Photographing Bouncing Balls
I have written about many subjects and techniques, projects and ideas for things to photograph. Most subjects require some effort and creativity to make their images worthy of submission to stock houses and photo publications. This particular project is no different. It requires some creativity to photograph a very simple subject. Balls as simple as they are, can be used towards making good images. their simple shape and colorful textures lend themselves quite well and can be used, when made into large prints, into office or home decor pieces.
One of the best ways to photograph these subjects is to use a room or large container which is painted in a black flat latex paint into which you drop the balls and record their images as they bounce up and down. If the room is large enough you should suspend the balls from the ceiling in a net or bag and when ready to take their images releasing them. An assistant can help with this while perched on a tall ladder.
For these subjects you need to use light sources which are diffused, otherwise you will cast to strong of a light that will undoubtedly cast reflections. Position your light source, at least two at 45 degree angles, if you do not know how to measure angles then look at a clock; the 45 degree angles will be where the 3:00 and 9:00 o'clock positions are.
This project does not really focus too much on capturing close ups, although some images can be close ups. The main goal is to photographed various subjects at once while they are in movement. Because of their natural bounciness and after being dropped, some balls will have more bounce than others therefore some subjects in the scene will appear a bit out of focus while others will be captured completely as if frozen in time and space.
If using a room make sure that it is darkened yet allow some light that allows you to focus on a general spot where the balls will be dropped. this is your best option. If you do not have a large enough room, then building a large container with three solid sides painted black in a latex non glossy paint will do the trick just right. The fourth side should be left open for it will be from where you will position yourself to take the images.
Like if using a room make it tall enough so that you can drop the balls and record the images as they bounce. This container can be reused many times over for a variety of other projects, so making sturdy and storing it properly will ensure many long years of good use. If you are handy with tools you can add hinges and fold it when not in use.
An alternative is to use a large cartoon box or connect several large ones together for a one time use. make sure that you paint the interiors with black latex non glossy paint.
The best ones are those that are made from light rubber and are about the size of a basketball. The are rather cheap and come in solid very bright colors. You goal is to produce images that show many of them and due to their coloration make interesting and pleasing images. You can record images of single subjects, but better effects are accomplished if many samples are shown in one scene.
There are many varieties of balls; some with designs, some with figures inside of them, some of rainbow colors, made from rubber, plastic, acrylic and even glass.
Some will bounce more than others, yet others will not bounce at all. Be picky in which materials you use. If you are going to do a thumbnail presentation scheme, then use some crystal ones as the center piece surrounded by those that will have bounce.
Try to maintain your images to those that are of one single color as they make for better subjects.
The smaller ones; those that fit in the palm of your hands, can be used but this requires more specialized gear and are harder to get them all to fit at the same time into one single image. Stick with the larger more manageable ones.
If you find some samples that do not fit the theme; are not one single color and round, but are nevertheless colorful and full of bounce, then use these instead. The images will still be good enough.
© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez
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