Thursday, March 23, 2017


Standing there at the end of a stress period, trying to have some breath to myself. Yet some more ideas and work is waiting for me to go through and test. Anyway, I've been working in the past weeks on March project, which is about shooting geometric concepts for fruit, fish or birds. I had to neglect some ideas for now, like working with fish skulls as it proved harder to get than I thought! Thus, I've been satisfying myself with pears and feathers so far!


From the very beginning I was looking for some lines. And since regular lines might seem a bit boring, I've decided to look for curvy lines, and naturally my thought lead me to use pears! I've tried many settings and the start was pretty simple.

Linear Pear
Canon EF 100mm macro, f/16, 100-1sec, ISO100.

It seems in the beginning I was affected a bit with my previous work about tessellations, and fitting parts together. This is exactly what I prepared with 3 pears putting them side to side as in Linear Pear. Using f/16 to ensure enough depth drove consequently to use two 580EXII speedlites at full power. My preferred method in lighting had been mostly bouncing the light, thus I needed a free hand (and to rest my back a bit!), thus I've used the lateral arm over my tripod to hang the camera pointing down directly; this also assured that the camera is perfectly (almost) at 90o down. While putting the camera on timer, I've held a white cardboard over the set to bounce the flash from. I still needed to add some Fill Light when processing the RAW file and did some cropping as well. Can't say though I like it a lot, specially with curves not being, well, curvy! But I've tried.

Left Hand
Canon EF 50mm+B+W 920 IR, f/22,
200-1sec, ISO100.
After the first experiment in a while a bit of philosophy got twirling in, and I was back to the set and with pears again (but I could have used any fruit really). We can say the idea was about casting different opinions than the others, or simply being a left-handed person in a right-handed world. So, I needed to cast shadows in different directions and with a bit of precision. Using speedlites simply like that did not work of course and only two totally different snoots are available with different shapes. It was a time to improvise, and there is indeed an old method that I've tried before, back in time when I was a beginner with speedlites (and had only one). This idea requires: Pringles!
Pringles Snoots!
This is what I call a "light with flavor."
I'm glad that I've created these right now, as I come to think about it, there are a number of uses that might prove beneficial in the near future! The old method I've done this was by cutting the plastic lid to place the flash head, and remove the metallic bottom of the canister. However, I think this method was useless and it would be better to cut open the bottom and the place the head there, while using the plastic cover as a diffuser of some sort. We can add, for example, a white piece of paper to the back of this cover to increase the diffusion, or maybe add a black material or paper with a tiny hole to drastically decrease the radial dispersion of the outgoing light. There is quite a potential for this simple improvised tool, I think. However, I had some problems fitting the 580EXII heads and I had to tear some sides to enable the circular cross area to expand in an oval curvature.
Back now to Left Hand, I've decided to use my converted EOS 7D and my B+W 920 infrared filter to add a bit of mystery and move away from the traditional. The snoots worked fine, despite some gray areas in between the pears but I don't think it is disadvantage. Now, whether this shot is geometric in its means or not, this is something left to the critique to decide.

Canon EF 100mm macro + UV 403 + IR-Cut, f/22, 1sec, ISO100.

Then, there was a visit back to the first idea of using the negative space but by other means. Instead of using 3 pears, I've used 2 only placed side to side within some distance. To add to the atmosphere, I've used UV-pass filter (B+W 403) and adding Tiffen's IR-Cut filter on top (B+W's filter leaks a major band of IR at 700nm), and this of course needed great flash power, and I ended up using all my 3 speedlites, bouncing them off a white board placed on the top of the set. It seems with Zwischen I've become closer to the main idea of creating a negative space but there was something about the direction of the curves that somehow probably made it easily obvious for the viewer to know that there is a space between two objects; regardless of their recognition. It occurred to me that I might as well rotate the image; a common trick I usually tend to use to make an interesting outcome out of a regular/boring image. Quite useful for abstracts.

Zwischen II

It seems, to me at least, that rotating the image is the right choice when this image is to be displayed. I've also swabbed the Red and Blue channels in Zwischen II. Now in between the Red version and the Blue version, there is also a change of moods and feelings when looking at this. I think the Red version sparks with mystery, while the Blue version points to a calm atmosphere. This is my own sensing about it though and I can't generalize these feelings. Adding to that, I've start to develop my own ideology or chain of thoughts and style if I can call it so, but I will put these thoughts down in the Finale.

I moved then to work with feathers for a short while and I have to say it was sort of hard to work with them and create something geometric (despite the fact that they are linear in nature!), but I was aiming for something more than some macro shots like before. It was hard to think of something, but first thing to occur to my mind was order. I tried to arrange the feathers in sets on play-doh but didn't work in a good way, thus I've moved to using paper clips to hold the feathers stems firmly. Moving in between ideas, I've come out with shots, and some of them were discarded for being washed-out and over-exposed, and some few good ones needed great cropping.

Well, I won't go through the details of these shots, but all were taken with change of angles and such (and even after cropping, some image rotation was involved). Now, the critical "shot" was kept till the end. Despite using f/22, there was still some gaps in the depth of field and there was a call for a focus stack. However, I was so lazy to put the rail head, thus I relied on moving the focal plane manually by the lens back and forth.

Green Red

The final result, Green Red, suffered some errors nevertheless. Though might not be quite visible in this smaller version but it definitely is in the original size. The major setback is the fact that there are gaps in the stack and some areas remained blurred after the merge of these 3 shots. There was also a portion of a yellow feather which I was not paying attention to, which made quite a disturbance in the scene in the middle (between first red and second green feathers, from left). Worked it out with Healing Brush and Cloning but it doesn't seem quite right when viewed in the original. Anyway, it was an experiment to gain experience and I don't think this image would be any good for stock sites or for expos. If I get the chance to re-do it, I might do so with a bit of careful picking and placements with those feathers, with respect to their colors.
Finally, I've worked out some shots with maple (or vine?) leaves but I'll keep that for another post, as I didn't process much of these images and I still need to shoot further!


Coming to this project, March's project that is, I think I'm starting to become more conscious on how to work with ideas. This came to me as I was inspecting Zwischen all over again, and realized that working with negative space (or trying to at least) seems to be an unconscious reflect on a feminine body (pardon a single man's thought). However, if we change or switch the mindset to "conscious" instead of "unconscious" we might happen to arrive at some methodology to work in the future with still life and abstract projects, as in some kind of a translation machine for feelings into objects, and probably not necessarily objects of related topic. Sounds something psychologic in nature, but it is sparking ideas already.
Meanwhile, I'm sitting here waiting for summer with its scorching heat to come over and destroy the peace of mind (momentary peace of mind) that was there. Traveling is indeed a dream with one full year without any travel but I'm not sure yet what will happen within this house, and where I'm supposed to head to. Stress is stacking. All along, I'm keeping my ears amused by the voice of Sabah Fakhri and try to draw inspiration as much as possible from there… I was supposed to work with other projects with conlangs, wasn't I?

Stock photography by Taher AlShemaly at Alamy

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