My husband has a massive shell collection comprised of shells ranging in size from miniscule to bigger than my head. A child of Wisconsin, the first time he saw the ocean was after he met me. Maybe that is why he became so fascinated by it. He knows the name, scientific name, and value of each shell in his collection, and loves nothing more than perusing ebay and tag sales looking for people who do not realize that they have valuable shells.
Photographing shells is a big challenge for me; because they are so incredible in person, it is hard to capture that in a 2-dimensional art form. I think the key to a good shell photograph is good lighting. You want the light to caress the shell in a way that highlights its 3-dimensional nature and its best features.
Jason and I spent the last evening of 2013 combining our favorite hobbies: photography and shells. Here is what we came up with.
To get this shot, I had Jason hold up two pieces of posterboard on either side of the shell, then had two flashes standing on the floor on either side of the shell pointing up at the reflectors. Cheap, simple setup.
I shot these shells sitting on a deep blue mat, so when I converted to black and white, I used the preset in lightroom called Red filter. This brought out details in the warm-toned shell, but turned the blue mat to near black.
I thought it might be fun to photograph a variety of small shells together, and noticed the empty box of chocolates nearby (don’t judge, it was the holiday season…) Jason had fun filling each spot with a unique small shell.
For these three shots, I used a large cylindrical vase as a prop. I put the vase on the blue mat, stood up a flash inside the vase (pointed straight up), then balanced the shell on top of the vase. The two posterboard reflectors were used to light the shell from above with two additional flashes. I love the light shining through the array of holes in the side of the Haliotis laevigata.
Clearly we had fun. What is your favorite seashell? If you are interested in prints of any of the above photographs, email me or go to http://emilymygattlee.zenfolio.com/still_life
Thanks for visiting!