A friend of mine calls me up every week or so with a photography question. Usually, he’s looking for the magic incantation or editing technique that will make his photos turn out in a particular way. Sometimes there is such a thing (e.g. wait for the the flash to charge, use manual focus, etc.). But usually there isn’t. Usually, getting a particular effect in a photograph, either at the camera or in post-production, requires experience, artistry, experimentation, and work. And a lot of the stuff you learn on one photo can’t just be applied blindly to the next one. School portraits aside (ha!), every photo is different.
I try to take pictures every day. Some days, of course, I’m inspired by something I see. At other times, I need to inspire myself and come up with an idea. This week, an idea was prompted by discovering an old discarded medicine cabinet that had mirrored doors. The doors were removable and provided me with two relatively large rectangles of mirrored glass.
One day, I decided to play with the mirrors, and it certainly was fun. First, I washed them to eliminate distracting blotches and spots. Then I tried laying various objects on them. I found that some objects are pretty boring on a mirror. For example, most thin flat objects do not produce interesting reflections. All you see are the edges. Plump or rounded objects reveal more of their undersides. If the underside is a different color from the top side, you can get interesting images. Although you can create the appearance of reflections using software, you will have far more fun experimenting with real ones.
Irregularly shaped objects make the most interesting reflections, I think. It’s hard to tell where the object ends and its reflection begins. I set a half-peeled clementine on the mirror and was tickled by the result; later, I piled the segments on the mirror and liked those results as well.
If you would like to be inspired by photographs, take a look at the winners in the PDNOnline Digital Imaging Contest 13. I was surprised not only at the variety of work displayed there, but also at how appealing many of the images were.
PDNOnline is a monthly magazine for professional photographers, and I feared that all the images might be just ads or promotional pieces. However, photographers competed in a number of categories:
The New York Public Library Digital Gallery has half a million digitized images from the library’s collection. This is a fascinating resource, and I drop by every so often to browse through their holdings. Now that baseball season is behind us, those having an interest in the sport might enjoy visiting “America’s National Game,”a collection of early baseball photographs from the collection of Albert G. Spaulding. Many of these show 19th century portraits of players.
The Collection Guide gives a brief history of the collection, but it is the images themselves that caught my fancy. Click See all images to see the entire collection.