Hold on to your butts, because this will have a bunch of pictures.

In an effort to go as long as possible without throwing my new lighting modifiers in a corner and forget about them forever, I decided I would try and set up another sort of studio-ish shot. This was ill advised, as it was laundry day, and I was lacking in space. Luckily I thrive in adversity. But only when it’s self imposed.

My original idea was to capture a strawberry as it was dropped into water. Luckily I was quite quick to discover that this would be a two person job, and I was one person.  Thus, the plan was to be modified.  I would start small, and just suspend a strawberry in sparkling water with a colourful defocused background.

Step 1: get a glass.
Lesson 1: glass will distort things. try and get a flat/square glass or vase.
Question 1: do we have that? I’ve lived here for over a year now, so it’s definitely too late to ask my girlfriend that question.
Concession 3: just use a round glass.  What’s the worst that could happen?

Step 2, jam some toothpicks into the strawberry, suspend it from the top of the glass, and light this sucker up.

Step 3: Lighting the sucker up.

Step 3: Lighting the sucker up.

Ok, with a flash resting on top of Lauren’s sewing machine pointed down, and a sheet of aluminum foil under the glass, we’ve got some making of decent light.


Step 4: Splash some colour on that sucker.

The lid of Lauren’s sewing box has a nice enough pattern on it that works defocused, so why don’t I just toss a blue gel in front of my flash to help the strawberry pop? Sweet, this is going really well.


Step 5: You’re screwing it up


Aw nutters! The light on the strawberry is too strong, and it’s totally overpowering the background light. Maybe if I put a honeycomb grid on the main flash to direct the light, and give the background light a bit more power vs. the main.


Step 6: You’re salvaging this man, you can do it!

Nice.  I can dig this balance. Now I just need to get a measuring cup and pour in some of this disgusting club soda, and we can make our magic happen.


Step 7: How can you be such an optics enthusiast and not be aware of a concept as simple as distortion?

Ok, so filling a round glass full of liquid is going to radically distort the contents within it, especially when they are placed at the back side.  Great!  After I moved the strawberry to the front of the glass, my lighting was off on the right side. This is the exact kind of situation where a helping hand or even better, forethought would really come in handy. I was lacking the former and just constantly reject the latter, so I just said “eff it”, grabbed a white tissue, and held it to the right side while balancing the strawberry in position with my right hand while triggering the camera with my left hand. Cameras aren’t ergonomically disposed to left handed use.

Step 8: As my teachers always said, "Good enough I suppose".

Step 8: As my teachers always said, “Good enough I suppose”.

After all was said and done, this was my result. I considered it a job… done, ate the strawberry, and drank the soda water. I don’t understand why people drink soda water.

Here is a picture of the setup:

It's utilitarian

It’s utilitarian

  1. Backdrop courtesy of Lauren’s sewing kit.
  2. Main light with a honeycomb grid, perched daintily on a sewing machine.
  3. Background light with a blue gel, pointing at item 1.
  4. Cooking foil to bounce the main light back up.
  5. Impromptu white element to bounce light back into right side. With proper positioning it won’t reflect in the glass. It wasn’t properly positioned.
  6. Subject stabbed with tooth picks. Note: Grocery store strawberries don’t look good inside, which was my initial plan. They’re whiter than I am.

Another fun thing I got from this was an example of bubbles/droplets and how they can focus an image from behind. In this case, the sewing box itself was in just the right position to be re-focused when viewed through the bubble. A concept I hope to explore further at a later date.

I'm pretty much a sorcerer.

I’m pretty much a sorcerer.

So this was all shot with my 90mm Macro lens.  The final image was at 1/60 a second f16, and ISO 100. I think the rear flash was around 1/4 the power of the main flash. I had A Warm Place by Nine Inch Nails on repeat for the duration of editing and writing.

One thought on “March 3 – Jamie

  1. These are amazing. #6 and the last one with the crazy optics are my favourites.

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