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― Artistic Expression CritiqueThe EGG --- white on white

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Charles Haacker
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The EGG --- white on white

Post by Charles Haacker » Sat Oct 28, 2017 4:05 pm

This is very old (2009) and I have some trepidation showing it at all as it was made with a P&S. I plan to repeat it as soon as I can, but at the moment I have no suitable setup. Please indulge me while I 'splain. When I was in school, a first year assignment was to photograph a single, white egg, on a white background, show roundness in the egg, yet keep the background white. Our t(orturers)eachers would not tell us what to do. They just gave us somehow gleeful yet inscrutable smiles. (Go thou forth and learn things, grasshoppers.) First years had a tendency to wade into the closet and haul out lights. Lots of lights. And turn them all on at once. Welllll, long story somewhat shorter, somebody figgered out that all ya needed was a single floodlight in a high 3/4-ish back position. It lit the background for whiteness, backlit the egg for roundness and texture, and the paper in the foreground bounced some light back into the egg's shadow so as to open it a little. (It may have been the beginning of my no-light-like-back-light mantra.)

Nearly nine years ago I was online chatting with a pal who was looking to improve her lighting skills so I told her about The Egg. I made it a challenge for her. She did the typical first year thing and blew it out with too much and too many lights. Meanwhile, I had no lights but I wanted to show her the trick. I conceived of laying a piece of white poster board curved up at the end, illuminated by north sky light from a window. That was all. I shot it with my tiny Nikon P5000, a very capable little pocket camera and the only one I had so...

I came across it not long ago looking for stuff to rework. It was pretty okay as it had been processed in 2009, but I gave it a little tweak in Lightroom. I think it still holds up, although as I said I want to repeat it. This is 100% natural window light. Waddya t'ink? (if youse can't be gentle remember I gots a egg.)
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Post by Duck » Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:03 pm

"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."
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Tutorials ⇒ How to critique photos
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Post by LindaShorey » Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:08 pm

As someone who is most happy out in nature, I can only say I admire your purposeful goals, patience and focus, Chuck. (no pun intended)
"What's important in a photograph and what isn't." http://photographylife.com/whats-import ... -what-isnt

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Post by PietFrancke » Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:19 am

I have project do-overs in my mind too.. I think I will have to give and egg a shot also - it seems like a good idea/assignment.

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Post by davechinn » Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:56 pm

Thanks Chuck, this is a much needed exercise and thanks to Duck as well, the YouTube video helps even more for me, as a visual type of person. Meaning, seeing (hands on) rather than an explanation or description happens to be more helpful. An exercise I will have try over and over.
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Post by minniev » Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:38 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:This is very old (2009) and I have some trepidation showing it at all as it was made with a P&S. I plan to repeat it as soon as I can, but at the moment I have no suitable setup. Please indulge me while I 'splain. When I was in school, a first year assignment was to photograph a single, white egg, on a white background, show roundness in the egg, yet keep the background white. Our t(orturers)eachers would not tell us what to do. They just gave us somehow gleeful yet inscrutable smiles. (Go thou forth and learn things, grasshoppers.) First years had a tendency to wade into the closet and haul out lights. Lots of lights. And turn them all on at once. Welllll, long story somewhat shorter, somebody figgered out that all ya needed was a single floodlight in a high 3/4-ish back position. It lit the background for whiteness, backlit the egg for roundness and texture, and the paper in the foreground bounced some light back into the egg's shadow so as to open it a little. (It may have been the beginning of my no-light-like-back-light mantra.)

Nearly nine years ago I was online chatting with a pal who was looking to improve her lighting skills so I told her about The Egg. I made it a challenge for her. She did the typical first year thing and blew it out with too much and too many lights. Meanwhile, I had no lights but I wanted to show her the trick. I conceived of laying a piece of white poster board curved up at the end, illuminated by north sky light from a window. That was all. I shot it with my tiny Nikon P5000, a very capable little pocket camera and the only one I had so...

I came across it not long ago looking for stuff to rework. It was pretty okay as it had been processed in 2009, but I gave it a little tweak in Lightroom. I think it still holds up, although as I said I want to repeat it. This is 100% natural window light. Waddya t'ink? (if youse can't be gentle remember I gots a egg.)


