Nest Egg

Nest Egg

A year or two ago I found two bird nests after they had fallen out of the trees after a storm. I thought they would make nice props so I picked them up and put them in a place where they could dry in the sun. Once they were dry I sealed them in separate plastic bags and then sealed both inside another plastic bag. After that, into the freezer they went and stayed for quite some time. I think it was a year or more. I wanted to be sure any mites or other things that might be living there were well a truly dead. I picked up the egg at a local art supply store and the wood in the background is actually porcelain floor tile from a local building supply store I bought for a different project.

As with many of the photos I make, I had been mulling over the idea to make a photo like this for some time. The other night, I finally decided to work on it. I grabbed the floor tile and set up the background. Then the nest and the egg were place and propped us as I wanted them. I knew I wanted very directional light that spilled in a tight ring around the nest so I used a 10º grid over a single light. I chose my camera angle and tweaked everything to get it just the way I wanted it.

Technical Data: Nikon D7100, 50mm f1.4 lens at f16, 1/250 second (x250 sync), 10º grid on a Dynalite head.

I find thinking about photos I want to create, sometimes for a prolonged period, helps me get exactly the photo I imagine. This photo is the result of thinking about creating it off and on for many months or maybe more than a year. I knew the look of the lighting I wanted and the background. It took a bit of tweaking to get the circle of light just the way I wanted it with the fall off to near darkness. I’m happy with the results.

A Studio

For some time now I have wanted to have a studio. I didn’t always want one for several reasons. Over the past couple of years I have been thinking about having a studio more and more. Back when I was working as a photographer’s assistant one photographer gave me a pretty solid piece of advice: “When you have a studio, the tail starts to wag the dog.” Meaning, as he explained, you might end up taking every job, even ones you hate, just to pay the rent. Taking every job that comes along just to pay the rent was not why I wanted to be in photography. That has been in the back of my mind since then.

I have often said that I would not get a studio unless I had six months of rent and expenses in the bank. That is so I could stay open even if I had no paying clients for six months. Well I don’t know about you but getting $12,000 to $15,000 in the bank hasn’t happened for me. But now I’m thinking about a studio more and more. I like to teach and many people have been asking about studio lighting classes or pinup classes. Things I would like to teach but without a studio teaching those classes would not be very easy. So, I have started to look for a studio.

Am I in any hurry to get a studio? Not really. As with most things I believe, you get what you need not necessarily what you want. I think the Stones said something like that in one of their songs. Anyway, if you see a post in the next few months about me getting a studio you will know it happened. If you don’t see such a post, then maybe I’m still thinking about it. Photography is something I have enjoyed for many years and I don’t want getting a studio to change that!

Do you need a studio?

Quite often I hear from other photographers, “If only I had a studio.” To which I ask, “Where do you shoot now?”  The responses are as varied as what different photographers like to photograph. Having a studio would be great. I’ve worked in a bunch of them. In fact I have helped three photographers build their studios and I was asked for my input on the design of studio for a large national non-profit that I used to work for on a freelance basis. Currently I don’t have a studio, in fact, I have never had a studio of my own. I have always made sure I have a place where I can go and make some images if I feel the need to.

Since I got serious about photography I’ve used a wide variety of places for a studio. When I lived in Belgium the Arts and Crafts Center, where I was a Photolab Instructor, had a studio that I could use. When I lived in an apartment in Charleston SC, attending the College of Charleston, I had a king size bed on legs that were 7 1/2 feet tall! The apartment had ceilings that were a bit over ten feet high. This gave me room to shoot headshots, ¾ body shots and tabletop setups under the bed. My dorm rooms at the University of South Florida also became a studio when I needed to shoot projects for various assignments. After graduating I would use my dining table or my living room to shoot in. Currently I have a small space in our basement where I have the option of setting up a small “studio” when I get an idea for an image that can be created in a small space. When I need a larger space I use our garage or another room in the house.

Can you create a studio anywhere you have room to shoot? Sure you can. All it takes is a little ingenuity and some planning and you can make it happen. Can I shoot a Lamborghini in my living room or one of the other rooms I have already mentioned? Of course not. For that matter how often will I get the chance to shoot a Lamborghini in a studio? Lets just say I’m not planning on it anytime soon but if I needed to I would rent a studio for the shoot.

Match bursting into flame

So the answer to the question is, No! You don’t need a studio. Creating images like this image of a flaming match and the others you see here can be done in a relatively small space. Would having a studio be great?  Sure it would be, I’d love to have one. Having a place to go and shoot whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to, would be great. Not having all the expenses of having a studio, well, that’s great too.

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