Thursday, October 25, 2007

Painting with Light

The dark Sith Lord falls to the Jedi Knight as the epic Star Wars
battle between good and evil rages on.

(f/8, ISO 100, bulb exposure=116 sec.)


Originally I wanted to go outside and do something because I really liked the photos that we looked at in class and similar to what we did in lab out at the park. But then I started talking with Alex about what he wanted to do and I liked his idea and thought that with his epic battle there needed to be some closure.

So for the technical stuff. We ended up just staying in the studio, dropped the black background, and painted. The shutter was on bulb and my metadata says that the shutter was open for 116 seconds, ISO 100, and f/8. I had Alex’s roommate Daniel on his knees in the middle of the background, Alex stabbing him so that just his hands were in the frame. Now, the trick was, with all of us in use there was no one there to cover up the camera if need be and there was only ONE light saber. So, with them in position, I opened the shutter and taped it open, and the light saber was on blue stabbing Daniel. They held. I walked over to the side and popped my strobe with a 1 ½ red filter on ½ power two times from the bottom right corner of the background. It was angled up toward Alex’s face and highlighted the back of Daniel. It provided a nice silhouette and we were able to create dual highlights on Alex’s arms. I popped the strobe one more time from that side aimed directly at Daniel’s head to give him a stronger silhouette and highlight the tops of Alex’s arms. I moved around the back of the background to the other side because remember the light saber is still on. And once there, I popped the strobe once more angled from the back directly onto Daniel’s face. Alex then turned the light saber off, handed it to Daniel, Alex went to cover the camera with the black card. Once it was covered, Daniel turned the light saber on red, because we only had one saber to use, and I turned on my flashlight to paint his face and hand with the saber in it. I used my mini mag light through the red 1 ½ filter and painted his face, down the front of his body, and moved to the front of the back drop to paint his hand holding the light saber and move back up his body to end on his face. Then Alex closed the shutter.

I used the red filter to give contrast and add the red feeling to it. I like that in the back it looks like there’s smoke almost. I like that there is the feeling of movement in the photo because I think that it makes for a more realistic death scene. It looks like he is slumping over and the saber is falling out of his hands. Thinking about it now, I could have had him drop the light saber and just exposed a couple of seconds with it sitting on the floor too. Hmmm. Hind sight.

Anyway, with all of that going on, I was pretty impressed that it didn’t take us two hours to get it. I think I still could have popped the strobe once more or painted for some extra time. Hind sight is 20/20. But I liked the photo at the time, and still like the photo, but think that I still could have done better. We spent a lot of time on Alex’s and did a lot of trial and error, so I had his mistakes to work from.

I had another idea of how I wanted to create the death scene and paint him with blood, but we liked this one so much that I just rolled with it and didn’t try to create the other one.

I like this kind of picture making though. It allows for a lot of creativity and originality to create a vision that is uniquely your own.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Single Flash

The Photos

ISO 400, f/11, 1/125, bounce flash

Nikki Johnson, 23, watches the evening news in shock as the story of an 11-year-old boy from Mokane unfolded. According to the article run by the Missourian, the boy “stole a gunand later shot a school official who was looking for him.” The boy also shot at two other people and missed, and then stole a pick up truck that he drove into a ditch about three miles down the road. South Calloway schools were locked down for about 30 minutes until the boy was arrested. Nikki teaches third grade and coaches the middle school cheer squad in New Franklin. They have had to lock down campus once already this year. New Franklin’s school are all combined into one large school, so she has to worry about the high school and middle school students as well as her own classroom and cheerleaders.

ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/125, direct flash

Wyatt Troesser’s 1st birthday portraits at Shelter Gardens in Columbia.

The Self Critique

I don’t know about this. I don’t like it. I don’t mind the awkwardness. I do mind that I think direct flash right now looks like crap. I can understand some fill, I can understand bounce and making it look good. But, I can’t seem to make direct flash look good. It’s harsh, and I’m just not sure. Maybe there’s a technique that I missed? I know that we have to dial it down, but when I dialed down, it wasn’t enough light to take a picture with. And when I turned it back up, it was either too bright and blown out, or it just didn’t look good. I guess a white subject is going to look whiter with the direct stuff, but man.

The select that I chose was a bounce off of the ceiling. I was sitting on the floor and so was the subject. I think I was zoomed into 55 mm, my ISO was apparently 400, f/11 and 1/125. I thought I was shooting at 100, and I checked, and my metadata says otherwise. I’m sure that most of the assignment was done at 100. Once I got the exposure right on the ceiling bounce I was able to take some good pictures for a few minutes. Then she got up and turned on the lights and that got trickier because I had to figure out what the new exposure was and how to bounce it. I tried the direct flash on a lot of them and I hated the way that they looked so I stuck to the bounce.

