While out shooting my friend Rusty Perez for a possible album cover, I noticed a fountain at the venue he was playing. It would randomly spurt out of the ground in very well defined columns and would vary in both height and timing.
I had my SB900 and took my time to focus. The spout would only be in frame for a moment or two, so I had to manually pre-focus as best I could. Then I had to wait for the water in that particular jet to enter the frame, whereupon I would press the shutter.
It took some time to get the focus down and not get a lot of the background lights, stores, and people in the frame, but when I got it right, I got some great images. I like the way the water drops are frozen in the air, which is not due to shutter speed, but to the SB900 flash.
The lesson is to be ready for something different that the “planned” shot. Take advantage of the situation and don’t let your vision become so narrow that you miss an opportunity to capture the unexpected.
Posted 2 years, 6 months ago at 1:11 pm. 2 comments
Last night I got the opportunity to shoot our school’s dress rehearsal of the production of Romeo and Juliet. I have shot our theater before, but this time I wanted to add to the experience for the kids. Usually, I just shoot from the theater seats as the play progresses. This time, during the intermission, I took individual shots of each of the cast and crew in a portrait setting, but this meant that I would have to learn lighting portraits.
Because I knew that I would want to be able to get better at off camera lighting in different situations, I recently purchased a 20×20 inch soft box that works with my SB900 and two light stands. It isn’t the biggest soft box, but it works for most of what I want to do. I got the soft box and light stands off eBay for a really good price and will be adding one more soft box to my collection. The total for both soft boxes and two light stands will still be uner $100. So far, they are working great for me.
I set the soft box which had the SB900 attached to camera left and the SB600 with a Hanson Fong Skin Glow light modifier attached camera right. I controlled the flashes using the pop-up flash on the D300 as a commander unit and each flash was set for manual. Both flashes were at 1/8 power and the camera was at 1/60 of a second at f8.
I was constantly amazed by the results that I saw on the back of the camera and the results were confirmed when I got home and looked at the images in Lightroom.
The whole experience was a confirmation of what I had been working on and practicing with myself as a model at home. Up to this point, I was outside my comfort zone and by forcing myself to use the equipment, I think I am feeling more and more comfortable behind the camera in different situations.
Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.
Posted 2 years, 7 months ago at 1:53 pm. 2 comments
A couple of days ago, I had the privilege of shooting one of my alumni from my coaching days at Bolsa Grande. Rusty Perez was one of the first swimmers I ever coached. Recently, I found out that he needed a ride to a performance at the Irvine Spectrum, so I offered my services and, of course, took my camera. First, Rusty can perform; he plays the guitar, harmonica, and the cajón. One of the things he does is loop his music so that he can play a short guitar riff and then build on that. When he is done, it sounds like an entire group playing together. Seriously, an amazing sound and talent.
Second, I have come a long way from the first time I shot him performing. You can see the first shots that I took here. My favorite shot is above where my SB900 is lighting up his near side and the spot lights are rim lighting him.
I started the shoot by using only available light and came up with this image. I like the way he is rim lit from behind.
Rusty Back Lit by Just the Spotlights
Then I was able to place my SB900 on a table off to the side of Rusty (camera left) to act as a main light and use the stage lights as accents on the other side. I got this image which shows his face, but is back lit by the spotlight.
Rusty Lit by a Single SB900 and the Spotlights
Finally, I put my SB600 on the light stand to his left (camera right) and lit both sides of him to get this image. It looks like his face is lit by the spot light in the background and it is, but the SB600 fills in a lot of the shadows that were there before the flash was used.
Rusty Lit by a SB900 and an SB600.
You can see the lighting set-up here. The SB900 is on the table to the left. It is behind the sign, but lights up the sign from underneath. The SB600 is near the top of the stage lights on the right, but just out of frame. You can see the flash on the tops of the stage lights.
The Lighting Set-up
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Posted 2 years, 7 months ago at 2:25 pm. Add a comment
It was 4:30. The text message said that the district prom was going to be at Ramona High School at 6:30. A friend was asking me to come and shoot an event for free. Did I mind? NO!! and I was rewarded with an evening of being awestruck by the joy and energy these special kids have.
They danced, laughed, and they had fun. For a few hours their lives were “normal” and I loved being a part of it. No, I didn’t regret or have any misgivings about spending my Saturday night shooting this event. Especially after listening to Jeremy Cowart at Escalate Live last week where he stressed using your photography to give back and do something good in your community.
The prom being held in a high school gym didn’t help the photography. Dark and bad lighting. The answer seemed simple to me, grab the SB900 and the 50 f1.4 and shoot away. I also used the Hanson Fong Skin Glow Reversible Bounce Card which was recommended by Hal Schmitt at Light Photographic Workshops. Honestly, at $42 it is the best light modifier I have purchased.
I looked at the night as an experiment and learning opportunity in using speedlights. Remember, when using flash, the shutter speed controls the background exposure and the aperture combined with the flash intensity controls the exposure of the subject. Wanting to separate the subject from the background, I shot most of the images at a shutter speed of 250-300 and an aperture of 2-2.8. I put the flash on manual and shot most of the time at 1/8-1/4.
If I wanted the background darker, I increase the shutter speed. If I wanted the subject brighter, I usually increased the power of the flash by a 1/3 of a stop or so.
I think the technique worked fairly well, but needs a bit of refinement. After I looked at the images in Lightroom, I found that those setting tended to leave the subjects just a little darker than I wanted, but all of the images could be fixed with a little exposure control in the develop module of Lightroom.
Here are some of the images from the night.
Balloons outside the prom
Posing for the camera
Ramona's King and Queen
Poly's King and Queen have their first dance.
King's King and Queen
Honestly, it was a rewarding experience. I hope you have the opportunity to give and experience such an event.
Please feel free to comment or offer suggestions.
Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 8:45 am. 3 comments