September 27, 2015

Open To Your Interpretation

Vignette #1. David Hayes, 2015.

Now don't get me wrong...I do like's just that the catalog spread I was asked to use as inspiration did nothing for me. Nothing at all. So...I went looking for other images that I could use for inspirational interpretations...

I did find several images had a wall size graphic design image...lots of large type in a fun font. The other image had a large minimalistic painting hanging over a chest. That sort of vignette. Taking a cue from the large type image, I created my own version of an vision chart using one of my iOS apps on my iPad. I printed that out and then proceeded to create several vignettes using that as my focus point.  Vignette #1 is my first interpretation.

Vignette #2. David Hayes, 2015.

Same chart and set...took away the boxes and the squirrel. Used a column and a potted ivy. And a different angle...

Vignette #3. David Hayes, 2015.

Brought back a couple of the boxes...added a glass bottle and some dried flower heads. Added a hand. Thought this one needed a bit a Lightroom "magic" so I used a pinhole camera effect preset that I have. Not perfect but I do like this one!

All images were shot using my Nikon D90 DSLR and processed in Lightroom.

September 18, 2015


Side Chop. David Hayes, 2015.

Photograph my breakfast? Sorry...not all that very interesting. Perhaps I could do a set-up with waffles, eggs, and all that sort of thing. A real foodie set. Looked at a bunch of images just like that and decided to do something different...cause that's what I do. Took a bowl, put some Cheerios into it and a little milk. The dregs at the bottom of the bowl....

Side Chop was my first effort at "style". No, I don't use chopsticks and besides at this point I usually just pick up the bowl and drink the dregs down...

Over Spoon. David Hayes, 2015.

A different perspective...a bit of arranging of the Cheerios...and an old wooden spoon....

Over Chop. David Hayes, 2015.

Take away the spoon, shift to the left a bit, and add the chopsticks. I like this take on the set better...

All images were shot with my Nikon D90 and processed using Lightroom and Photoshop. Not a strong set but I did learn a few things so all is good. And yes...I did pick up the bowl when I was done...

September 15, 2015

On Spoons

Black on Black. David Hayes, 2015.

One of the biggest challenges I have whilst shooting still life set-ups are those where I do a black on black styling...and throw in whites! With each session I learn a bit more so I go away both frustrated and happy.

The prompt this time was to do a "on spoons" set-up. I went with coarse white sea salt in a black bowl and a silver spoon...and yes against a black background. Black on Black is the image I was most happy with after many, many tries. Shot using my Nikon D90 and processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

White - On the Side. David Hayes, 2015.

Taking a different tact, I used a white background and less salt in my set-up. A little easier to shoot and with the help of a Lightroom preset and a Photoshop texture I had White - On the Side.

White - Over the Top. David Hayes, 2015.

Same set-up...different perspective, Lightroom preset and Photoshop texture.

August 31, 2015


Tequila 1. David Hayes, 2015.

Maybe it was the fact that there aren't many weekends left in this any case when the prompt asked us to tell a story using a citrus fruit of choice, my mind wasn't thinking lemons and lemonade. Certainly not lemon tea! You got it...tequila shooters!

A vase of limes and a bottle of tequila in the background. A bowl of salt, sliced limes and a shooter ready to go in the foreground...

Tequila 2. David Hayes, 2015.
From a different perspective....

Tequila 3. David Hayes, 2015.

Yet another perspective...

All images were shot using my Nikon D90 and processed in Lightroom and Photoshop. And yes, the tequila shooter was real...and was consumed. That's what weekends are for!

August 24, 2015

Background Check

Backlit. David Hayes, 2015

Why...I remember back in my undergrad days...when we had to take our photographic "gray cards" out and expose roll after roll of film to create our on "gray scale". Talk about boring! Even still...I certainly gained a strong sense of tonal range from doing such exercises. So when the latest Be Still_52 prompt ask us to set up a simple vignette and then use different backgrounds my first thought was...boring! That was until I started working with my raw images. Different backgrounds do make a difference!

All of the images in this post were shot with my Nikon D90 camera and processed first in Lightroom and then in Photoshop.  In Lightroom, I used Kim Klassen's presets and in Photoshop her textures.

Using an old jar and three coneflower seed heads as my single element, I started with a backlit gauze for my background. Backlit was processed using the "Darklight" Lightroom preset and "0216-2" texture in Photoshop.

Black. David Hayes, 2015

Switching from my backlit set-up to solid backgrounds that were side lit from the left using natural light, I first went to black foam core. This proved a bit challenging to get a good exposure given the dark browns of the seed heads. In the end, Lightroom worked it's magic bringing out the highlights whilst keeping the shadows I wanted. I used the preset "Olden Days" in Lightroom and her "Chalkmagic" texture in Photoshop.

Gray. David Hayes, 2015.

Next I used a piece of light gray foam core. This was a little easier to work with but still had it's own quirks when it came to getting a good exposure. As before, processing in Lightroom brought out what I wanted and the Lightroom preset "Pause" and the Photoshop texture "Simple 1-2 proved to be the icing on the cake! I do like this version!

