WMF Butterfly

by Andrew Badenhorst

There are many images of cutlery in photo books, on the internet and even on 1x. Despite there being so many, they are all different and unique. These images seemed so easy to make, so I decided to give it a try. My challenge was to create something different.
 
 
Nikon D800  .  Sigma 105mmf/2.8macro  .  105mmmm  .  1/250ss  .  f/32  .  ISO100
 
 
For the setup I needed a place where I could control the light. A chose small room at home where I could block out most of the ambient light. I arranged the objects on a table and hung a black paper backdrop behind it. I used a wooden box that had a glass plate on the bottom and turned it upside down so the glass was facing upwards. I put the flash inside the wooden box: it served as housing for the flash, and it prevented the light from spilling out the sides. I bought some metal sheeting with holes punched in them, and situated them on top of the glass. The cutlery came straight out of our kitchen. Once everything was set, I started shooting until I was satisfied with the result. 

I ran into a few problems while I was taking this image. First of all, the cutlery was not new, so there were many scratches on the spoons even though they were polished. Second, the light was very uneven. So I invested in various sorts of new cutlery. To resolve the lighting issue, I placed diffusing material from my softbox between the glass plate the metal sheeting. 

"The light went through the diffusing material, through the metal sheeting and reflected onto the salad fork."

I used a macro lens, a tripod and a remote release. In this way I could make very small adjustments, sometimes only a millimeter or so. I placed a flash with a reflector from Elinchrom Ranger Quadra under the glass plate to light the subject from below. The light went through the diffusing material, through the metal sheeting and reflected onto the salad fork. I tried a few of the newly bought silverware by themselves as well as in combinations. I decided to stick with a serving fork and a salad fork. It was important that I position the camera about 12 inches (30 cm) away the subject, and at a 170–180° angle in relation to the subject. From then on it was all about making sure everything was perfectly placed and getting the camera settings right. It took a long time and a great deal of patience.

I must say that although it is important that the viewer enjoy the final product, the most fun for me was the process it took to get there. That is why I enjoy 1x so much: it is about much more than just capturing an image. As I cannot see into the future, I could not imagine that the picture would turn out the way it did. In any case, I have not seen a photo like this one before, so I believe that it is one of a kind, and that makes me very happy.
 
POST PROCESSING
1) The photo was taken in RAW format (Nikon NEF). I had to use Nikon Transfer 2 to transfer the image to my iMac. I then converted it to a 16-bit TIFF file and opened it in Capture One. 

2) I made very minor adjustments to the exposure, contrast and sharpness. 

3) The red in the center (the result of the lighting and diffusing material) was a bit dim, so I increased the saturation in the reds. 

4) The image was then opened in Photoshop CS5. Using Nik Color Efex Pro, I painted in a Tonal Contrast. 

5) Finally, I sharpened with Nik Sharpener Pro.
 
TIPS
1) Look for inspiration in your surroundings, books or even the web. Keep trying and make sure to take your time. 

2) Be creative and change things — you might be surprised.
 
BIOGRAPHY
I was born and raised in South Africa, and I am now living in Switzerland. I have been taking photos with a passion since 2006. In 2008, I joined 1x and have been there ever since. I started photography with a Nikon D200 and an assortment of lenses. I later got a Nikon D800 and a Nikkor 28–70mm f/2.8 lens. I mostly enjoy portrait photography, but by trying out stills and macro, for example, I am getting to know my new camera a whole lot better.

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