So just to clarify in case you missed it - Lost puzzle project isn’t actually about puzzles per se. It’s about building your skill creativity by working on one subject and one only trying to make the most of it. Puzzles can be swapped with anything (Other than pencils... please do not take any more photos of pencils) and your gear can vary. I am working at the moment with Nikon d7200 and various lenses, including one new I bought recently specifically for this project (85 mm F1.8) but that lens will most likely be mentioned in later posts as I got a feeling it will be heavily used, if you know what 85 mm are good for you probably can build an idea of what I am going to be doing with it. But let's start from the very beginning - figurine session.
So got mentioned rubber ducky out of my system and frankly I was pretty sure that my creativity on the whole idea had ended. If you read “Concept” section you already know that the whole theme of thing kind of started with photo on the left.
Still had some puzzle sheets left from Amazon, in a pub I work in found the most creepy little figurine that I am guessing someone has left with sole purpose of making people uncomfortable once noticed - and if you ever meet me you'd know that I love nothing more than doing just that. Wrapped it around in piece of paper roll (terrible idea - whole thing went to pieces) and took it home.
Didn’t have a great plan or what I am going to do with it, just liked what it looked like, good amount of detail and creepiness that suited my simple taste. So set up my camera with laptop next to it put it on the desktop - took few shoots and have to say it was far from something that could impress. To start with only had an old speed-flash that wouldn’t work as a slave (whether because its old and barely working, or I am too stupid to set it up properly) never mind that only lens that worked was my nifty fifty and my room is small so had to move it quite far away which meant that figurine wouldn’t be very close and there was lots of unused space around it, that's where the bottle came in handy.… what brings your creative flows - for me it clearly was vodka. Bought a bottle, couple of red bulls and kept going. Whole thing unexpectedly took about 7-8 hours of live away from me, would not think that doing something so simple would take such long time. Saying that it's mostly due to mistakes I've been doing along the way - smugs on the mirror, to high ISO and countless others. I suppose if that wasn't completely new thing for me to do and I wasn't such a damn amateur it'd take me around 1 hour including post, but hey - that's the learning curve I admittedly wanted to take on. The end product might not be amazing photo that will recognized by critics or even a photo that I am particularly proud off. It is something that brought be that few hours of practice and crossing of mistakes to bigger project that I have in mind over next few months. It was a first try that finally ended with clear, sharp and (in my humble opinion) however weird well composed photo.
1. Clean EVERYTHING!@£$
If you are using any mirrors, flat surfaces - clean that thing like there was no Tomorrow!!! Don't forget about your lens either. Only after taking first set of photos realized in post how every little smudge is visible and that it's actually easier to take new photo than trying to correct it in post. If ever let your self think "I'll fix it in post" you're screwing yourself over! Even if cleaning that window will take you half an hour it's still better spent time than doing it in photoshops, and for someone who is in process of learning slightly more time-consuming photoshop skills and loving it I can promise you that fixing your little mistakes that you could have avoided will be far from your favourite things to used photo editing programs for...
That thing that everyone talk about but never had an idea what is the whole fuss about? Damn.... once you start taking photos (in my case that little figurine) without micro lens, you need to crop even a bit the difference between 100 and 300 ISO becomes ridiculously obvious and frankly - painful to watch.
I'll update that post once I get back my external drive and show difference between 100 and 400 ISO when taking photos of the figurine, as soon as you zoom in even a little difference is more significant than you'd ever think.
Few things about light - I wanted to do s shot with quite strong shadows, my old speed flash wouldn't work as a slave (that thing when it flashes when put on side whenever you use your built in flash) which means I could not put any light from the side to create such. Not surprisingly enough got away with buying mini ring light which for what is it (about £12 on eBay) did great job helping me to achieve my first step on the way of getting what I want to do. Not saying you'l get away with cheap LED light for the rest of your life but hey if it helps you do something more special for your fist smaller project and get slightly crisper more detailed photo? Why not!
Really does bring up creativity within you (On the other hand too much too quickly can simply put you to sleep). Few drinks in and I've managed to solve problem of too much empty space around the subject (As mentioned without macro capable lens couldn't get to close/zoom it in any more than on the photo) by cutting out water bottle to create round blur effect. Why did I do that rather than editing something in Photoshop? Quite simply it all comes back to being creative while taking the photo, also when I tried to replicate effect without the bottle somehow it didn't work as good.
Little touches other than white balance or texture were needed, deleting lines between mirror and puzzles or between the puzzles themselves as well. Turns out though that most time-consuming part was (Even though I thought cleaned everything throughout) sorting out all that little imperfections that are not noticeable for amateur like me with bare eye. I mean it - I've spent more time going inch by inch of the photo (as in rubber ducky below) to remove marks, connection on the puzzles and all imperfection in the photo than actually doing something... fun? Like replacing ducky's head with mine, adding special effects and so on.
6. PROPS & EQUIPMENT
Whole thing costed me probably around £20 plus mentioned alcohol to keep me focused, Blank puzzles £4.99, LED light £12, water 50p, stolen... sorry - borrowed the figurine so saved some money here. But once you have a concept you probably have enough random items at home to make something special out of it - use it, try it, if it doesn't work bin it and move to the next one.
Worth mentioning water bottle with cut out middle to give blur kind of effect wasn't without a reason. If you don't have macro capable lens there's only so close you can get to the object which left me with a lot of very uninteresting space, have a choice of keep cropping or come up with something to make it work - whether that was good idea it's really for you to judge