Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Friday, September 9, 2016

More on the Small Things

Cockatoo Feather

Feathers and gear are spread out all over my dining room table, chairs, and every flat surface within reach.

These indoor “studio” projects are quite a departure for me and frankly, I’d rather be out in nature.  Sometimes there’s just not time, though, and I know that I always learn something from these photographic detours.

Six weeks ago I had the pleasure of soaking up information and inspiration from Bruce Taubert during Arizona Highways Photo Workshops Weekend Macro class.  Vision turned to acquisition and I started playing with the techniques and stuff at home.

I’m pleased with the gentle diffused light in a white tent of the sort that folks photograph merchandise for eBay.  I had some fun with old rock climbing hardware and acupuncture needles and then settled on a theme.  Oddly, I was much more excited about this idea than (it seems) anyone else I showed the images to.  I called the series “Puppy Luv,” and the subjects were my dog’s artistic modifications of her stuffed toys.  She’s quite creative.

Shortly after this, I got a call from a friend whose husband makes jewelry.  Kurt wanted high-quality images for his new website and they had both enjoyed my recent experiments.  Actually, she may not have mentioned the Puppy Love series.

Hand Made Pendant, Primitivelements Jewelry
There are challenges in shooting shiny things like jewelry.  For example, a big fat reflection of me and my camera is not conducive to showing off the jewelry to its best advantage.  I also experimented to find the best light, which turned out to be natural light in the early morning, diffused by the tent, and I settled on my black velvet background, which disappears with proper lighting and processing in the computer.  This was a really fun project, and one that the clients seemed quite happy with.

So, we’ve arrived at the feathers.  Friends loaned me their collections.  I’ve essentially stayed with domesticated species because the federal laws about possession of “migratory birds or any part thereof” are daunting.  I always thought these restrictions were limited to eagle feathers but of course, the situation is much more complex.

Emu Feathers
The light tent, with or without artificial lighting, wasn’t giving me the results I wanted, so I’m now the proud owner of a light table.  I love the effect of backlight through the feathers and the high-key (very bright) effect.
And the mess?  My husband is away for a few more days.

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