I’m not even going to tell you what you’re looking at here; I’m simply going to let you puzzle it out on your own, given the visual clues within. Then you can tell me the story behind it.
Oh, all right – since you’ve read all this way, which certainly puts you ahead of most webnauts anymore, I suppose I can fill you in. Except, not entirely, because I no longer remember the entire story behind this image – I think I was trying to fulfill a photographic challenge with the bare topic of “light.” The basic premise was, I was experimenting many years back with a digital camera, trying to see what kind of effects I could produce, and this one came out (after much experimentation, which is where digital photography really gains an advantage) more-or-less how I wanted it to. Well, it did if you’re seeing some kind of planetary composition. But if you’re seeing a white balloon and a racquetball, then you’re seeing accurately, but not at all what I was trying to accomplish.
Here’s the layout. The big white curve off to the left is a white balloon, splashed with a little cornstarch to provide a ‘texture’ of sorts. It is lit from behind with a flash unit, within a dark room. The blue sphere is, as I said, a racquetball, perched on the top of a lightstand – I am aiming straight down from the top to disguise this support. The entire floor beneath this setup is shrouded under a black cloth, and on a separate little stand of some kind sits a small slave flash unit, one that goes off when it detects the light from another flash. To reduce and properly shape the light emitted by that, it is firing through a small hole in a piece of cardboard, and these are both positioned to barely appear past the curve of the racquetball. The other little bright bugaboos that you see are merely lens effects. Pretty simple setup, really.
I’m wondering now why it didn’t occur to me to use the cornstarch to put some blotches and swirls on the racquetball and try and make a cloud cover for that ‘planet.’ Man, I hate when I think of ideas, like, fifteen years too late…