"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, May 30, 2013


                                                                                                                               ©2013 Andy deBruyn

In the advertising business, pictures of products, be it cereal, perfume, or a package of grass seed, are called hero shots. Once the set is ready with lights and all, someone, usually an assistant director, yells, "Bring in the hero!!".

So today my hero shot features three stalks of swiss chard. I've been wanting to make an image of swiss chard for a while now. Everytime I'd walked by the chard section of the grocery store, I'd eye the chard and think to myself, "One of these days".  So here we are.

I love the colors, bright red, burgandy and rich dark greens. The architecture is also very beautiful. Thus my fascination with trees also.

I didn't have a plan right off the bat but once in my little studio I thought - forget the flashes, let's go with tungsten, that way if I set the white balance to tungsten, the back light which is  window/daylight the background will go full blue.

Info for techies: Nikon D80 (why? cuz it happened to be sitting on the table with a 35mm on it),
ISO 320, f6.7 @ 1/10th of a second on a tripod, shutter tripped with timer. WB tungsten.
I arrived at the f stop/shutter by metering with a Sekonic L-508C.

Lights are three tungstens (all ARRIs), two 150ws on the sides and 1 300w with a small Chimera bag.
All lights were scrimmed with doubles. On the Chimera I had a 1/2 frost 40 degree grid mounted in front.

TMIS (too much information section) - sometimes I play music while I'm working. During this section which took about two hours I listened to John McLaughlin's Where Fortune Smiles, Shadowfax, and Pharoah Sanders' Tauhid. On vinyl!! Plus I was munching a chicken salad sandwich on a roll with lime flavored mineral water. On tonight's menu, a side of sauteed swiss chard with garlic and onions.    See...TMI.
The setup. Two side/backlights, one frontal.  Note: I used the blinds to control amount of blue fill.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


                              ©2013 Andy deBruyn
Seeing color...capturing color.  I love looking for colors;  bold, subtle, obvious, hidden, primaries, contrasting, off the wall, un-nameable...I look for it whenever I'm out shooting. I love black and white too but color sure is a lot of fun.
Some of my favorite biggie color photographers of the past and present include: Ernst Haas, Pete Turner, Jay Maisel, and Harold Mante. These guys were getting some of the most beautiful colors from Kodachrome and Ektachrome films. (R.I.P Kodak)  Jay, now 82, was introduced to digital a few years ago and hasn't looked back since. 
The shot of the fire truck is one I took getting out of the car at the grocery store...having your camera with you at all times helps because color will pop out and surprise you when and where you least expect it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bird on Top of Fountain

                                                                                              ©2013 Andy deBruyn

I was looking through a National Geographic magazine last night and read this article about bringing back to life certain extinct animals and birds through DNA reconstruction. Or something like that, not being a scientist. But I was fascinated by the pictures of birds that don't fly today's skies.   I don't have many bird shots but I did remember a particular one that I fancied which was taken in Fredericksburg a couple of years ago so I decided revisit the image.

I was sitting in a small coffee shop with a court and water fountain and this bird landed right on top not too far from where I was sitting.

So I whipped out my D80 and took his portrait. I always remembered it as a strange one because of his stance and the lighting. It was kinda bizarre. And it does have a touch of the prehistoric. To me, it's the feet wrapped around the wet stone that makes the shot,  I took several clicks before he flew away but this one with his head in the opposite (?) direction was my favorite.

Shot with the lens extended to the max (135mm) hand held at 1/60th @f5.6 @ ISO200 and exposure comp at -0.3. This is the full frame from the camera and not cropped.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

