The Kiwi Empress

I’ve said it before but food, and fruit in particular, is something I really like to take pictures of. Given the right light and setup new things can emerge from within the subject. In this picture, which I call The Kiwi Empress, the profile of a female head can be seen with an oversized brain – at least that’s what I see. I have done no particular editing except light-curves, contrast and some selective spot removals.
The slice is rather thin with lightning from the back to get the innards to stand out. The downside to this is that the outer parts of the subject gets overexposed.
The Kiwi Empress

White balance and night photography

Modern cameras are quite good at determining the white balance in normal conditions but night photography with multiple light sources like the one above makes the task quite complex. The old rule still applies; make sure you take a picture of something white/gray with the same lightning conditions – or better yet, include something white/gray in the composition. In this shot I was lucky in that I knew that the speed limit sign for boats have a white area so I could use that.
If you forgot to get a reference here are some temperature values that you can use as reference:

  • 1750 K  – Open flame (Match or candle)
  • 3000 K  – Flourecant lamps (lower for incandescent, higher for studio lights)
  • 4100 K  – Moonlight
  • 5000 K  – Horizon daylight
  • 5700 K  – Vertical daylight
  • 6500 K  – Daylight overcast
  • 15000 K- Clear night sky (could go as high as 25000 K)

Pictures of food

I love to take pictures of food – and the preparation of it. I have tons of them. Some are quite good, but the problem I had with this one was that it had to be taken during a certain time period.. It’s a competition on a photo site I like and although the rule that the picture has to be taken during the competition period is frustrating it’s also quite stimulating. Anyhow, I thought about this for quite some time and this is my picture. It’s an orange cut thinly along the side. The post process is to mirror the image, adjust exposure and contrast. I call it The Orange Queen.
The Orange Queen

Shapes you see in fire

I was zooming in and out of this fire picture I made and realized that it had so many shapes and forms hidden within that I decided to make a little movie out of it. Then, given the problems with copyrights I also wrote a small tune for it. Here it is:

Fire – is it abstract?

I’ve been intrigued by the shapes and forms smoke makes as I have written about before. This time I was inspired by Michael (DaddyO) over at dgrin to look closer at fire. It turns out to be just like smoke photography with a lot of wonderful forms and shapes hidden in the warmth.

The technique though is quite different, here exposure is quite difficult. You want the warmth and dynamic range of the fire while still keeping the sharpness and depth. So, small aperture and short exposure time…only variable left is ISO. Still, you may not have to go that high with your ISO and still get good pictures with little or no noise in them.

The editing part is fun and, at the same time, frustrating. I often tend to rotate the picture for a while to find the shapes I want. Then, quite often, mirror it to get the final shape I want. There is something disturbing with a perfectly mirrored image so in the end I usually remove, or change, something in the picture to get some asymmetry. Come to think of it, I always do that 🙂

Back to the topic: Is fire abstract? I think it is. Although you as the photographer may have a clear idea of what your final picture represents it is very likely that the observer may see something completely different. If anything.
Kindness within
Last thing them, how to get good, voluminous, fire to shoot? The above picture was taken of a human fire breather (before editing). I was so intrigued by the pictures I got that I read up on fire breathing thinking that I could do it myself…It turns out to be quite dangerous. There are of course other ways to get the fire shots – but I’m not giving lessons on that.

Bubbles with macro

End of November and rainstorms makes indoor projects seem like a good idea.
Spectrum scud
Using a spare CD, a glass container, a flash light, water and some olive oil it is possible to create some rather interesting pictures.
Zenith from nadir
Fill the glass container with a minimum of water, just enough to cover the bottom. Then add a single drop of olive oil. Stir forcefully, using a fork, to break the drop of olive oil into small droplets.
Place the glass container on the CD with the shiny surface pointing upward. Use a flash light from the side to generate all possible colors from the CD.Macro bubbles setupZoom in, set the focus, and shoot. Depending on the aperture used a depth can be achieved in the reflection off the CD.

Smoke photography

Smoke is a superb source of abstract shape and texture. While difficult to control it can, with some experimentation, yield unique and pleasant forms. To get started you only need a couple of things:

  • An external flash
  • A way to fire the flash remotely. Depending on camera brand and model, a so called off shoe cord may be the cheapest alternative.
  • Something that can act as a snoot. I used an old milk carton. I cut a large hole in the top and a smaller in the bottom where the flash goes in. This limits the light from the flash to go only where you want it do go and not spread out towards the background.
  • A dark, preferably black, background
  • Something to generate the smoke. I used incense.


Pre-set the focus to where you plan to have the smoke. And set the focus mode to manual.
Place the flash on the floor at the focus distance pointing upward. Make sure to have some distance to the background. That way you will be able to make any texture in the background blur away using the correct aperture.
Now darken the room as much as possible, close any windows and doors to keep the air movement to a minimum and start taking pictures of the smoke.
Take many pictures, watch the result and try to get a good balance between the dark background and the light from the smoke. Depending on your camera model you may want to experiment with different settings. I started with the Av mode but quickly moved to all manual.


Also experiment with the aperture to get enough focal depth while keeping the background blured.

The next step is done in you computer. You may want to try things like

  • Invert the picture
  • Rotate and crop – look at parts of the smoke and see what you may find
  • Add a mirror copy
  • Try coloring. Both using layer transforms and grey mapping.