Objet d’art

On Sunday I had a strong desire to head out into Somerset and photograph some more churches and other old structures. I always enjoy photographing buildings in rural settings and I’ve now got quite a collection of churches such as the beautiful church of St Etheldreda in West Quantoxhead. For a while I’ve been thinking of making a more determined effort to photograph churches in the region and hand-print a book with the best photos. On Saturday I also learned that the Somerset towers are actually a thing and that I am not the first person to notice the beauty of churches in the south-west. This has bolstered my determination to photograph the most attractive churches.

However, snapping back to reality for a minute, Sunday was the final day of the Glastonbury festival, and I decided it would probably be a bad idea to head into Somerset and get snarled up in the south-west’s largest traffic jam with almost 20,000 hippies – and worse, teenagers.

Not wanting to waste my photographic inspiration, I decided to set up a tabletop studio in my house. This week’s Photo Challenge is the third week of “sensory month” and the challenge is to explore the sense of touch. I prowled around the house and garden, looking for objects with an interesting texture, and happened upon a rough piece of wood with rusty nails from a broken fence. I decided to photograph it in a low-key fine art style (mostly dark background), as this isn’t an area I have explored much in the past. Almost all of my macro and “tabletop” photography has been high-key (mostly white background) and I really do need to get in more practice with setting up artificial lighting.

Rough wood
Rough wood

I deliberately aimed for a bold composition, using a totally black background to emphasize the rough grain of the wood. I think the effect has worked, and I can imagine reaching out and touching it, and getting a splinter. You can get a sense of the shallow depth of field by looking at the nails, which are out of focus.

Having gone to the effort of setting up the backdrop and the flashgun and assembling one of my more outlandish cameras, I decided to make the most of it. I shot several more pictures in this style, and this is my favourite. It’s a picture of one of my prettier cameras, a Mamiya C220, which I recently used to shoot the pictures for Infrared Week.

Mamiya C220
Mamiya C220

The picture was shot on medium format black & white film (Ilford FP4+) using a Mamiya RB67 studio camera with a Sekor C 127mm f/3.8 lens, stopped down to f/4.5. Shutter speed was set to 1/250 to control the ambient light, and the leaf shutter was synced with a single flashgun armed with a snoot to avoid any light falling onto the black backdrop.

Setup shot
Setup shot

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