects on this blog. If I do an old camera, it will be a movie camera this time.


Small, Shiny Misc.

Random small shiny objets from around the house. The doll shoes were actually a bad idea. They were rather scratched and required considerable retouching.


Lock and Key

Why do we have locks and keys?

To keep things safe and secure. But not just that. To hide our secrets.

For all of us, there are private things – secrets hidden in our hearts, sometimes manifest in objects, written down or not. Some great, some small, most trivial in the large world. Important to us.

Next Time: More Spring nature shots


The View-Master Personal Stereo Camera

Between the holidays, my father and I went to visit my grandma and help my uncle with some repairs on her home. My uncle frequents auctions, and sometimes, he buys a box of things for one item on top. Occasionally, he gets an old camera hidden in the box. One evening, he presented two of such cameras to my father as candidates for induction into The Camera Collection. (For those of you who frequent my blog, most of the cameras I photograph belong to my father. He has an old habit of not getting rid of cameras and picking up interesting specimens.) One look at the case told us this camera was in.

 

Meet Freddie. He’s an early 1950’s Stereo Camera used to photograph slides for the View-Master. (You know, the little red-orange devices you had as a kid?) Isn’t he handsome?

 

This is the exposure guide. Look familiar, my fellow former cinema and photo students? Yep, a fancy Sunny 16 guide.

Although it may seem primitive at first, closer examination reveals this camera as a mechanical marvel. You can find more information and a manual here: http://www.vmresource.com/manuals/index.html

 

 


Christmas Ornaments

For years, my family did the ornament every year thing. My sister and I would each get a new one from our parents. Sometimes, our extended family would also give us ornaments. We could get up to three in one year. Needless to say, our tree is full. We also collected a bunch of large, previously enjoyed beaded satin balls. These used to hang from the diningroom light fixture, but now we have cats. The satin balls would just be too tempting. One still resides in my room, where I can close the door at night.

I didn’t get to photograph our ornaments  this week, but I would like to share this one old photograph from my archive. It’s from four years ago.

Wherever you go and whatever you do in the next week or two, remember that love is an important part of Christmas. It’s the perfect time to show others how much you care about them, and not just with gifts. With actions and words. I hope you all have a merry Christmas, and may this be a season of peace on earth and goodwill toward others for all of us.

 

Next Week: Archive or Retrospective

2011 is my first full year as a blogger, and next week’s post will mark the end of Post-a-week 2011, a challenge I’m on track to complete successfully. Due to the holiday, I may post later in the week, but I will post. It would be a shame to come so close and fail in the last week. I’d like to take a photographic look back at the year 2011, maybe including some photos I didn’t post earlier. Otherwise, I will at least come up with something archive to post.


Old Controls

I thought about doing all sorts of controls and switches, but then I thought most people know what those look like. There’s little novelty about the common place. So I went for old controls. Most of these are located in my father’s side of the basement. He was quite the audio nerd back in the day, so the first thing I found was an old stereo.

 

Next was this old dehumidifier, which I made slightly greenish for a 70’s look. The device itself still worked up through at least last year, but I think it gave up the ghost recently.

 

Next Week: Archive or Seasonal

Hopefully, I’ll have time to shoot a new post. This one will be on Christmas decorations. If not, be prepared for a round of random archive photos.

 

 

 


Film

A while back, I was sorting out some stuff and happened to pick up an old box of prints and negatives from highschool when I still shot with my old Minolta AF-C (https://mycameramyfriend.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/my-first-camera/). They are weighty boxes that smell of the emulsion stored within.

Although I shoot digital these days, film conjures up strong emotions in me. I took several film photography courses, and, if that wasn’t enough, I was also a film student. The smell of emulsion takes me back to learning to process black and white film, making prints in the darkroom, and learning to load and shoot with different kinds of cameras. Sometimes I can almost feel the magazines as if I were about to turn off the lights and load them. I’m a sentimental creature, sometimes. I suppose that’s why I have a 16mm reel that I got as a prize for the department handbook quiz hanging on my wall with a short end of black and white reversal film on it. The green antihalation coating goes with my decor.

Smell is said to be one of the strongest memory triggers. What smells bring back memories for you?

