Bloopers and Practicing Failure

This week’s assignment for my close-up photography course (I discussed in more detail here) was to use items from the kitchen or bathroom.  The three above turned out really well.  I especially like the bubbles that’s almost entirely green.  But wait until you see what didn’t turn out.

I spent all afternoon working on this and by the end, was really frustrated.  Not only did I feel like a real fumble fingers trying to do this, but a lot of what I tried didn’t turn out.  Some of it was that my subject matter was just bad.  Others were bad technique, from not paying attention to the composition to being out of focus.

I did this outside on the deck and what a mess!  Eventually I realized that the tripod was not helping.  I had to move around to catch my subject matter and I couldn’t predict ahead of time where my focal point would be.  My favorite boy toy helped me figure out how to keep that cardboard upright (there’s a box behind it, plus the two Windex bottles to push it back against the box).  Sitting on the stool gave me the right height, but only some of the time.  The sun got really hot, but not until after I’d brought out the chocolate to photograph with the tea.

Geez, what a mess.  The only thing not here is the miniature pinscher who is off to the left, guarding me from elderly women taking a walk.
Geez, what a mess. The only thing not seen here is the miniature pinscher who is off to the left, guarding me from elderly women taking a walk.

So here are some things that I learned:

  • Pay attention to the composition!!!!
  • Keep a spoon, fork, and little bowl out there with me to dip out gunk that floats to the top.
  • Be sure to remove any little insects that fly into the tea, using the same fork and spoon.
  • Have a towel to clean the white plate off from melting chocolate and whatever else mars it.
  • Have a back-up towel and back-up white plates for when the chocolate gets too messy.
  • If I don’t want condensation on my clear glass teapot, brew the tea beforehand and let it cool.  THEN pour it into the pot.
  • If I want to see steam coming from the teapot, wait for a colder day.
  • It was great that I wiped down all the glasses I’d be using.  It’s too bad I didn’t do that with my clear teapot too.  Next time, run it through the dishwasher the night before to get rid of all the greasy fingerprints and water spots.
  • When I buy chocolate for my pictures, buy a few extra pieces to eat too so I don’t have to wait until this is all done to have a treat.
  • Be careful about the shape of the chocolate that I’m buying.  The two half domes of truffles looked like. . . tits on the plate.  And the two round truffle balls looked like, well, I didn’t like them.  I liked the squares and rectangles the best.
  • When I’m putting the chocolate on the plates, pay attention to how the end looks that faces the camera.  Sheez, that should have been simple.  Ya’ think??
  • I disliked the plain white background.  Later I figured how to put my colored dishtowels onto the backdrop – way later.
  • Move the grill so I’m not cloning out reflections.

I’m sure there’s more to add to the list, but that’s a good start for when I do this again.

So here’s the bloopers.  If you roll over the picture, you’ll get a little commentary as well.  I’ve removed the profanity from the captions.

So did this nurture my creativity?  I’m sure it did, but I don’t think I’ll actually feel that way until after I do this a few more times.  There was too much I didn’t know about what I was doing or how to do this.  Setting up and getting into position should be faster and easier the next time.  I know what didn’t work with my subject matter, so I can go onto new ideas to try.  And the compositions that worked, I can go farther with.

I also have a list now to refer to and that should help me get everything ready to go with less hassle and less trips back and forth for what I forgot.  Not that it took me 4+ trips to get the fork and spoon, then a bowl, then a white towel.  And then a second white towel because there was too much chocolate on the first one.  Then another white plate because the chocolate made too much of a mess.  Did I need more chocolate because what I was working got too soft?  Yes, indeed, that was another trip into the house.

The flip side to this is the question – do I want to work this hard for some pictures?  I enjoy my photography and having nice pictures to post with my blogs.  But it took precious time away from other things.  I didn’t get a walk, I didn’t relax, I got no chores done.  I’m thankful my favorite boy toy took care of meals and getting the dogs back from their monthly bath at PetSmart.

Nurturing my creativity also includes prioritizing my time and wisely pursuing what is of interest to me.  For these class assignments, I can’t just throw up my camera and snap a few photos.  I want something that I can be proud of and enjoy looking at later.  I accomplished that, but I have to decide if it was worth the price.  It very well may be, but I have to think that over more.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.

To see what others are doing with their 31 Days project, click here.



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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

18 Comments Leave a comment

  1. You did have some winners! And it sounds like you learned a lot, too. I do know the frustration of not getting the shots one has in mind.

  2. (sorry, too quick post) …for lots of everyday things. When you see what you learned, for photography or otherwise – it might be easier to know what you will or will not do again.

    • I agree with your summary (this is what I love about getting comments is how it clarifies what I’m thinking). I’ve since gone back and added in another item plus some more blooper photos. When I was looking at the photos, I remembered that I didn’t like how some of the chocolate looked. The two half mound truffles looked like tits and the two truffle balls reminded me of other anatomy parts. I didn’t even take those photos! One look through the viewfinder and they got changed out. I liked the chocolate squares and rectangles much better. My favorite shape (so far) is the chocolate covered marshmallow rectangles.

  3. Thank you Thank you for sharing your list! Moving bubbles and wings are such a trial, but your pictures turned out wonderful.
    Sometimes our masterpieces have to be put off until we get homework done. (and now I don’t feel so silly setting up shots..avoiding nosy neighbors who think I’m the odd one….maybe they are, but we shall ignore that for now)
    Well done!

    • I was happy with the ones that turned out, so thank you for the compliment! But yes, it was homework both literally (for my photography class) and figuratively (learning to do something new). Good point on that!

    • Thanks so much for the comment. I read it this morning, after a good night’s sleep and thought – you’re really right about that. I couldn’t believe how tired I was after doing this all afternoon yesterday, but it was a really good lesson in learning. The bubble pictures really turned out cool, didn’t they? Of course, I probably wasted 100 frames before I hit on what to do and how to make it look good. Ah yes, the learning curve. It looks so easy afterwards!

      • :) You’re welcome. And you have NO idea how jealous I am that it only took you 100 frames to get one you liked. ;)

        Isn’t it wonderful when you get that ‘one’ picture? It’s worth it.

        • It was worth it – you’re right! Although 100 frames might be a bit skimpy. I took nearly 600 pictures that day altogether. There were even more that failed that I didn’t share because they were so disappointing. So you go right ahead and be jealous. Just think, you too can spend all afternoon cussing out your equipment, the weather, and how poorly it’s all going!!!

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