Tag Archives: Tutorial

A simple project with fruit – a tutorial for fun!

• Orange •

• Orange •
Have a go at producing a floating orange in “exploded view”
Click image to view large
Orange By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Fruit is fun!

This tutorial will show you how to photograph fruit in all its glory – in a unique way. There are ways you can make the project your own with plenty of room for creative ideas. It is an easy project giving you some useful tips for still life lighting and working with a high key background. Have fun!

The picture of the orange

The picture above shows an orange, a wonderful fruit, in all its glory. We can see both inside parts and out. In this tutorial I will show you how to create this yourself and show some other similar examples to give you some ideas of your own. This tutorial will cover the following simple steps:

  1. Pick a good firm, clean orange.
  2. Cut it into quarters.
  3. Assemble the orange in an “exploded view” using toothpicks.
  4. Create lighting to show off your orange without highlights.
  5. Finally you will clone out the toothpicks on the computer.
Choose your fruit

Be careful, make sure that your orange is nicely shaped, no odd depressions or bruises, and as firm as possible, not over-ripe. Check the skin for consistent colour too. You want your orange to look delicious. No one will be interested in your shot if it is damaged, dripping and discoloured. Also, wash and gently wipe the skin before starting the tutorial. The skin should look bright and clean. Dirt, hairs and marks will really draw the eye of the viewer. Don’t let them be distracted.

Constructing the orange

Cut it in four pieces top to bottom (two cuts). It helps not to have too many cuts. Cut carefully and accurately. If you hack the orange you will be adding distractions to draw the eye. Be careful and slow to ensure accuracy.

Once cut we are going to assemble the orange in an “exploded view”. That is the term used to describe an “almost” assembled item that is floating in space so you can see how it would assemble. To hold the pieces apart I arranged the quarters using tooth picks. In the picture below you can see how the orange is braced with the toothpicks. The picture also shows how the back lighting is set up.

• The toothpick set-up and initial back-lighting •

• The toothpick set-up and initial back lighting •
• The toothpick set-up and initial backlighting • By Netkonnexion on Flickr  External link - opens new tab/page

You can see from the picture the orange is held firmly together by the toothpicks. It is also supported by four toothpicks as legs. We want the orange to be slightly off the ground so it has the feel of an independent object in space.

The white card under the orange extends to the edge of a table. On a chair a little way back from the table is another upright card. You can see the white back-card is very bright. I used a strong light under the table to illuminate that card giving it a high-key brightness. There are some links at the end to explain more about high-key effects.

We want to take the final shot with a little shadow under the orange. This give the impression the orange is floating in space. I will light the orange from the front with a flash. You can use the flash on your camera. However, that will create a very sharp shadow since flash is a very hard light. This means very harsh, sharp-edged shadows that will be quite dark.

In the next picture you can see how I created some under-lighting below the orange to soften the shadows created by the flash. I have two cheap Rolson 61770 72 LED Camping Lights. These are really flexible for table-top still-life and can be easily set up for fill light. They are great lights and affordable.

The underlighting setup to soften the shadows and create fill light.

• The underlighting setup to soften the shadows and create fill light •
• The underlighting setup to soften the shadows and create fill light • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

The lights under the orange and the back-lit card provide light on all sides except the front. If you have an off-camera flash you can use that, off-set to one side, for the front lighting. It is important to off-set so that you prevent ugly highlights on the front of the orange. Better still you could bounce the light off the ceiling if it is white. That way the orange will be evenly lit from above. To find out more about off-camera flash and some great opportunities for affordable models see:

If you only have a pop-up or on-camera flash then you should find a way of diffusing the light from it. Alternatively you could create a diffused reflection. You should be trying to find ways to prevent the flash pointing directly on the orange. Bright highlights would be created that are distracting and ugly.

Once the lighting is set up to your satisfaction you need to position the orange for the final shot. It is important to spend a little while positioning the orange so it obscures as many of the toothpicks as possible ready for your final shot.

The final position ready to photograph the orange obscures as many of the toothpicks as possible.

