With no small degree of happiness and joy, I am announcing Wax, an abstract and experimental series of photographs which explores the astoundingly varied structures, textures, patterns, and shades of one of the most ordinary items imaginable, a candle. In this post, I’d like to tell you a bit about the projects origin and the way the photos were created before I send you over to the Wax gallery.
Idea and execution of Wax
I came up with the idea for this project last fall, in November 2017. I didn’t have much time to be creative then, so in a defiant act of desperation I grabbed my camera and my macro lens and started exploring a candle on our living room table, handheld in low light.
I was fully aware that most of the photos would be unusable, but there were good enough for me to realize that the structures, patterns, and textures on the candle’s surface looked surprisingly fascinating.
So, I decided to keep exploring, this time using a tripod, in dim ambient light, and a Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 LED Light which helped immensely to bring out the details of the candle even more. The advantage of this light is that it is small and mobile. Often I would compose and focus my shot and then play with the light source handheld until I found an angle which emphasized the texture of the candle’s surface. Very often, backlighting proved to be very effective as well.
Lots of work
I also purchased a Lotus Art Fire, a special candle that doesn’t just burn down but creates fascinating arches and structures of wax in the process – perfect for my project. Over the course of several months, I successively burned down this candle and explored it with my camera as described above, producing somewhere between 150-200 photographs in the process. I developed about 90 of them in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Silver Efex Pro which (praise the lord) is now continued by the good folks at DxO.
Each image took between 1-3 hours of work. You have no idea of how many dust particles reside on a candle unless you photograph it with a macro lens. Literally, hundreds upon hundreds of them had to be removed manually with the Healing Brush tool in Photoshop – for every image. But the hardest part was getting down to a reasonably sized collection. Fortunately, I had the advice of some trusted Arcanum friends with that.
A little help from my friends
In many ways, this project was new territory for me, so the support of my friends over at the Arcanum was crucial. This unique mentor and community-driven learning system has got something to offer for everybody, regardless of whether you seek to improve your technical skills or guidance in an artistic project.
Whenever I was in doubt, I could count on the help of an experienced mentor and a bunch of highly talented and like-minded fellow photographers. Here I had partners with whom I could discuss whether this or another photo worked better. And why it did or did not. And if there was anything that could be done about it. Time and time again and all far beyond the superficiality that rules so many social media networks out there. Their input and opinions helped me out of more than one creative dead end, thus playing a crucial part in the completion of the project, at least in the form and shape it is today. A owe them all my gratitude.
Set your imagination free
If you are one of those people who look up into the sky and see all sorts of things in the clouds above, then this series is for you. Look at the pictures and let your imagination float. Don’t let the ordinariness of a candle fool you. Even though you can find it in almost every household to light homes with their warm and cozy light, they are so much more than a mere light source. They are also a portal into unknown spheres and dimensions, an invitation to your imagination to let go and float in frozen streams and bubbles, icy mountains and caves, tiny cells and particles, or to discover bizarre shapes and scary faces
Click on this photograph to get to the Wax gallery. Enjoy!