The Non CPU Story

I took this image yesterday with a Non CPU lens. "Modern" digital cameras are basically computers that can detect light. "Modern" lenses, those designed for digital cameras have electric contacts on the flange part of the lens that when coupled to your camera allows the lens to talk back to the camera's computer and record lens (light) information to your files. Aperture settings, focal lengths all are recorded in the EXIF file.
Because most manufacturers (Nikon, Canon) have made the lens mounts on the newer cameras backwards compatible, you can use older non computer type lenses on your digital. These older lenses do not have the contacts and therefore do not "talk" to your on-board computer. If you used one of the older lenses on the first two generations of digital cameras the camera didn't even know there was a lens on the camera and recorded a big fat 0 in the file and you had to set everything manually.
This new generation of digitals (basically the past 2 or 3 years) have an actual function in the set up menu where you can tell the camera you're putting on an older lens.
The image above was shot with a Nikkor 50mm f1.4, probably made in the early 70's. I just punched in the focal length and maximum aperture setting into my camera and now I can use the command dials to change f stop. Plus f stop and lens type will be recorded to the files.
The only drawback is that it only works in the A or M mode. That's a very easy work around.

Why the fuss? If you're really fussy about lenses you look at them as brushes and each one has a particular look. The above lens paints a very delicate picture pattern so I use it for "soft" images and it also works extremely well for close ups on faces.  Several of my portraits on my other web page,
andydebruyn.com were shot with this lens.

You can always click images for bigger.

Image taken with the same Nikkor 50 f1.4 on a D70. A nice profile maybe even a little soft on the  focus but none the less a beautiful painterly look.
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Strange Colors in Thorndale

"I'm going down to Thorndale. Take my rider by my side." Actually, in the real song it was "Rosedale" so I took a little license. That real song is Crossroads by Cream/Eric Clapton.

Spent this afternoon trippin' through Thorndale. Love these old towns - always strange colors I never see anywhere else. Plus we had some very weird weather - strange kind of light coming through the clouds.

It was pretty muggy out there -  temps in the nineties with a heavy dose of humidity...

These selects are from my first run-through...may post some more 'morrow.

UPDATE: I've posted a couple of new ones as of 9:30pm.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Knives Set Up

Here is the setup from yesterday's post honoring two of my tools that have served me well.

The window is providing back light - there is a piece of frosty shower curtain hanging on the window that produces a very soft light. The flash is mounted with a Lumiquest III soft box - hanging at an angle over the set. Because each of the blades on the tools was beveled differently, I had to tweak the softbox back and forth to eliminate the reflections.
In the top photo you can see me pouring small amount of water on the tile - this provided a nice sheen and added another dimension to the shot. There is a light blue rolled up blanket (old/discarded one) on the bottom absorbing the water.  There is black duvetyne under the tile to give me black edges.
I don't know if you can see it but there's also a sheet of visqueen on the table to protect from the water.
I set the timer to 10 seconds to give me enough time to place the cup in the right spot and out of frame.

On the Nikon D7000 is mounted a 50mm which is giving me the 75mm equivalent, a kind of portrait lens. The other specs can be found on yesterday's post.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pretty Sharp Portraits

The other day I was looking at some knives on line...now that I think back I can't remember why exactly...must have been purely to catalyze these images. Muh?

After finding out that both of my favorite knives were still pretty popular and available used through dealers (and collectable it seems) I decided to shoot some portraits of my favorite well used tools. Hence the scratches. 

I've had both these knives (actually the top is a multi tool) for probably 20 years plus so they've earned their keep. Both have been at the right place at the right time for the right job. mmm sounds like a tag line...anywho -

The multi tool is a Gerber 600 Blunt Head and the knive is a Remington Delrin 40 R-4. Good stuff made in the U.S.A.

I'm not a collector - perhaps the Remington is still desirable seeing that it was going for 50 dollars used. The Gerber 600 is still made in a variety of configurations.

The treatment - I wanted to do something a little nifty so I took a 12"x12" tile that I had laying in the garden (decorative enhancement) and after washing off dirt and mud I placed it on prop table. The window light is coming from behind and is diffused with a frosty shower curtain and hanging above the knives is a Lumiquest III softbox mounted with the Nikon SB600.

Camera set to ISO 100, manual mode, flash power set to 1/8th +.07, shutter tripped with timer,
1/20th of a sec. Multi tool was at f8, knive was at f6.3.

And then to make it look trippy and cool and worthy of the cover of Field and  Stream, I had a cup of water that I poured slowly over the tile while the timer clicked off.

