Category: P52 Assignment

Watching the Creative Live broadcast, How to Be a Commercial Photographer, last night. They used more lights than you can imagine to create an image of an expensive-looking bottle of liquor. Just the inspiration I needed, which presented an opportunity to try something similar with just a single light to get a bottle of liquor to sing. It’s harder than I expected – simply finding a suitable bottle can be a challenge but if I’m going to complete this week’s Project 52 assignment entitled “Being Exceptional” ( Discussion Page / Project 52) and, then I’m going to have to stretch my abilities a little further.

So six of liquor shots later….

with two white foam-boards, some help from my assistant, a ten second timer and by hand-holding a large softbox, here are the images before processing.

Liquor - BTS for Assignment 15: Becoming Exceptional

Once uploaded to the computer I was not too impressed; the lighting was not as I envisioned with a not-too-straight horizon and the camera had moved between shots. Nevertheless, let’s see what we can do to recover this as I do not have time to retake plus my assistant has left for the day.  There again, I do like the backlit image.

A few hours of Photoshop has helped me to almost reproduce my original vision.

Lighting the Liquor

I wonder if this type of lighting would even be achievable without Photoshop.

Photograph some high heel shoes! Now, how hard can that be?

I immediately called my fashion-conscious daughter to provide a selection of her favourite heels.  I soon realised the design and construction of shoes present a far more complex subject than I had anticipated.  The intricate combination of shape, line, curves, and material pose a demanding but ultimately fascinating challenge.

High Heel Shoes BTS

High Heel Shoes Behind the Scenes

To get the image looking just right, required a more complicated lighting set-up then I would typically use. Introducing a number of speedlites to complement the studio strobes is a great way to add and quickly adjust the fine details with a wink of low-powered light as required.

Red High Heel Shoes Shoes

Dorothy’s Dance

Hanging High Heel Shoes


Adding a splash, introduced a few new challenges. As a glass tank reflects, it’s no longer an easy process to place a light. Also, it was crucial not to water damage these expensive shoes.  Problem solving hat on…

High Heel Shoes Tank bts

High Heel Shoes in Tank – Behind the Scenes

The extra effort paid off…

High Heel Shoes Splash


Photographed as part of a Project 52 assignment

This is the tale of a finger hurting couple of days from back in August 2013…

When the P52 assignment “Red Balloon” was posted I already knew I was clean out of stock of these entertaining little rubber bladders! I immediately searched the Internet for some supplies and found a whole host of balloons including those clowning favourites “modelling balloons”. With an idea forming in my head, I ordered a range of colours and sizes, making sure that red was the most numerous.

YouTube, being the great visual resource that it is, has a multitude of tutorials on creating basic balloon flowers.  Oh yes, a balloon vase filled with balloon flowers seemed like the perfect idea.  I soon found that even the most simple of the instructional videos was beyond me. With much sweating, cussing and many misshapen and exploding balloons later, I conceded. One thing was for sure, following the strict instructions of balloon twisting is not for me.  Well, not all was lost, I had learned some basic moves so maybe it was time to go freestyle and forget the rules.

Starting with a backbone and ribs, Balloon Man started to take shape. Arms, legs and joints soon followed!  Sure, there was some popping and a little deflation but something was forming; and hey, this was going to be big, super-size even.

Here’s the elements that were used in the finished image.

The elements of Balloon Man

Today, I can see what I would do differently but this was a great experience that I am unlikely to repeat. However, one should never say “Never” and the lessons learned are simple; you should play to your strengths, bolster your weaknesses and realise there are often alternative routes to your goal.

Balloon Man - the final image

What a fun weekend playing with water during the short time the sun showed it’s face.

It all started as an idea, here’s a sketch of my original concept.

Concept Sketch Wet

So how to achieve this in a photo?

I don’t mind water but to get this right would require many shots and as many changes of clothes.

