Transforming Ordinary Objects into Extraordinary Subjects

 

Have you ever gotten that feeling that you seem to have taken all possible angles of the objects lying around your house? Your still life photos begin to look the same. If you’re starting to get frustrated, it might be time to do something more than the usual. Here are some tested ‘experiments’ you can do to the object to give it more appeal.

Freeze it – frozen objects will usually be encrusted with ice crystals that can make them look eye catching. If you submerge the object underwater then freeze it, it will appear unusual under all that ice. The colors and shapes of the object become distorted under the ice layer. Try freezing a flower head or a stuffed toy (I once saw a picture of a teddy bear all soggy and covered in melting ice and I just wanted to hug it) or a vegetable. Whatever can fit in your freezer will do fine. Try freezing objects that you would never find in a freezer such as a mobile phone. An image of a frozen camera will surely induce a shock response.

smash Transforming Ordinary Objects into Extraordinary SubjectsSmash it – this can be so much fun to do, not to mention therapeutic. If your object is disposable, try smashing it with a hammer or a rock. Objects will not only appear different, but they will also grab the viewer’s attention.  Glassware, beer bottles, ceramics, fruit, plastic figurines; anything you can afford to break can be a potential subject. If your equipment is capable of high speed photography, you can even take fantastic shots of the object in the moment of being smashed. Some objects break into pieces when smashed while others just become dented and mangled. You can play around with the strength of your smash since the outcome will also vary.

Burn it – this can also be a fun activity as long as you are careful when playing with fire. An image of a household object can look very mundane. Burn this same object and you will suddenly be presenting it in a whole new light. Try to capture images at various times of burning, from the start when the object has just caught fire until the time when it has burned to a crisp. Needless to say the camera should be a safe distance away from the flame. It is entirely possible that you can get so engrossed in getting the shot that you might not notice when something else is burning, like the camera or your hair. Some objects don’t burn out. Rather, they melt, which leads me to my next suggestion.

Melt it – when an object melts, its details start to run and deform, making it appear unrecognizable at times. Plastic, rubber and wax objects are ideally perfect subjects. See if you can get a multicolored object which you can melt and take a picture of. All those colors will start to blend and warp and you just might end up with a very interesting shot.

greentwist Transforming Ordinary Objects into Extraordinary SubjectsTwist it – some objects are flexible and can be bent and twisted. Twisting an object changes its shape and contours, and you can show a new take on the old boring image. The photo to the left is a close up of the twisted section of a green balloon (the kind used to make balloon animals).

Paint it – go crazy with paint by dunking the object in the paint can and shoot it dripping wet, or paint only portions while leaving other parts alone, spray paint it, paint it with nail polish, airbrush it, paint patterns on it. Okay, this is sounding more like a multimedia project but won’t it be fun? Plus your subject will certainly have that extra thing going in your shot.

Create unusual pairings – aside from your subject, include another object in your shot. The more creative you are with the match, the more impact the image will have. Instead of showing objects that ordinarily go together, use a secondary object that you wouldn’t normally think of using with your subject. For example, instead of showing a cupcake with a paper napkin beside it, why not stick some push pins on the pastry instead. This might look weird but when you’re experimenting, weird is very much welcome. 

 

 

 


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Photography Theme Ideas Using Color

 

Are you having a hard time figuring out what to shoot? In case you are running out of inspiration, look to color for help. Here’s a list of fun colorful theme ideas you can use for practicing your skills:

purple Photography Theme Ideas Using ColorMonochrome – this term usually implies black and white images in photography but it also means an image that shows only a single color in different shades. The image might show black or white accents but no other colors are included. By focusing on only one color, you can boost a certain mood which that color can evoke. For example, a predominantly blue image can give one the impression of tranquility while an image that is mostly bright yellow can make one feel energetic and warm.

Pastel – light or pale colors imply softness and tranquility. Look for these colors and try to capture the mood that they present. Diffused lighting usually accompanies pastel colors to accentuate the mood all the more. You can experiment with harder lighting on pastel colors and see what impact it would give the image.

Vivid –unlike pastel colors which can calm and soothe the viewer’s senses, images showing vivid colors can give off energy and excitement. You can capture the vibrancy of colors by choosing vivid colors themselves or you can make them appear vivid with the use of lighting. Backlighting, for example, can give a glow to see-through colored objects making them look like they’re glowing. Plastic objects, flowers and even fruit or vegetable slices might have the usual colors but place them in front of a strong light and the colors will suddenly become brighter.

