Smartie Reflections

Firstly, I would like to apologise to the regular readers of this blog, I had to put my camera down for awhile as I needed some ‘Me’ time. Its not that I had run out of inspiration or was over it all but I had been working pretty hard and it all came to a head when I struggled to get out of bed one morning. Simply put, I was exhausted.  So after speaking to my wife, I decided to take a month off and not pick up my camera, nor write any blog posts or add to either my G+ plus or Facebook page. I needed to rest and spend some valuable time with family.  The problem is that Facebook and especially Google plus is pretty hard to stay away from. I did post some things but they were small posts and I wouldn’t revisit for days. Now rested I decided that I would do something here at home which everyone can do.

I picked up a photography magazine from my local newsagent which I read regularly. I find that reading photography magazines provide ideas, insight to other peoples photography and provoke thought and most importantly, action. I know I can hear the cries already. I can get the same from reading them on line, but I am old school and I like to be able to hold a magazine or a book when I read, not a tablet. Tablets are something you take when you are ill or have a headache.

This one article about refraction gave me an idea, I am not quite sure I know what refraction is exactly but I think I achieved what I was aiming to do and here is how I achieved it.

All of these images were shot here at home and nothing special was used. I did take them at night using the ceiling lights which explains the long exposure. Heres what I did and please remember that none of this is supposed to be perfect at all.

I have an old black fold out card table at home which I use to put camera gear on, use as a work bench or use if I am shooting macro and then use it for the odd family function, but if you don’t have a fold out card table you can use a coffee table or even the kitchen bench. You need a black surface as well and you can use anything that is black.  Black t-shirts, pants, skirts or a dress that your better half will allow you to use and lay that flat as possible on a hard surface like the kitchen bench or coffee table. Then grab some white A4 paper or A5 paper and then roll it length ways to form a circle and the tape it closed. The circle you have made needs to be about 80 -100mm in diameter. Then if needed, trim down your paper so it is only about 30 -50mm high.  Now find a CD case that has very few scratches or dings and dents and give it a good clean using a lens or glass cleaner. Use a cloth that is preferably lint free as this will reduce the amount of cloning you will need to be doing during the post processing phase.

Here’s the good bit, grab a large bag of some colourful chocolates like Smarties, M&M’s or skittles from your local supermarket or shop. Place about 10 or so of them at the bottom of the circled paper

arranging them so they provide a good cross section of colour. Literally arrange them any way you like. You don’t need many but the tip here is don’t stack them, make sure that there is only one layer of your favourite coloured chocolates/ sweets.

Set you tripod up with the camera looking directly down and over the top of the paper ring with the sweets/ chocolates and manually focus on the centre one. If you have a macro lens, use it but if you don’t have a Macro lens, don’t despair. As some of these sweets are large enough to focus on anyway you shouldn’t have to many problems using your every day lens. Once you have focused on the centre sweet or chocolate, switch it to manual mode to ensure that your camera doesn’t decide to re-focus when you go to take your shot. set your ISO to 100 to reduce or limit the amount of noise and provide you with a crisp clear image. In this case I set the White Balance to Auto and let the camera decide. I also shoot in RAW as well but if you are unable to, shoot in the JPEG Fine to give you a better and higher resolution image.

Pull apart the CD case so you have just the lid and then place it directly over the top of the coloured sweets/ chocolates and then find an eye dropper or a syringe and fill with water. Now carefully and slowly place drops of water on to the top of the CD case lid. I found an eye dropper worked best as I could put one drop at a time on the CD case and I could almost space them evenly as well. When I used the syringe, I found that I would sometime squeeze to much water out and would have to start again.

I used a cable release as well so I would have to touch the camera when the shutter fired which prevents camera shake and the shutter speed was pretty slow.  If I had some sunshine here instead of all of the rain the shutter speed would have been a lot faster as I could have done it outside or near a window.

Now while you are taking your shots, eat some of the smarties, M&Ms or skittles and if you want, you could always include a half eaten chocolate or sweet. Play with the way the chocolates are laid out in your circle but be mindful when you take the CD case off your rolled up piece of paper that you have all of those carefully placed water drops, so do it very gently an slowly because you don’t want start again either.

Once you are happy with all of the shots that you have taken, download them to your PC or laptop and process them whilst eating the remaining smarties, M&M’s or Skittles, You will need to crop the image down a little cutting out the paper circle from the edge of your frame and undoubtably you may need to clean up some of the scratches and dents that are in the CD case to get that image to where you want it. Hopefully you should end up with something like these that I have taken.

Also I thought that I would explain the 3 photos that I have shown you here. The first photo is an overall image with rolled up white A4 paper with the smarties in the centre and a CD case lid sitting on top with water drops placed carefully on top, the second photo is not quite what I wanted as the is not real clear even after I had applied a sharpening tool to it during the post processing phase. I seemed to have focused on the water droplets rather than the smarties. The third photo is a lot better and I was fairly happy with what I had managed to achieve, the overall image is clear and the water droplets have good reflections of the smarties directly underneath. Its a fun photo and I would be more than happy to have a young family have this hanging in the home. The kids would love.

If you have problems, please feel free to leave a comment and I will help you out and for those of you who succeed, I would love to see what you have come up with and please remember, this is meant to be fun and the results do not need to be perfect at all.

Happy Shooting.

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