Fleeting moments of brilliance

Light interference.

When film was king I made these refractions of light on a thin film of water, mixed with liquid soap.

The set up was tricky as my film of water was flat and I photographed it straight on. The light had to refract it to produce the colours, and the colour “scheme” depended on liquid density, temperature, air movement and light angle.

Enclosed are my scanned images of the films I shot.

A few were done on the 4×5 format, or 10x12cms, but because of the expense of sheetfilm I decided to use my Sinar Vario Zoom Roll Film Holder that uses 120 film to produce most shots.

At present scanning my archive, hence these images surfaced. It also posed an intriguing question – could I do this with my DSLR too? Working on that – see my next post to find out if I am succesful in a week or two.

Made a new set up with different parameters to suit my new studio. No more black walls floor and ceiling, it is all neutral light colours now.

The light is produced by a large flash light diffused by 3 mm translucent perspex; it reflects on the soapy film in front of it and behind the soapy film is a black background, but you can place out of focus reflections there too.undefined

This image above was solarised for fun in photoshop, but this is more what you can expect:

Placed something behind the film in front of the black background.
Introducing some air movement….
Colours are a little more intense after increasing hsl settings.
The possibilities are endless I used a gobo in the next shot:
Pity you can not project those colours…

But in photoshop you can project those colours….

Watch out for my next instalment….


Square Gin

A square bottle to pour it from…

This image was made with a blue red polarizer,the bottle was green and the background was yellow…..

The bottle was backlit and assisted with a little light from underneath through the yellow background.

It was a very simple setup, after all you only had one square bottle to contend with and to apply many different light sources or angles would only confuse the issue.
The exposure was measured at aperture F-16, and that included a two stop allowance for the blue red polariser.
These combined dual coloured polarisers are underrated (IMHO), you can create some really excellent effects when you select the colours appropriately to the situation.
The bottle by itself is not enough, so I created a photograph of a droplet inside the bottle as I wanted to bring some interest and a focal point into this image.

Most people only look at a photograph for a couple seconds and I think you would not have yet noticed that the bottle cap was still on the bottle so the drop could not have fallen through the top. A minor oversight, but this was just a little exercise for me.

I was hoping to create some interesting lights and angles on this bottle but in the end the droplet created enough interest so I did not pursue any other lightsources.

Locked but not down…

As I have lots of film stock out of the analogue days, the current situation gives me freedom to explore existing images and rebirth them.

Fortunately the advanced scanning and image editing programs make it possible to achieve stunning results. Having invested in many programs to assist my students, followers and  clients to give them the best possible advice on how to get the most “mileage or benefit or emotional response” from images.

The cover image on top was a straight shot against a black background.
It took a while to find the right mixture and images to blend, but this combination is quite effective.

I used photoshop, DxO Nik effects, Smart photo editor and AutoFX.

Auto FX has recently launched a new software program with many features – AutoFX called GRFX Studio Pro. Very – very interesting. Shortly I will publish here a review about this, at present assessing the many different possibilities.

Check it out soon, contact me with questions.

Vanitas in my studio Yr 2020

A new project.

Started this in the “Lockdown” period and slowly making progress with the elements of it.

The props are the key element, and for those who are unfamiliar with “Vanitas” – here is a quick explanation:

Vanitas, (from Latin vanitas, “vanity”), in art, a genre of still-life painting that flourished in the Netherlands in the early 17th century. … The vanitas evolved from simple pictures of skulls and other symbols of death and transience frequently painted on the reverse sides of portraits during the late Renaissance.

Having acquired the props, I started and slowly it became obvious that lighting the set with a softbox did not do any justice to the topic.

Creating a painterly impression photographically was my goal. It had to look like a photo, depicting Vanitas.

Included are three images that are my starting point in this project.

Light painted with the hosemaster.
A slight change to create a different mood.
More painterly and or grungy.

So many possibilities, as I am developing this style I like to achieve an image that I feel very comfortable with. So far it is exploring how far I can push it, and of course comments are welcome.

Tech details: Light effex light gun with light modifier, Hosemaster without diffuser, and another light brush with focus snoot, all shot on individual layers highlighting each item. All layers processied in affinity photo or adobe photoshop.

Exposure times each layer 30 seconds, aperture F 22, Laewo Macro 2x, 100 mm lens.

There will be more images soon, this is an interesting project that has commercial possibilities for me.


Started a new project on “Behance”, – Smelly Bottles.

A “normal” (means flash) exposure was created to correctly expose the bottle and content. On top of the flash exposure I hand painted with a very small light probe the lettering on the front of the bottle.

That way the name “Yachtman” became readable, before it quite dark as the bottle was totally back lit. Reflectors placed tightly and carefully angled gave some reasonable roundness and detail to the top.

