Yeshen Venema
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Blog for Photographer Yeshen Venema. Features tips, links interviews and behind the scenes stories.

Behind the Lens

Earlier this year, while working with Nom Living, I organised a photo shoot to showcase some of the new ceramics and lacquer products. We were fortunate to have access to a lovely apartment with a stunning lacquered wood table.

Small ceramic Milk Jug in Matt Black. Here, a higher angle brought out the grain in the wooden table.

Small ceramic Milk Jug in Matt Black. Here, a higher angle brought out the grain in the wooden table.

As a photographer, I'm drawn to textures and surfaces by how light illuminates them. Wood is a material that can work very well with ceramics, and I would normally opt for a rustic oak or pine table. However, in this case the lacquer gave the surface a wonderful depth (you can tell the quality of lacquer by it's depth of reflection). 

A selection of Snow White Rustic Ceramic bowls, cups and dishes. The dark wood offered great contrast to the lighter glaze.
A selection of Snow White Rustic Ceramic bowls, cups and dishes. The dark wood offered great contrast to the lighter glaze.

Every product we placed on there looked great. We needed very little lighting, just a soft box. Changing the angle of the shot had a great effect on the amount of surface sheen picked up by the camera - shooting very low gave the appearance of still water, like that on a lake in early morning. Higher up, the grain of the wood came through more. All these images were shot with a 50mm lens, which gave is the one lens I could not do without in my work.

Sake Cups, they appear to float on the surface of the lacquered table. The wall behind is also lacquered, on top of real silver leaf. 
Sake Cups, they appear to float on the surface of the lacquered table. The wall behind is also lacquered, on top of real silver leaf. 

The lesson here - look for interesting surfaces to photograph your products on, practise at home with what you have available and don't be afraid to take you camera and some smaller objects out of the house - who knows what you might find?

Lacquer tray with small conical dip bowls. The 50mm lens gave a wonderful soft background here, due to the low angle the wood appears much lighter than it is.
Lacquer tray with small conical dip bowls. The 50mm lens gave a wonderful soft background here, due to the low angle the wood appears much lighter than it is.
A splash of colour from the Union Range of lacquer and ceramic. A higher angle here places the emphasis on the products in the centre of the frame, illuminated by a soft box light positioned top right. 
A splash of colour from the Union Range of lacquer and ceramic. A higher angle here places the emphasis on the products in the centre of the frame, illuminated by a soft box light positioned top right. 
Coco Bowls, again appearing to float. The focal point is the front edge of the bowls, clearly showing the grain of the wood while the rich colours are softened behind.
Coco Bowls, again appearing to float. The focal point is the front edge of the bowls, clearly showing the grain of the wood while the rich colours are softened behind.
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