Light is Everything!

Archive for September, 2011

September 27 Sunset

Nabbed a quick shot last night before I rushed off to a meeting.

I’m a fan of silhouettes at Sunset. In the top image I tried to frame the silhouette tree branch on the right and just a smidgeon of horizon below at the very bottom of the picture. The dark cloud structure on the top of the frame helps further frame the overall image. The second image is more of an abstract example of cloud texture and amazing colour. I love how it incorporates the blue and gold and the pinky red on the clouds. 8)


Steer Wrasslin’

I got the chance to take some photos at my friends riding arena on Friday night. It was awesome to see Dan and the boys wrestlin’ them steers with all their might!! I was stoked to be able to get some western/rodeo shots because the action is super cool and it makes for really dramatic photos, if you blur the action or if you freeze it. You can’t really go too far wrong. Plus, the sunset was beautiful! 8)

Photo Geek Info:ย 

The light was just starting to fade when I started shooting which meant the whole shoot was pretty much in golden light. Which, as we know, is the ultimate time to make pictures! ย I was using my 105 VR Macro at f/2.8 for nice compression and cream cheesy bokeh. I found that it was almost perfect for this event as it’s fast, sharp and pretty workable for candid portraits closer in and long enough to nab full frame action further out. Probably the ultimate for this would be the 70-200 though with just a bit more reach. I was able to be in the arena for some of the shots which allowed me to get closer than I would at an actual rodeo. Very fun stuff! ๐Ÿ˜†


1st Day

Well today was the big first day for Phoebe and a truck load of other preschoolers. Hard to believe it’s true. I’m sure I’ll be a wreck when Kindergarten comes around the bend. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ So I got up early and made some pancakes as the special breakfast and then we tried to squeeze out some photos to remember the big day by. She’s become such a goofball when it comes to getting pics lately. Always got a crazy face instead of a nice smile. Can’t even bribe them out with treats and shows hardly anymore. So, we take what we can get and with a little luck, might nab a memory. ๐Ÿ˜†


Golden Cows

I was out and about the other night when the light was gloriously saturated and golden. I had a specific idea for a landscape photo in mind that involved a single tree on the horizon. It was already super yellow with the dappling of fall all around us and I wanted to nab it when it was side lit in golden light. I started out through the pasture that had become thick with latent clover seed that grew into giant plants. As I walked towards the tree, a herd of cows stood up in the clover and scared the you know what out of me! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ So I backed up and tried to make my way to the tree but the cows kept coming towards me. Must have been some protective moms in the crowd because they didn’t back away or run. So I skirted the top of a ravine and made my way over to where I wanted to take the shot. I also, oddly, decided to use only my 70-300 – not my usual landscape lens, but I wanted to see if I could get some more compression for the valley in the background. The cows provided some sweet serendipitous shots as they were back/side lit. Another good reminder to be open to whatever comes along in the photos. ย I tried to get a composition with the oil well, the cow and the valley to symbolize all the local industry. ย How symbolic of me! ๐Ÿ˜€


Vanity

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. ~ Ecclesiastes 2:11

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“Eve of Destruction”

Last night in Estevan was the “Eve of Destruction” at the Estevan Motor Speedway. We had ourselves a little Combine Demo Derby & Car Rollover Contest. Honestly, who WOULDN’T want to come out and see a dozen or more old combines smash into each other losing tires and parts until they can’t move anymore?! ๐Ÿ˜† It was pure pandemonium! Last night I was there as a spectator and I never left the stands. I was totally envious of Byron Fichter who was on the track getting the mad shots uninhibited by fence and other spectators. Check out his stuff on Facebook. It was a lot of fun, though to be honest, motor sports aren’t really up my alley. They do provide awesome opportunities for photos though, which is always a treat. The car flip n’ smash was a riot too, as well as all the moto cross kids. They did a fantastic job to the crowds applauding approval. So the next time you get the urge to drive your combine into a fence, the local CO-OP, or another combine, DO IT! Charge $20.00 bucks a head and people will come for miles around to witness your carnage. Throw on a chicken suit for added fun. Why not?! 8)

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Photo Geek Insights: This situation was incredibly brutal for taking photos. All there was for light was the sodium vapour lamps way up on posts to illuminate the track. ย When you have no light, you have to bump up the ISO. In my case, I was not shooting f/2.8 glass which would have helped tons. I was stuck at around f/5.6 which necessitated me shooting at ISO 2000 for many shots! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ On a DX format camera, that’s a recipe for noisy, grainy shots. But, it allows you to get the shots. Another example of your pixels not being pretty, but you’ll at least get pictures. I was shooting manually too, purposely underexposing the photos by 2 stops so I could maintain shutter speed to freeze action. To stop the MX bikes, I thought I’d need at least 1/200, which is fairly quick for no light. Thankfully we have post processing that allows one to salvage the shots. It would be an ideal environment for strobe actually, but as a spectator, you’re doing the best you can with what you have to work with.


