Sea Blue Lens

Put to Good Use


Finally, I found a use for the old milk crate I rescued from “the dump guys” who were loading up junk to haul away from the old house I lived in last year. Our still life assignment this week was to play with light and shadow in, on, and around a crate, box, cupboard, or what have you. I remembered that old crate, which has been sitting in my laundry room, just waiting for something to do, ever since I moved into this apartment. It would be perfect for this!

Or would it? Once I got it out and took a look at it, I was a little less optimistic. I’d forgotten that it has a metal bottom, perforated with a grid of holes, plus handles cut into all four sides. Here’s what I started with:

Crate duoIt Has Potential

I put my little desk at right angles to the bedroom window and put down a piece of black poster board to protect it from the rough crate. Then I propped a piece of black foam board behind the crate to block the light from those holes.

I gathered a couple of props — two little ceramic birds I picked up at Michael’s yesterday for a dollar apiece, and a little ivy plant from Home Depot which I popped into a pot I had bought at the Acton, California, farmers market a couple of years ago. I tried a few shots with my iPhone to see how well the crate was going to work.

Testing…iPhone FourOne, Two, Three, Four

Okay, I can work with this. I got out my Nikon to shoot the setup “for real.” Kim’s suggestion to underexpose by a couple of stops if I wanted to go for a shadowy image worked out well. I found that by starting off with underexposed images, much less post-processing was required to get the effects I wanted.

DSC_8815-soocStraight out of the Camera

DSC_8815With Kim’s new Shadows Lightroom preset

DSC_8796Also processed with KK_Shadows

DSC_8794-2Processed with KK_Moody-ish. This is one of my favorites of Kim’s presets.

DSC_8811KK_Shadows again

DSC_8814KK_MoodSwing — Another of my favorites. Are we sensing a theme here?

All of this dark and moody processing makes those holes in the bottom of the crate virtually disappear. However, looking over the unprocessed images from my photo session, I found that I actually didn’t mind the holes. They can add a bit of interesting pattern, as you can see in the second photo in this post, the SOOC image. I suspect I’ll be using this beat up old crate for a photo prop again in the future.

Thanks, Kim! This was a fun one.

23 thoughts on “Put to Good Use

  1. Very nice.

  2. These are beautiful! Love the warm feeling and those sweet little birds with hearts in their wings! I haven’t come up with anything yet for this exercise. I don’t have any crates around. I’m still thinking.

  3. Love your crate – lovely images you created.

  4. Love the lighting and variation of texture in the last one!

  5. I love these. And I especially love the old milk crate. Great find. Like Carol in the comment above, I also really like the texture in the last one. I am always about the texture. I think it’s the foiled painter in me.

    You can use filters/presets in Lightroom?

  6. You can’t go wrong with great subject matter. 🙂

  7. I had to smile at the rescue and now put to good use. Cool find, really love seeing the many perspective here, can tell you were having fun, and especially the one where you have shown the handle hole with the bird.

  8. Yay! One you enjoyed and it turned out great. Loved the presets you used, and that milk crate is definitely a keeper.

  9. these are great! I love ‘the mood’.

  10. Such cool crates. Love the birds. Nice work.

  11. Love the shadows and the light. Beautiful!

  12. I love all your shots !! and they look so moody !! wonderful work

  13. Great to follow your thoughts and process! Lovely shots

  14. Good use indeed – such a wonderful find! I love what you have created here and as always, I appreciate that you show us the steps to get to the final result. I really, really like the shadowy results – with the deep blacks surrounding the subjects, letting them shine. There is still beautiful light on the leaves and birds and I love the deep contrasts. Well done!

  15. Indeed you DID make very good use of this, Lee, and I’ll just bet you find it very useful in the future too.
    I picture is filled with an arrangement of wildflowers, when (if!) summer ever gets here.

    I wish you a beautiful week ahead, and a very Happy Easter, my friend. xo.

  16. Such great shots!! I have a crate like that too!

  17. Love these photos- so dark & moody.

  18. One of the best old crates I’ve seen. What a great find…and it is such a beautiful backdrop for your plant and birds! I love the light.

  19. Fun props…especially that crate!

  20. The crate works wonderful! Such beautiful images, I really like all of them. I would have saved that crate as well.
    I love to underexpose my photos and I do it pretty frequently. I feel that the colors come out better.

  21. I’m sure you are happy you saved that crate now! Love these images!…I really like the patina on the metal edges of your crate

  22. What a great find, I have a couple of those milk crates too. I like how you have used them, nice work!

  23. Excellent use of the old milk crate. The result is some really beautiful photos. I love the processing you have used.

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