This is a cross post from my photo-per-day blog, Pixelated and Back Again.
Many people get all excited about minerals. Some folks dig them out of the ground, polish them up, and sell them. Others put them on stands and bestow them with imagined mystical powers, so-called spiritual energies, and scrying insights. Still others use them as photography props: that’s me.
Thanks to ebay, cheap international parcel service, and the inspiration of a thousand fellow online photographers, I recently came into possession of a nearly flawless quartz orb shipped from China measuring roughly 80mm in diameter. It is as clear as an apple-sized droplet of water, surprisingly heavy, and yet still fits neatly into a jacket pocket.
As I’ve probably noted a hundred times previous in my writings, here, there and everywhere, photography is simply the art of shining the right kind of light onto the right kind of surface. In my case, the right kind of surface usually tends to be a high resolution photo sensor tucked safely away behind the shutter of my camera. But the right kind of light is the real variable. All that said, a quartz sphere is little more than a prop that bends light in an interesting way.
Part of my inspiration to try using an orb — and in fairness I can’t say much because I’ve taken less than fifty pictures spanning a single photo shoot using the single orb I’ve now owned for roughly twenty-four hours — is this photo a day project I’m on. As of May First — yesterday by my count — I’m entering the ninth month of daily photography. (Technically tenth if you consider I was doing a different sort of daily photo project in August, but didn’t officially count it.) All that picture taking has pushed me through the idea of themes, styles, cameras, foci, locations, and — now — props. It has been a whirlwind.
Light travels through a quartz orb in interesting ways. I looked up the quasi-scientific entry in Wikipedia last night and came across the useful tidbit of information that your orb — whatever you are using it for — should be stored covered in a black cloth. As much as this might seem like just good advice to keep it clean and dust-free, it more importantly protects you from inadvertantly misfocusing the optical properties of the orb: This could occur when, say, pin-pointing some stray sunlight on something mildly flamable and doing to your belongings what you used to do with ants and a magnifying glass on a sunny summer day. Fortunately I had a spare black cloth that also happened to be a micro-fiber lens cloth — good for polishing optics AND preventing catostophic destruction of our house, apparently.
Over the summer — at the very least — I’m going to cart this thing around. I don’t want to overwhelm folsk with orb pictures, but it seems like there might be some interesting shots to be found through its curious optical properties. And if all else fails — including my rational mind — I could always gaze deeply into its core seeking photography advice.