There’s a darkroom in my toilet!

A carefully woven spider's web forms a protective layer around flowers

Day 25 of the macro challenge and I have set up a darkroom in my bathroom – I kid you not! I blame it all on Glenna Walker, fellow photographer, who inspired me with some of the most stunning flower photography I have seen in a long time. Glenna had used tourch light and long exposure in the depth of a Canadian evening to create some amazingly illuminated silhouettes of flowers against a pitch black background. I fell instantly in love and wondered if I could learn from Glenna and try and apply this to macro photography.

However, I had two problems:

1) I have no easy access to a garden..we are currently living on the 5th floor of an inner city flat and the only garden I own is over 200 miles away in Scotland (I don’t think our tenant would take lightly to me pitching up in the dead of night to photograph my gladioli!)

2) The UK summertime means that darkness does not fall for many hours yet, and even them, the city lights render complete darkness an impossibly.

I had no choice but to seek out the one room in the flat that has no natural light source – our bathroom – and within this, set up a dark room situation. I grabbed our black pillow cases and a pair of my black pyjama trousers and set about creating a solid black background for the shoot. I then gathered a white LED head-torch, a lemon, an apple, a sprig of basil and some flowers and locked myself in – emerging seconds later having realised I had not got the foggiest where the setting was on the camera to illuminate the screen so I could amend my exposure, aperture, ISO .etc 🙂  Once I had acquainted myself with this most useful of functions I settled in the bathroom for the evening, sprawled on the floor beside the toilet. Whoever said photography was glamorous? I stayed in there for about 40 mins and had not realised my back had seized until I tried to re-arrange my lemon.

Believe it or not, the most bizarre part of the evening is yet to come…

…My husband arrived home later in the photography session and heard me yell “hello” from the depths of the flat. Having looked around for a while and wondering if I was playing a weird hide and seek game, he worryingly shouted to ask where I was. At that point I opened the bathroom door and squinted into the sunlight to say hello. He took one look at my contorted shape, the pyjama bottoms on the bathroom floor, the LED illuminating the lemon and suppressed several giggles. I am lucky he understands me – lesser people would have filed for divorce on the grounds of insanity 🙂 He closed the door and left me to it – returning seconds later to ask to use the loo…most inconvenient 😉  He promised not to touch my lemon and alter my lightening, so I let him use the facilities before the bathroom was declared a darkroom once more and sealed off to all visitors.

Thankfully I think it was all worth it. Whilst in the ‘darkroom’ I discovered that the flowers I had chosen to take had been woven entirely in a spider’s web – a detail I had not noticed in daylight. This provided an amazing opportunity for some unique  macro photography.  The first of the shots I would like to share with you is detailed above. It was taken at f/20, ISO 1250 and with a shutter speed of 4 sec – aided by the fact that the camera could sit steady on the floor.  The second image I would like to share is provided below. It was taken at f/7.1, ISO 640 and a shutter speed of 13 sec, again aided by the camera sitting flat on the floor.  I do wonder if, for both these shots, I could have got a slightly sharper image by using my remote shutter release?

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he vibrant flowers shout out against the black background creating a stunning contrast of colours and a clash of illumination

Once I was comfortable that I had captured the detail of the web, I moved onto playing around with the light and how it illuminates the flowers, amending the intensity, location and direction of the light. This is when I captured the image below. It was taken at f/10, ISO 1250 and a shutter speed of 1/2 sec. Now I must confess to having done some post processing work on this image to amend the curves, exposure and fill light to create this effect. I have not done much – but I had initially overexposed the shot and it was not as atmospheric as I had hoped, hence my work in Bibble5 to amend it accordingly to under exposure the darker colours and overexpose the brighter colours.

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Using a darkroom to capture the intricate beauty of flowers woven inside a spider's web

Now after all the build up I know you’d be disappointed if I did not show you the lemon 🙂

The image of the apple is also stored in my macro gallery.

A Profile of a Lemon

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