Tomorrow behind the scene shot on how it was done - ooooh exciting.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's Just a Walk 'n the Park

I go for long walks for several reasons, one - for my health, two - I find it meditative, and three - I'm usually equipped with a camera ready to capture something of interest.
The bottom two in today's post were shot on a tripod, the  top one hand held, basically just looking straight down...and I did everything to make sure I was trampling on other flowers 

All shot with a Nikon D7000, 18-135mm lens, ISO set to AUTO.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Four from the Files

Spring cleaning. I've been spring cleaning my files since the beginning of the year. Swapping out folders, deleting ones that I once thought were decent, renaming some so the files make sense, etc.

I trolled up four shots to revisit. The top two are from a walk around Austin in January and the bottom two (from the same folder BTW) were taken last August.

If it's a sunny day, every morning the window is the kitchen produces a lovely light - the fruits and veggies always look good on the cart. The bottom is fungus on a fallen branch. I find the cycles that the colors go through when an organic object is dying fascinating.  Colors that have no words to describe.

Back to the top - variation of the Austin skyline and geometry under the bridge.

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Monday, May 13, 2013


Came down this morning and the morning sun was streaming in. I was more hungry for breakfast than I was to take a lot of time snapping a pic. So I just grab the camera and took this shot of the Mother's Day flowers sitting on the shelf. On the soft side but I still love the light.
So big belated Happy Mother's Day to all.
Thanks for stopping by. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rainy May Walk

                                                                                                    ©2013Andy deBruyn

As I head into the weekend with one job lined up for tomorrow I'll post these two images from
yesterday's wet rainy walk. With the camera securely wrapped in a plastic grocery bag (with a hole ripped out for the lens) I could easily look through the viewfinder by just opening the top of the bag. I suppose one could buy a fancy weather proof camera wrap for about 80 bucks but hey free works for me. The only issue was I forgot to wear my hiking boots and got home with squishy sox.

BTW - these were shot with the Nikkor 28mm-80mm f3.3 lens...probably the cheapst lens ever made by Nikon. They were 99 dollars when they came out in 2000. You can find them used on line for about 40-60 dollars. Pretty good bang for your buck. And preferable for foul weather - I keep the more costly lenses at home when it's raining.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


                                                                                                ©2013 Andy deBruyn

This past weekend I had two photo gigs. Sunday's gig was to photograph a company picnic. My assignment was to concentrate on the kids. The CEO wanted the kids to have a good time. So off I went in search of happy laughing faces. The picnic was held at Austin's Park and Pizza and to me it looked like everyone who attended had smashing time.

Here's three of my favorites. The little boy in the bottom image is exhibiting what I would call unbridled joy. 

Sometimes I wonder if we adults can remember what that's like...as an experience.

I hope this week you get to experience at least a little bit of that....and exhibit a happy
laughing face!!

No tech specs needed. Just enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Eggplant Bialetti Kettle Bird

                                                                                                  Andy deBruyn ©2013             

This is a still life I was working on today. It actually started out completely different. As a lot of things tend to do. My original idea was to take a portrait of my three Bialetti Italian espresso pots. But as the afternoon wore on I wanted my regular 2 o'clock espresso and so one Bialettt came off the set...anyway here's what the image evolved into.  A lot of this still work is not just to photograph these objects but the idea is to play around with the lights and see what happens when I move one here, add one behind this, learn as I go....and basically sculpt an image out of light.

The tech specs are as follows: Nikon D7000 with the 35mm lens. ISO 200, f3.5 @125th sec. Camera is on a tripod and the shutter is tripped with a five second timer.
There are four lights - 1. an ARRI 150w uncorrected tungsten coming from the right raking that back wall. Being uncorrected gives me a very warm color almost fire-like. The key light is the pop up flash on my camera set to 1/80th power. Then there are two small penlights - one behind the eggplant splashing the blue spot under the tea kettle handle - the other is behind the kettle lighting the bird's feet and underbelly.
And finally there's a 24x24 Rosco silver reflector camera left filling in. Behind this setup is my office window and I used the blinds to regulate how much light I wanted to fall on the reflector.

The antique look provided by Alien Skin (actually ran it thru twice just to give it that varnished look).
Click image for bigger.
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