Chuck, it's a nice egg no matter what camera you took it with. After reading your post and seeing the video Duck linked in about the egg, I was intrigued. I'll have to try it some day soon for myself. I have done experiments with some things: marbles, glasses, seashells, to vary direction of light and surfaces to see what I could get, but I don't know nearly as much about lighting as the two of you do. Most of my photography depends on what nature gives me and what I know from trial and error may work with it. I'm not very smart photographically speaking.

The photo itself, simple as it is, makes me wonder what it would look like in monochrome, in a toned version, in a grungy version, or with a texture. I'm a hopeless fiddler, I know.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Charles Haacker
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Post by Charles Haacker » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:18 am


THANKS so much for that video, Duck! That is exactly what our instructors wanted us to figure out on our own to do: move a single light around the egg to see what worked and what didn't. As I said, most first years hauled out lots of lights and turned them all on at once. Our department chair, a wonderful man who'd been an Army photographer in WW2 used to say, "There is only one sun in our system. Consider that when setting up lighting."
LindaShorey wrote:As someone who is most happy out in nature, I can only say I admire your purposeful goals, patience and focus, Chuck. (no pun intended)

I hear ya! It's why I am today almost entirely a natural light freak, but I was trained as a commercial photographer so...
PietFrancke wrote:I have project do-overs in my mind too.. I think I will have to give and egg a shot also - it seems like a good idea/assignment.

Thanks Piet. As that video shows it's a terrific lighting exercise.
davechinn wrote:Thanks Chuck, this is a much needed exercise and thanks to Duck as well, the YouTube video helps even more for me, as a visual type of person. Meaning, seeing (hands on) rather than an explanation or description happens to be more helpful. An exercise I will have try over and over.
Dave

Thanks Dave! If I ever get my act together I intend to do some more.
minniev wrote:Chuck, it's a nice egg no matter what camera you took it with. After reading your post and seeing the video Duck linked in about the egg, I was intrigued. I'll have to try it some day soon for myself. I have done experiments with some things: marbles, glasses, seashells, to vary direction of light and surfaces to see what I could get, but I don't know nearly as much about lighting as the two of you do. Most of my photography depends on what nature gives me and what I know from trial and error may work with it. I'm not very smart photographically speaking.

The photo itself, simple as it is, makes me wonder what it would look like in monochrome, in a toned version, in a grungy version, or with a texture. I'm a hopeless fiddler, I know.

Thanks, Min. I will try to remember to try a few different approaches. The instructors used to point out often that the biggest thing to grasp was that light casts a shadow, and it was the combination of light and shadow that made the light interesting, or not. With the egg, it might seem obvious (but it wasn't to us at the time) that if you light the egg from camera position, right over the axis, you'd get a white egg on a white background, but the egg would look flat. It would have no roundness, no depth. To give the illusion of roundness in a 2-dimensional image you had to have light and shadow, and the best solution for our challenge (they said) was back light. But the reality is that just about anything will do a better job than full frontal light, and it's generally true no matter what you're photographing. It's why flash-on-camera usually looks blah, except as a fill for a stronger source coming from some direction other than over the axis. The old sun-over-your-left-shoulder advice from George Eastman was because the you-press-the-button-we-do-the-rest emulsions were slow, the lenses in the box Brownies were slow, so the best way to get a usable exposure was lots of direct sun, but it was also pretty much the worst possible light. Still is. :|
Friends call me Chuck. :photo: This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)

All the great photographers use cameras! No, really. :|

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Charles Haacker
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Post by Charles Haacker » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:22 pm

S'Okay guys, this is about the limit of my "creativity..."
Not entirely sure what-all I did. I did do a B&W conversion in LR, took it into NIK and mucked about with grain and stuff, took it into Photoshop and masked it and decided to colorize it GOLD! GOLD!!! :lol:
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Friends call me Chuck. :photo: This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)

All the great photographers use cameras! No, really. :|

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Post by St3v3M » Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:48 am

I love this assignment and the video, but first things first flip the image horizontally! S-
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Post by John N » Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:16 am

We did something similar at the photo club the other week when we broached the subject of abstract. Only our 'eggs' were polystyrene that a member had bought for a specific commercial shoot. Been looking around for a white (or just off-white) egg for a few weeks now. Everybody here thinks brown eggs are the way to go - I'm getting some strange looks in the supermarket these days.

(Polystyrene 'eggs' lack that surface texture that will make the image that much more viewable).

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