First things first, let’s get the water right. Aiming the garden hose at a sheet of Perspex just didn’t work; this created way too much spray, and other than soaking the camera (and photographer) it would be almost impossible to isolate the splash from the background.

Spray Hose Splash

Eventually, I tried a small bucket of water. This proved far more effective and created interesting shapes as it arced through the air, even the splash was more controlled.

Splash Bucket

At the computer, it was fairly easy to isolate the water using Photoshop.

Bucket Splash Cutout

Almost there but the background could be better, then I looked up at that clear’ish blue sky, just the job!

Bucket Splash in Sky

Back to Photoshop for a little experimentation… I had a substitute image to practice on, a lovely red apple that I’d shot a day or so before. I bit of Photoshop layer masking / blending and a filter or two later, and here are the final Apple Splash images.

Wet Apple Splash

Making Apple Splash has been fun with surprisingly effective results. I hope I will be able to use my new found techniques and do the original concept some justice. Click on any image on this page for a closer view or click here to see even bigger photos on my Flickr site.

**Update: Kept with the red apple theme for the assignment submission but will try to complete the original concept in the near future

Red Apple Splash in a Globe

For a long time I’ve wanted to find an excuse to use a melting effect in Photoshop. At long last I got the perfect opportunity with the concept “HOT” as a P52 assignment; a perfect challenge for my ingenuity.

After some experimentation in Photoshop and a search of the web for melting effect techniques, I sketched out my idea and composition.

melting effect - Concept drawing for P52 Pro assignment 21: HOT

I took a whole bunch of pictures to use in the final composite image, here’s a sort of start to finish snapshot of my workflow. The yellow goo is custard, a great idea from my wife.

melting effect - BTS for Melting Efffect


I originally wanted a red background but I just couldn’t get it to look right. Instead, I tried the orange/yellow, which provided a better balance with the greeny-blue of the tee-shirt and dark blue jeans.

Here’s the final composite.

melting effect - P52 Pro assignment 21: HOT

The Project 52 assignments are really helping me to understand how to light subjects. Our last assignment was a free-shoot so, drawing on my new found knowledge, I set myself the task of creating a portfolio-worthy image of a perfume bottle.  Here’s the image I submitted for the critique.

Men's Perfume Diesel Fuel for Life


Once I had my safe shot, I then attempted to photograph my wife’s perfume; this turned out to be much more of a challenge than I had anticipated. The bottle, designed to look like a diamond, is pleasing to the eye but trying to capture the beauty called on some resourceful techniques.

Initially, I wanted the bottle to glow with the idea of a “Diamond in the Rough” shining out.

Perfume Diamonds First Shot


The result was okay but I wanted the diamond facets to be clearly defined. Fortunately, I had shot several images with various lighting arrangements so after a few moments of editing I had a final and more appealing version.

The good news is that I have at least one image for my portfolio, if not two… mission achieved.

Perfume Diamonds Second Shot

I’m really enjoying the challenge set by the Project 52 Pro Summer assignments. It’s amazing, we’ve just had our week 17 live critique and I feel that my photography and appreciation thereof has improved tenfold.  Even better, that means there are 35 weeks of the course still remaining!

This past week I’ve been developing an idea on the theme of “The Magic of Hands”.  My plan was to show the hands as the multi-functional tools they are, and what better way than to show how effective they are as a cup!

Cupping HandsCreating the right light proved quite difficult but putting my trust in our teacher’s words, I re-tried bouncing my flash onto a white foam-core board. Here’s a sketch of the set-up.



I was happy with the light, had my “safe” shot and some extra time on my hands (sorry, couldn’t help the pun). Now I wanted to try and jazz things up to add a little drama into the scene.

Cupping Hands

Guess what?  Splashing water is a lot of fun and it brought back childhood memories; a time when life was more carefree and simple. Must visit there more often.

Here’s the Flickr page showing some of the other participant’s shots: Assignment 17: Hands