Floating eggshell magic unveiled

This is a one-hour DIY photography project that I did on a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen or otherwise said a guide to how to photograph a floating eggshell.

The Photo
This is what I got at the end:

The Gear
Well, "gear" is a strong word to use for what is needed for this or should I say for what I found in the kitchen to use. Anyway here is the list:

1) six eggs - well you really need one for the photo but five back-ups is always good when it comes to eggs especially if you are the I-will-not-give-up-on-this type of person.
2) couple of toothpicks - sharpened both ends, you shouldn't have to be paying any attention to a toothpick end when it comes to serious stuff like photography, but for the hardcore DIY junkies any type of toothpicks will work.
3) a push pin - the color of the head will not affect the final image.
4) raisins aka dried grapes - not the softest type will work better. Sort of grapes is not of any concern.
5) a light source - now on this bit you can go really wild but I used the fluorescent light above the kitchen sink.
6) a digital camera - film unfortunately will not work for this.
7) Image editing skills - now that bit requires the most time nowadays. For this project in particular spot healing and toothpicks removal skills are needed.
8) a hammer - it is a must on any home build project no matter if you end up using it or not. It is the only satisfactor if something is really not working out as intended.
9) refreshments - needed for obvious reasons.

The Build
Handling an egg is a serious business no matter the reason but fortunately here all you need to do is break one. Do NOT use the hammer! Crack it like you'd do it for an omlet trying to preserve the two halves as much as you can. Avoid too many small pieces if possible. Get the egg into a cup and concentrate on the eggshell. Wash it first. Remove the small broken pieces. You will notice there is thin slimy layer on the inside - do not peel it off as it will keep the shell stronger. Try not to use white white egg as this may lead to blown out parts of the image with no detail later on.

Now you need to punch holes in the shell - one hole for each half. Get the push pin and put the egg shell on a cutting board or table top. From the inside out punch the holes with the push pin. Try rotating the pin as you push otherwise you might crack the whole thing. At this point you should have two halves of an eggshell with holes in them, hoping your wife is not going to think you have completely lost it if she walks into the room this very moment.

Get the first toothpick and squeeze it through the hole. The hole will not be big enough so rotating again will prevent cracking. Eggshell freely moves along the toothpick now but we have to have it stuck in position and this is where I lost hope. Initially I thought chewed chewing gum will do the work but I couldn't find any in the kitchen. I was half way through my weekly photography time already and couldn't go out buying chewing gum... but then... Then I found a bag of raising in a drawer and they worked a miracle. Stick a couple on the toothpick both on the inside of the shell and on the outside and it is now firmly holding the toothpick in position. Do the same with the other half of the shell.

The next roadblock was the lack of helping hand as my wife and son were taking an afternoon nap. How does one hold two toothpicks and aligns the eggshells vertically with one hand while shooting the picture with the other? I gave up and decided that it will be a composite of two images after all. Make sure when you shoot that the distance from camera is the same and pay attention to cracked edges of the shell to get the most out of the lighting and the pattern of the crack.

The Raw Material

Shoot plenty so you can have wider choice later. I picked the below two:

The After-shoot
Well Photoshop is an amazing image editing tool and combining two images is not that hard after all so I will not get into detail on this bit but I will mention that this is the moment when you sit down and crack open the refreshments mentioned earlier. :)

Areas of improvement and last notes

No matter how you end up holding up the eggshell (needle and thread maybe also an option for that part) or if you do it as a single image or composite what really opens this for artistry is the lighting. Try lighting it from below, both sides, above.. even holding the shell on the side and getting light through a hole in the bottom half will be magical. Get creative. That's what DIY photography is all about, isn't it?

...and don't forget to share what you got! :)

One response to Floating eggshell magic unveiled

  1. erik says:

    This was such a great photo that I had to see if I could replicate it...

    Take a look.

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