Even though this was a personal project, quickly conceived to test out a new macro lens, it has become one of my iconic images (at least in my mind ;)).

And so I thought I’d quickly detail how such an image was made. It was really quite simple.

I placed my camera  on a tripod at my dining table, and placed the chess set that I’d borrowed off a friend right in front of the camera. One of the main features of a macro lens (in this case the Canon EOS 100mm f/2.8) is that you can focus very closely to the subject. I took a hand held test shot with my 50mm f/1.8 for comparison’s sake. It also offers a very shallow depth of field, though not as much as the 100mm Macro, and the field of view is much wider.

I then moved the camera forward on the tripod until the front of the lens was just back from the front of the board, and manually focussed on the knight.

Behind the chess set, on the back side of the dining table, I placed a standing lamp from one of my kid’s rooms, pointing directly at the lens, and then I got some baking paper and curled it over the light, sticking it at each end with a bit of sticky tape. This provides the diffused backlighting in the image.

I took several shots with various pieces in different positions, but the combination of the knight and the queen was the one I liked the best.

I’m not a big fan of photography that requires hours of editing, and the same was true in this case. The only thing I really did in post processing, other that the usual things like fine tuning the exposure and sharpening and resizing etc, was to greatly decrease the white balance, to give the image much warmer hues. Initially, it came out of the camera quite devoid of any colour.

A quick test shot with my 50mm f/1.8 for comparison

Straight out of the camera vs processed

The Knight’s Parade


I also tried a few variations, both of subject and aperture choice. This one was another shot I really liked, with the King and the Queen, and the Queen showing who’s the boss.

This shot was taken at f/11, giving a much deeper depth of field. Also focussing much further back led to me picking up the detail of the baking paper in the shot.

A very similar shot, but this was taken with an aperture of f/ 5.6, blurring out the back, but still making many more pawns in focus than the final shot.