Abstract macro photography with metal shavings

Abstract macro photography with metal shavings

In today’s macro photography tutorial
we’ve got a really unique subject for you we’re going to be taking a look at
creating some abstract shots and exploring color and shape using the
offcuts from a CNC machine little shards of metal all swirled up together I’m
going to get some of this stuff out and I’ll show you it just a second Hi guys I’m Ben from adaptalux and
welcome to another macro photography tutorial where today we’re taking a look
at the off cut pieces of metal from a CNC machine now if you don’t know what a
CNC machine is it’s that big machine that you attach a piece of metal to and
you cut in a circular fashion that means that the off cut pieces of metal from
that machine are in really tight spirals and interesting shapes i’ve got some
here too to show you these have come from our cnc supplier because the Adaptalux studio has quite a lot of cnc machined parts now you can see here
already that there’s some really cool shapes coming out of here with lots of
them tangled together and yet little spirals and things so i think adding
some color using the Adaptalux Studio to get some interesting lighting is
going to create some really abstract shots i’m going to put this stuff down
onto a surface grab some lighting and start experimenting with color and light
i think because this stuff is slightly reflective we’re going to need a
reflective surface to shoot on as well my coffee table is made of glass and if
you get load down enough you can get some really cool shots of the
reflections from the glass but I also have this black piece of acrylic perspex
here which has got a nice shooting surface as well if you get something
like this or even the glass as well the first thing to do is to give it a clean
this stuff attracts a lot of finger prints and smudges and these off cut
pieces of metal they’re still covered in factory grease so if you’ve got a nice
clean surface like this make sure to give it a wipe and make sure you’re not
putting fingerprints everywhere because you might not realize until you look at
them close up in your in your shots later on that you have fingerprints
everywhere and it will be a really tough time to get rid of that in Photoshop I’m
going to grab some of my CNC off cuts now
them down on a shooting service and add some lighting when you’re doing artistic
abstract creative work like this your lighting is really really important
especially when you have a reflective subject like these little shavings of
metal you can get a lot more out of your subject simply by changing your lighting
around so that’s what I’m going to be doing today I’m going to be
experimenting with my lighting position brightness and color the way that I’m
going to get all of that control is using the Adaptlaux Studio I’ve got
my Adaptalux control pod here sat on a mini tripod which is a really handy way
of getting a lot of versatility out of your lighting you can position this
anywhere that you’d like and we have a little ball head on here as well so we
can position the control pod to not only counteract the weight the lighting arms
but also get them in the exact right position the lighting arms are when the
magic really happens if you’ve seen a lot of our videos you’ll know at least
about the white lighting arm let’s plug one of those in to begin with and just
see what we can do with our scene just with a simple white light now adding
that in has massively overexposed our scene so let me just bring the shutter
speed up a little bit to counter that and you can see there that that’s a
pretty good start now moving this lighting around is going
to create a lot of different effects because this stuff is slightly
reflective we can get a lot of interesting effects going on both in the
foreground and the background if I move my lighting down into the background
only you can see that we’ve got some really nice bakker balls going on in the
background here as the little pinpoints of light reflect off the spirals in the
metal of course we can also bring that light only down to the front and move
that around to create different shadows and reflections on that interesting
spiral at the front of our image now with our white lights we also have the
opportunity to diffuse it if this is a little bit harsh for your liking you can
just pop a diffuser onto the end of your lighting arm and
then bring that in for wider reflections on your metal surfaces but also a little
bit less harshness on your shadows at this point it’s really worth just
experimenting with some white light just to get a feel for how your subject
reacts to the light and to see if there’s anything affecting your subject
that isn’t your dedicated light source so if I would say unplug this light
entirely you’ll see that there is still a little bit of light in this scene
that’s coming from my studio lights but also from the windows from the lights in
my room all of these reflect on my subject because it’s a very reflective
subject you’re not going to be able to control all of the reflections simply by
having a single light source you’re still going to pick up all of the little
pinpoints of light around your area if I brighten this image up again you can
actually see that we have some reflections from the tables if I move my
hand around you can see that it changes the reflections here and those oranges
from the windows and the wood from the table are all going to affect our image
you might be absolutely fine with that in which case go for it use all of the
different lighting sources in your room to create even more reflections if you
want to control that though it might be worth minimizing the different light
sources in your room closing curtains and turning off light bulbs I’m okay
with there being a little bit of ambient light in these images because when I add
my light into my air into my scene from my Adaptalux studio having to
compensate for that is going to drastically reduce the amount of ambient
light that’s actually in my image because we’re compensating for this
really bright light and not for the much dimmer lights around the next thing that
I want to do is add a little bit of color and with the Adaptalux Studio
we have a couple of different ways to do that because I have a white lighting arm
plugged in here I’m going to talk about color filters now we have a lot of
different colors of color filters we’ve got a couple of different blues we’ve
got pink purple red orange green and the yellow
and all of these can be attached to of white lighting arm to give you some
really nice effects so I’m just going to pop off that that diffuser there and
