"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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Portraits with Off Camera Flash

This summer has been hot with not a drop of rain. Pretty much a drought. It's been pretty much a drought photography wise, too. It's just been too darn hot. However, yesterday it did rain big time...photography wise. I had the privilege of a couple of hours with Devin. And was offered a great location to boot. Here are four pix from yesterday's shoot.

For my photo students, the top three are using an off camera flash. The bottom is just window light. The technical stuff is as follows, numbered from the top down.

1. Outside (early before it got too hot) ISO 200, one Alien Bee with a 10 degree grid for the back hairlight and a Lowell silver reflector for the front key light just bouncing back the sun - shot at f6.3, handheld 1/100th of a second.

2. Inside. ISO 200, same Alien Bee for key, same grid, f5.6 at 1/80th.

3. Inside hallway. ISO 640, the one Alien Bee key is about 11 feet away just spotting the face. The rest is window light. f5.6 at 160th.

4. Inside. Just light filtering in from a large window. Pushed the ISO to 800 for an f5 at 1/60th of a second.

Acknowledgements - a big thanks to Devin's mom, Helene for coordinating the shoot. And a great huge thanks to "Momma" Jo and David for letting me invade their house for a couple of hours and traipse cable and lighting equipment all over the place. Oh yeah - thanks for the yummy lunch!!

If you're interested in Off-Camera flash techniques you can order and download a pdf ebook

called "Making Light" from CraftandVision.com on this page. It's an excellent guide and very reasonable. I keep a copy on my desktop for reference.

Thanks for stopping by. Ciao for niao.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Layers of Color

August turned out to be busier than I expected. I didn't have time to shoot much and it's so darn

hot out there. I spent quite a bit of time replanting some things like my basil and mint. The plus 100 degree weather was not doing them any good...even with lots of water. I've pulled the mint inside and the basil replanted in a large pot so I can move it during the day. The donkey ears are loving it though...I've got 'em all over the place.

I have a couple of planned shoots coming up that I hope will be rewarding. Until then I'm just perusing some old files and cleaning and/or transfering shots to a stand alone hard drive. I came across this shot from last year when we did have rain. The bluebonnets were just about taking over. This shot with a polarizer was at ISO 100, f5.6, 1/13th of a second on a tripod.

If I come across anything else I'll post. Otherwise, until after my next shoots....Ciao!

September classes are now posted at: http://activenet.active.com/cityofcedarpark

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I know thousands of photographers have done this. Shots of smoke. I've never done it until today. It's over a hundred outside so I certainly didn't feel like going outside with my camera. So I decided I'd try my hand (eye) on some smoke shots. Inside.

It's actually very simple...all you need besides your camera is a black background (in this case of piece of duvytene), an off camera flash (in this case my SB600 on a stand to the right with a remote trigger), and a stick of incense. (at least the office smelled like jasmine for a while)

I dialed in 1/40th on the shutter speed (we're on a tripod) and f5.6, ISO 200 and viola! smoke shots.

Just blow a puff of air or wave your hand occasionally and the smoke does it's thing. OK, so that's done now maybe so more tabletop shots. If anything, it makes a nice graphic for a business card.

Thanks for stopping by and checking in out. Stay tuned and cool.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How ShaL-Low Can You Go?

This post is for some of my students who inquired about how shallow of a depth of field can one go?...or how shallow is shallow?
So...here is a photograph with a very shallow depth of field. How did I get this so shallow? First, I used my Nikkor 50mm lens which has a large aperture of f1.4. The small numbers, i.e. f1.2, f1.4, f2 represent a very large opening or aperture thus insuring a shallow depth of field.

In this case, I dialed in f1.4 on the lens. I was in the shady side of the house on a sunny day so I used the Daylight white balance. Since there was a lot of light I knew that the shutter speed was going to be high. I first tried 1/500th. A tad bit too dark. I then tried 1/400th and this gave me a nice healthy histogram leaning a bit to the right without hitting that right edge.

As you can see, the picture starts to come into focus about 1/2inch in front of the flowers, the front plane of the roses is in focus but we start to lose focus as we go back over the roses. The depth of field or in other words, the part that's in focus is about an inch deep.
Then in P/S, I drained some of the colors out and replaced them with something that made it look a bit vintage. Like those old Valentine cards you find at the flea market.

OK, that's it for today. Thanks for stopping by and checking it out.