Big Bertha's Adventures

Random Object Wednesday: Hard to Top this Item: Part 1

Today’s Random Object Wednesday participant is Cheryl D. Parker.  Click here to read her bio.  I was very excited to hear she wanted to participate.  She brought several items for me to photograph.  I thought long and hard on how I should present all three items.  The original plan was to feature all three in one blog.  They are all similar yet very different.  They need their own moment in the spotlight.  So I’ve decided to present the items in a series of blogs.  This is the first in the series.

All three items were made about 30 years ago.


“A wooden top…” I said to myself.  “I wonder if it really spins?  “How will I capture motion?”

I began photographing the wooden object.

This one was not easy— though it was entertaining to see how long I could make the top spin.

I experimented using the macro lens on Big Bertha with a plain white background.

Big Bertha's Adventures

My favorite lens is the telephoto.  But in my tiny studio it’s hard to get far enough from the subject.  I tried anyway.  I liked the results.

Big Bertha's Adventures

Since it felt like I had to get miles away to photograph the top with my telephoto lens, I decided I might as well get artistic.  I angled the camera.  This might be my favorite shot.

Big Bertha's Adventures

During the process I was singing Cheryl’s praises.  She must have known I need to learn how to photograph motion!  How clever of her to submit a wooden top!  Sure, it looks simple on the surface but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Hundreds (and I mean hundreds!) of photos later I was hopeful I had one or two decent shots.  I set aside the top and focused on other random objects.

Weeks passed and during that time I worked on photographing other objects, other events and reading photography books and websites.  I learned some more.

I returned to the wooden top with more confidence.

Big Bertha's Adventures

Big Bertha's Adventures

Here are more shots with new backgrounds. I like the background because it’s a bit retro and works well with the top.  I also used different manual settings on the Canon Mark II.

Big Bertha's Adventures

One of my goals in photographing the spinning top was to get the grooves on the sides in focus as shown below.

Big Bertha's Adventures

Another shot with the sides of the spinning top in focus.  I enjoy tilting the camera at an angle for interest.

Big Bertha's Adventures

A view from the top… of the top.  (I couldn’t resist)

Big Bertha's Adventures

The sides of the top are no longer in focus – instead the handle is in focus.

Big Bertha's Adventures

I think the photo below captures the fun I had better than any other photo.  My finger got caught in the shot as I tossed the top on the table to spin.  Somehow I managed to photograph the top before it hit the surface of the table.  I’d probably have to photograph hundreds more photos to make that shot happen again.  And surprisingly enough, I wouldn’t mind trying!

Not only did I learn more about how to use my camera but I had so much fun photographing this item.  Thank you Cheryl.

Big Bertha's Adventures

If you’d like to improve your skills in photography, try photographing a spinning top!

Cameras used:
Big Bertha (Canon EOS 5D Mark II)

October + November 2013

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