About Reflections: Every photo is a frozen memory. BUT every memory is also a reflection. AND every reflection is a distortion of the truth based on perspective. This series explores literal and figurative reflections.

Nick and I were on a roller coaster road trip at the end of last summer, and our Virginia hotel was right next to this massive warehouse full of home décor. I’d never heard of it before, but apparently At Home is a chain that hasn’t made it up to my neck of the U.S. just yet. =(

I can’t tell you how long I wandered, or the amount of restraint I had to have to not buy everything in the store! It was difficult to leave, but eventually I narrowed down the things in my cart to only a few small reflective props, and only two impulse buys that strategically lured me in at the checkout aisle.

All of the photos below, and many more to follow in future posts, were made reflecting these objects off of one another.

If you’ve been following along behind the scenes, you may have noticed that I’d been using my little flashes up until this point. I swear by these little lights for my macro photography, and I love how portable and simple to use they are… but they have 2 downfalls:

1) They’re battery operated, so as the batteries start losing power it takes the flash longer and longer to recharge for the next burst of light. No big deal when you subject isn’t moving, but…

2) They also don’t have modeling lights. So that makes it really hard to see what you’re doing, especially when the subject is reflections. The slightest movement can totally alter your image and it can be hard to get the light back to where you started if you move it by mistake.

For those of you who are new to strobe lighting, modeling lights are the lights that give you a preview of where the light is actually falling onto your subject. They’re not as powerful as the full force flash that goes off when you hit the shutter, but they allow you to see where the highlights and shadows will fall before you take the photo. With flashes you have to guess and check.

The solution?

I borrowed some lights; Dynalites to be exact. I only used one light and then, for this particular photo, I clamped a “McClamp” to my table and then attached a small, 12-inch diffuser to the other end to soften the light. The black card on the table cut back on the amount of extra light that was bouncing off of the white surface.

However boring it is to photograph products, my product photography experience taught me that black and white cards are very useful tools for modifying light. I’m using matte board that’s white on one side and black on the other because it’s what I had on hand, but you could use foamcore, posterboard, and even construction paper.

Here’s a closer look at the set so you can see a bit more detail.

You can see what I got out of this setup below! The light is filtering through that mosaic candle holder and backlighting each little piece of glass. My camera is catching only a bit of the candle holder on the left, and is mostly focused on the reflection that’s bouncing off of the bottle.

Read what inspired this series in “Why Reflections” – This image is titled “Fire Falls Rain Forest” and is also available in a super tall crop

You might notice that the surfaces of both objects are all a blur, and only the reflections are sharp. I find the literal and figurative depth of reflections so fascinating!

The same lighting and concept were used in the above detail shot, I just switched out the bottle for a soap dish.

I think I must have tried the larger dish at first, but I probably didn’t like the results and stuck the smaller one on top. So the result below is zoomed in on that smaller dish, the surrounding areas aren’t captured in the frame.

Read my reflections in “Battling the Blank Page” – This image is titled “Alien Web” and is also available in a super tall crop

Woah… I covered a lot here. In all honesty, I planned on showing you more in this post, but I think that’s enough for today.

Next time, I’ll show you how one simple adjustment of this one light can create extraordinary results! Stay tuned for Part 4 =)

As always questions and comments are welcome below.