Uncle Dick’s Shut-Out Corner

Uncle Dick’s Shut-Out Corner

Wait.

What?

I thought we were supposed to stay in and stay away from everyone.

Yes we are. Still the most cogent advice from the government and the medical advisers. Still unpalatable to many people. But we do it because lives are at stake. However, we can do something for our mental health if we turn the advice on its head a little – for a short while. We still can’t go to the beach or the pub or the footy. Still not allowed to mosh pit with 5000+ people. Not good at all. But with a bit of luck we can revive for the day. The trick is to lock ourselves out.

I put myself out of my house for the morning* and took a careful look at what I could photograph in the back yard. It was bound to be close-distance stuff so I chose a regular lens – but I could have done more with a macro lens. Even a kit zoom would have been fine. The day was clear as far as lighting and colour temperature, but I decided to give the Fujifilm camera’s AWB its head and just accept whatever it saw. We’re lucky in that we have a bit of garden going at present, but I suspect that even those with a Steptoe yard would find something photographically interesting to concentrate on.

a. Murphy. The potato.

Murphy sprouted in the pantry and I was loathe to quash that sort of urge-to-life. I dug out a roller tub and planted him…and was rewarded by a veritable vegetable explosion. He has weathered skinks and green caterpillars – hence the holes in the leaves – but continues ever skyward. That tub has plenty of room and I water him so I expect great things.

b. The Triffid.

Plant a passionfruit vine at your peril. It will look around for something to grasp and lever itself up. Then it will proceed to fill in all the empty spaces in the garden. It is probably stalking the cat, and I make sure I keep an eye on it when I sit out under the patio shade and read a book. One rustle and I’m in the house…

c. The Handley Page Jetstream

Well you need an air ambulance for your model ski resort… The real point of this experiment is the self-constructed light box.

I am a fan of the portable studios and collapsible fabric light cubes that the shop sells. The portable ones have light panels in the roof that plug into the mains and provide a clear white balanced light for small products. I’ve coveted them but never got around to bringing one home.

The collapsible cubes are just as portable but you have to supply light to them from either a studio strobe unit, a speedlight, or the sun.  The fact that they flop flat and can be had in sizes from 40cm cubed makes them ideal for on-site shooting. Again I’ve always intended to get one but hared off to other bargains in the meantime.

But I’ve been asked to have a photocube at a model exhibition – and I didn’t want to get a shop one in case it got damaged by the punters. So I grabbed some foam board, PVA glue, and dressmaker’s pins. The resulting structure is light and rigid and still packs into the front seat of the Suzuki. It’s so cheap that I’m not worried about it. It works pretty well if you fire an on-camera flash into it – even better if you bounce flash from its tilting ceiling.

But out in the garden should be interesting too. Does it catch and diffuse the sun enough to be a good mini studio?

The point of today’s post is to remind myself that I can keep busy in spite of the lockdowns. So can you – if you have a camera and one eye open you have a chance to make art, science, or history. Or trouble – your choice.

*  As opposed to the times when the family put me out at night with the bins.

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