Selective desaturation – by turning the image into black and white except for a specific object which stays in color, you can create dramatic impact to the shot. The eye automatically focuses on that one portion in the frame that shows color and if processed well, it can boost the viewer’s impression of the image. You must be careful with this technique, however, since it has fallen into the realm of ‘cliché’.  For example, wedding photos are constantly being selectively desaturated with the cd Photography Theme Ideas Using Colorbride and groom in black and white, while the bouquet of red roses is still in bright color. There is nothing wrong with this. After all, if it looks great then it doesn’t matter if it is cliché. The pitfall is if it isn’t composed and edited well, then it can look cheesy or just plain ugly.

Colorful – for this theme, try to include as many colors as you can without the image looking cluttered. It takes skill to do that since the colors can compete for attention and the point of interest might get lost in the process. Too many colors can also be an eyesore. Rainbows, patterned cloth, art supplies, flowers, iridescent insects, these are all very colorful in themselves. You can also set up the shot by grouping certain objects to show splashes of color. Using colored lights on your subject is another way to show off the color spectrum.

 


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Make the Most Out of Your Phone Camera

 

Remember when cameras used to be just cameras and telephones were used just to call people? These days, gadgets are designed to multi-task. You can now use phones to do many things such as take pictures, access the internet, and send written messages. One obvious advantage of having a camera phone is that it is very convenient for you to take a picture whenever you want to, if you’re the type who always has a mobile phone nearby. You don’t have to stick a bulky camera in your bag all the time in the off chance that you’ll see something interesting enough to shoot on the way to the store.

hut Make the Most Out of Your Phone Camera

Of course, the features of mobile phone cameras are severely limited. You won’t have much control since there aren’t much adjustment settings to play with, the resolution is lower than a regular camera, and the image quality might not be up to par. However, there are new models out in the market that are addressing these liabilities, and technology is evolving so fast that pretty soon mobile phone cameras will be able to compete with regular point and shoot cameras. 

At this time, the megapixels (MP) of camera phones can range from VGA to over 12MP. I must stress that the image quality is not necessarily proportional to the number of megapixels. Having a high MP count simply means your picture can be printed in bigger sizes. Of course, a very low MP such as 1MP means you will end up with a small sized image which you might not be able to satisfactorily post process without losing quality. A 3MP camera phone is sufficient in most cases (The two photos in this article were taken with a 2MP camera phone). 

To get the most out of your mobile phone camera, keep a few things in mind:

 Light your subject well – if it is well lighted, you won’t need to use the flash which may wash out your subject or blow out the scene. Your subject will also appear clearer and crisper with not much image noise or grain. Since you don’t have much control over exposure, try to have adequate lighting in-camera so that there will be little post processing needed.

Go closer – far away objects might come out blurred or too small to be recognizable. Avoid using the digital zoom (if it has this feature) if you can since this can reduce image quality by making pixels bigger. Also, try not to crop in post processing to make your subject look larger in the frame. This will also negatively affect the quality. Instead, go closer to your subject but not too close or again, the image will be out of focus.

Don’t move while you’re taking the shot – camera phones (at least mine isn’t) are not equipped with shutter speed adjustment settings. There seems to be no way to tell just how fast the shutter moves so best to keep still when you take the shot since there’s a possibility it will show camera shake.

garlic Make the Most Out of Your Phone Camera

 

Play with the camera modes – many camera phones have modes such as panorama, night mode and sequence mode. Your phone might even have a video mode. These are all very easy to use since they basically do the hard work for you. The panorama mode will stitch several pictures into one right then and there and the night mode can automatically illuminate dark areas.

Take lots of pictures – your phone screen might be too small to make any photo mistakes noticeable. If you’re used to taking five shots of a subject with a regular camera, take ten shots at least with your camera phone. Some of them might be blurry or pixilated and you won’t be able to tell until you upload the images in the computer. If you have lots of shots, at least there will be more options to choose from.

Take pictures with crazy camera angles – phone cameras can go where regular cameras might have difficulty accessing. No, I’m not implying that you become a voyeur. Just that you don’t have to stick to the usual ‘camera at eye level’ position. Camera phones are really small and thin compared to ordinary cameras and easier to handle. You can take a shot with one hand and play around by angling the phone in an unusual viewpoint. 

Clean your lens – the phone camera lens might be tiny but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to clean it. It’s a common oversight not to wipe the lens properly and your shot might blurry not because of camera shake but because of the dried up sweat that has built up on the lens (yes, it’s a gross thought). We handle our phones all the time; we put them in our pockets, stick them to our ears, keep a firm grip on them as we walk, on place them on public tables or countertops. Can you imagine the dirt that can accumulate on the lens if you don’t bother to clean it? A cleaning cloth used for eyeglasses or sunglasses will do the trick.


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How to Photograph Bubbles

Photographing bubbles can be quite frustrating because they are one subject that disappears on you in the space of a few seconds. They seem to pop right when you press the shutter button. Plus they are extremely fragile, they can float away from you, are very hard to hold, hard to focus on and are transparent so you’ll really need to watch your background.

bubbles How to Photograph BubblesHowever, the effort is worth it because they are very pretty to look at, can be iridescent like a rainbow caught in a tiny orb, they provide a sense of whimsy, and they make interesting shapes since they can attach to each other to form a cluster.