Next Week: Outdoor Portrait or Classic Camera

If the weather and people’s schedules cooperate, I’m adding some portraiture to the blog. If not, it’ll be the camera.


Jewelry: What is it to You?

Sometimes, jewelry is symbolic of a belief, a hobby, a birth month, or a relationship. It is also given to commemorate special occasions. Here are a few pieces and the stories they tell and bring to mind.

This old ring came to rest in my sister’s jewelry box after my mother found it in an older jewelry box she purchased at a thrift store. It is quite aged and makes me think of the passage of time and the marks it can leave. However, the ring remains decorative and pleasing. From a normal distance, you would never notice how scarred it is. I wonder who owned it before, how she got it, and what it ment to her.

My Aunt sent me this dragonfly necklace for my birthday during my sophomore year of college. I thought it was darling and proceeded to wear it the very next day – to my splicing test. Ah, filmschool rites of passage.

This last one may be the first piece of jewelry I ever owned, or at least I’ve had it as long as I can remember. I believe it was given to me for my baby dedication. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the idea, baby dedication is common in many evangelical Christian churches. Essentially, the parents bring their baby up to the front of the church and promise to do their best raising him/her. The pastor usually reminds the church they are to support the family and prays that God will bless the child. Pretty simple and short. Usually, this happens one baby at a time when the baby is a few weeks old. I recently found a piece of paper that informed me mine was not so. Apparently, I was dedicated on Easter with several other babies. I guess that explains the pretty flower in the center of my necklace?

Do you have any special jewelry that reminds you of an important event, concept, or time in your life?

Next Week: Shoes

Yes, I did just randomly decide on that. I want to do something different, and shoes have been on my mind for other reasons.


Time

I remember the way I thought about time as a child. OK, vaguely, and I’m not that old, but it was different. When I was eight or younger, five minutes was a long time, not to mention an hour. And a year? Are we talking an eternity? I was aware of time: when I had to go to bed, when my father came home, and that kind of thing. However, I was much more free from time. I didn’t have responsibility and obligations. I didn’t have to make a schedule, nor did I have much of one to keep. My first watch did more to make me feel “grown up” than anything else.

 

 

 

 

But I grew up. Slowly, the hours and years got shorter. I had things to do and often felt like I didn’t have enough time to do them in, especially in college.

 

 

 

I think for most people, getting up on Monday morning becomes more difficult the highschool years. Unless you are a morning person, this is your friend:

 

 

The snooze button is actually the enemy.

 

Right now, time is both fast and slow for me. The minutes, hours, and days go by, but I’m still waiting on things to happen in my life. Waiting, and plotting to speed up the process.

 

Next Week: most likely, more fireworks

 

 


Indoor Abstracts

Last week, the weather was poor and I was in an odd mood. I felt inspirationally dry, so I decided to play a game, resulting in some less serious photographs. The rules of my game were as follows: all images were to be shot as if in monochrome, toning/split toning in Lightroom would later be used to enhance the feel of the image, photographs were to be of everyday objects in one room, objects should preferably not be easily recognizable in the final shot, normal object orientation was to be seen as a barrier to overcome.

This was the first object to grab my attention. The soft, round shapes and contrasting materials made me think of three things: a flower, ice cream in a cup, or some sort of mod-style architectural detail.

desk lamp

 
 
Next, there was this open end of an old clear glass vase that for some odd reason I saw as a horizontal with limited depth of field. I don’t know why. Anyway, the point of this exercise was to do what I felt like doing randomly. So I gave it a try.
 
 

 

For the third image, I went a bit more standard than the rules. The detail on my new lamp provided a symmetrical heart shape with some additional ornamentation. I found it hard to resist.

Lastly, I wondered about the bottom side of vases. I’ve photographed lots of them, but always right side up. This particular example had a flower shape on the bottom. The unrefined and scared glass bottom coupled with a purple tone reminded me of the photographs of uncut amethyst in science books.

I couldn’t do this every week. For one thing, it wouldn’t be adequate practice and skill building. It’s a break. A chance to let loose and do something different for once just as a creative exercise.

Next Week: Outdoors or First Camera

Depending on the weather, I’ll either shoot more of the natural world or give you a look at the first camera I learned to use.