let’s try a pink color filter in here instead and you can see that that’s
adding a really nice soft wash of color over this image if I go ahead and try as
the cyan filter is going to add a nice cool feeling to to this shot of course
moving this lighting arm around again is going to create different effects and
different colors in different areas of your shot and we’re not limited to only
having one color here I can add a second white lighting arm and add a different
color to to a different parts of my image so adding in a second white arm
here I’m going to maybe put in a green color filter on this side and move my
blue one around to the other side so you can see there that having two lights two
different colors is creating some really nice reflections on these pieces of
metal now the other way to add color into your images is using a dedicated
colored LED lighting arm that we can plug straight in and get direct colored
light as many of you probably know by now I really enjoy a good abstract
subject like this with a lot of reflections and a lot of interesting
shapes to to explore using our macro lens and our lighting there’s a lot to
to think about though when it comes to our settings usually I don’t like to
talk too much about how settings because if they’re unique to everybody they’re
unique to your lighting situation and to your subject so everybody’s going to
come out with different settings regardless of what I tell you to use I’m
not going to tell you to use any specific settings here either but there
is one that you want to pay attention to your aperture controls your depth of
field so to get all of those really nice soft bokeh balls in the background of
your images you want to use a really wide aperture a really low F number
that’s something that is down to your own personal preference though a lot of
people will prefer to get more of the subject in focus and
less of the exaggerated bokeh in the back of the image I encourage you to
play around with exactly what you’d like to go for in your images whether you
want a soft focus with a large aperture or a really sharp image with lots of
your subject in focus and a really small aperture you can adjust the rest of your
settings to compensate for the aperture you want you can also shoot in aperture
priority mode if you’re not too familiar with manual settings on your camera I do
encourage you to experiment though and try out different apertures different
focal lengths to get different amounts of bokeh in your images that bokeh
really adds to the abstract sort of nature of these images and it lends
itself to this type of reflective subject one of the most interesting
things about this subject is that it’s quite loosely knit together it’s almost
like wire wool but with giant spirals instead that means that we can focus
down on different areas of this big bundle it’s almost like a cloud I can
light different areas in different colors and with different techniques so
maybe some diffusion on the front and some more harsh colored light on the
background then focusing in between all of these different areas creates a
really interesting effect where you almost see through the closer areas and
into the background placing a single more interesting piece say like this
little spiral down in the front gives you a focal point to to actually look at
and as you zoom past that it almost completely disappears I found that to be
quite an interesting effect just for the video work for videographers focusing in
pass this this subject with such a low depth of field makes it practically
disappear finding a subject like this stuff is
really really useful for exploring your own creativity usually we think of a
single technique that we’d like to try out and we go out to accomplish that
finding a subject that requires a lot of exploration and experimentation can
really open your mind to a lot of different techniques and possibilities
with your photography that you might not otherwise come across things like adding
a lot of color to your images changing out your lighting all of the time moving
everything around and keeping everything fluid can really add to the learning
experience of trying new subjects and figuring out new ways to use your
photography these little metal shavings are a fantastic macro photography
subjects especially if you’re trying to go for some nice abstract shots and you
have some colored lighting at your disposal whether or not you’re shooting
is cnc shavings like I’ve got or any other kind of small reflective subject
they do make for really nice abstract shots when you get lots of reflections
and bokeh in there playing around with your depth of field is also very very
important and getting those a nice soft bokeh balls in the back of your images
if you have a nice deep subject like the one that I’ve got today I’d like to
know what you guys think – today’s creative abstract shots put down in the
comments your favorite shot from today with a little time stamp if you like to
show everybody else which shots you prefer if you enjoyed the video as a
whole make sure to give it a like and don’t forget to subscribe for more macro
photography tutorials ideas and inspiration coming in the future
for now though guys thank you so much for watching this video and I’ll see you
next time

13 thoughts on “Abstract macro photography with metal shavings

  1. Would love to see some of those bits places in a small Petri-type dish, half-submerged in water and using some of your lighting from underneath (as well as above).
    (don't you love arm-chair quarterbacks?) 😉

  2. this is a great idea, especially due to the current situation, I could spend hours doing this indoors without getting bored

  3. Hi Ben, this stuff looks so cool! I love one of the final shots around 12.25 with the main curly wire in focus. We’re not in lockdown in oz, but should it happen, I won’t be bored!
    Stay safe. Andrea (Australia) 😊

  4. A really interesting video subject today Ben. I would like to have a go at this but unfortunately i don't have a CNC machine in my shed and there are no manufacturing sites around here. You mention wire wool, i wonder if that would work or is that going to be too fine?

  5. As always Love it Ben your very creative I share the same passion and enjoy learning different techniques, Thank You sharing and keep them coming…. also Nice Sweater 🙂

  6. What a neat idea! Now I just need to find a place to get metal shavings. Thanks for sharing this idea, especially at a time that we are in quarantine with the Covid-19 virus. New ideas for photography are especially appreciated.

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