The final position ready to photograph the orange obscures as many of the toothpicks as possible. Then there is less cloning work to do on the computer.
The positioned orange By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

You can see from the picture that the orange is positioned so most of the internal toothpicks are not visible and the legs are minimised. Once the shot is taken we are going to clone out the remaining sticks. So if you have less showing you have less cloning-out to do.

Now you are ready to take the shot – shoot it! Make a few attempts. Do plenty of chimping to ensure you have the lighting right. Pay special care to minimising highlights on the orange. When you are ready you can download your shots to your computer.

The remaining work is to clone out the toothpicks. You will need to very carefully clone the white surface around the legs over the legs themselves until you can not see them any more. Pay attention to any shadows so that they remain realistic and consistent after your cloning is finished. When cloning over the toothpicks in the orange interior use the same coloured flesh of the orange to clone out the remaining toothpicks you can see.

If you are not familiar with cloning techniques you can see a tutorial here: Getting Started With Cloning.

find out more...Photokonnexion tips by email
Enjoying this article? Please sign up for our
daily email service.
                                                Find out more…

If you want to try other ideas here are a selection of other fruit-cut pictures below. All done using toothpicks or cocktail sticks. There is an infinite variety of things you can do using this technique so have lots of fun!

• Sliced Banana •

• Sliced Banana •
Click image to view large
The banana slices were held together with cocktail sticks while the shot was taken. Then they were cloned out afterwards.
• Sliced Banana • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

• Sliced pear on mirror •

• Sliced pear on mirror •
Click image to view large
A half pear was sliced and held in the exploded view with toothpicks. However, the pear was on a mirror – giving the effect of an inverted pear.
• Sliced pear on mirror • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

•  Alexander The Grape •

• Alexander The Grape •
Click image to view large
Each grape was painstakingly held apart using cocktail sticks.
• Alexander The Grape • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

• Strawberry Layer Drink •

• Strawberry Layer Drink •
Click image to view large
The strawberry has been sliced and held together with toothpicks. Then it has been placed in sparkling water to create the bubbles.
• Strawberry Layer Drink • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Using a wide angle lens

Using a wide-angle lens.

Unless you have seen the effects of the distortion created by a wide-angle lens or a fish-eye lens it is difficult to imagine how the image is a impacted. In this post we look closely at the actual distortion and impact of the characteristics of these lenses.

In Tips for doing wide angle shots we looked at the type of subject in which you can use a wide angle lens. I pointed out the characteristics and ways the lens affects the image. In this video we look more closely at the impact of the lens on the image/eye. The commentator shows the effect of various types of moves and perspectives the lens affects. A simple and informative examination of the wide angle lens.

Photography tutorial: How to use wide-angle lenses | lynda.com – A Lyndapodcast


CD Play – Fun with Light and Reflections

Compact Disks provide great opportunities with light and colour

Compact Disks provide great opportunities with light and colour

An opportunity to do abstract photography

The back side of a CD has wonderful light properties. View it from an angle towards a bright light. You will see great reflections. CDs provide flashes of multi-coloured light. The image above shows a range of different types of light on this CD. They each cause different types of reflection. In this tutorial I am going to show you how to get some interesting abstract light shots using a CD.

What you need

To do light abstracts you need…

  • A clean, unscratched CD or DVD (disposable in case you damage it)
  • A light source
  • White tissue paper
  • white and black cardboard
  • Various liquids
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Lens of your choice
  • Macro lens (optional)
  • A darkened room
The aim

My aim of was to get some abstract light shots with great colours. All abstracts are something of a personal taste. To get what you like will take some experimentation. However, it is also about making the best use of your materials. I am going to get you started. From there try out a few ideas of your own.

The camera set up

Still life is best done working toward high quality. I recommend you use a tripod. Hand-held shots get poor results in low light. You need low light for your beams of light. I use a darkened room for this exercise.

I normally work in manual mode for best control. I decided the shot should be sharp all the way through so used f16. ISO 100 will yield a good quality leaving me free to vary the shutter speed. By checking the camera light meter in the view finder I found with ISO 100 and F16 the exposure needed a half second exposure with the light I was using.

