Creating an album cover and video for my ambient album – my own!!

I’ll describe how I created an album cover and video using the same setup! Even better, I created these for my own album!

Some of you may not know that I play music and have had numerous recording contracts throughout the years. I’ve been doing it far far longer than night photography.

I record music as Eleven Shadows. But I took a reeeeally long break because I played in a rock band and continue to play in The Mercury Seven.

But funny things happen. Stuck at home after eye surgery, I began creating some new music. I was creating it just to create it. After a while, it occurred to me that this could be new Eleven Shadows music!

Every album needs some artwork, right?

Of course it does! Being a musician who is also a photographer has its advantages. I decided I wanted some mysterious macro photography. I grabbed my Pentax K-1 and an old Pentax M Macro 50mm F/4 Prime MF Lens. I set it so it hovered over a Pyrex dish filled with water and some drops of olive oil. I chose a dark room. But then I illuminated the glass dish from below with some colored lights.

Macro setup.
Similar macro setup. I did this in my tiny recording studio.

You can see how this setup looks in my macro photography article, where I describe this in great detail.

Colorful macro bubble photo.
Macro close-up photo of bubbles.

I decided that I wanted the colors more muted. Also, I wanted it to feel more layered and aquatic. So I used an old photo I took of a strange metal undersea creature I saw in a store many years ago.

Album cover for “The Seahorse in the Center of Your Mind”.
The album cover for “The Seahorse in the Center of Your Mind”.

I also created some blurring on the sides with Nik Collection Perspective Efex for good measure. This plug-in has an outstanding tilt/shift feature that blurs beautifully. Oh, and yes, it corrects perspective very well!

Every song needs a video, right?

Of course it does. And being a musician who is also a photographer has advantages here as well.

Eleven Shadows “Marismas Oscuras” from the new album “The Seahorse in the Center of Your Mind”.

While I took that colorful macro above, I also used Pentax’s video feature. I simply gently stirred the bubbles with a spoon. Then I recorded the action.

Macro photography video of oil bubbles.

You can see some of it in the video above. I then incorporated this video into the final video along with all the other patterns, glowing lights, and general weirdness.

The new instrumental tune “Marismas Oscuras” fits in well with the various depths and layers.

Where do I get the new Eleven Shadows album?

You can stream or download the new album “The Seahorse in the Center of Your Mind” on Bandcamp!

Eleven Shadows YouTube Playlist


Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!


Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)

Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020


How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022


Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols



Photo Tip of the Month – Fill Light To Reduce Contrast in the Mid-Day Sun

You’d be surprised how many people will ask, “Why are you using a flash? There’s plenty of light!”  Here’s how flash can help your mid-day photos.

Wagon of the Old West

A photo of a Wild West wagon, using a fill light to minimize the harsh contrast of the mid-day sun. Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens, 18mm ISO 200 F/6.3.

You can’t always shoot photos during the “golden hours” (early morning, just before sunset).  And you may not always want this. Sometimes, you want to capture the look of something at mid-day.  But as anyone who has shot knows, this can create harsh light and harsh contrasts, particularly with subjects that are in the shade, as shown below:

Wagon with no fill light as an example

Our Wild West wagon with no fill light as an example of how mid-day sun can create harsh light and harsh contrasts in photos, particularly with subjects that are partially in the shade. Compare this with the other photo which uses the fill light.

So, what to do?  Use a flash as a fill light.

For this photo, I used a Nikon SB-600 Speedlight Flash in wireless mode.  I placed it down on the ground, just out of frame on the right side, facing up at the wagon, with a Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce OM-600 Flash Diffuser Unit to diffuse the light.  I like to use off-camera flash because I have more control over what area of the subject my flash lights (and if shooting portraits, it’s a great way to avoid getting demonic red eyes!).  Here’s another look at the photo using fill flash:

Wagon of the Old West

Have another look at the photo of a Wild West wagon, using a fill light to minimize the harsh contrast of the mid-day sun.  Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens, 18mm ISO 200 F/6.3.

Equipment:  Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm VR II Nikkor Telephoto Zoom Lens, Nikon SB-600 Speedlight, Sto-Fen Flash Diffuser.


Photo Tip of the Month – 5 Reasons Why Compact Cameras Rule

Five Reasons Why Compact Cameras Rule
I own a Leica DLux 4, although there’s a Panasonic equivalent, the Lumix DMC-LX3, which is considerably cheaper and has the same body and lens.  This camera does quite well in low light situations for a compact camera.  There’s also four thirds and interchangeable lens cameras, other high quality compacts, such as the Canon G11 or G12, and iPhones or other phone cameras which can take quality photos.  I always prefer to bring a compact camera when i travel.  And a lot of professional photographers will bring a compact camera with them when they are on assignment.  Here’s five reasons why:

1.  It Ain’t a Great Photo If You Don’t Take It.  If you don’t have your camera with you, you’re not going to get the shot.  But with a small camera that can fit in your pocket, you can always have it with you for those unexpected fantastic opportunities.

2.  Mobile and Spontaneous.  Clubs?  Hiking?  Street Photography?  Concerts?  It’s always with you.  Take it out, start shooting instantly, and even upload it to your Facebook page if your camera allows you to do so.

3.  Make People At Ease With Portraits.  People are often more at ease with smaller cameras than large SLRs.  They’ll relax more, perceiving the smaller camera as less “formal”.  And with most cameras being smaller than DSLRs, that can help quite a bit in getting your subject comfortable with your photography.

4.  “Macro” Photography.  A lot of smaller cameras can also focus on objects much closer.  This can be a lot of fun when doing quick photos of…well, just about anything, whether it’s flowers, animals, or every day objects, bringing a new perspective that your SLR may not be able to do unless it has macro lens.

5.  Safety.  With a small pocket camera, you are far less likely to attract attention.  You’re far less of a target for theft.  This quite possibly can save your life.

The Window
Good portraits can be taken with modest or small cameras, such as the one with a Brazilian girl, taken with a Leica D-Lux 4 (the same as a Panasonic DMC-LX3 – see link below) compact camera.  I can keep this in my pocket, perfect for the photographer on the go.

Paulinho of the pandeiro
Paulinho of the Pandeiro, Brazil. This photo illustrates a close-up low-light photograph that many high-quality compact cameras can achieve. Photographed with the Leica D-Lux 4 (the same as a Panasonic DMC-LX3 – see link below), which I kept in my pocket except for occasional photos, increasing my safety and people’s comfort level…perfect for the photographer on the go.

Equipment:  Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens