Cochrane-based photographer Olivier Du Tré sent in this little story about how he made the photos below of an everyday light fixture:
I loved your recent post because I – as well – believe that training your eye can start at home. Take these 10 images for example. This is something that ‘just happened’. I was waiting for a client to show up (I was on time, he wasn’t) when I noticed this light. I was looking at it for a bit and started wondering how I could do something with it. I started thinking about exposure and overal look of the images but I was too lazy to take the camera out (this was going to be a long day, no need to burn up the creative juices THAT quickly). I went back and forth in my head for a bit (am I going to or not) and finally decided to photograph this light. I made a little mini series about this one simple (yet beautiful) light fixture. At first my photographs were timid. They were distant. Almost like I was afraid to approach the light. After a few photographs I dug deeper. And you see my progression in understanding this subject through the compositions I made.
Here at oopoomoo we think that making decent photos from an iconic beauty location in sweet light is the low hanging fruit. Just show up at the grand location in glory light and most photographers can come away with something that will get oohs and aahs on Facebook. Easy!
But the real test of ‘seeing’ is making something from nothing. Can you take an absolutely boring subject in everyday light and make a decent image? I tried this awhile back while staying in a low end motel. I gave myself the assignment to photograph in the bathroom using only the light coming in from the window. The images may not be award-winning but the exercise keeps my eye trained. Below are some of the images from the musty motel bathroom I came up with using a digital point-n-shoot camera. If you want to send us your own Something from Nothing assignment to be considered for the blog please email your story and photos to us at email@example.com (images should be 585 pixels in the long dimension).
Ian McGillvrey also took us up on the Something from Nothing challenge and spent an hour and a half mining gifts from his kitchen. None of Ian’s photos rely on post-processing tricks; these are all in-camera JPEG captures! We think there are some stunners that Ian captured from scenes most of us would pass over. Congratulations Ian on photos well seen!
In keeping with the idea of challenging myself to just creatively see images and not rely on processing or other tricks, I limited myself to working with the elements in the room as they sat and with the light available to me. These images are JPEGS straight out of the camera (only in-camera processing, i.e. monochrome or vivid picture style were used) and all images were shot handheld.Here’s the overall scene, my kitchen island:
Right away I went to the sink… not sure why, maybe just following Darwin’s lead? But as I did, I noticed a cool reflection happening on the backsplash from the setting sun coming in the front windows.
Getting closer (nearly inside the sink!) I was able to isolate this. I used a wide aperture (f 2.8 on my 24-70) to keep the focus on the reflection and let the rest fade away. Not too bad for just getting started!
I wanted to just focus on the lines and patters in the plastic bag so after switching over to monochrome and my macro lens (105mm f 2.8 for those interested), I came up with these two images below:
Then I thought I could do something a little more interesting and shot the other way towards the bananas for a more colourful background.
I liked the warm glow of the previous one, but I also tried one with a more correct white balance. I’d been shooting on daylight up to this point, but the majority of the ambient light at this point was coming from the interior light fixtures. Switching over to tungsten white balance gave me this:
Finally, I had a look at the Slap Chop and wondered what I could make of it.
The coiled spring on the handle looked kind of interesting so I worked with that. I think these probably wound up being my favourites from the night. Going with monochrome again and looking across towards the white door gave me this:
Then I went around the counter and shot from the other side towards the green cutting board as a background.
I was really pushing it to get a sharp image at this point, handholding in such low light. I’d already pushed up my ISO as high as I was comfortable and was still only at 1/15th of a second or so. To try and gain some more shutter speed, I turned on the light in the dining area (duh, why didn’t I think of that half an hour ago!) and tried another background idea shooting towards the bananas like I did with the strainer. This time, the light from the dining room I had just turned on (to my left as I was shooting) reflected off the green cutting board on the right and gave me this cool green highlight I wasn’t expecting.
This was a great exercise and I found that the more time I spent, the more images I began to see. I had planned on only spending a few minutes trying this out then getting some work done, but before I knew it, an hour and a half had gone by and I only felt like I was just getting going!