a little experiment

oil and water

a simple set-up: a clear casserole dish raised above some colourful wrapping paper. Add water, and a bit of oil, and start snapping! It's truly addictive.

One of my favourite parts about teaching is how much I end up learning from the process.  In a recent class one of my students mentioned an intriguing idea for a macro shoot.  He shared this video with me, and it seemed too interesting an idea to pass up.  The beauty of this project is in the simplicity.  All you need is a clear glass bowl, some cooking oil, water, and some colourful paper or fabric.  The photographer in the video uses an old hawaiian shirt, but my closet is slightly less exciting, so I used some spaceship wrapping paper.  Simply raise the bowl above the floor using glasses or books or whatever else you have handy, add water and a bit of oil, place the colourful paper/fabric underneath, and start shooting!

Like so many of my projects, this probably would have been much easier with a tripod, but mine is on its last legs (pardon the pun) and could not be trusted to support my camera pointing straight down into a dish of oil and water.  So, hand-holding it was.  Because I was shooting inside instead of outdoors on a bright sunny day, I used a studio flash to give me the light I needed, which meant my shutter speed was nice and fast, even at 100 ISO.  The tricky thing was focus.  Autofocus was having a hard time finding the edges of the shapes, particularly after I stirred the water to break up the oil bubbles, so I switched to manual mode and tried to keep my camera on a level where I had focus just on the surface of the water and oil.  I ended up with a bunch of photos that weren’t quite sharp enough, but I do like the flexibility of being able to aim the camera on the fly instead of relying on whatever composition the camera is pointing at from the tripod.

The possibilities from this simple set-up are really endless, and I definitely plan to explore this in more depth in the future.  My next experiment will most likely involve trying to get nice and close up to those individual bubbles to see what sort of reflection/refraction I can get from the paper below.  Been having so much fun with this year’s experiments so far – can’t wait to try something else new and exciting!

oil and water

experimenting with depth of field to isolate just a few bubbles.


it’s the new year, so of course, it’s time to make some resolutions!

Well, it is the beginning of a new year, and like so many of my fellow humans, I find myself once again resolving to improve my life and creativity in a variety of ways.  One of the main things in life I’d love to spend more time on is my photography (and my art in general).  I tend to say this a lot, but I’d like to think I get a little bit better every year … and I’ve already got a couple of creative projects lined up that lead me to believe I will be even more successful this year!

One of my main goals for this year is to further streamline my image library.  I bought my first digital camera in 2007 and since then I’ve managed to shoot over 17,000 images.  I’ve been slowly organizing and tagging them recently, but it is a rather arduous task for a slightly obsessive girl like myself.  (Once you start keyword tagging, it can be hard to know when to stop!)  Up until now, I’ve been saving almost every image I shot, but when I had to go out and buy a second hard drive to store my photos I decided it was time to do a serious culling.  Some of these images will never see the light of day, and while a couple of bad images are a great resource for a photography instructor, I certainly don’t need this many!  A good review of my current image library should also act as a great learning tool:  I can look more closely at the subjects I am naturally drawn to, and pinpoint the areas where I can tighten up my technique a bit.  I’m hoping to find some hidden gems, as well as inspiration for some new subject matter.

With all the photography courses I’ll be teaching this term, it would be an easy thing to set aside the camera in favour of lesson planning (or another Stargate marathon!), but I’m hoping to expand my own craft at the same time by shooting some new example images for each of our topics.  I’m excited to get out of my comfort zone and get even more comfortable manipulating my equipment.  Teaching has been such a wonderful adventure – I’m pretty sure I’m learning almost as much as the students!

Creatively speaking, I really want to get the most out of my 50mm  f1.4 lens – seriously addicted to the bokeh and shallow depth of field I can get with it – and get some new images shot for my eye candy and see Jane series.

I’m hoping that, by writing my creative resolutions down and posting them for all to see, I’ll be forced to keep myself on task and actually make a real go of this … wish me luck!