Full ‘contact sheet
  • Shoot with DIY studio lighting, using bedside lamp to light still life scenes.
  • Use variety of objects – pegs, jenga pieces, roadside wooden toys.
  • Use a variety of muslins and cotton cloths as backgrounds.
  • lighting = IKEA HEKTAR wall/ clamp spotlight – directional lighting, both bounced and used ‘head on’. I also used the light pointed directly at the camera, so as to create a hazy effect.
  • Shot with my FujiFilm with 35mm lens, ISO between 400- 800, depending on light, with a steady f/2 with occasional explorations into higher stops like f/5.6.
  • Used yellow cotton cloth over the light on occasion to cast a moodier and ‘grungy’ effect, as to create more of an atmosphere.
  • I think this shoot has its moments of goodness, but simultaneously has equally as many bad ones. I think the light works well later on in the shoot when I’m closer to the wooden road toys. The beginning is too harsh, then the yellow cloth has a bit too much of an atmosphere, but then when the photos are isolated it doesn’t matter so much. I think the pegs have too much of a bright pigment in the directly lit shots, but not really standing out from the background in the darker ‘grungier’ shots. I do love the way the silk material folds though, the textures are enough to create a background but also can be used as a middle ground, the pegs comfortably sitting on the foreground.
  • The yellow-green tinge that is cast onto the fabric varies in strength, but I think does give the effect that I wanted it to – a slightly worn out and older feel to the objects, connoting a feeling of the past.
  • I think, vantage point wise, the images where I am closer to the objects work, leaving out the red background and focussing purely on the texture of the fabric and the objects. When I come away from this and start to show the floor and set up I think the ‘magic’ is broken, and it becomes part of the everyday.
  • The shots with the jenga pieces work better with the hard light, the highlights and shadows really highlighting ach piece , giving each a feeling of importance, and more emphasis on each individual brick.


  • I think the effect with the light being directly pointed at the lens is a bit strong in some, almost completely obscuring the objects, but in others has a more subtle hazy feel. I think this is possibly something I’d like to test again, to see where the line is between the ‘too much’ and ‘just enough’. The hazy feel comes from the need to make my images look abit more stylised, and I love the hazy aesthetic, as it immediately screams nostalgia to me.
  • With the last wooden toys, I think they work best with a more soft light, although the tones that the harder light pick out do work with the background and floor.
  • With these two images the effect of the light is very obvious, even though it was only slightly tilted to be more directional in the second one, I think they both work for exactly that reason. They are both the same, compositionally, vantage point wise, but it just shows how much the light can change the mood and therefore the shoot. The first image suggests more of a childhood hazy vibe, whereas the second is more commercially led, perhaps as an image to accompany an article on toys, or even to sell them. The lack of distinct highlights int he first gives it a much more quiet feel, although the second has vaguely the same feel, it becomes much more outstated and crisp, not allowing maybe for your eyes to wash over the image, instead focussing on more individual parts.
  • The later images with the toys spilling out of the box work, but not within the larger set of images, but only select ones. I think the directional hard light doesnt work so well, the light doestn quite work as a well as it just almost ‘sits’ there without making any kind of impact.
  • A lower vantage point with an equally lower light seems to tell more of a narrative, a way into the image by allowing the shadow to tell a story, and not being so ‘obvious’ with the objects.
  • And finally, the last macro shots of the toys really work well, although the colour grade on them is quite strong and murky, they do give a feel of an abandoned scene, which is really what I had hoped to convey all along. They seem to really tell a story as the light suggests an evening or late night low light shot, with the scene being allowed to play out through the background, middle ground and foreground, in which the different objects really come alive.


I think this shoot went well, obviously taking it apart has made me realise some things about the lighting, and how easy it is to make it look like completely different scenes with only a tiny bit of movement from the light. I think I’d like to retry using this lamp, as it’s easy to set up at home, and would like to test out some more objects.

I’d also like to retry the light directly at the lens again, as I feel that if I can nail this technique, it could be really nice from an aesthetic and analytical perspective.


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