Wallpaper. David Hayes, 2015.

In my background collection I have a piece of plywood that has different wallpapers on each side. I gave this side a try and while the background itself can be a distraction, I used the Lightroom preset "On air" and the Photoshop texture "theveil" to knock it back a bit. Not sure I'd use this background with such a simple set-up in the future but it was fun working with it during the post-production.

Stucco. David Hayes, 2015.

On another plywood board I used stucco to create my own "wall". While I like the subtlty of this image, the background is a bit overpowering. Even still...might be worth revisiting sometime in the future. For this one I used the Lightroom preset "Summersun" and the Photoshop texture "warmwhispers". 

Coral. David Hayes, 2015.

This is my favorite. A coral background board, the Lightroom preset "moodswing" and Photoshop texture "aurora_bl". Like a warm summer's evening...

August 17, 2015

Hanging Bottles

Poppies. David Hayes, 2015.

So I was to hang a bottle...or two or three...with something interesting in said bottle(s). Hmmm. Okay...I'm game. Built myself a simple ladder to hang bottles. Went wildcrafting for some "weeds" and clipped a couple of poppies from my own garden. Gave it a whirl.

Poppies is one attempt. Shot with my Nikon D90 and processed in Lightroom using Kim Klassen's "Dream-like" preset.

Weeds. David Hayes, 2015.

Moved the ladder to a window...used a large glass conical shaped vase filled with "weeds".  I like how this one turned out. I used Kim's "Dream-like" preset for this one as well.

Hazy Day. David Hayes, 2015.

This one is my favorite. I moved the ladder and vase into the window a bit more to take advantage of back-lighting. For this one I used the "Hazy Day" preset....hence its title.

August 5, 2015

Three Things

Three Things. David Hayes, 2015.

Let me set the scene. A chair, back-lit. Place three things on the chair. I chose to drape a piece of black linen over the chair. Added a basket. Then place skeins of brown and grey yarn in that basket. Used my Nikon D-90 to take the shots. Processed using Lightroom and Photoshop...went for a monochromatic look. Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware...are you paying attention? 

July 31, 2015


Everything. David Hayes, 2015.
My response to the latest Be Still_52 prompt. A vignette using something "tall"...and a printed message of some sort. My "tall" are the mother-in-law tongue message: "Everything has it's beauty but not everyone sees it" attributed to Confucius. Shot with my Nikon D90, processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

July 21, 2015

Two Up

Pearls. David Hayes, 2015.

Easy. That's what I thought when I read the prompt: "utilize two sides of a square...allow for room to breathe....shoot top down..." Easy...not! Maybe I was overthinking this hold concept but I could not put anything together that made me happy. Pearls is one of my images I put together for this prompt. I shot this with my iPhone6 and processed it using the app Laminar Pro.

Invitation. David Hayes, 2015.

Same set-up but this time I shot it with my Nikon D90 and processed it in Lightroom and Photoshop. Comparing the two, I prefer Pearls.

Quiet. David Hayes, 2015.

My thoughts in putting Quiet together was to utilize the sides of the bowl to define my two sides...and to leave lots of open or breathing space. (I shot this one using my Nikon and processed it in Lightroom and Photoshop. I do like this one...)

Eggs. David Hayes, 2015.

Eggs is inspired by Amy Duncan of FourCornersDesign. Her work is always amazing! (Shot with my Nikon and processed using Lightroom and Photoshop.)

Clamped Eggs. David Hayes, 2015.

This is my last attempt. Thought I'd play with some "hard" images. Yeah...I like this one the best! (Shot with my Nikon and processed using Lightroom and Photoshop.)

July 20, 2015


According to the Urban Dictionary, one of the many definitions of faffing is " muck around, wasting time doing something not necessary." Another way to look at it is to just play around with objects to see what comes about...without any preconceived notion as to the end results. At least that's how I take it.

July found me without much focus for my photography...nothing seemed to interest me. So I decided to faff around! And it's been much fun as I spend a little bit of time every day fiddling around with this and that and then take a shot with my iPhone6. Cropped square and processed using an app of choice, the image is then wrapped in a border and dated using the Polamatic app. I used the Formulas app to create July 19, 2015.

Four pair of scissors against a white background and processed using PS Express gave me July 7, 2015.

We were visiting my sister-in-law and brother-in-law when I shot this image. She had just unpacked her weekly CSA share and took a moment to quickly grab the shot. I used VSCOcam to process this one.

Another simple set-up...a bowl on a black background, a linen napkin and some paper-wrapped eggs. I used PS Express to process July 6, 2015 as well.

July 14, 2015 wasn't what I started out with...which is the beauty of faffing! The cherries are in a white bowl which is sitting on a white background. about a total overexposed image! I could have "brought it back" but instead just left it the way it was! Sometimes things are best that way!!

Not all my faffs have been top-down set-ups. This vase of flowers was sitting on a table on my sister-in-laws back porch. Perfect for a faff! I used PS Express to crop and basic toning then PaintFX to blur out the background.

There you have it...a taste of my July faffing. If you'd like to see more than check out my Instagram stream @clearerreflections. Here's to Happy Faffing!!

