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Interview/tutorial by Editor Michel Romaggi in collaboration with the author Heidi Westum 
Published the 30st of June 2021

Heidi combines successfully colours and light in her fairy tale looking compositions.  
These drops sliding on a plant, popping out of a beautiful coloured bokeh, are a brilliant example of her skills.  This image made me longing to know how Heidi succeeds to make these enchanting pictures.  Thank you so much for lifting the veil and telling us more about your creation secrets !


'Bubbling of happiness'


In most of your photos, there seems to be an abstract aesthetic research. What are your sources of inspiration?
I think almost everything inspires me!   That can be beautiful colours and shapes changing in the light, or the movement in the water, in the trees, in the flowers which are looking completely different according to how the light hits them.
When I started photographing again, I became a bad driver, because I was looking much more at the landscape and surroundings than at the road,  especially if the light was extra beautiful.

But it can also be artificial light, for example at indoor concerts where the light rays and the colours they use, create magical moods.
I would say that after I started photographing again, I see so much more and in a different way than I did before.

It happened once that I had to finish shooting to make dinner.  As I stood there frying meatballs, I saw how the sun was shining on a balloon lying in front of the kitchen window, and both the colour and the light were so beautiful.  I just had to photograph it. But how should I photograph it? Just light and colour?   Suddenly, I had an idea and took a pepper and salt mill in steel, laid it in front of the balloon and added a water pearl on it.  This picture was approved  by 1x 😊



Can you tell us how you imagine your works and how the ideas are born?
I find this very difficult to explain, because I'm thinking so often how "things" can be photographed, and how I can use what I see.  For example, I bought the copper scrub ("Bubbling of happiness") only for photography, not for washing dishes :)
I didn't think on how to use it, but I knew it would be very useful.
I often have no definite idea on how the light or composition should look like.  It mostly happens during the process when trying out different angles, backgrounds and lighting.  Although I sometimes have a specific image in mind and how I want it to be but it ends up with something completely different.  I get new ideas all the time while working on something.
Ideas can pop up just by looking at certain objects, and especially if they have great colours, textures or shapes. I probably have a hundred or more wrapping papers that I use as a background.  Many of them are laminated in A3 or A4, so that they give an even more shimmering effect.  I have been told that  when it is my birthday, I'm happier with a great wrapping paper than with the gift itself ;-)


Water drops are a big part of your work. Do they have a special meaning to you?
Not really, I think .. But still,  there is one image I often think of and which "was created by itself".  I did macro photography with seeds and drops for a while, but did not succeed to get anything special .  So, while I was cleaning up, I saw two seeds holding a drop between them, and behind them was a flower which was reflected in the drop.  I took a couple of pictures but they weren't good till I saw them  on my PC screen and found them interesting analysing what I saw and was looking at.

If you look closely at the picture, it's easy, at least for me, to feel some melodrama, haha.  They are sharing the most important thing of all: water.  And in the drop we can see a new flower, new life.  Maybe the drop is a belly and more of this and yes,  you probably understand the picture.
This is probably not often my way of thinking, but this picture became so symbolic to me.  I even became a bigger fan of drops after this experience. 


But unfortunately drop pictures became 'clichés', they still are very nice to look at.
It's a bit funny to think that all pictures / motifs that are called clichés are so because many people like them and like to take pictures of them ...

For me, drops are a much better alternative than insects. I don't want macro images of insects hanging on my wall, but drop images are suitable.


'Golden wings'



'Blue fun'



'Midnight blue neon'


Practically, how did you achieve the "bubbling of happiness" shot?
I read a lot about - and seen many pictures taken with - a Helios lens.  I had certain  expectations for the fantastic bokeh effect in the form of bubbles.  Still, I did not quite get it, just half happy, and I may not have had the Helios lens that was best known for such a bokeh either. But I used it enough to realize that the light had to be quite intense / strong and the angle had to be right:  backlight or coming from the side.  The subject also had to be partially shimmering / shiny or reflective.
I tried out many different "things" such as beads, shiny objects, glass, mirrors, shiny paper sheets, etc. and knew a little about how they work in a macro motif with the right lighting.  So, that's why I thought about the cobbler scrub I bought, tried it out and it worked very well.


How did you build the decor?
I have a lot of "accessories" for photography and especially for macro. I especially love colours, often glossy that change the character according to how the light and the angle are.

This picture required very little accessories, in fact the copper scrubber is used as a background and nothing else.  But when I light it with a flash light in addition to another light, this bubbling structure came out much better.  I first concentrated on the background. It had to give the bokeh I wanted, namely "bubbling". It is often the case that I arrange the background first, then I place the motif. When I have the background I want, I then chose a straw, on which I could place a drop. Looking through the viewfinder I can find out what distance this straw must have to maintain the background.   Then, I placed the straw on a clip with the right distance and that is how “Bubbling of happiness” was made ;-)
The image is almost unprocessed, but I increased the contrast a bit and sharpened the drop.


What equipment did you use?

I'm using a Nikon D750 and a Helios lens 44M-4  2/58.   Further more, a tripod, shutter release and extension tube(s).  I'm not quite sure, but I think I just used a 20mm here.


What settings and lighting did you use?

The setting for this picture were: Aperture 2, 1/250 sec, ISO 100, exposure – 0,3.
It was taken in front of a window where some sunlight came in, and I used a flash light with bright light quite close to the background as well.  I also used an orange gel filter placed in front of the flash light.


How did you come to photography and how were your skills evolving, Heidi?
I became interested in photography many years ago and bought a SLR as early as 1986. I subscribed to photo magazines and was inspired by some abstract and artistic forms of expression. But since I had no interest in darkroom work, it became very expensive to get the pictures developed. In many cases, the result was a 36-image film - none!  I bought a film camera when we had our first child and the camera was left at home.

The interest in photography was there, but was "forgotten" in everyday life.
When I bought a DSLR in 2007, it took off completely .. and shortly after I bought my first macro lens, a Sigma 105mm, 2.8 and I loved that lens. (I think I should buy a new one, even though I have a similar one in Nikon).  I am fascinated by macro, not only because it is so close with so many small details, but because you need such a very small "studio" to do macro.

I have many different lenses and take other pictures than macro, but it requires a larger studio, greater distance to the background and I have to constantly change the background / angle and then go back to the camera and see how it works. (yes, I know I can use a laptop or cell phone, but it will be a lot back and forth anyway) with macro I look at the LCD or in the viewfinder and at the same time change the background and lighting and see immediately what works and what does not.

'Trying to hide'



'Touch me'


Very fine creative work. You create an imaginative, wonderful world. Great compliments Heidi!
Thank you so much for such nice words, Erhard :)
Thank you, Heidi, for telling us more about the making of your stunning macro shots. Cheers, Yvette
Thanks to you and 1x :)
Long time fan of Heidi her photography. Inspiring and beautiful shots. Nice interview and explanation, thank you. gr. Piet Haaksma
Thank you very much, Piet :)