The top lid in action is the one chosen, it has more dynamics, although the shapes are more confusing.

Photographed on a classy glassy background, the blues were repeated to enhance volume and the “watery theme” – “Yachtman”.

Another bottle, this one encased in metal had some interesting angles to work with, so this image was more about reflections than refractions.

A bit boring and static this image, but the content is far better, so I gave it a boost…

Explosive smelly bottle...riverhead studios makes images in a different way
This is more to my liking, could not resist to make it more explosive…

Glass, the art of transparency

Shape and texture were important, this old bottle of kirsch just caught my imagination

Hand painted with my lightgun, edited in affinity photo and adobe photoshop. A bit sloppy, you can just see the flash meter’s outline, but it gives an almost textured effect so I left it in. The cherries are a stock image added.

More curves….

Sabatier effect is not that easy to recreate..

Here are some more samples of my efforts in reviving the sabatier effect.

Discovered that blending modes and layers can add a profound effect to it.

However  I like to stay a bit more true to the real process as it happened in the old analogue darkroom, but I am tempted… So these images are still based on the effect of tone reversal after re exposing the film during development.


Not the best example, only found a low res image and it shows in the definition of the lines around the tripod and model.

Colour transparencies  with a few different tonal values are more fun to play with. It is not easy where you keep the original tones preserved. On purpose I do not show the original image, these “effects” could amuse or intrigue you…


Found Agfa Contour negatives, but the effect is in this digital age kind of old hat – not that captivating, I think I’ll try first to get Sabatier under my control.

Any feedback is appreciated.

Sabattier and friends, my old favourite darkroom effects brought to life!

Recently I was given a lot of old photos my deceased mother had collected over her long years. Some of my old photos were in that collection too.
Scanning them was the first step and since they were all old photos made on film and paper they displayed the old analogue darkroom effects, like overexposed, not properly fixed – that shiney blue black effect etc. Decided to look into some old developing techniques and did find the old darkroom had lots of “special effects” through developing and exposing.
Always liked to experiment, so most of the techniques in the darkroom I tried out and I was quite familiar with them. Nowadays, with digital development we have new fashion looks like HDR etc. So why not try to give the old scanned photos some old fashioned darkroom treatments?
The Sabattier effect was one of my old favourites. Thankfully  – photoshop has no such filter. It has a solarisation filter but that is totally different. I set out to create such an old film developing process to replicate in digital format.
The photograph I had scanned was in colour, I converted it into black-and-white, and then what? Myself I had no clue. I looked up on the Internet how other people created Sabbattier effects. Some of them were totally wrong, but I found some that were quite close to the original black-and-white effects that I could remember from my old darkroom days. I adapted some of their techniques or work methods and after a little bit of “playtime” it was very easy to replicate the effect.
Let me tell you how it works in reality, in the old darkroom. Once you had exposed your film, with the correct exposure to make a good black-and-white photograph you re-exposed your film to another light source during development. Timing of the “second exposure” was critical, you had to wait a little bit I would say about two thirds of your total film developing time, then expose it to another light source. The intensity of the other light source was also critical. Too bright and it would blacken the whole film. Too little and not much would happen. I would say that a 25 W light bulb a couple of metres away for a few seconds was sufficient.
Let me deviate, if you are developing a 35mm black-and-white film it has been wound on a spiral of plastic. So the outer edge, the first six exposures are on the outer side of the film reel. They get the brunt of the second exposure. The layers behind that closer to the centre receive very little light. A 120 film is shorter and therefore easier to give a second exposure because there are only a few layers on the spiral. If for any reason anything went wrong you would have lost either a whole 36 exposure 35mm film, or 10 shots on a 120 film.
Therefore I only used 10 x 12 cm sheet film. You could take that out of the tank, expose it to a second light source and the whole sheet would receive that exposure. If it went wrong you only lost one shot. Way to go!
The result of this second exposure was to partially reverse the tonal values on your negative. Certain areas would reverse, others would stay the same, and some tonal values would slightly change. See my photographs.
There was another problem if you continued your development after that second light exposure, you would normally agitate the film to create an even development.
And here is the trick, after the second exposure carefully slide the partially developed sheet film back into the film developing tray. You were not going to agitate the film or the developer at all, you just gave it the remaining time of the total development time.

