Smartie Reflections

Firstly, I would like to apologise to the regular readers of this blog, I had to put my camera down for awhile as I needed some ‘Me’ time. Its not that I had run out of inspiration or was over it all but I had been working pretty hard and it all came to a head when I struggled to get out of bed one morning. Simply put, I was exhausted.  So after speaking to my wife, I decided to take a month off and not pick up my camera, nor write any blog posts or add to either my G+ plus or Facebook page. I needed to rest and spend some valuable time with family.  The problem is that Facebook and especially Google plus is pretty hard to stay away from. I did post some things but they were small posts and I wouldn’t revisit for days. Now rested I decided that I would do something here at home which everyone can do.

I picked up a photography magazine from my local newsagent which I read regularly. I find that reading photography magazines provide ideas, insight to other peoples photography and provoke thought and most importantly, action. I know I can hear the cries already. I can get the same from reading them on line, but I am old school and I like to be able to hold a magazine or a book when I read, not a tablet. Tablets are something you take when you are ill or have a headache.

This one article about refraction gave me an idea, I am not quite sure I know what refraction is exactly but I think I achieved what I was aiming to do and here is how I achieved it.

All of these images were shot here at home and nothing special was used. I did take them at night using the ceiling lights which explains the long exposure. Heres what I did and please remember that none of this is supposed to be perfect at all.

I have an old black fold out card table at home which I use to put camera gear on, use as a work bench or use if I am shooting macro and then use it for the odd family function, but if you don’t have a fold out card table you can use a coffee table or even the kitchen bench. You need a black surface as well and you can use anything that is black.  Black t-shirts, pants, skirts or a dress that your better half will allow you to use and lay that flat as possible on a hard surface like the kitchen bench or coffee table. Then grab some white A4 paper or A5 paper and then roll it length ways to form a circle and the tape it closed. The circle you have made needs to be about 80 -100mm in diameter. Then if needed, trim down your paper so it is only about 30 -50mm high.  Now find a CD case that has very few scratches or dings and dents and give it a good clean using a lens or glass cleaner. Use a cloth that is preferably lint free as this will reduce the amount of cloning you will need to be doing during the post processing phase.

Here’s the good bit, grab a large bag of some colourful chocolates like Smarties, M&M’s or skittles from your local supermarket or shop. Place about 10 or so of them at the bottom of the circled paper

arranging them so they provide a good cross section of colour. Literally arrange them any way you like. You don’t need many but the tip here is don’t stack them, make sure that there is only one layer of your favourite coloured chocolates/ sweets.

Set you tripod up with the camera looking directly down and over the top of the paper ring with the sweets/ chocolates and manually focus on the centre one. If you have a macro lens, use it but if you don’t have a Macro lens, don’t despair. As some of these sweets are large enough to focus on anyway you shouldn’t have to many problems using your every day lens. Once you have focused on the centre sweet or chocolate, switch it to manual mode to ensure that your camera doesn’t decide to re-focus when you go to take your shot. set your ISO to 100 to reduce or limit the amount of noise and provide you with a crisp clear image. In this case I set the White Balance to Auto and let the camera decide. I also shoot in RAW as well but if you are unable to, shoot in the JPEG Fine to give you a better and higher resolution image.

Pull apart the CD case so you have just the lid and then place it directly over the top of the coloured sweets/ chocolates and then find an eye dropper or a syringe and fill with water. Now carefully and slowly place drops of water on to the top of the CD case lid. I found an eye dropper worked best as I could put one drop at a time on the CD case and I could almost space them evenly as well. When I used the syringe, I found that I would sometime squeeze to much water out and would have to start again.

I used a cable release as well so I would have to touch the camera when the shutter fired which prevents camera shake and the shutter speed was pretty slow.  If I had some sunshine here instead of all of the rain the shutter speed would have been a lot faster as I could have done it outside or near a window.

Now while you are taking your shots, eat some of the smarties, M&Ms or skittles and if you want, you could always include a half eaten chocolate or sweet. Play with the way the chocolates are laid out in your circle but be mindful when you take the CD case off your rolled up piece of paper that you have all of those carefully placed water drops, so do it very gently an slowly because you don’t want start again either.

Once you are happy with all of the shots that you have taken, download them to your PC or laptop and process them whilst eating the remaining smarties, M&M’s or Skittles, You will need to crop the image down a little cutting out the paper circle from the edge of your frame and undoubtably you may need to clean up some of the scratches and dents that are in the CD case to get that image to where you want it. Hopefully you should end up with something like these that I have taken.

Also I thought that I would explain the 3 photos that I have shown you here. The first photo is an overall image with rolled up white A4 paper with the smarties in the centre and a CD case lid sitting on top with water drops placed carefully on top, the second photo is not quite what I wanted as the is not real clear even after I had applied a sharpening tool to it during the post processing phase. I seemed to have focused on the water droplets rather than the smarties. The third photo is a lot better and I was fairly happy with what I had managed to achieve, the overall image is clear and the water droplets have good reflections of the smarties directly underneath. Its a fun photo and I would be more than happy to have a young family have this hanging in the home. The kids would love.