July 17, 2015

Of Cabbages and Sunflowers

Of Cabbages and Sunflowers. David Hayes, 2015

I had the pleasure last week to visit my sister-in-law and her husband who live on Torch Lake...which in close to Bellaire, MI. It was a peaceful two days of perfect weather, enjoying the lake, and taking in the goodness of a Michigan summer...including the local fruit and vegetables! The cabbage and sunflowers were purchased at a local market and I just had to do a quick set-up and shoot on their back porch as the light was perfect! (The wine I was drinking probably also helped!)

Blueberries. David Hayes, 2015.

Whilst I didn't shoot this image during this visit, the blueberries are from the same markets. I did this soon after returning home...both my wife and I were eating them by the handful so I had to work quick!!

Both images were shot using my Nikon D90 and processed using Lightroom and Photoshop.

July 16, 2015

Butter and Eggs...

Butter and Eggs. David Hayes, 2015.

I haven't been blogging a lot lately...saving this time for what I come up using the Be Still_52 prompts. (Come follow me over on Instagram: @clearerreflections) In any case...Week 26's prompt involved butter and eggs. Simple I thought. Simple...not! Could not come up with any clever ideas on how to set these two basic items up! In the end, I bought a block of butter and a dozen brown eggs...and after a quick moment looking for inspiration on Pinterest...went into my studio!

Soft Boiled. David Hayes, 2015.

Looking at the images after my shoot, I wasn't all that impressed. It wasn't until I started playing with the these two in Lightroom and Photoshop that I found what I was looking for! (And yes, I did eat the soft boiled eggs afterwards...they were yummy!!)

July 5, 2015

Two Things

Two Things - Take 1. David Hayes, 2015.

Just two things - fruit and a bowl. So I decided upon green grapes and a white bowl. Backlit. Tight focus on the bowl. Going for "simply elegant".....

Two Things - Take 2. David Hayes, 2015.

Take 1 has minimal processing...Take 2 a bit more. One is from the side. Two is from the top...with a touch of Photoshop texturing...

July 2, 2015


Kipling. David Hayes, 2015.

"Be inspired by a still life painting..." That's how part of the prompt read. Hmmm... So I dug out all my old art history texts, and Googled "old masters still life paintings"...things like that. Decided to go with the all dark look, light from the left, Dutch masters sort-of-look....

Problem was that this type of set-up proved to be a devil to photograph! Too many contrasts between "whites" and "blacks". It took four separate tries and a reset before I had an image I was happy with! A true learning experience indeed. All good!!

June 25, 2015

Change Up

Coneflower #1. David Hayes, 2015

The prompt asked that we change things up...get outside...shoot some landscapes and then play with the edits. Be different...out of the box. All of that sort of thing. Problem was that on the days that I could get out to do that it was either pouring down rain or too stinking hot for my tastes...

Coneflower #2. David Hayes, 2015

Instead I went with my back-up plan and tried out a new 40mm lens I just purchased. Wanted to see how "close" I could get. Not a bad choice given what I came up with...but still hoping to get those landscape shots...

Both images were shot using my Nikon D90 DSLR and processed using Lightroom and Photoshop.

June 18, 2015

Four Things

Bread 1. David Hayes, 2015.

The prompt read: "Gather four things...a loaf of bread, linen, twine, and a pair of scissors..." An interesting combination of elements was my first thought. As I worked my set-up I saw how naturally these did come together!

Bread 1 is one shot from my session. I had to do some heavy duty cropping on this one as I "overshot" my backdrop...meaning my backdrop wasn't big enough. Lesson learned...I now have a bigger backdrop for the future. 

Bread 2. David Hayes, 2015.

Same set-up...shot from above. I like how I could deal with a bit of lens distortion that comes from such shots using Lightroom's tools.

Bread 3. David Hayes, 2015.

One final angle of this set-up. All were taken with my Nikon D90 DSLR and processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

For You. David Hayes, 2015.

We were also given a triptych template and challenged to put together our own foursome threesome (my words) using our images. For You is my version. 

June 9, 2015

Dirty Squares

Dirty Squares. David Hayes, 2015.

It was one of those nights...nothing I was editing was thrilling me. Perfect time for a little "faffing". For the hell of it I thought I'd create a white square and post it on IG just to see what sort of response it would get. I created the square, labeled "Square" (real original!) and started to post...

Then a spark of orneriness came across me...let's make it "dirty" and stick in into a Polaroid frame.  Added the word "Dirty". Perfect. 

Dirty Square - White. David Hayes, 2015.

What amazed me is how many people "liked" it on IG. Even left nice comments! I was on to something!!

Dirty Square - Red. David Hayes, 2015.

Dirty Square - Red was posted the next day...

Dirty Square - Blue. David Hayes, 2015.

Dirty Square - Blue followed to finish up the series. By then, my public had gotten bored with the whole concept and had moved on. IG can be such a fickle bitch sometimes...

I created each of these images using PS Touch and Polamatic. Should you be interested in owning a print of all or any of these, just let me know. They're only $90,000 each. (Might as well pay me that amount versus some dude in NYC that steals images...)