The table top set up

I tend to use sheets of white, black or coloured cardboard as a base. The photograph above used black card. It is almost textureless and light works well upon it. I propped black cardboard sheets as backdrops, reflectors or light dampeners. I am sure you can be inventive.

The light

I purchased a multi-point LED light source for this shoot. It’s an LED camping torch with a handy hook and magnets on the back. A very successful purchase – I bought a second one so I have two light sources for still life’s. It is cheap, providing a lovely soft light. Just cover up part of the lighted area to reduce the light output. It’s not ‘daylight balanced’, but it’s close. You can modify the colour with coloured gels, tissue paper or translucent polythene. The long thin shape makes it easy to change the light angle – upright or lying down. The batteries seem to last ages. It is a great addition to your table-top kit.

I found the LED to produce the best light beams for this shoot. However, you could use other light sources or create beams with slitted cardboard.

The shoot

Work with the CD flat on the black card on the table. Before shooting play around with a few light angles to so you know how to create the reflections. It is best to work in a darkened room with just your light source. Leave a low light on so you can see where you are stepping. Set up your tripod close to the table. I usually work with it on the table suspending the camera upside down. This works well if your tripod can do that. Otherwise experiment for the right angle.

I find three essential things make your table top scene go well. They are:

  • Be really, really, really clean and dust free! Your shots will show every dust-spot, mark, finger print and scratch. clean the CD and everything a lot. Wipe with fine grained quality cloths.
  • To save time in post-processing, wear white cotton gloves
  • Clean your lens. Close work shows-up dust spots on your lens.

For me, the abstract is spoilt by knowing it is a CD. I work close in to the CD. You only want to photograph part with the reflections. Get as close as you can and crop the shot later so the edges and centre are out of the shot. The effect is more abstract and dramatic.

To get really close I’ve used macro lenses. The whole frame can be filled with the segment of the CD you are shooting. Remember macro depth of field is very shallow. For sharpness your lens must be centered on the shot area with the lens glass parallel with the CD surface. Otherwise, anything goes. You can use the shallow depth of field too. Try out different effects. Experiment with other lenses. Remember, try to fill the frame to maximize the reflections you shoot.

Creative lighting

Use your light creatively to make your reflections. In the shots below my LED torch was on its side. It was placed about 50mm from the CD – just out of shot. The width of the light revealed all the LED beams to the CD creating an array of multi-colour reflections. You can cut the number of beams by using black card to blank out LED beams. Experiment to get your light the way you want it.

Creative lighting is all about experimenting. Work the scene as much as possible. Get different angles, heights, colours – try everything. Once you get some shots you like then work with your camera settings to get them just right.

Extension work

After getting some great reflection shots I tried out a few other ideas. I wanted to interrupt the straight reflection lines to provide a point of interest. I tried small objects and liquids. The best results were obtained with clear vegetable oil drops. Water tended to run. I added some gelatin to stabilize it and got some better results, especially with colours in the water. For me the oil drops were the most interesting and successful shots.

Try out some different small objects and liquid drops. I would like to have tried some clear objects like marbles, or small lenses to distort the reflections. All sorts of other ideas might work. See what you come up with.

My lighting scheme was themed around multiple LED beams from the torch. However, lots of other types of light could be used. You could try an unfocussed single beam, a few beams, say two or three or other light. Vary the light beam width – that might be fun. A range of beams from different angles would provide a set of wide spaced effects. I have used black cards (either side of the light beam) to create dark rims. I have also used reflecting coloured paper (wrapping paper?) to introduce random colours in the reflectance.

Let your imagination run wild. Have fun.

The results

My shots below might interest you. Some interesting ideas of your own may make all the difference. Give the project a go. Why not send us some of your pictures or a URL where we can link to them.

CD light art

'CD light art'

Focused Light - CD light lazers

'Focused Light' - CD light lazers

Lazer War - Super beams reflected from a CD

'Lazer War' - CD Super beams

Dark Light Speed - Traveling on CD light beams

'Dark Light Speed' - Traveling on CD light beams

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.