02 Home is where the art is
Be more creative with your still-life photo projects
Late autumn and winter means inclement weather and increasingly short days, so why not try some creative photography indoors? There’s more to this type of photography than shooting water droplets, though. If you’re seeking some creative inspiration, check out the work of Dina Belenko.
Dina describes her work as photo illustration, but she is schooled in the traditional disciplines of still-life photography. “A great place to start is with a sparkler,” she explains. “Expose it for about a second or half a second, depending on the scale of the scene, and you can get beautiful fiery trails. In the image below, I stuck a sparkler on a plate with Plasticine, then introduced other elements. I moved the glass and chocolates closer to the sparkler, so the sparks could bounce off them. After that I placed the camera on a tripod, set the shutter speed to 1.3 seconds and lit the sparkler. It burns for quite a long time.”
Dina is also a big fan of smoke in still-life photography. “All you need is a dark background, a backlight, and incense sticks. Lots of them. They are much cheaper than a fog machine, more accessible than dry ice, and safer than an open flame.
“For my ‘Betelgeuse Travel Corp’ image ( www.bit.ly/dc158-dina), I used about 15 incense sticks. I covered the bottom of a suitcase with foil to protect it from hot ashes, inserted an LED lamp and lit the sticks. For my Voices image ( www.bit.ly/dc158-dina2), I used just one stick, and placed it on the bottom of a miniature telephone box, so that the smoke could rise right inside it.”
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* Smoke effects look mysterious and beautiful, but it’s best to work in a well-ventilated room! * Lots of these techniques involve slow shutter speeds, so a tripod and remote release are essential. If that seems a bit cumbersome, try a compact camera support such as the Joby Gorillapod ( www.joby.com). * Dina is also a wizard at making sugar look like snow. Powdered sugar or flour gives a nice snowfall effect, she says. “You can even make a real blizzard, if you sprinkle it forcefully enough and choose and the right shutter speed.” * Dina is also famous for her images of splashing coffee or other tinted liquids, for which she uses a syringe and a flashgun, and applies a fast shutter speed.