The developing of the silver halides was now taking place again. But since there was no movement of the developer we got that interesting Mackie line effect. This is a black line that occurs where there are two areas of contrast- light and dark- meeting during development.
If you’ve never been in a dark room, you possibly have no idea what I am talking about. I’m not a chemist so I can’t tell you exactly why that happens. If you gave it the normal developing time with agitation after the second exposure you would possibly over develop the film.
After the developing time was over, you fixed the film, and since you were dying to see how it looked like – after all you spent about 25 minutes in the dark room fiddling around with that film, you switched the white light on and started to look at your film sheet see the effects of your “Sabatier” effect.
I used exclusively film for this process, it is possible to repeat this scenario for photographic paper that is in the developing tray. Unfortunately the contrast and crispness somehow lacks on photographic paper. After all there is quite a difference between a 20 x 25 cm photograph and a 10 x 12 negative. You can enlarge the negative and when printing the negative you can control the contrast on photographic paper.
This is in short a summary of how I used to make these photographs, but there are many little problems I have not covered like what kind of developer do you use, what film did you use -they all influence the end result.
I started to look through my old negative albums and found some more of my old experiments. I have solarised negatives and some old Agfa contour film. I will show you more later on.
I did find this an interesting process to replicate on existing material I have so I have now another project in mind to recreate some new photographs with the Sabatier effect.

Any questions, no problem: please contact me at Albanyphotostudios@outlook.com.


BeArt Product Presets for Lightroom evaluation


A request was  received from BeArt-Presets (https://www.BeArt-Presets.com/) to evaluate the product Lightroom presets  for BeArt-Presets.

At present I create more product photographs than landscapes (it is autumn – wet and windy at present in New zealand) so this was an ideal time to work with these presets. Here with I give you my impressions of working with the product presets from Beart.

If you follow the instructions on the website on how to install the presets you should have no problems at all, smooth and easy.

There are quite a lot of presets, I was happy on how many presets there are available. For instance; there are exposure presets ranging from +2 stops to -.2 stops in conveniently placed steps.

You can also visually adjust the effect of exposure settings from 200 ISO to 6400 ISO by adding visually grain. However I am more impressed with the grain effect settings from Alien Skin, but this grain is not bad looking at 6400. So there is plenty of latitude to alter your (visual) exposure levels.

You are able to adjust the shadows with a simple click, and as a bonus you can do this locally with the BeArt brush adjustment too.

For me most of the fun actually came in the  special effects presets, where you can go from red vintage to black and white matte. There is quite a range of different settings to work with your image, improve your details for instance, contrast cross processing dramatic film, garden settings there are quite a few miscellaneous ones that have at first sight not much to do with product photography like fix blue attack! I would have thought the blue would disappear, it actually increases the blues. But after a little play with all these effects I get some really good results to fine tune my product photographs. Especially when you can have a little bit of free artistic interpretation on your product shot some of these presets are fun to work with.

You will find that these presets are quick in assisting you in correcting your exposure levels or your colour temperature, the preset name is “white balance” but that may be the wrong name for me, you can set the colour balance range from 3000 K to 6000 K in 12 steps, very handy if you want the same colour balance over a range of product shots shot at the same time. When I set the “white balance” I select an area that is should be neutral in colour.  Kelvin colour temperatures have nothing to do with white balance.

The terminology of some of the presets still baffles me a little bit, for instance when you select preset “Fix Dramatic Film 2” I get more a “Bleach Monday Morning effect”. Well that is my impression of the effect…..you may find that each photographer will have their own visual interpretation and translation of the named effects. But they are quite close in description and I like the effects they produce.

There are many presets with the prefix of number two in it, sometimes I do not know what it refers to as there are no other numbers to compare it to. For instance there is a presets called Fix Gold Tone 2 but there is no number one or three. Perhaps the developer of these presets will later introduce an update with the numbers one and three? After a bit of work with these presets you can possibly rename some of the presets to give yourself a better idea what you will achieve with that preset.

That’s how I would work with these presets, go through them, most of them are self-explanatory and do exactly what they say and the ones that are a little bit more “adventurous so to say” you can alter their name to suit your taste.

I followed the installation method number two, this way I could create a folder for each of the type of preset, for instance I’ve got now presets for ISO, white balance, exposure, instead of having one folder with all the presets lumped together.

As these presets are only a one click thing for a global adjustment, you may like to locally adjust the image with the local adjustment presets that are included with this set. You can locally adjust the sharpness, the blue colour or green tint, the noise, saturation or shadows, white background et cetera, I have not mentioned all of them. Quite a few choices are available to you which makes this total set of brushes and presets a very good tool for commercial photographers or even those people that just want to sell an item on eBay or their local trading post.

I find that using these presets is simple, quick and efficient after I have used my basic raw adjustments first. A welcome asset!b-0-weblogo



installation was somehow a little problematic using method one, for some reason I did something wrong I think-but by using method two I got it right and everything installed the way I liked it.
The naming of some presets are open to different interpretations but that is easily fixed by renaming them.
Some presets have a number added to the presets description which does not make sense. Why give it a number two when there is no one or three?


Versatile, eliminates quickly and efficiently common mistakes in lighting set up.
Extensive set of presets, it covers of wide range of possible corrections to achieve a quick correctly balanced look/effect.”