05 Shoot liquid still life photography
Fine-art photographer Sharon Johnstone loves to experiment with still-life set-ups. To create her bubble macro shots (see above), she fills up a glass of water and adds a few drops of olive oil.
“After a lot of trial and error I found that also adding a few drops of washing-up liquid separates the oil into little bubbles and stops it flattening out,” she says.
To create the colourful backdrops, Sharon also has a few clever tricks up her sleeve. “I use a variety of backgrounds – everything from wrapping paper to colourful feathers – which I simply place under the glass,” she says.
To light her oil and water shots, Sharon uses a Canon Twin Lite MT-24EX macro flash. This accessory allows her to shoot using a flat light, which picks up the finer details in the bubbles.
“If you can’t get your hands on a macro flash then you can use a household lamp or even natural light,” she advises.
When it comes to post-production techniques, Sharon simply increases the contrast to enhance the details. “I always check the photographs for dust too,” she says.
“No matter what I do I always seem to get little bits of dust in the water. You can clone these out in Photoshop, but keep checking as you shoot and fish them out when possible!”
Get started today…
* Shoot using a macro lens, or for a cheaper alternative you could try using an extension tube with a standard lens to get the extra magnification you need.
* Get a bowl or glass and fill it with water. Add a few drops of olive oil and washing-up liquid to create the bubbles.
* Set your SLR to its Manual exposure mode and then set the shutter speed to 1/250 sec to sync with the flash.
* Keep the ISO low at 100, tweak the strength of the flash and adjust the aperture to balance the light. You should start with your aperture set to around f/16.
PAGE 1: Shoot a bokeh effect
PAGE 2: Shoot the city drenched in rain
PAGE 3: Shoot a studio portrait
PAGE 4: Shoot an abstract image – then rotate it!
PAGE 5: Shoot liquid still life photography
PAGE 6: Shoot a surreal portrait
PAGE 7: Shoot woodland wildlife
PAGE 8: Shoot – and stitch – a panorama
PAGE 9: Shoot with the Rule of Thirds