Thus was born the series "Moments of Levity and a Spoon," consisting of 11 photographs, of which this is the last image. The purpose of the series is to illustrate ephemeral, fleeting moments that should have elapsed without notice, but have instead been caught and frozen in time through photography. This series is my attempt to allow us to take part in those brief, unseen moments. I want to recreate these unnoticed scenes and anchor them to our visual world. Therefore, two simple items like a spoon and smoke, which a priori could not connect with each other, now come together to form new situations that our naive eyes have never witnessed, like children watching clouds revealing shapes in the sky, masks finally being lifted or unveiling a forgotten past lurking in our visual memory.
"After trying different sources to produce the smoke, I opted to use incense sticks since they generated a very dense smoke with a bluish tint."
So with this concept in mind I started creating the picture using only these two elements. The spoon obviously presented no problems, but the smoke needed to be thick enough to achieve enough prominence in the image that it balanced the spoon. After trying different sources to produce the smoke, I opted to use incense sticks since they generated a very dense smoke with a bluish tint.Once I had decided which items I wanted to use, I started to organize the scene.
I suspended the spoon horizontally and placed the incense stick beneath it. That way the smoke would become trapped in the concave part, gradually filling up the spoon and then spilling over the edges. I set up two flashes behind the set, one on each side, at a 45-degree angle to the spoon to backlight the smoke. A white reflector, positioned just below the camera, bounced light into the shadows of the spoon, providing detail in those dark areas that otherwise would have been lost.
"An aperture of f/6.3 assured good sharpness, and it was perfectly adequate for the depth of field required since the smoke and spoon were basically on the same plane."
For the shot I chose a very fast shutter speed (1/6400 second) to fully freeze the scene, and I synced the flashes in high-speed mode using the rear-curtain sync. This speed also allowed the background to remain completely black, providing a good contrast with the subject. An aperture of f/6.3 assured good sharpness, and it was perfectly adequate for the depth of field required since the smoke and spoon were basically on the same plane. I set the camera to its native ISO (100) to avoid introducing noise to the image as much as possible; the Nikon D2Xs does not manage noise very well.With these parameters I shot numerous photographs; as the shape of the smoke is constantly changing and rises very rapidly in a somewhat erratic, uncontrollable manner, the images were all very different. In the end, it's simply a matter of selecting the ones you want to process. In my case, I chose 11 images that I then processed as a complete series.
Original RAW file from camera.
I adjusted a few basic settings in Aperture's Adjustments panel. I increased Exposure to 0.8 and Definition to 0.7. I also set Vibrancy to 0.7 to increase the saturation of the tones in a more controlled way.