To shoot bubbles, you must first have a bubble solution. You can buy it from toy stores and hobby shops but you can also create your own with a few key ingredients. 

Homemade bubble solution:

Mix around 1/3 cup of liquid detergent (preferably Joy Ultra) in a cup of water. Add a teaspoon of glycerin or sugar. This will help stabilize the bubble shape to make it last longer before it bursts. Leave the mixture alone for at least a few hours. Your bubble wand can just a length of wire that has been looped to form a circle with a handle.

Lighting bubbles can be tricky. Sunlight does a great job of it since it can evenly light the bubbles. Take note that they can reflect whatever is near them such as trees, bushes, your house, even yourself. If you are indoors and want to take a close-up shot, a bright lamp will do but you’ll have to strategically place it in such a way that it doesn’t get reflected in the bubble. You can use a large white sheet to bounce off the light. This will show the bubble’s iridescence without the lamp also appearing in the image. Another light source can be a flash. Place a black backdrop, focus on the area where your bubbles will be, then use the flash when the bubbles are in position. Try using the burst mode if your camera has that feature.

The camera settings really depend on your setup. If you are outdoors in the sunlight, then a fast shutter speed will freeze those bubbles in mid-air. If you are indoors and are taking macro shots, a slow shutter speed such as ¼ of a second might work better. Since bubbles explode, they usually leave a soapy residue so be careful of sticking your camera lens too close to the bubble. 

Rainbow Swirls How to Photograph BubblesThere are all kinds of bubbles, from the blow bubbles children play with to those you get when you shake the shampoo bottle. There are giant bubbles and there are tiny ones. There’s even bubble film, which is the flat ‘sheet’ of bubble on the bubble wand before you swipe it in the air or blow on it to form a bubble globe.

There are so many ways of photographing bubbles, some use an elaborate setup while others just use whatever is at hand. Experiment with other people’s tactics or be inventive and create your own setup. Also experiment with composition by thinking out of the box. Bubbles are already naturally visually appealing but are quite common subjects.  It’s up to you to make your bubble image pop (yes, pun is intended) and stand out from the rest.


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How To Find Inspiration 2: Photo Theme Ideas

Finding focus is a great way to motivate yourself to take pictures. Sometimes we just have no clue what to shoot next and our mind is a complete blank. Times like these, you might want to limit yourself to a particular subject or theme so that there is some sort of guideline you can concentrate on and follow.

There are several photo ideas you can make use of to jumpstart your passion. Here are six photo themes which might inspire you to pick up the camera again:

1.Letters of the Alphabet – Have you ever observed your surroundings and noticed certain objects seem to form a letter of the alphabet? Our mind is constantly trying to form patterns, to find some organization in randomness. Your neighbor's rooftop looks just like an A and that curled up worm you saw while gardening looks just like the letter O. Try going around your house or neighborhood and see if you can take a picture of each letter in the alphabet.

plastic How To Find Inspiration 2: Photo Theme Ideas2.One Object – Choose an object and find different ways to present it in your photographs. For example, think of what you can do with one sheet of white bond paper. Take a photo of it crumpled in a tight ball, or while it is burning, or half submerged in water. You can roll it, crease it, fold it, and so on. The possibilities are staggering. 

3.Kitchen Abstract – The kitchen is usually full of items just waiting to have its picture taken. Add a little extra challenge by making each photo an abstract. The plastic handle of a potato grater can be a great graphic abstract. Composition is vital in this exercise since the idea is to not make your subject instantly recognizable.

4.Black and White in Color – The world around us is full of color but for this theme, the focus is on black and white subjects. Converting to monochrome in post-processing is not allowed so the fun is in the hunting for subjects that are naturally black or white.

gel macro 300x228 How To Find Inspiration 2: Photo Theme Ideas5.Macro – We're so used to being at a distance from what we are looking at that the tiny details are naturally overlooked. Why don't you go up close to your subject, as close as your camera possibly can without the image becoming all blurred. Try to capture the texture, the shapes, and the part of the object that you never noticed before but which now seems so interesting.

There are hundreds of photo themes you can use so next time you do not know what to shoot, follow a theme for a week or two and feel your creative juices flow again.


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How To Find Inspiration I: Seeing Creatively

There are times when we run out of ideas on what to shoot next. It seems we've taken a picture of everything we can think of. The family dog seems to already know its best profile from all the hundreds of pictures you've taken of it. You've taken shots of every vegetable in the fridge, every item on your dresser and every flower in the garden. Inspiration is knocking less often at your door and the camera is slowly gathering dust.

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