Cabin Fever – February Still Life

For my birthday in February this year I received a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens for my Canon.  It’s a “cheaper” third-party lens and after a few experiments … in my unscientific opinion… I think it’s just fine.   I’ve never done macro work.   I don’t know how to light small objects.  I’ve never made still life’s.  I have difficulty with color.  And I have never made “decorative” art.  So obviously, this is what I had to do.

I did not have anything in particular in mind when I got the lens.  February was being February, so I decided to experiment inside my house, away from the slush.  I put the camera on a tripod and started grabbing stuff off tables and shelves.   The first image I made was of paperweights and a Daguerreotype.

When I was a teenager I excavated farm dumps for kicks.  Back before we had public landfills in New England, people dumped their refuse just out of sight behind the stonewall.  I would dig through these with a pitchfork.  I would mostly find shards of glassware and pottery, bone fragments, rusty and broken tools and other scraps of metal and sometimes I’d uncover fully intact turn-of-the-century bottles.   Ever since, I’ve collected artifacts.  Mostly small, easily transportable pieces of history with limited monetary value.   I’m mostly interested in what the “artifacts” look like, not what they are worth.   So my house is now full of small, old, odd things.   February being February, I decided to photograph what was within easy reach.   The straightforward macro images (Paperweights, Frozen Charlotte, Don’t Jump) became more arranged as the month progressed.

Experiment #1. With no forethought I arranged items within reach. I moved a nearby poinsettia so you could see it reflected in the Daguerreotype.

A paper pulp JOL from 70 or 80 years ago and a much older clock. I lit the hand turned bowl in the background with a flashlight during a long exposure.

The chicken foot was painted black when I bought it from a shop in NY. The eggs are goose eggs. The white feathers are from a peacock we met in New Mexico at Los Poblanos.

The newspaper is from 1865. Note the advertisement for “Stereo Views of the War.” The newspaper lines a trunk I bought at a flea market for $20. The eggs are some type of iridescent stone. The bones I found in the forest.

I found the deer skull and antlers in the forest behind my house. The background is an overturned copper wash boiler. Thirteen deer strolled through my backyard the other day. The deer eat my plants. I throw things at the deer.

Experiment #2 - Don’t Jump. Porcelain doll in crepe paper Santa suite posed in a pictureless 19th-century photo album.

Here’s a German (from Thuringia) Frozen Charlotte from 1890-1920 on a gilded fan. The background is a cover of a Victorian scrap album.

Marbles, white peacock feathers and in the background, a black feather boa.

The souvenir spoons were collected by my wife’s grandmother. The text in the background is from Blanchard’s 1903 Pocket Guide to Greater New York.

This is the outside of the 1865 trunk and a collection of keys. The big key opened a gate or door of a relative’s house – the tag says Nicholas Faulkner, 1850. I lit the inside of the trunk with a flashlight.

There’s no sense of scale here. The kneeless, dapper plastic man is just over three inches high.