I was woken up early this morning by an earthquake! An unusual event here but not unknown. In the late 1800s an earthquake destroyed many houses 2 miles away in the local village (Alcaucin) and diverted underground rivers. No damage to be seen around the house so on a positive note I thought I would use the extra time to try and catch up a little with my blog.
Normally my photography is very much concentrated on the outside – landscapes in particular but occasionally some street photography in an attempt to register a social comment on city life and the contrasts between peoples’ lives even though they tread the same streets. For example, https://davidcollinsfoto.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/out-on-the-street/. Very, very occasionally I venture indoors to set up a make-shift ‘studio to practise ‘still-life’ photography.
The following two photographs are examples of a recent ‘still-life’ session triggered by an assignment for the Mijas Photography Group. The first image is taken almost in the dark with a mixture of natural light and artificial light with my Canon 5D Mark 3. I don’t have a flash for this camera so I closed the window shutters to provide a small amount of diffused ambient light in the room, set up a desk lamp (covered with a translucent cloth) with the dimmer control set to illuminate the saxophone without throwing too much light onto the background, and used a long exposure (30 sec, f16, ISO 100) to give me time to ‘paint’ some extra light onto the saxophone using the torch on my iPhone to give me some stronger shadows without creating distracting reflections.
The second image is one taken with a Pentax K5 and was inspired by questions that must have been kicking around in my head about the nature of art. Specifically, “What is art?” and “Who decides?”. So for the following image I put together an existing picture hanging on the wall with a dust sheet I use to protect surfaces when I’m painting (DIY not artistic painting!). The hardest part of the set-up (once I’d had the creative idea) was to arrange the dust sheet as I wanted it over the existing painting. I wanted to create a similar effect with the folds to that seen in Dutch ‘still-life’ paintings where it feels you can almost touch them. Once the sheet was in place I organised the lighting to accentuate the texture and folds of the sheet – very diffuse ambient light from two windows with translucent curtains, direct frontal flash from the camera’s built in flash gun and side lighting from an off-camera flash set at about 45° to the subject matter. The exposure was 1/125 sec, f2.8, ISO 100. The interesting part of the image or me is that each paint stain on the sheet was created randomly at different times with no intention for it to be more than a dust sheet and yet somehow the colours and shapes work well together and complement the wood of the picture frame. In addition to that, for me the sheet represents more than a random pattern of colours and shapes. The dust sheet is a collection of memories, whether it was the day I painted umbrella stands around the pool, tables and chairs on the porch or the pergola on the balcony looks over the valley to the mountains. The photograph was also voted the winner of the Mijas Photography Group’s ‘still-life’ photo-assignment. A pleasant surprise.