“The Attic Treasure”
Tony L. Corbell
Texas School Instructor

Imagine you are a working photographer prior to 2000. Prior to Adobe Photoshop. Prior to being able to fix, repair, creatively make composites, all the things we take for granted today. Many of you reading this never had to “think” your way past a creative solution. In this image my idea was to create something of a still-life as if it was a found treasure in the attic. Old, dusty, reflecting a warmth of light. Before starting, I sat and just thought about it for 10 minutes before I began.

Tony used a Fujifilm GFX100S camera with a Fujifilm 120mm Macro lens and a single Profoto B10X Plus strobe (middle photo) to light fellow Texas School instructor Joe Glyda’s bronzed baby shoes.

The Subject(s) – I gathered the props for the shoot. I’ll fill you in on the shoes at the end of the article. Then I started moving the props into position and checking the composition over and over until it just felt right. And for the record, the little, tiny baby bracelet once belonged to a little tiny baby named Kimberly Smith, our great studio partner and of course, the top producing award winner in this galaxy.

The Camera – My camera choice for this was my new Fujifilm GFX100S. This 102mp beauty is small, lightweight and can produce an exceptional file. The lens choice was Fujifilm’s 120mm Macro. A stunning optic.

For warmth, he added a warming gel over the front of the strobe.

The Light – It’s all about the light. I had to think about what type of light I could use to effectively create something creative, sure. But it also had to have a sense of believability in terms of being a found attic treasure. So, I used a single Profoto B10X Plus strobe and this allowed me to shoot wide open or at f22, depending on the mood I was creating.

Light Warmth – This is the magic. Adding the warming gel over the front of the strobe means no light can escape the color. I know, I know, most of you would say, “Hey, use a gel holder.” I know, but gaffer’s tape has served me well for 43 years, so I’ll just keep using it.

The Final Touch – “Visual Tickles,” I like to call them. Those little extra things you can do that just might make your image stand out from the crowd. For this one, I took a small sheet of white foam core and cut funny little holes in it with an exacto blade. The result, which I knew from experience, would give the appearance of a dappled light coming through a set of curtains, much like light coming through tree limbs, it can represent a lot of different things. But the creation of the “mood” can be adjusted by three things: the distance of the strobe to the foam core, the distance of the foam core to the subject, and the size and number of holes in the foam core. If you want the shadows to be sharper and more pronounced, simply move the foam core with the holes further away from the subject and /or move the light further away from the foam core. Softer light is achieved by moving the light closer. Also, the same is true for moving the foam core closer to the subject.

For the “final touch,” he took a sheet of white foam core and cut little holes in it with an Exacto blade. The result gives the appearance of dappled light coming through a set of curtains. The sharpness of the shadows can be controlled by moving the foam core further away or closer to the subject.

I cannot tell you the importance of learning the craft of photography. There are days that Photoshop is integral to the success of a shoot. But there are still times when the knowledge of your tools and the craft of photography can shine through, and it can be fun, financially rewarding, and creative.

Oh, the baby shoes were taken off a bookcase in the home of my friend and fellow Texas School instructor, Joe Glyda. They were his as a baby and his mother had them bronzed. So, thanks to Joe and Kimberly for propping my shoot for me!

Tony Corbell, M. Photog, Hon. M. Photog, Cr. Photog, WPPI Lifetime Achievement Award, has been teaching lighting concepts, theories, and techniques for more than 25 years and has spoken to more than 40,000 photographers throughout the world on the topic of light control. He and Rob Hull will be teaching a class on “Between Light and Shadow” at the 2023 Texas School of Professional Photography. Tony believes that learning should be fun. He lives in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. Check out his class at