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)



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).