Celtic Defenders

So last night we went to Estevan to partake in some sweet sweet East Coast music. The Celtic Defenders . . . Irish Descendants were in concert at the Comp. The Estevan Arts council does a tremendous job in bringing in top quality stuff and these boys did not disappoint! Everyone loves East Coast music. Everyone! Why? Because it’s so cheery and uplifting. Yer toe’ll be tappin’ in no time bye! I’d love to have a kitchen full of Newfies for some good old timey guitar, mandolin and hard bread! ๐Ÿ˜† Like I said, they did a great job. The sound in the comp was kind of muffled though, like the Charlie Brown teacher waw waw waw voice, which made parsing the Newfoundland accent tougher for us mainlanders than it already is. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But it was still a whole pile of fun. I bootlegged some illegal band photos. Shhhh! don’t snitch on me. 8) I know why concerts say no photos. Every granny and their point and shoot would be there blasting useless onboard flash in a vain attempt at snagging a blurry memory. I brought $2000.00 worth of camera equipment and with ninja like f/1.4 stealth . . . snagged a blurry memory. ๐Ÿ˜

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One Light & Glasses

Taking flash photos of people with glasses is a nightmare. Even if they have the magical unicorn-horn anti-glare nano-crystal-coatings, there is always gonna be some reflection or glare. So, if you have an umbrella setup as a light modifier, it’s going to reflect in the glasses. Same with reflectors. There’s only 3 options. 1) You get the person to take their glasses off. But, if they always wear them, they won’t look like themselves. So this one is out for me. 2) Photoshop the heck out of the glare. This is time consuming and a real nightmare trying to rebuild people’s eyes. 3) Turn the person the opposite direction from the light. DING DING DING! How easy is that?! The light comes from behind the person and wraps around them, all without glaring their glasses. Slap in a reflector for fill on the opposite side of the main light and you’re in business. Just make sure that the reflector doesn’t show up in the glasses on the other side. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Edgar needed a high res portrait for a Western Ag Labs conference so I ย had Kirby stand in for me while I tried the setup. It worked! It took a bit of tweaking to make sure we didn’t get any glare showing up, but it came together quickly.

"I pity the fool who don't have no crop health!"

For this last one, ย I screwed up the exposure and made it too dark/edgy for what Edgar needed. So I processed it to be highly detailed with desaturated tones that add to the edgy feel. It’s funny because it’s a Western Ag Labs portrait, but it makes Edgar look more like a hit man. hehehehehe… I told him he could send this pic to clients who won’t pay. ๐Ÿ˜†


30/60 Party!

This past weekend was the big rip roarin’ shin dig in Moose Jaw. My Dad turned 60 big ones whilst my youthful wife slid into the big Three-O (30 in layman’s terms). 8) Anyways, it was super fun! We had cakes and drinks and food and merriment all round. And now, Dad can get a senior’s discount. Maybe he’ll take us out for breakfast at Smitty’s. heehheehe… ๐Ÿ˜†

CLICK HERE to see the whole Gallery on Flickr.

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Photo Geek Commentary: I was shooting my 50 f/1.4 for the majority of the shots. I tried my 105mm at 2.8 too, but I needed as much light as I could get so I went back to the 1.4. I did a combo of available light stuff for some of the candids, as well as placing an SB-900 strategically around the deck and triggering it with my SU-800. It made for some more interesting shots. It was all the realm of high ISO for the available light stuff, 1250-1600 for many of them. It produces grainy looking shots, but let’s face it, we’re not gonna blow these things up. They’re candids of moments so the picture quality trumps pixel quality. One other thing of note I did for the portrait of my Dad and his pal Al, was to match the light colour output of the tiki torch. I used a 1/4CTO gel and an umbrella to diffuse the light and make it look like the torch was lighting the whole shot. The tell tale sign of the umbrella flare showing up in Al’s glasses gives it away (and I was too lazy to clone out the glare). 8)


Grade 1

Iย loved grade 1. It was the best 4 years of my life! ๐Ÿ˜† hehehehehe…. just kidding! But I do remember it like it was yesterday. Just as much fun as Kindergarten, but no nap time. ย Anyways, Mrs. Moncrief invited me to come by the school and do some portraits of the kids for the class room. It was fast paced and loads of fun! The print copies of the photos have been made and a digital gallery has also been published for any parents who want to download a free copy of their kids’ photo. It’s password protected for privacy sake and Mrs. Moncrief has the details to provide to parents. Like I said, it was a lot of fun and the kids did extremely well! 8)

 


Foggy Fog

The last few mornings the fog has been thick off the river. Maybe a reminder that fall is coming?? Shudder! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I hope not. Let’s hold onto summer as long as we possibly can. For now, enjoy the foggy fog! 8)


Bridesmaid Zillas!!!

