The WordPress Daily Prompt provides the theme of Profuse, which gave me an immediate thought.
One of the things that I have always enjoyed doing in my photography is the solving of tricky lighting riddles, which is something that I tackled in this situation.
I wanted to photograph these paperclips in a way that gave them a bit more drama and, maybe even a bit of mystery. To achieve this effect, I looked to provide stark shadows, which meant to keep the light at a very low angle of incidence and ensuring that the background stayed very black, as seen here…
Shooting a black background is a bit tricky, as any light that falls on it has the tendency to show up gray. For this shoot I used a single flash and cinefoil to control the light (and shadow). Cinefoil is akin to a heavy aluminum foil, but a matte black rather than shiny. In order to make the paperclips large, I used a macro lens with an extension tube, so that I could pull the focal plane in a little closer.
It was fun to create this shot, and even more fun, after I printed it as a 16″x20″ format print; it’s cool to see paperclips becoming large!
A Fresh Perspective
Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment.
Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael.
My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals.
My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation.
This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections.
Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client.
And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!
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4 thoughts on “Plentiful Paperclips”
Hi Frank! A great shot that looks so simple, but your explanation of what it takes to get it shows it’s not! And, you took me down the rabbit hole with this one. I don’t have any real “studio” photo experience. Most of the time I’m working in natural light and use post production techniques. Your mention of cinefoil led me to snoots, grids and barn doors, film noir lighting, etc. So much to learn! In your paperclips image, did you use the cinefoil on an off-camera speedlight?
Welcome to the rabbit hole!!
The biggest secret of lighting is to keep it simple and build up the scenario as dictated by needs. I was lucky enough to learn some great techniques from a true master of on-location lighting with speedlights.
Even though I have modifiers for my studio lights, I find that using a bit of cinefoil or a simple cutout to control light produces some fo the most effective lighting, because they are customized to the situation.
For the paperclips image, I used a single off-camera speedlight (easier to minimize lightsplash) with the cinefoil; I softened the shadows a bit with a white reflector, which eliminated some dark spots as well.
Great photo Frank. Thanks for the explanation as well:)
Thank you very much, Brian!