Something for a change

I am not a studio photographer. The majority of my photographs are taken outdoors…apart from the usual documentary shots of family life, which often show inhouse situations. Therefore, the images I want to share with you today are somewhat unusual. The photos are already 8 months old and were produced in a mock-up studio situation. And here is the story behind it:

My elder son told us that his biology teacher had tried to get corn seeds germinating in the middle of winter by immersing one side of a whole corn cob in water. The result was rather disappointing with only three or four seedlings appearing after a week or two. Back home my youngster was excited to repeat this experiment, naturally with the intention to beat his teacher on this one and present a much more impressive result in class.

We had two fully dried corn cobs, leftovers from an autumn decoration on the dining table. We put one of them into a flat bowl with a bit of water and then we waited. After five or six days the first white rootlets appeared and made their way to the bottom of the bowl. And soon after, the first green started reaching for light. Seed after seed came to life again and after three weeks you could hardly see the cob anymore. The young corn plants were about ten to fifteen centimeters high and the bottom of the bowl was filled with a network of intertwining shiny white roots.

At some stage of development I realised that the green and white seedlings produced a beautiful contrast against the golden corn seeds. Since I didn’t want to kill the young pants in the freezing winter temperatures on our terrace, I decided to setup a tiny studio situation with a chair, a background cloth and natural light near the window. I placed the cob on a white glass plate and took my rather heavy macro gear (see my other blog about macro photography here) consisting of the Nikon F90x, the Soligor C/D Macro MC 90mm f/2.5  and a Nikon SB21 ring flash for handheld shooting. Again, I used Kodak Gold 200, which delivers vibrant colors, high contrast and decent sharpness.

My Nikon F90x with the 90mm f/2.5 Macro lens and a ring flash in its full glory

There are a couple of things I especially like in the resulting images. First and foremost it is the complementary colors of the green and the orange tones against the blue background. Also the highly ordered arrangement of the seeds contrasts well with the chaotic growth of the seedlings and their roots. And finally, the photos illustrate one of the fundamental processes of life on Earth, the growth of a new plant from its seed, but the way my studio setup and the chosen gear renders the subject gives it a somewhat artificial appearance. It looks too clean, almost misplaced, like in a laboratory situation. At least that’s what comes to my mind when I look at the images. But see for yourself!

Corn cob 1-4

Berlin, 2020, Nikon F90x, Soligor C/D Macro MC 90mm f/2.5, Nikon SB21 ring flash with diffusor, Kodak Gold 200

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