All posts by wjl

Portraits of things

Sometimes – or rather, quite often – I take photographs of what I refer to as ‘found objects’. Which means that normally I don’t alter or even touch them, all I do is to find the right angle and/or light to take a photo of such objects. It’s a bit like taking a portrait of a thing, and this can be environmental or with gently blending out the background, whatever you like. It’s a bit like performing finger exercises on a musical instrument, and in my opinion it also trains your view quite a bit – you can actually learn from this.

I just took a photo of a small bottle of yoghurt drink with using my studio strobe and a beauty dish. But you don’t have to use any fancy lighting, a small battery-powered compact flash bounced off a wall or a reflector would give you pretty much the same result:


Fitness drink

I used my Olympus E-PL5 “Pen”-type camera with a Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm/1.4 lens set to an aperture of f/3.2 – for which I had to turn down that studio strobe to 1/32nd of its maximum power output.

If you do this for a while, you can actually do it blindfolded – and that gives you the opportunity to care only about the light, the composition etcetera – so when you actually have a breathing object, you’ll have enough confidence to do just the same. It’s caring for the one you photograph instead of thinking about technique and gear.

Thanks for viewing.

Zuleikha makes these…

… and she’s also cataloguing them with own photos, names, and maybe even numbers:


Loom art. Olympus E-520 with 50mm/2 macro lens. Cropped 16:9.

Update, one day later:

Here’s one more, this time in daylight. Same camera and lens, manually focused:


More loom art. Olympus E-520 with ZD 2.0 50mm Macro at f/8.

In the background you see what these are made of – small silicone rubbery rings…

Thanks for viewing.

An image taken in low light

We have a LED reading light in our living room, taking about 5W or so. Not very bright as you can imagine. Tuna the cat was sitting about 2 meters from it, and that gave me 1/13th of a second with the lens wide open at f/1.8 and ISO 6400, hand-held. No noise reduction, no sharpening:


Tuna the cat in low light, August 2014. Olympus E-PL5 with 45mm/1.8 lens at f/1.8.

Thanks for viewing.

Late Sunday portrait

Zuleikha, just a few minutes ago during dinner:


Zuleikha, August 2014

I removed the background I usually place at that door, since here I did want to see the reflection (of my studio strobe) on the glass. And perhaps with the exception of the door handle, it makes a nice frame for her in my opinion.

Thanks for viewing.

Young chili peppers

Mitchie has a couple of pots outside in which she’s growing chili peppers – the very hot sort from Thailand I think. And tho they’re still very young and tiny, definitely less than my own thumb size, I tried to take some photos of them since yesterday. First I took the “Pen” camera with the longest lens I have, the 40-150mm fully zoomed out (which is equivalent to a 300mm lens on 24x36mm film):


Young chili peppers

And today I tried again with my 50mm macro lens on the DSLR (like 100mm, but a lot closer than yesterday):


More young chili peppers 1/2


More young chili peppers 2/2


Young chili peppers, close-up

They’re moving a bit in the wind, so you really have to be patient and wait for the right moment if you don’t want to use a high ISO setting. Especially if you’re that close.

Thanks for viewing.

Workflow variations

Today I decided to live without autofocus. I started in the company in the morning, and I was particularly interested in how this manual focusing would work together with face- and/or even nearest eye detection.

Well, using face detection works pretty well. The camera recognizes the person in the photo, and if you have focus assist switched on, the image in the viewfinder will be zoomed in up to 14x as soon as you move the focus ring. It will jump back and show you the whole picture if you don’t turn it for a moment, or if you half-press the shutter. With real manual lenses you’ll have to zoom in yourself, otherwise it’s the same. Without face detection turned on, you’ll have to move the focus point yourself first – on my little “Pen” camera I could even do this with a tap onto its rear display.

So it’s pretty easy to focus on eye lashes for instance. This isn’t sharpened at all (I rarely do that since a while):


Zuleikha, August 2014. Olympus E-PL5 with Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm/1.4 at f/1.4, manually focused through the VF-2 viewfinder.

It’s fun to leave the automatics behind, and it makes you stop and think a little bit more before pressing that shutter.

Thanks for reading.