So the other night, the whackiest thing happened. 4 beautiful ladies showed up at my house, dressed in amazing dresses from weddings gone by and wanted me to take their picture, with my, (what else) Beauty Dish. Sure, says I! Who could resist 4 lovely ladies in beautiful dresses. Turns out they were headed to Carnduff to watch a movie about bridezillas or some such schlock girl movie and if they showed up in bridesmaid dresses they got to see the motion picture for free! Way to earn your thrift badge ladies! ๐Ÿ˜‰ bwahahahahahha……… Here’s the glorious outcome:

Photo Geek info: ISO 400 f/5 1/250 35mm. Strobist info: 3 SB speed lights. 1 thru a beauty dish centre, 2 silver reflectors below subjects for fill, 2 for rim lights on the outside edges.ย 


Rio

We struck another summer bucket list item off the roster tonight: watch a movie outside! So, we hooked up a projector, shined the image onto a bed sheet tethered to the swing set and away we went! It worked out really well and everyone loved it. Nice weather too, which is nice, not having water flowing into all of my electronics… 8) Rio is a pretty fun little movie too! Makes me want to travel to Brazil! ๐Ÿ™‚


Good Timing

Nearly nobody will deny that good timing is super important in life. Baby falls from a burning building, the fireman reaches out at just the exact moment to catch that little bundle of joy and save the day! Photography is much the same, especially if you are taking a picture of said falling baby. A second too soon or too late equals a blown shot and missed opportunity. I’ve got a whole stack of images that are like that. “Ah! If I’d only waited a millisecond more I would have had the shot! Doh!” ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But when everything lines up, and the timing is right, it’s magically great! 8) Thinking about Light in the same way is critical to getting good shots too. Light at different times of the day is radically different. Ok, Ok, the photons aren’t any different, but the mood, colour and direction of the light ARE different. I took these two shots with exactly the same camera settings. (ISO 200 f/8 200mm). The first one was at 8:36AM and the second at 1:11PM. Just look at how radically different the shots look and feel.

The light is much more golden in the early morning. The direction is low and from the side which gives detail to the pump jack head and the drilling rig in the background.

In contrast, the light at mid-day is flat and boring. It just doesn’t have the same pizzaz that the early morning shot does. Or, that a sunset has. This is the key to how good landscape photographers get awesome photos. The locations are great and the timing of the light is everything. Time it well and your photography will be at least 17% better. ๐Ÿ˜‰


3 Light Portraits

Studio?! We don’t need no stinkin’ studios!!!! 8) So tonight I finally had the chance to do some portraits using a 3 light configuration. I’ve been dying to try out the beauty dish in a studio setup and so I finally got to do so tonight. I even persuaded some models to work with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Setup 1

So in the first setup, we did a single speed light that had been gelled as the background light. This light is directly behind the subject and lights the back plane. Then, I put the beauty dish up on a stand and used a silver reflector for the classic “clamshell” beauty light combo. It’s used lots in fashion stuff, but does very well on wrinkly people if you want to minimize wrinkles. The beauty dish chucks light down and the reflector fills in any shadows. It’s cool light. So this was the first setup of the night. Only 2 lights.

Blue Gelled Speedlight

Subject in Ambient 1/250th

Subject lit to f/5.6 at 1/250

Setup 2

OK, next, in setup 2, I added an additional light to the background. This helps bathe that back plane in color/light. For the colour background shots I blasted them each with a gel. For the super white blown out high-key background, the lights were fired straight up with no gels. The beauty dish and reflector fill remain unchanged.

Setup 3

So, finally, we switched things up again for another cool look, still using only 3 lights. This time, I lit the background with a single gelled speed light. I still used the beauty dish/silver reflector combo as the main & fill lights. But, I added a 1/8th spot gridded hair light to add more dimension to the light. It makes a sweet little highlight/rim light that adds another layer of loveliness to the light.

 

 

I also got to do a comparison shot between umbrella light and the beauty dish. This is really neat to be able to see the difference in the quality of light. The umbrella light is unquestionably softer. It wraps more and it is more fitting for these little people. The beauty dish has far more contrast and hard edges in the light. But it just depends on what you want to accomplish in your lighting. Jostens and other portrait people almost always use huge soft boxes because they are the softest light on the planet. But for brassier shots, the beauty dish has more punch. Also, the catch lights in the eyes are more pleasing from the beauty dish (they’re round…like the eye) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Umbrella

Beauty Dish

So there you go. Three lights put to good use. We have lighting, colour, gesture, direction, depth, and mood. Just by moving a few lights, you can have a tremendous amount of versatility! Gotta love that!