Possibly the best thing about photography is that there are pictures everywhere. The only requirement is light and a device to record it. Many photographers enjoy exploring the world searching for subjects and light that appeal to their aesthetic sensibilities. Photography at this level pulls us out into the larger world and helps us appreciate it in new ways. Finding a good picture in a chaotic arrangement of natural or man-made elements is often a fleeting opportunity. As such, it often feels quite satisfying to come away with a good image that, when developed, often intensifies our connection to and feelings for the place we took it.
But the minimum requirements of light and a recording device open up another world of possibilities, and that is the photography studio. Both the subject and the light can be manufactured in a studio, but the result is still a photograph. The chaos of composing the picture can be controlled to some degree, as can the light. Also, there is often more time to properly adjust the camera’s focus and other settings and, if need be, to take multiple frames to ensure the intended “scene” is properly recorded by the camera.
While I personally enjoy the spontaneity of photographing “in the field,” I also appreciate the dedication, patience, skill, and creativity that come from taking pictures in a studio. Many studio photographs show a side of photography that I never knew existed. They record light in ways I’ve not tried to record it and generate photographs that I’ve not seen or imagined. As such, they spark a desire to pursue new creative possibilities with my own photography and help me realize, yet again, that creativity with light is endless.
Bob Hills’ water droplet photography definitely falls into this category of studio inspiration. The final images have a gem-like quality, and it’s easy to just sit back and enjoy them without trying to figure out the underlying light and structure. However, looking past the beautiful abstract presentation, it’s equally fascinating to see and, to some degree, dissect out the various elements that make these images possible. Bob explains it all in the Water Droplet Magic article on his website, and it’s a great example of how studio photography provides opportunities for exploring light in new ways while also creating some mesmerizing images.
It’s also worth mentioning that Bob’s “studio” is decidedly ad hoc and not a commercial photography space as the word “studio” might imply. He has a lot of control over the process, as the article details, but the physical space requirements are quite minimal. So, in this regard, “studio photography” can be seen simply as a style or method for making pictures and not something that requires a dedicated space or expensive equipment or models. With a little work and imagination, any place can become a photography studio.
The video below has samples from Bob’s article. Be sure to also visit his Water Droplet Magic gallery to see even more of these fascinating photos. I know Bob through Club Camera Tucson and have enjoyed his in-depth presentation to this group about the process involved in making water droplet photographs. You can contact Bob Hills if you have additional questions or are interested in scheduling him to speak to your group.