Friday, November 9, 2007

Abstract Macro


LED Abstract series 1-1
Originally uploaded by Dalantech.
The bugs are almost gone, except for the jumping spider that has greeted me for the last few mornings on my living room floor, so I’m back to shooting abstract macro. There are two aspects that make shooting abstracts difficult for me. The first is all of the images that I’ve seen from other photographers -I can’t use them. I just don’t want to do what’s already been done because if I’m walking in someone else’s shadow my work isn’t going to stand out. So I have to put all of the images that I’ve seen out of my head and try to come up with a new idea that isn’t influenced by anyone else.

Then there is that little problem of taking that idea, once I have it, out of my head and into the camera ;)

A few weeks ago I was experimenting with a 3 watt LED and a DVD and I liked the results. So I decided to try shooting a small water drop while pumping the light form the LED into the DVD. The setup is pretty simple: I placed the camera on a Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom (highly recommended!) that I set on my living room table and then I stacked some books up so I could have a working surface even with the camera. Then I took a DVD and coated part of it with canola oil. Any light oil will work, but I used canola since it is almost completely clear. The oil serves two purposes; it keeps the surface of the DVD from looking completely smooth (so the final image has some “defects” in it and won’t look like it was computer generated) and it makes the surface tension between the DVD and the water drop higher so the drop doesn’t flatten out. Then I just placed a drop of water on the DVD and focused the lens by moving the books and adjusting the magnification of my MPE-65 to shift the point of sharp focus –kinda like a poor mans focusing rail.

The tricky part is getting the light and the color that I want. Moving the LED closer to the DVD effects how sharp and defined the light will look after it bounces off of the DVD and splits into the different colors. So I have to “focus” the light by changing the distance from the LED to the DVD. But the angle of the light also effects how the colors will split, so it can take a while to get the right combination of distance and angle –minor changes in either one can have a big impact on how the final image looks. Also what I see in the view finder isn’t always what the sensor captures. Fast shutter speeds seem to give me better results than slower ones, even though the image might look better in the view finder when the light levels are low.

A little imagination, and some trial and error, led to the image included with this post :)
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