“Lamp” by Timothy Mahoney

This photo is really a continuation of my exercise during COVID lockdown days when we were all going crazy trying to find new and interesting compositions within our confined and all too familiar environments. There has to be something new I haven’t already photographed, right?

It was also one of Tomasz’s YouTube videos where I believe he was limited to a single hotel room and would post images demonstrating that if you slow down and analyze your surroundings, it is possible to find interesting compositions in the mundane. Macro, micro, micro, macro – seeing like a photographer.

I continue to do this and jokingly title my series “Waiting for Dinner to Cook”. Walk in the yard, in the house, through the window, rain against the window, sunlight coming through the window, dog in the window… we can all relate. I find this exercise as close as I get to meditation.

Which brings me to this photo. I had just purchased a new lens, was bored with time on my hands and wanted to get familiar with its focal length and general “feel”. This photo was an exercise in trying to capture an image from familiar everyday elements. I looked around for elements with interesting shapes, textures, and shadows. The geometry between the lamp shade and the base, coupled with the contrast of textures, the light/shadows, and overall simplicity, made a really clean, simple composition.

This image was not staged, in that I came to it. Taking several images until I was happy with the final composition. Simple, clean forms, the right amount of texture, and soft lighting made this work for me.

It reminds me of my high school mechanical drafting classes drawing in 2D. Front view, Top view, and Right side. Later, as your skills progress, you begin to add texture and shade in the shadows to give the 2D that simulated 3D look. I am an architect, trained I guess to constantly observe the interaction of shapes, how the impact of lighting renders an image, relationship to surroundings and negative space. Simple, clean elements. Finding the right balance and contrast can be easier said than done.

What are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

Simple in that there are essentially only two shapes – the lampshade and its base. The second key element is how the subtleties of the lighting define and reinforce the shapes.

If you could make this photo again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I think adding a human form in an abstract subtle way would be interesting. Maybe someone symmetrically positioned behind it.

Timothy Mahoney shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Timothy Mahoney, West Bloomfield, MI, USA


Equipment and settings

Olympus OM-1, M. Zuiko 45mm f/1.2 lens.
Handheld, manual focus, 1/200 sec., f/2.5, ISO 200

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