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Glass ball project.. and I went a little off topic!

My Glass Ball Project

Who’s ready for this long “essay” haha! I’ve not done anything like this since finishing school I’m not sure why I’m even justifying my reasons behind this project seeing as I’m doing it to learn and as a bit of fun! Having a reason for everything and explaining why I will or won’t do something was part of the reason I didn’t like photography lessons during A-Level. I love photography, it’s something I’ve found that I’m very passionate about, I don’t like to be questioned why or all of the technicalities behind my images. Some of my best images have been “happy accidents” and even I’m not sure why I placed the subject there or why. I’ve never been taught “how” to photograph animals or people or the world around me. We were taught the basics of photography through concepts I never had an interest in but I’m glad I learnt how to “manually” use a camera as well as being given an opportunity to find something I enjoy. My photographs are what I like and I’m so glad other people like them too. I photograph what I have a passion for not because someone has told me to. Through a lot of hard work, experimenting, encouragement, failures, inspirations and disappointment I’m now happy with my images and hope they capture personality and tell a story. I feel like I’ve just written another piece of coursework… sorry for rambling on! I photograph what I have a passion for, and I have a passion for art, photography and being creative. So, here’s something a little different, a more creative way of looking at what I do in the hope of being able to develop some new skills:

  • What is my project?

You may have seen some of my “glass ball” photographs before. They’ve intrigued so many people and I feel there is an opportunity here to create some fantastic images as well as challenge myself creatively and technically. My project is about exploring the way in which every day scenes are viewed. The photographs will all include, somewhere in them, a tiny glass ball. Each week I will go out, sometimes with a clear idea, sometimes off the cuff, and photograph the glass ball. Results will be posted in an album on Facebook as well as here on my website. I hope you enjoy following this project throughout 2015.

  • Inspirations – why I started the project

I first looked at the use of a glass ball in my images during my AS Photography exam project. There was a title of “multiple images.” After exploring many different concepts both digitally and using film, I realised a common link between my images that fit the “multiple image” criteria involved reflections. I worked down various routes, researching and studying the work of some iconic photographers and found several of them using the glass and windows. We’ve had a large glass ball sitting on the fireplace as a decoration for as long as I can remember, the concept of this was much the same as the photographers who were using windows and glasses of water to reflect their surroundings. The use of the glass ball was a natural progression in my exam work and I’ve been hooked ever since!


  • The thought about reflections and how it makes you see things differently

Bending light; a mirror image; self-reflection; duplication; virtuaitlly.

The idea of reflections is fascinating. Using a reflection in your image has the ability to transform what you see. Look at an image back to front or in the mirror. You’ll notice differences, imperfections and in the image because you’re viewing it differently to the way in which you’re used to seeing it. This is exactly why I started the glass ball project. The glass ball allows you to focus on certain objects. The glass ball allows you to get down low, or up high, exploring different angles to see how your view of the landscape around you can be transformed. The glass ball was also something I used in my A-level project to explore self-reflection. Using nature as a predominant theme, I explored how the landscape around us could be reflected as a characteristic of the people I knew. My final piece displayed this, in collage, showing textures of the skin, hair and personality through objects and lines in nature. This isn’t something that interests me anymore but the ability to change perceptions through an image and tell a story is something that is. It’s become slightly addictive, I’ll admit! I seem to spend a lot of time seeing how I can get eye catching images and place the glass ball in different settings and even in other objects – a country walk will never be the same again!

  • What I hope to learn

This project is as much about learning something new as well as having fun. I’m looking forward to the challenge of capturing different weathers, light and shadows in my images. Controlling light is the key to photography. Too much light, too little light – the art of photography is obtaining a balance between this to produce an image. Putting me in different lighting situations as well as different weathers and environments will be a creative as well as a technical challenge to manage. I always shoot my photographs in manual mode on the camera so this will further benefit my private commission work.

Perhaps this will even encourage me to get the film SLR camera out and develop some images in the dark room. The 35mm film cameras were the starting point at school about teaching us the control of light: shutter speed and aperture. The excitement came when we developed our own images in the dark room, learning about dodging and burning; something which continued in to my digital photographs. Delicate burning in Photoshop (okay, not quite the same skill required in the darkroom, but the concept is the same!) can sometimes, even in small touches, help bring an image to life. Sometimes I feel as though photography has become less exciting: you can instantly see your images on a display rather than waiting a few days to be able to develop the film negatives.

I will also explore the depth of field. Most of my photographs of the glass ball have a very shallow depth of field (not much in focus) however I’ve seen some examples of glass ball images that have been successful because of the larger depth of field. This is something I want to understand and begin to experiment with, knowing when it will and won’t work.

  • Ideas of locations and objects to shoot

A lot of my images are taken in the countryside/around the yard. I spend a lot of my time here, hence why! I’d also like to take the glass ball with me in to urban areas as well! The contrast between the urban and country landscapes will hopefully bring some diversity and excitement to my images. I’m already looking forward to exploring how the geometric feel and “buzz” of towns and cities could be explored. Furthermore, I think that urban areas are a lot more overlooked than the countryside, in my opinion. Perhaps this will give a new perspective to the views you see every day on your commute to work or to meet friends?

  • Taking the camera more places – don’t miss an opportunity

One thing I found hard was taking the larger glass ball around with me. Firstly, it is quite heavy and secondly, I’m always scared I’ll scratch or smash it. I spent 99p on eBay on a much smaller glass ball – problem solved – it fits in my pocket. Whilst the reflection in the ball is of course smaller, it still has an impact. Every photo of the glass ball I’ve posted online has memorised people and they’re interested in how I managed to do it. No, it’s not an “effect” put on in Photoshop, most of the images I photograph with the glass ball in are uploaded straight off the camera. Albeit with some straightening and contrast fixing. Buying the smaller glass ball has also encouraged me to take my camera with me at all times. The number of moments that pass by and I’ve not had my camera on me (only my phone) has been far too many – so this year, my camera will always be (well, most of the time!) on me and charged to go! This year, I’ll try not to miss as many opportunities! I would say though, phone cameras these days are great. I always have my phone on me: you can take just as good photographs with your phone camera than with a DSLR. It’s not about the gear you have, it’s knowing how to use what you have and exploring the environment and people around you. (Have a google search of iPhone photographers, some of them are incredible!)

“The best camera is the one you have with you.”

Why not take this opportunity up yourself: the glass balls can easily be purchased online and, if you don’t have a DSLR you could use your phone! Get out there and explore the world around you. You’ll be surprised how when you look, there are so many little details that you haven’t noticed before. Perhaps you’d like to try a different project; I’d love to see what you work on.

After writing this, I think part of the reason why I disliked the work and projects in photography and art lessons (something I’ve never mentioned really on my page before!) was because it was a very mixed message. One minute they gave you rules about photographing, the next they were challenging you to break them and go crazy with post-production editing and how the image can be displayed. I never had a desire to do that. Whilst experimenting with your art is important I don’t see why realism and more traditional forms of art can’t be as appreciated and understood as some crazy piece of modern “art.” I don’t think there are “rules” as such in photography. Photography is an art form and therefore has no rules. Art is creative and very personal: opinions are yours and no one is right or wrong. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. …. And breathe!

I hope you look forward to seeing my images.

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