Yipee! I got a new light mod! I’ve wanted a soft box for a long time now and I finally pulled the trigger and got the Photoflex Octodome NXT XS. I got it as a kit from B&H that came with the soft box, speed ring, light stand and umbrella swivel head & all the coldshoe hardware for flashes. It’s the bomb! Plus, if I ever get/use studio lights, the speed ring is full-size to accommodate those lights too. It works just spiffy with speed lights though and it gives a super nice quality of light. I put it together when I first got it and did some quick test shots with the kids. It’s amazing light, soft wrapping and because it’s an octa, you get a round catchlight similar to a beauty dish. 8) Love it! I also used it on a recent family session shoot for a 3 month old baby and it worked wonderfully. I even used it for a small group shot and it was nice light, considering it’s only 15 inches or so in diameter! 😀 I’ll do a full review of the product soon.
Ever noticed one of the peculiarities of the English language is where the ‘i’ and the ‘e’ go in words? It confuses not only second graders but adults as well. ‘I’ before ‘E’, except after C. Unless the word is German: Rottweiler, Stein, Hammermeister! 8)
We had a fun photo shoot last night at the Hammermeister haus. It was nice to take advantage of the sliver of mild winter that is over us right now. Fingers crossed it stays without getting too icy! 🙂 But we do live in Saskatchewan and we know the weather will probably change (for the worse) any time now… But on the sunny side of life, here’s a couple of highlights from the shoot! 😉
Real men like war-based action movies with lots of guns. Plain and simple. We also translate that into Photography. Go and watch The Battle of F/Stop Ridge to confirm my thesis.
So, when you’ve got a 500mm lens, you need to look and feel the part of a sniper. You can be back a loooooong way when you have 500mm to play with. It’s got über reach. The bokeh and compression with this bad boy are purely incredible. So, to put it to the test, we setup a blind in the backyard to see if Pa could nab any blue jay shots. For wildlife, the ultimate setup is the blind or “hide” as they are sometimes referred to. You setup and wait for the wildlife to come to you. In this case, we used the swing set and some hunting camouflage attached with zip ties. It’s quick and efficient and works really well. Dad also wore a full suit of camouflage to blend away into nothingness. The birds had no problems with the blind and came right in. The only issue was if he moved, then they took off. But other than that it worked really well and he got some awesome shots! All the bird images are copyright Bob Schultz of Sunwood Photography.
I love wildlife photography, but as of late I haven’t done as much as I would like. Mainly I’ve been busy but I also am more interested in doing lighting stuff. But why not add lighting to wildlife? Well, it’s not easy, which is why people don’t do it much. Animals are unpredictable as to where they are going to be at any given time. At least with birds you can feed them. We have a tremendous amount of birds of different species that fly through our yard. But, they all love black sunflower seed! So I put some out and waited. And, I used 3 speedlights to make sure that when they flew in, I’d get some light on them. I used TTL, which I don’t normally do, and it worked pretty good. Letting the camera drive every now and again isn’t so bad! 😉
How will you remember their sacrifice for your freedom?
The other night we did a super fun shoot on Moir in the glamour garage. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing after they found these way cool wigs. The girls grabbed their head bands from the Relay for Life too which drove home the point of the shoot: Cancer Sucks. Like anything in life, if you let stuff drag you down, it will. But, on the other hand, if you boldly face the trials with faith, hope and love in the big guy upstairs, you will conquer! Especially if you can laugh and have a good time! 8) So that’s what we did. The name of the game was fun, glamour-ish shots. Lots of lights, lots of attitude. However, the girls need to work on “sassy.” Bubbly & fun loving is down pat, but sassy? I need blue steel. I need magnum! I need le tigré! Where’s that at?! 😉
This is a brief tutorial on making HDR images. There’s zillions of other posts/pages on the information super highway already so you can look up more info there about it. But this is how I do it. Which makes it infinitely better. 8) Just kidding! 😉
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It’s been around forever conceptually, even since film days. But now, with digital it’s easy and fun. Get a camera and a tripod and find a scene that has loads of contrast: lots of lights and darks. The idea behind this kind of photography is to keep all the detail in the darks and in the light parts of the image. Because the camera currently cannot capture the same amount of dynamic range that the human eye can see, in one camera photo you don’t get as much range as you see with your eye. So, you take 3-7 photos of varied exposure and layer them together with software. I use Nik’s HDR eFex Pro. It’s super slick and comes with many final image presets you can apply to stylize the final image, making it look as surreal or as realistic as you want.
OK, here’s a sunset one I took the other night. And in all truth, it’s not how I typically do it. I was on top of my roof with my 70-300 lens and I did this handheld, which isn’t optimal. Get a tripod so there is no camera movement.
So, the first image: bang. Here it is.The camera meters the scene and determines that this is the best balance of light and dark. We get all that rich colour in the sky & the river. But the valley hills have gone dark and silhouetted the evergreen. This was at ISO 400 f/8 70mm and the shutter was 1/100.
The next shot speeds the shutter up to 1/200, recording an even darker, more saturated image. This one gives the mad colour, but kills off almost all the detail in the hills.The third image washes out the sky but it lifts the details up out of the hills with a slower shutter speed of 1/50. All three images are 1 stop of light apart from each other.
Now, technically, it would be better to get a couple more images here to further lift the details out of the dark regions. But, as I mentioned, this was handheld. If you have a tripod it’s easy to do.
Then, after feeding the photos into the Nik software (I use it as a plug in with Aperture) you can arrive at the final HDR image. There’s loads of darks and lights, rich colours and highlight detail that otherwise would have been lost. HDR is having your cake and eating it too. 8) When you stylize the image, you can make it look wild with texture, like I did here to make the clouds go boom. But you can also finish them to look realistic too which I did for this photo of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Regina. The light pouring in from that window would have made getting a balanced exposure difficult.
I was up in the Queen City of Regina doing a website photo package for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. It’s always nice to have photos of your building and what you do on your website so people can check out what’s shaking. The name of the game this time round was architectural shots, staff portraits, stock photography and some action shots of a typical sunday service. The shoot was fast and furious and fairly extensive. But we got it done before Regan and I went off to see Fiddler on the Roof live at the Arts Centre (which was AMAZING! Highly recommend you check it out). I wish I could have taken some pictures but they have a “poison dart photo policy” which means they employ a rainforest aborigine with his blow dart gun to *ftoof* shoot you in the neck if he sees you with a camera. You wake up naked on a hill of fire ants somewhere near buffalo pound I’m told. 😯 Shudder!