Art, Photography, Still LIfe

Teacups Following the Ballet

I have been thinking of an image that I knew I had seen once before, a photograph by a well known Australian Photographer, Olive Cotton.

If you click on the image it will take you to some information about who she was and what her thoughts were behind the image, from the Art Gallery NSW.

I think this is an amazing image, very simple, but beautiful  It may be a little dark, but that could just be me.  I decided that I would attempt to repeat it.

I didn’t have the spot light like Olive did, and if I can find a stronger light I might try this again.  Still, I don’t mind this.  It is a HDR image, but I have done quite a bit of post editing, obviously, since it is black and white with some sepia toning.

I had quite a bit of trouble trying to work out the composition.  I didn’t want to put it on a table cloth, so decided to just use the top of my coffee table as if it were a dance floor or bare stage.  I tried to copy the composition exactly, but my coffee table wasn’t wide enough, so I had to bring everything in a little closer and you don’t quite get the space around them like Olive did.

I mixed them up a little more and tried not to make it so uniform.  I don’t know if it works better or not, but I do like this one and the first one I did.  There is a simplicity with the cups and saucers which is really nice.  I don’t care that some bits are bit over done.  I have to get a stronger light for doing this.  I have some flash lighting, but the lighting is too diffused, I need it to be more direct.  Perhaps, changing what the cups are sitting on as well.  I have been thinking about going to one of those places that sell old building materials and seeing what wood I can find that will be good for these sorts of photos.

I decided to try swapping the cups and saucers with some of my sugar bowls.  I don’t mind this either, but again, it would be good to have something different to put them on to take the photos.  That really is something I need to think about.

Oh well, if it was perfect from the beginning then I wouldn’t keep trying.  I do enjoy doing this kind of stuff, have I said that already?  I hope I aren’t boring you with all my still lifes.


  1. I love Olive Cotton’s photograph’s too, I saw a great exhibition of her work in Sydney about 10 years ago. I like your new take on this photo with the sugar bowls.

    • She is fantastic. I’m so jealous you got to see an exhibition of her work. That would have been amazing. I might have to do some more research on her.
      I think the sugar bowls worked because of the handles, though I would really like to do this again one day with a better light.

  2. I like the last photo too because I think it comes closest to Olive Cotton’s (which I like very much – especially how she has used the reflections of the cups as an integral part of the image). I like your the sense of depth in both her and your last photo – in terms of the shape of the image and also the way the light hits and lengthens the coffee table.

    • Thanks LIz. I would have like better shadows, but maybe that is something I really need to work on. It is good to have stuff that needs to be worked.

    • I love teacups too, I collect stuff for tea, there is something about the ceremony of tea that I find fascinating. I have so much. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  3. I, for one, am thouroughly enjoying watching your explorations of still-life. :)
    Thanks for the intro to Ms. Cotton’s work – I had never heard of her.

    • Thanks Marie, I am glad I aren’t boring you with all my still life stuff. There will be plenty more I am sure. I really like doing it.
      You are welcome, glad I could introduce someone new to you. She is quite well known in Australian art circles, but don’t know how well known she was overseas. She has some pretty amazing stuff.

  4. SaptarshiC says

    There is something ghostly about the original photo.
    Hmm…. How ’bout that – Ghost Cups?

    • That is an interesting way of putting it. I think Olive liked the title of the Teacup Ballet, she thought they looked like ballet dancers. I really understand what she was talking about.

    • I don’t think you are the only one. Haha. I like the shadows from the teacups and think if I had gotten better shadows with the sugar bowls it would have been great. Next time.

  5. Pingback: Teacup Ballet ReWorked « Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY

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