Turn, turn, turn.

“The long exposure does something that our eyes cannot do, it can accumulate time,” says photographer Michael Kenna. I love his dreamy black-and-white landscapes, in which waters and skies appear smooth as silk. And I love the idea of capturing moments of consecutive time, stacked together in one image.

Well, I’ll need some more practice before I can create any ethereal landscapes, but in the meantime, these photos are the results of a little experimentation closer to home (at my dining room table), requiring only a decorative trinket, a slowed shutter speed, and some patience.

We’re often so concerned about sharpness in images – the crispness and clarity of frozen time – but I think there’s something so pretty and painterly about motion being rendered as soft streaks of woven light.

November 24 (1 of 3)November 24 (2 of 3)November 24 (3 of 3)

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Possibilities.

October 11 (1 of 1).jpg

My year-long daily photo project is soon coming to a close. Naturally, I couldn’t let the year slip by without attempting a photograph involving glycerin, a drinking straw, and rainbow spirals.

To make this image, I used a piece of colourful paper, propped up vertically, as the background. In front of it, I balanced a drinking straw across the tops of two cups (off-camera) so it would lie horizontally. Earlier, I had purchased glycerin at the drugstore for a few bucks (there had been no small size on the shelf, so I was stuck with a giant bottle). I placed a few drops onto the middle of the straw and let gravity pull them downward.

Being more viscous than water, the glycerin dangled from the straw long enough for even a slowpoke like me to mess around with my camera settings and make several pictures. I don’t have a macro lens, so I used a screw-on close-up filter on my regular lens, with a narrow aperture (f/22 in this shot) to try to get as much of each droplet in focus as possible.

Refraction – not reflection, I learned – is at play here. As the light passes through the glycerin droplet, it bends and renders the image in the droplet upside-down, though it’s not obvious in my example because the background is a circular pattern. Had I used a background image of a recognizable object, I would’ve propped it upside-down so that it would’ve appeared right-side-up in the droplet.

The fun thing about experimenting is that it nearly always provokes the maker into asking, “What if…?”  What if I used a photograph, a landscape, or a manuscript as the backdrop? What if the composition included only one droplet, or a hundred droplets? What if the medium wasn’t a droplet at all but a wine glass or a crystal ball?

Wait. What if I needed another year to tackle a refraction photography project alone?!

Well, in that case, at least I’d have plenty of glycerin.

Catch some rays.

September 8 (1 of 1).jpg

When you’re tired of making the same old photos of your garden blooms, try this: manually zoom your lens during a long exposure (shutter speed here was one second) to capture your flower more unconventionally. In this shot of a coreopsis, the blooms surrounding the main one are rendered as ghostly streaks of colour.

I had some help from Lightroom to crop the image and darken sections to minimize distractions like the leaves and the detail in the soil.

Making this radiating effect in a photo was pretty fun. I think I’ll try it on some other kinds of subjects – food, toys, vehicles… maybe even a face, if I can get one of my cats/kids to hold still long enough (the exposure time was one whole second, so I may have to wait until they’re asleep).