I’ve been collecting items to start a DIY photo studio. White foamcore board for a foreground and background, black velvet for a background, small sheet of plexiglass for reflections, etc. What I don’t have yet are studio lights, so I will have to make do with my Speedlite and any other light sources I can scrounge around the house.
This weekend, as we were doing some yard work, we found a large fuzzy caterpillar. I decided to use him as a studio subject and put him and a piece of greenery into a small container with the lid slightly ajar and put it in the refrigerator. I had read somewhere that successful insect shooters say that this technique slows the insects down so that they sit still long enough to be photographed. Supposedly 10 minutes is all it takes, but unfortunately I forgot about him for 24 hours. When I remembered I ran to get the little guy out of the fridge. I was afraid I’d killed him as he was coiled up in a circle, so I put the container outside to warm him up faster. And it worked. He was still alive. Yay! I don’t want PETA to come after me (if he had died you wouldn’t be reading this post today).
So I hurriedly put my “studio” together in the living room: card table, foamcore, velvet.
Hopefully you can see my pitiful setup in this photo. I also wanted to try the new “tethering” option in Lightroom 3, where you connect your camera to your computer and when you press the shutter, the photo is imported straight into LR3 and you can see it much larger on screen than on the camera’s LCD. So the camera is on the tripod, connected to the computer and the Speedlite is mounted on my Gorillapod and connected to the camera with my new 20-something-foot cord. I brought an Ott Light down from the quilt studio and experimented with it and various positions for the Speedlite. I also tried various combinations of lamp light in the room and decided that I needed to have them all on to enhance the Speedlite. I also changed the setting on the Speedlite to 2nd curtain sync, something I’ve been wanting to try.
Before I brought Mr. Caterpillar in, I took some test shots of a small candle. This is the best of those.
I took a million shots of Mr. Caterpillar, and he was on the move. I should have put him back in the fridge for a few minutes.
He was really getting tired of this and I felt I’d tried everything with the equipment I had, so I took him outside and put him back where we found him, under a bush. But he didn’t want to go that way, he wanted to high-tail it across the driveway. I was afraid he’d get run over, so I finally persuaded him to get under that bush and stay there.
John looked at my test shots and didn’t like that line of demarcation between the black background and the white foreground, so he readjusted the velvet so that it was both the background and foreground. I tried a bowl of fruit to see what kind of still life shots I could get.
This composition isn’t great because it’s straight-on to the bowl.
This one is a little better. Velvet may not be the best fabric to use as it showed some lint once I brought the image into Photoshop. But I was able to clone those out.