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20 Nov 2013

My nieces were folding origami over the weekend, and the idea of doing some abstract photography with the colorful papers struck me. Here's how I created some of these abstract pieces ...

Materials that is needed

  • Papers - A stack of colorful papers, preferably 100-120 grams types, is needed. Avoid getting papers that are too thin as it is more difficult to sustain the form and shapes when trying to mould them. If the papers are too thick, moulding them would be difficult as well.
  • Stapler or Metal Clips - These are needed to hold the various shapes of paper that I'm moulding into. If you do not want to leave stapler holes on the paper, metal clips can be used but make sure that they are strong enough to hold the paper in the shape.
  • Transparent Scotch Tape - Standby some scotch tape which will be handy in helping to hold the paper into the shape that will be moulded into.
  • Weights - Various sizes of blocks of relatively heavy weights would be helpful in holding shapes that the paper will be moulded into. I'd quite a dozen of chicken essence pack which I wrap them up with white A4 size papers and turn them into handy block of weights.

Equipment and Settings

  • Digital camera & lenses
  • Flashes (or light sources) - Besides from the digital camera, 1-2 off-camera flashes is preferred to create different lighting effects. If you do not have off-camera flashes, couple of white fluorescent lamps (preferably 100 watts or higher) should provide sufficient lighting power.
  • Remote trigger (if necessary) - May be required when you cannot be at your camera, if one of your hand is needed to hold onto the papers.
  • Tripod (if necessary) - Required for the same reason on using remote trigger. In addition, it would be better to use a tripod to avoid shakes if you are using a slow shutter speed due to insufficient lighting.

Camera Settings

There is no one fixed setting as it depends on the shape of paper being mould into and the angle that they will be photographed. Experiment with various settings on the camera and different angles of shooting them for creativity.

You may want to play with different settings of the the flashes or light sources as well, as placing them at different positions creates different lighting effect and ambience.

Shaping the Papers

This is the part which requires a little bit creativity, and this is also the part where moulding them into the shape will take up most of the efforts and time. Here are a few examples I created:

Spreading the Papers like a "Palm Tree"

First, I use a metal clip to hold a stack of colored papers on one edge of the paper. Next, I placed 2 weights (i.e. my chicken essence weights) about 10 cm apart and hold the papers in a vertical position in between the weights (i.e. with the edge held with metal clip on the table). This will allow the colored papers to start spreading (or falling) to the left and right where the weights are.

Make use of the weights to hold the edge of the paper into the shape just like the diagram below. Use scotch tape to tape the paper to the weights if necessary.

You may want to use odd number of colored papers so that you can have even number of "leafs" on both side and one standing in the middle.

You can try arranging the papers in different color tones (e.g. from light to dark tones) for different visual effects, taking it from different angles.

"S" Shape

Simply bend the paper into an "S" shape and use the weights on both sides to hold the shape (see picture below). Holding the paper in "S" shape is a lot more difficult as the papers will tend to "spring out" from the shape, so you may want to use some scotch tape to help holding them in the shape.

Roll A Bunch of Papers

This one is fairly simple as all you need to do is to roll a bunch of paper, strap them together with a rubber band and hold them in between the weights or leave it on the desk. The picture below would give you an idea.

You can try taking pictures of the folds when the papers are rolled together ...

Please visit for more photos ...