You may have noticed that I revisit the same subjects and scenes in my photography. It could be that I do that because I have limited access to new subjects and scenes. Or it could be that I both lazy and have limited vision.
But it occurs to me this morning that, though there may be a grain (or a bolder) of truth in in this, the real reason is that as I improve as a photographer, I keep wanting to go back and improve on the photos I have taken. Whether the improvements are visible or worth the time and effort, I can’t say. I’ll admit that photography for me is sometimes more about the experience and process than it is about the result. Talk about right brained. . . .
What I like about this “ordinary rose” is the texture in the catchlights in several of the drops of water. How did that happen? By accident, of course. In the process of experimenting with a honeycomb grid on a medium soft box, I discovered that the grid shows up like window panes in several of the focused drops. I like it even if you don’t.
I also like how I spent 10 minutes in Photoshop moving one of the drops because I thought the balance in the photo would be improved. I figure that the drop is less than 3mm in size. But in the macro world, that is pretty big. Which drop? I’m not telling. . . . It ends up being one of the “1000 unseen details.”
“Obverse” is coin talk for “front.” And this photo is where my Kennedy Half project started. Frankly, I got smarter about lighting the coin as I experimented over a two day period. But I’m posting this because I figured some would want to see the Kennedy side of the Kennedy Half. (Yesterday, as you may know, it was the reverse side of the coin.)
I didn’t photograph this with the little symbol under Kennedy’s neck in mind but you certainly can see it here. I can remember that when the coin was released in the 60s, some saw nefarious intent in this symbol. If you look at it in just the right light, it appears to be a hammer and sickle, the symbol of the Soviet Union. Heaven forbid!
It turns out that what we are really looking at is the engraver’s mark, GR, standing for Gilroy Roberts, the designer of the coin. But we have to remember that the 60s were rife with communist takeover theories. And what better way for the insidious Commies to work their way into our culture than to put a tiny communist symbol on every 50 cent piece? Talk about subliminal. . .
The good news is that in the 21st century Americans are much less likely to believe in conspiracies. Right? But wait, are we sure that President Obama isn’t a Kenyan Muslim Socialist Black Panther bent on destroying all that is sacred in our blessed USA? And How about the $10 bill? Is that an Odd Fellows symbol in Hamilton’s bow tie. . . ?
“E Pluribus Unum” is Latin for “From many, one,” which no doubt has many meanings, especially in the context of American democracy. But in this photo, the meaning is a little more literal: there is only one coin oriented and focused in such a way that it has complete meaning.
So is this photo art? Or is it a mere document? It is probably more the latter than the former, though I worked hard to get the look I present here. The focus is very specific. And the lighting was the result of considerable experimentation. Here’s my set-up
I am using a medium soft box on the left with a honeycomb grid. And to provide fill, I am using a Canon Speedlite and a snoot. A snoot is a nose-like attachment that focuses the light very precisely and in this photo helps accentuate the three dimensional properties of the coin, including the ridges and the feathers on the eagle’s wings.
The narrow depth of field allows for very interesting bokeh, both in the background and in the foreground. And for those who crave true wisdom and insight, here’s a bit of a look into the lighting:
The coins, incidentally, are Kennedy Half Dollars, vintage 1965 to 1970. That means that these coins are 40% silver and are worth much more than their 50 cent face value.
I guess I’m stuck on black and white these days. And, while this macro photograph isn’t exactly a “Wow” photo, I’m guessing it’s a closer look at a silver coin than you may have had before. This coin, by the way, was left to me by my aunt Betty of California.
This photo is the result of a totally serendipitous process. I have been playing with a Canon Speedlight and a Canon infrared trigger (the ST-E2) off and on for the last few days. I have also been using a snoot to focus the light on macro subjects. I started with the Christmas cactus I photographed in natural light a few days ago. I then moved to a freshly printed dollar, thinking that bright, focused, angular light might result in something cool. (It didn’t). And then, just a short time ago, I went prowling for something with shape and texture and I found a Shure microphone I just happened to have lying on my den floor. (Why? You ask. There’s no good answer for that question other than there are a lot of things on my den floor.)
And this is the result. I like the picture but, as I’ve often said, that doesn’t mean it’s a good picture. What I like, though, is that I think I’ve made a fairly usual thing look interesting because of the the point of view and, more importantly, the way I’ve used light. The other thing I like is that I used a iPad mini box as a reflector on the right side of the subject. Beyond that, my “studio” is nothing special in this photo. In fact, here’s what the shot set-up looks like:
There really was as much ambient light in the room as you see in the snap shot. The reason everything besides the microphone is so dark in the final photo is that the Speedlight was bright, it was very close to the the microphone and the light was focused by the snoot.
This cactus lives on a shelf in our main bathroom and during much of the year it just sits there. But once a year, spurred on by forces a photographer like me could never comprehend, it blooms.
And when I went into the bathroom a few minutes ago, I wasn’t thinking about macro photography. But I couldn’t ignore the blooms, which were backlit by soft sunlight filter through thin clouds in the winter sky. And so I abandoned my original mission, and got my camera.
Incidentally, this is a Christmas cactus, but given that it is January 30, I think this one is a bit of a nonconformist.
I am teaching a little bit about food photography in my studio photography class and that has sent me in quest of photos I’ve taken that might illustrate the art and practice of making food look good in photos, which is rarely easy.
Bill Zubke’s buns are always photogenic, however, as these detectible samples demonstrate.