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Still life in motion

Interview / tutorial by Editor Michel Romaggi in collaboration with the author Susan Beausang
Published by Head Editor Yvette Depaepe the 11th of August 2021


'Strawberries and cream'


Lemons and strawberries diving into a glass of water, a vase full of flowers exploding on the floor, or these strawberries jumping around in a jar of cream, I was really triggered to know how Susan Beausang creates such wonderful images.

Hello Susan, thank you for answering my questions.

How did you proceed to get this stunning still life in motion?
I already envisioned for several days 'Strawberries and Cream'.
It actually started out with a similar concept - the suspended fork but instead of the strawberries, marbles running down the fork.  A quick look through LR tether revealed what I suspected, which was that the photo needed more colour. When I am doing this type of photography, I gather all of the props that I think will be necessary and make sure they are washed, clean and free of any debris.

Which are the different steps to achieve this superb shot?
This shot is composed by 3 different photos.

The first step for this type of photography is always to strive for proper lighting.
I used a black backdrop and a black cloth on a table. I also used two strobe lights.
One was situated on the left and slightly angled to the front of the table to avoid any reflections in the fork. The other one was placed on the right of the arrangement.
My first photo was of the suspended fork. To achieve this I wired the fork which was secured by a "C" stand above the table.

Next photo was of the strawberry. Once again, this was wired and secured by the "C" stand which was placed over the table.  When using food for photography it's very important to choose items that are as fresh as possible without any bruising or imperfections.
I took several different shots of the strawberry so that I would have choices once I viewed them in LR.

The third step: this photo was taken over the course of two days.  Nothing was moved in the studio which ensured that the depth of field and lighting would remain the same.   Achieving the proper splash in the shallow bowl proved to be a bit of a challenge.  I needed to drop something that was fairly heavy but small enough for the shallow bowl.  I ended up gluing several marbles together and using them for the splash. The milk splash took about 15 shots to be sure to get enough of them to be able to choose the very best.

Once all the elements of the photo were taken I made small adjustments in LR and chose the photos that would be used for the final image.  They were imported into PS as layers and a mask was applied to each layer.  All the wires used to suspend the elements were removed.  I chose the best strawberry shot and made duplicate layers to have multiple strawberries and angled them on the fork accordingly.  I chose the milk splash that looked dynamic enough to be realistic but used several other splash photos and took elements from those photos for the final image.

The final image was a combination of all the photos. I made a stamp layer and did some additional colour adjustments.  Final step was to slightly sharpen.

Which camera and lens did you use and what were the settings?
Camera: Nikon D500
Lens: Tamron 35-150 mm shot at 46 mm
Shutter Speed: 250
ISO: 100
Aperture: 10.0
In the studio: 2 Alien Bee Strobe lights

You often make still life photos in motion.  What do you like the most about this type of images.
I enjoy the challenge of this type of photography.  I love to envision the image and then the process of trying to bring it to life. The excitement of seeing the final image gets my creative juices flowing for the next project.


'Vase explosion'



'Strawberry and Kiwi Splash'



'Citrus Dunk'


You also have excellent pictures form animals in your portfolio.
Living in Florida, I find nature and wildlife to be in abundance as photographic opportunities. Originally from the NE,  I do miss the change of seasons regarding my photography but in Florida, wildlife offers me its own change of seasons with mating and subsequent birth of offspring. There seems to be some breed of wildlife to photograph the entire year. In addition, the weather itself lends  to having these opportunities all year round.


'My Favorite Place'



'Three Is Company'


Can you tell us what guides you to make your photographic choices and what place photography takes in your life?
If I had to place myself in a category of interests regarding my photography, I would say that I lean towards the creative side. I like the challenge of making my ideas come alive through my camera.  I am a relatively new photographer (8 years) but I enjoy it so much that my commitment leads me to so many learning opportunities.  I definitely see the world differently since picking up a camera.  My camera lens allows me to bring to life the images from my imagination. The camera holds no boundaries and the opportunities are unlimited.

Many thanks for having revealed us some of your creativity secrets, dear Susan ...


Your photography is amazing Susan. Your studio work is sublime. Thanks for sharing your technique and your promise not to post owls. xxx