I recently had to produce an image to go with others in a set I am submitting for a photographic distinction. The set of images is mostly very abstract, so I wanted something that had some reality but also had significant abstract elements.
This glass paperweight with a blue and white glass base and a big air bubble in the middle caught my eye. I’ve used it for photography before but kept the air bubble out of view. Safety note: It doesn’t normally live on the window sill because it focuses the sun and acts as big burning lens!
I decided to photograph the air bubble with the blue base as the background, so I got out my trusty Sigma EX 50mm macro lens and took a few test shots. The first thing I noticed was that the bubble acted as a lens and gave a fisheye view of the world around it. This was both a useful thing and a real pain. I was lighting the bubble with a remotely fired flash pointed at the ceiling and I kept getting the ceiling light in the bubble! Clearly I need to be a bit more sophisticated…
I placed the paperweight on a large piece of blue patterned fabric and then hung another bit of fabric, red this time, off to one side. I found a large clear glass bottle filled with green glass beads and put that at 90 degrees to the red fabric. I set the flash up to shoot partly through the bottle and partly shoot on to the red fabric. The camera needed to be pointed down to get the base in shot, and I was at the limit of focusing due to the lens hitting the glass body of the paperweight.
Again I needed to do a few test shots and adjustments, this time to get the exposure and composition just right. The air bubble captured all of the surrounding materials, and I think it looks a little bit like a spherical face. This image went well with my other images and was the final piece in my submission jigsaw.
This sort of excercise is a test of photographic imagination and ingenuity. Why not try something like this yourself?