Sea Blue Lens

Off the Hook


Task: incorporate a hanging bottle with “a posy” into a still life. I struggled with how to fulfill this assignment. I have a few old bottles, and I could tie some sort of cord around their necks, but where would I hang them? I live in a very plain apartment with limited light. No architectural details or interesting hooks. As for posies — well, it’s midwinter in Maine, so there’s nothing growing outside even if I had a garden, which I don’t. Nor did I have the extra funds this week to run to the store to buy flowers.

So after grumbling to myself for a few days (so much for breathing deeply and being still!) I decided to see what I could do with what I do have. I tied a piece of ribbon from my gift-wrap stash around the neck of a favorite antique bottle. I filled the bottle with water and tucked in a sprig of greenery from my lavender plant, and a couple of tiny flowers from my potted Oxalis (also known as shamrock plant). Then I started walking around the house looking for someplace to hang it.

DOF borderI suspended it from a window latch and experimented with depth of field, but didn’t care much for the result. Kinda boring. Next?

DSC_8112Out of the Closet

Hanging on the knob of a folding closet door. Still not very interesting.


Oops — maybe a little too interesting. This one includes half an unplanned selfie and the reflection of my unmade bed. I did like the light, though.

 DSC_8053Mirror Mirror

Better. This is the frame of my dresser mirror, adding some contrast and the warmth of old wood.


Then . . . finally . . . this:

DSC_8103Breathing Space

This photo makes me happy. Once again it combines everyday and favorite things — an over-the-door hook on the back of my bedroom door; a 20-year-old fleece shirt I keep there, ready to throw on for a bit of extra warmth and comfort at the end of the day; a little bottle I’ve had for 45 years. It’s a reflection of who I am, and also of the serene, still person I aspire to truly be on the inside.


Best of Props

DSC_8078Resting Place

This chair is one of my favorite props from the past year and will no doubt appear in many more photos in the future. I needed a desk chair, and I bought this one specifically because I thought it would be a great photo prop. It’s old and a bit rickety, and someone has done a pretty sloppy job of “antiquing” it. The paint is drippy, cracked, and chipping. But it does the job at my desk, and it photographs beautifully!

My goal has been to avoid buying things just for photo props, because I’m trying to get rid of stuff, not acquire more. But I have to admit that when I’m shopping for something I do need, the first thing I notice now is its potential as a prop. (Wait til you see the dish towels I just found at TJ Maxx!) I’m really enjoying using what I already have to create my still lifes for these lessons. But if there’s one photo prop I’m secretly lusting after, it’s that turquoise half-dozen egg crate at Anthropologie. I have absolutely no need for it, but oh, isn’t it pretty?!

14 thoughts on “Off the Hook

  1. So fun seeing your creative process, Leon. And yes! You nailed it with your “Breathing Space” shot. The depth of field is perfect. And now I want one of those egg crates. 🙂

  2. Love the last two. Thanks for taking us through the process.

  3. So glad you showed the full process, because I struggled with a place to hang my bottle, too! I never liked any that I took, not even the ones I finally posted. Maybe I need to reword this exercise and “be still” with it!! I love your final result and yes, it does make one just breath! So soft, such a pretty angle on the bottle!

  4. I love watching your ideas evolve! Breathing Space is so you ~ but I love the mystery of surprise!

  5. You did that quite well!

  6. Let me echo what everyone else has said — I love seeing your process! And I love the photos, especially Breathing Space because it instills a sense of calm within me.

    I would totally get that egg crate if I were you. It is small, not unreasonably priced, and VERY pretty, indeed!

  7. VerY nicely done! I particularly like the last one. Feels whimsical!

  8. this is such an interesting post,,,, your final chose is exquisite,,,,, thanks for sharing,,,,

  9. Thank you for sharing ALL your images – following along with your thought process and the various attempts to find the perfect combination of props and light and composition was so interesting. So many times we see only the final “best” shot that we forget how much preparation and effort goes into producing that image. So lovely – all of them!

  10. Oh these are great, love the different shots and how they all look different but lovely in each one. While some I like better it is really a beautiful exercise in possibilities. Love your exercise and oh man those last images and the closet one just love so much.

  11. BEautiful softness, depth of field, and angle in your last shot. Love it! That is my fav.

  12. Brava, Leon! You really fulfilled the Be Still challenge! (I was very intimidated by it.) I loved seeing your process….I do think you saved the best for last. I need to do a search for props in my many (too many) boxes — I agree with you that it seems wrong to buy more things when we’re trying to get rid of stuff. Lovely post.

  13. I love your walk through of this project. The bedroom door knob 🙂 Great work making the most of what you already have. I need to work on that.

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