"For the artist communication with nature remains the most essential condition. The artist is human, himself nature, part of nature within natural space." Paul Klee

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Senior Moment

Another one of the wonderfully talented "Photographer's Assistant" I get to work is Hannah who is about to graduate from High School. I really wanted to add another "Senior Portrait" to my portfolio and Hannah was willing to step in front of my lens and lights. Such a brave soul!

I wanted to start early before the sun had any time to burn off or sap any colors. We started at 9am which gave me a nice slanted light from the sun and it wasn't too hot...yet. I had scouted the location earlier in the week to make sure I had several choices and angles to choose from. When scouting locations make sure you have several walls and backgrounds facing in different directions so you can work with a variety of sunny and/or shady angles. I also brought the same camera and lens for test shots.

Some technical info for my students. For the top black and white shot I used a 2 1/3rd China Silk flags that measure 24x36. I was using them to bring the backlight down a couple of notches and decided to shoot right into them. I thought it looked like a studio shot but it's outside in full sun. The second photo down, I used one Alien Bee from camera right set at 1/4 power through an umbrella. I used ISO 200 all morning and kept my shutter speed around 1/100th of a sec and just worked with the f stop (aperture) and the power on my strobes. When working with so many variables (equipment, light modifiers, natural light, wind, etc.) try and limit your on camera choices to one or two variables so you can make quick decisions based on your constants. The rest of the shots were lit with a Nikon Speedlight set at 1/2 power with a small diffuser over the lens.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Hannah's boyfriend, Adam, who served as my on the job training grip or as we like to call them VALs (voice activated lightstands!) Great job, you're hired!

Hannah was a great sport and was willing to play with one of the props I brought along, a 10ft piece of gauze which flapped and flailed in the wind and I had fun time playing with the back light that resulted in a couple of interesting pictures.

I think a splendid time was had by all so a big thanks to Hannah and Adam for a rather productive morning!

And a tip of the hat to you for stopping by.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Still Life Lighting Tutorial

Some of my students have asked me to publish a sketch on how to light still lifes. This is something I occassionally try to demo during one of my digital photography classes. The lighting in the room that I am using is automatically controlled and I can't dim the lights so the demonstration is always lacking and requires some imagination for everyone in the room.

So here we are at home. I took some fruit, (some real some not), threw a couple of stemmed plants in the background. Looking at the sketch, here's how it is set up.

On the left: I have a 10" silver work light (the kind with a clamp on the bottom and any hardware store sells them for about 10 dollars). I have a 100 watt Daylight balanced bulb, the compact swirly kind (again, hardware store for about 5 dollars). There are two pieces of black foam core just laying up against the light blocking some of the side light. In other words, the light shape coming out of the round light is more squared. This is also flagging light OFF the back wall and the background plant and the front bottom of the table.

On the right side is a larger piece of white foamcore reflecting some of that light back into the right side of the display. Both pieces of foamcore can be purchased at the local art supply store for a couple of dollars. The entire lighting rig less than 20 crispies!!

The bulb is rated at 5000K (that's Kelvin) so I set my camera white balance to the K custom setting of 5K. ISO is 400, camera is on a tripod to eliminate shake, shutter speed is 1/10th of a second at f7.1.

Hope that helps you to try the same thing and come up with your own classic lighting still life.

Cheers and Ciao.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Exuberance Yet Skinny on the Wildflowers

I was going back over some of Monica's pix and thought this was worth a posting. I love it when people look so happy and exuberant.
ISO 800 , f29! hand held 1/8th of a second. Enough of a shake to give it life.

I was hoping to shoot some wildflowers this year but alas the plants didn't get that water they need. Now last year was outrageous...wildflowers gone wild. I hear the bluebonnets have already going to seed. Just means I'm going to have to look harder and deeper into the woods.
Stay tuned I'm on a wildflower hunt.

...thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daytime Fireworks!!

Some of my roses are about to burst open and the garden should start looking pretty nice. However, it's not going to look quite like these pictures. The flowers above were shot at the Sunken Gardens in Georgetown. The flowers are tended to by the Georgetown Garden Club. It was the end of the day, around 6:45, the sun was going down and I caught some of the sun's last rays backlighting in the top photo. The others were shot a couple of minutes later and the main light is just the blue domed sky.

By shooting the bottom two from above and not straight on I got more of a color burst sensation...like an explosion...almost like fireworks in the daytime! It's amazing that the colors look like they're actually moving especially in the bottom shot.

The top photo is at ISO 200. As soon as the sun dropped behind the trees I bumped it to 400. With the camera is P mode the aperture remained pretty much at f5.6 with the shutter speeds around 1/100th.

I was there for about 20 minutes and took about 80 pix. Everywhere I turned there was a different species and a different set of pulsating photons crashing into my sensor. My eye/brain was getting quite a kick. It was fun.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monica Under the Big Soft Sky

Whenever I do contract work I get to work with some really super people. This photo session is with Monica one of the photo assistants I have the pleasure of working with. Monica had some specific ideas and contributed greatly to these images which I think are real sweet. The other elements that helped create the images was an overcast morning (yup, that big soft box in the sky-really pretty light, folks!! ) and a canopy of thick trees which allowed us to move around in and out of the soft lighting picking what looked best.

Normally on a day like this I would set the ISO to 400 but because we were under the canopy I pushed it a bit to 640 and worked the shutter/aperture combo in manual.

The bottom three shots I was working with a single flash unit (Nikon SpeedLite) sometimes pushed through an umbrella but the top one is pure sky light.

Thanks to Monica for her time, input, and being such a sport!! I hope you enjoy the images.

...and thanks for stopping by...appreciate it.