99 ways to look at a nautilus shell

I’ve been photographing various household objects to add to my business portfolio, as it is necessary to start with what is right in front of me at the moment. Today I tackled a polished nautilus shell, which I thought would be a pretty straightforward shoot. Into the cube, a light on each side, maybe a little flash and we’re done.


It took me literally, no fooling, 99 shots to get the one image I wanted. Here are a few of them that didn’t make the cut.

Nautilus shell 1, copyright 2012 Lisa Shaw, Shaw Pro Photo

The red background is too dark, while the light reflection is blown out.

Nautilus shell 2, copyright 2012 Lisa Shaw, Shaw Pro Photo

The background looks better, but there’s too much light on the shell. I couldn’t get the balance right with this background.

Nautilus shell 3, copyright 2012 Lisa Shaw, Shaw Pro Photo

Here the shell is set up right in front of my brightest light, and I took many, many exposures at different settings to see how this would work. Kind of interesting, but not quite.

Nautilus shell 4, copyright 2012 Lisa Shaw, Shaw Pro Photo

Perhaps a different angle? I like this composition, but am still unhappy with the glare on the shell. This is in front of a window.

Nautilus shell 5, copyright 2012 Lisa Shaw, Shaw Pro Photo

Better. I feel like I’m getting closer; I’ve captured the iridescence. I need to figure out how to use reflectors to help fill in shadows because lights and flash are often overkill.

Nautilus shell 6, copyright 2012 Lisa Shaw, Shaw Pro Photo

I placed the shell back into the photo cube, which I placed in front of the window, and used a flash. That was a bad idea.

Nautilus Shell, copyright 2012 Lisa Shaw, Shaw Pro Photo

At last! Here the shell is still in front of the window but out of the photo cube, with only the overhead incandescent light on. I had to do only the most minor retouching to even out the tones in the background but didn’t otherwise alter the image.

What do you think? Did I pick the best one, or do you like another version better than the one I chose?


6 thoughts on “99 ways to look at a nautilus shell

  1. As I read this, I was surprised on how many different ways you can take a photo of an object. I thought they were all great and probably would have stopped at the first one if I had been taking the photo. But then, when I read each little description, I started to take notice of each little thing that could be made better or changed. Overall, I think the last one was the very best, and I learned a little more on what goes in to taking a nice photo. Keep doing what you’re doing, I love you Auntie.

    On Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 9:31 PM, Going Forward

  2. Yes! An I just love the considered critique of the images that don’t work- I love that you are sharing the development of your art!

    • Well, of course, this photography gig is supposed to be *strictly* business … but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful and maybe even arty sometimes, too. πŸ™‚

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