SHOOT 9 – MARBLES (I’ve lost em’)

  • Bringing down some old toys from the attic seemed to be something I was really missing in abundance, so by shooting these marbles, something that I played with most days of my childhood, I could recreate that feeling of childhood play and wonder.
  • macro shoot with marbles, involving some of the surrounding space, allowing for a bokeh effect and utilising a wide aperture to obtain a shallow depth of field.
  • use marbles, different background cloths – pastel, neutral colours as to not distract from colours of marbles.
  • create a sense of ‘interrupted play’ with the composition of the scene, mind fully scattering marbles in order to create a sense of movement.
  • shooting with a low ISO of 250 to maintain level of detail
  • natural light coming from right side but also white cloth used as a diffuser/reflector to the left of the scene creates a softly lift scene, where shadows are lifted into detail.
  • as the light was constant (a cloudy day = giant softbox in the sky) I didn’t have to rely on any light technicalities changing, once I had settled for a look and aesthetic I wanted to shoot with, it was pretty much only the shutter speed that changed depending on the angle and vantage point I was shooting from.

I think this might be one of my favourite shoots from the still life series that I’ve done so far. Something about the neutral and unobtrusive colours mix with a sense of play and calm, a juxtaposition to the memories I have of playing with marbles, but nonetheless, a study into the act of play. I think the use of the yellow (it’s not yellow, but lets call it that for lack of a better description) and the white silk really work together, the creases carefully set out when I set up the scene, hanging the cloth from an indoor plant trellis and allowing the fabric to at first drape naturally, then I adjusted for the scene set up.

I did however move the scene as I went through the shoot, evaluating as I went along – there isn’t quite enough movement conveyed in this scene, the marbles are not ‘scattered’ randomly enough, making sure that these things were immediately dealt with whilst I had the scene in front of me, not wishing to re-shoot such annoying objects to clear up!

Compositionally, there is a few images that are a bit clunky, that are either too full, or fight with the space around them, for example, this image is not pleasing to view, the focus is slightly off, focusing on the smaller marbles so the main spotted one in the middle is left awkwardly out of focus, tricking your eyes into thinking that the rest is aswell. The lines of the white silk cloth also distract, the right side of the image seemingly too abrupt; whilst the rest of the image is soft lines and curves, here is one that is crisp and cutting – it just doesn’t fit.

Another image that doesn’t quite work as well as some of the others is this one;

the pure white tone of the image is too harsh, the highlights on the white marble overexposed, and the main focus in the middle of the image is the cloth, as opposed to actually the main subject; the marbles.

However some that do work are following, especially the top right and bottom, with a more open foreground, the leading lines and perspective really drawing you into the image, asking you to really explore with your eyes and start to connect the upturned shoes with a messy scene. The top left is somewhat cluttered, but I think in this instance, works as an image, the out of focus foreground leads you into the image, but also halts you as the background is also blurred, using a manual focus to isolate the pattern in the middle-ground of the image.

All in all, this shoot is successful, but like with all shoots, the gems are there to be picked out later for editing, discarding some of the more clunky images. I think in terms of retouching and editing, most of it will be concerned with colour grading, as although the images are soft, I think the contrast could be lowered to really grab that childlike/ infant aesthetic.


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