Tiz Past The Season For The Lights to Still Be Out

So I thought I would have some fun with this week’s assignment.  I often shoot my photos using a shallow depth of field, blurring much of the picture field, so this was not something new for me.  What was new, however, was the use of “bokeh”, or the play on light entering the lens.  I’ve gotten lucky with some of these effects in the past, and have even intentionally done it with some of my sunset/sunrise pictures in the past when it catches my eye through the lens, but have never really thought as to why it was happening.  Now that I know about it, I guess, I wanted to play with it.

Here they are.  Plugged in a waiting in the piano room.


Lucky for me, my parent’s aren’t so great at putting things away…like the Christmas decorations for instance.  There were a few strings of lights just sitting around in the living room, so I thought I would put them to good, artistic use, and have some fun with them!


I started off with just one image that fit the bill of “out of focus”  copying the above image, but just blurring the focus — you have just enough information to be able to tell that you’re looking at Christmas lights, but can’t quite make out any of the details.  Then I moved on to what I call the “classic bokeh” that I’ve seen through my researching over the past week. I Love how playful and colorful the lights shine through the lens, leaving the viewer completely unaware of what the source was.  Then I thought I would go to something which was a little more familiar to me; shooting in a shallow depth of field.  I loved the effect when shooting the Christmas lights in the darkened room — you’re able to get a combination of a strong focus in part of the image, with the blurred portion of the image having that lovely bokeh effect.  I shot nearly all of the images at an f/5, which made achieving this effect in only a portion of the image very easy.  Check them out!

As for the business assignments, I guess I’ve made a little progress throughout the week, but still have some work to do.  I’ve done some research into businesses which feature local artists’ work on a monthly basis, and will be reaching out to them — tomorrow!  I promise!  I’m excited, and at the same time nervous, about this.  Hopefully they like my work, and I can get things going!  I’ll also be at a craft fair a week from today, so that will be another great way to spread the word that I’m “open for business”!  If you’re in the area, come see me (you can read about the info here).

Week 1: Sparklers!

So in line with the week one task, and per my post earlier this week, I’ve completed the steel-wool sparklers for my “celebration” images!

I had to get a little creative with the construction of my sparklers, since the “recipe” called for the use of whisks to hold the steel wool.  Well, those were about $5 a pop, so I went with the more economically sensible metal skewers.  To my surprise, they actually worked pretty well.  If you want to try it out on your own, just find some metal skewers, take a pair of pliers, and bend them into a spiral shape.  Then take your steel wool, fluff it out a bit, and secure it around the skewer by piercing it, and weaving it along the spiral.  Once you’re all set, tie a rope to the skewer (I found ones with little circular hooks on the end, which were great!), and touch a 9-volt battery to the steel wool to ignite the spark!  You need to make sure that your spark can get plenty of oxygen for this to work; as you can see, our first few attempts were not too successful…

hmmm…not quite…

nope, that didn’t work

…Once you get the hang of it, however, you can get some pretty awesome results!  I found that the more stretched out the wool is, the more sparkles you’re going to get.  Once you’re getting to the end of your sparkler, or if you didn’t separate the wool enough, you get a much more solid line when capturing the image, which still provides some pretty interesting effects.  To get the “trail” effect of the sparklers, I took all of the following pictures at a somewhat long exposure of 4 seconds, and at an f/4.5, which I think turned out pretty well!  It allows for just the light of the sparklers to be captured, while leaving nearly all of the background completely dark.  Check it out!

I had a great time doing this shoot, even though, as you may have noticed with the snow on the ground, it was freezing outside!  That did work to our advantage, though.  If you give this a try at home, be careful!  Pieces of the wool will fall/fly off as it’s being burned and twirled around, which can be a fire hazard, so be prepared, and wear something that you won’t mind getting burned (you know, just incase you’re a little clumsy and hit yourself with it!).

Party's over

Party’s over

Thanks to my friend Paulette, who I always somehow convince to help me with my photo experiments.  Looking forward to taking more pictures in week two!

Planning a Celebration

According to week one of the 52 week photo/business challenge, the theme for the week is “Celebration”.  So after giving it some thought, and trying to recruit some volunteers, I’m going to give this “steel wool sparkler” experiment a try, and attempt to do some long exposures at night!  Wish me luck, and check out the video below with the details if you want to try it yourself.  I’ve always wanted to try something like this, and since night shots, particularly long exposures, have not been my strong point, here’s hoping it goes well!

Steel Wool Sparklers

Ok, so it's a firework,not a sparkler, but I can get night shots! :)

Ok, so it’s a firework,not a sparkler, but I can get night shots! 🙂