If you have problems, please feel free to leave a comment and I will help you out and for those of you who succeed, I would love to see what you have come up with and please remember, this is meant to be fun and the results do not need to be perfect at all.

Happy Shooting.

My Self Portrait

I recently wrote a post about 7 NYE resolutions that will help you as a photographer to develop, hopefully over the next 12 months, well I decided to undertake one of the ideas that I talk about in the post, A Self Portrait Project and see what I come up with, if you want to read more about those resolutions I blogged about, click Here and if you are considering a 365 day project over the next 12 months, you may want to check out this two part series (Part 1 & Part 2) on the 365 day project written by Takahiro Yamamoto as it may provide you some insights as to what you are going to be doing plus these two posts contain some great tips to help you keep going, and also this morning I received an email from WordPress talking about the Project 365 and they have been kind enough to provide links to 8 inspiring blogs from people who have been doing it for the last 12 months. If that project is something that you are considering, these links are definitely well worth checking out.

I must admit that I have had fun doing this Self Portrait Project and I will continue with it throughout the year to improve my photography and how I direct people when they are in front of the camera because now I have a better understanding of how daunting or even scary it can be being in front of the camera. Everything that I have used in these shots is stuff that I have found lying around, Some of these shots are good and some are not but that’s the idea, to improve your photography. So these are the Self Portrait photos that I have taken over the last few days.

This is my profile photo that I use on the majority of social media platforms such as Google +, cough Facebook muttered under my breath, here on the blog. This photo is really what got me started with the Self Portrait project and as per usual, these ideas sooner or later develop a life of their own.

So give it a go, honestly what’s the worst thing that can happen, you may improve your photography without you knowing it.

Happy Shooting

Not a Welcome Message After All.

This didn’t turn out as I originally had intended. I set up a Google+ business page and thought I would post a Welcome message.

I decided not to post it on Google but rather post it here instead and I remembered why before I hit the Publish Button.

Welcome to the Thief Images Google+ page.

It has taken some time to set up as I am not that good at using or even setting up these kinds of pages, quite frankly I get rather frustrated with it all. You should have seen me setting up the Thief Images Facebook page but as I keep getting advised (told) that Social Media such as Google +, Twitter, Facebook etc is necessary to have these days as it is one of the best ways to promote your business.

My wife also asked me “Why am I using a photo of myself and not my logo?”. There are two answers to that and the first one and to me the most important one is that I am Thief Images, I am the photographer, the Owner, the Accountant, the Social Media Team, The Point of Contact for it all, etc, etc. So why not a photo of me.

The second reason is because the Thief Images logo is being updated. It needs to be me, it needs to represent what Thief Images is about which is Stealing those precious moments in Life !, It needs to be modern, and it needs to scream Photographer, and it needs to be memorable. Not much to ask of the team designing it.

Now I have to ask, how much Social Media is to much. I mean lets take stock of what I actually have at present, Obviously a Facebook page, a Google Plus page  and both of these require you to have a personal page as well if you want a business page. The downside to Facebook is that you get friend requests from people that you didn’t like when you met them, and now all of a sudden they request that you be friends with them, and I don’t care what they had for dinner or how their day was. At least with my personal Google+ page I can put them into a circle labelled, “I don’t like them!”. There’s Twitter which restricts you to 140 Characters or less and the question I ask is, is a space in my sentence counted as a character? I actually don’t know the answer to that one. Then there is Linkedin which allows you to network with other like minded people, and Linkedin also hold group forums on a vast number of topics which you can have updates emailed to you just like the rest of the Social Media platforms.

and the final reason why I decided to get “Online” was for my blog because I figured that this is where I could express myself, let the creative juices flow, read other peoples blogs and interact with them or readers of my blog through the comments posted and I like it. I spend days thinking about posts, some days I will have three or four on the go and then all of a sudden none for a week or more.

So where do you draw the line with it all. You could possibly spend so much time just keeping these up to date that you could forget about your core business and in my case being a photographer. But here’s the conundrum, the Gen Y as they are called use Social media to communicate with everyone. They organise parties, shopping trips, meet ups, business meetings and the list goes on. So if I or anyone else who has a service to offer needs to be on these Social Media Platforms to be able to promote yourself and reach out to potential customers or clients that Gen Y has to offer. Gen Y don’t reach for a phone book, they reach for their PC mouse to log on to Facebook to get recommendations.

So where does Social Media become to much?. What I have signed myself up to is only using all of my Social Media for no more than 2 hours a day otherwise I will either spend my day/ evening sitting in front of my PC banging away on the keyboard and not doing what I should be doing. Being a photographer and a Creative Genius.

But it all gets just a little worse, rumour on the street is that Microsoft is also working a Social Media Platform. I have no other information than just that and I do really hope the rumour is false.

Do we really need another Social Media Platform?, I certainly don’t, I don’t have enough time in the day to deal with more Social Media.

Oh, if you were wondering, I decided not to post this to the Thief Images Google+ page was because it used to Promote my Business, not contemplate my Navel.