The second select of the little boy was a nice portrait, and I used a direct flash on him but I had to dial it way down so that it didn’t blow his face out. It’s still underexposed, but I liked it for the portrait aspect of it. I was upset that the background was gone, but I liked it that it put the focus on him. He didn’t sit still for very long, so I couldn’t really try it again.
I tried to use as many different settings as I could. I would try to dial down the flash, I would try the aperture. When things didn’t look right, I played with it to try to get the exposure correct, but it may just be that I’m not aiming right, I’m not bouncing correctly, or I just haven’t figured out an easy formula for all of this yet. It seems like a lot of trial and error in the beginning, and I feel like mine is mostly error.

The ones that I took outside of the little boy, I was just trying to fill in the dark, shady area that we were in. Some of them were hot, some were underexposed, and I’m not sure that I ever got just the right exposure on any of those. The ones at Varsity Clips were ok. The ceiling was dark and I couldn’t bounce off of that hardly at all. So I was trying to use walls and mirrors and had a lot of trouble. I was trying to talk to people too and figure out where I needed to be standing to get the correct exposure and I still don’t think that I got it.

No matter how many times you let us shoot this assignment, I still think that we are all going to say, I wish I would have shot more. I think that the reason for that is practice. I didn’t want to go shoot something important for this assignment because I was afraid that I was going to miss the “decisive moment.” We get so wrapped up in all of our school work that we forget that we have this really neat tool to play with and don’t take it out unless there is an assignment with it. I should have spent the last month playing with it since I bought it in September, but really I have only taken it out a couple of times and didn’t know what I was doing with it. The wedding ones I shot turned out nice, but I think they would have been better had I known all the math and concepts that I do now. So, yes, I still wish we could have shot more. Sorry. But it’s for practice sake. And I will continue to take this flash out and try to use it more, but that doesn’t help much for what I have to turn in now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My other selects

Ok kids....the other pictures I promised are here. The first few are of Laura. Some of the other fun ones that we took and I liked of her. The last few are from the metal and glass assignment that I liked too. As far as how I did them, it's mostly the same as what's listed in my critiques from the original blog and assignment.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Metal and Glass: Mostly Glass

I got to do the glass portion of this assignment. I took photos of martini glasses and dice to juxtapose the problem between alcohol abuse and gambling problems.

3 lights, f/29, 1/250, ISO 400

I loved this assignment. I could do work like this all day long and have no problem with it! It’s fun to play with all of the possibilities for glass and for the metal. Josh and I just started brainstorming and I had ideas for him even though I wasn’t shooting the metal stuff. Even though we weren’t able to spend as much time on this as we would have liked, I was really happy with the out takes. My big problem with the shoot was how dirty the light table was. I cleaned it before hand, and then I was going through my outtakes and all I see is dirt and spots, and I’m sure there are a couple of spots that could be my sensor or on my lens, but not all of those. There’s no way. In the corners of the photos, there is spottiness that doesn’t even look like dust, it really looks like something on the table. So it was irritating to go through the take and not see it when I was shooting.

I tried to get some different angles that I hadn’t seen used on glass before, and while I know the content could be better, I love martini glasses and really liked the black line type of lighting. I think that it looks really cool and I wanted to try to use my painted glasses to get the black line effect and but still get the paint on the glass to show up in detail.

For all of the shots, I used a three light set up and ended up turning everything down 1 and ¾ stops. I had a soft box over the top set at 150 watts and stopped down by 3. It was arranged over the top and slightly to the back to highlight the rims of the glasses. This was especially effective when I had stacked the glasses and it was a tall set up. Behind the light table I had a backlight with no modifier stopped down by 2 and at 150 watts. I tried to keep it close to the table, but I think in the end I backed it up a little bit and pointed it down a little more towards the floor where I had a large piece of whit paper under the table. I also had a snoot pointed at the white paper so that I could get the light to bounce up underneath the glass through the table. The snoot was up full at 600 watts. I didn’t have to make a tent for any of this because I didn’t have trouble with the glass reflecting.

As it turns out, and I have recently realized that I used an ISO of 400 instead of shooting at 200, or 100. I was really careful this time to check everything and turns out I forgot one. The select is shot at f/29 and 1/250. Everything was shot between f/22 and f/36, and I played with some of the settings and went between 125 and 250 for my shutter speeds.

I thought about re-shooting this when Josh and I came back to shoot his, but the table wasn’t going to get any cleaner, and while I had some other ideas, I liked how the selects I have turned out. I thought about re-shooting when I had Josh drop the dye into the water to see if I could get those to turn out better. The ones from the top ended up being under exposed and I didn’t realize it while I was in the studio.

I’m a big Yahtzee player too, and I liked the idea behind using the dice and being able to make the colors and the details show up in the photo with such a strong backlight. The other thing that I couldn’t figure out how to fix was the lines in the photos horizontally that were made with the light on the table. I kept moving the lights and it wouldn’t fix it, so if you guys have any ideas what is going on with that in the outtakes, let me know. I did want to try to create a double halo, but that didn’t end up working out in my favor.

As for content, I thought that the glasses with the dice made a nice reference to drinking and gambling and how they seem to go hand and hand. I added the color to the water for different flavored martinis, and had thought about getting different fruits to put in the water, and then looked and John Hook’s photos with the jell-o and fruit, and didn’t think I would be able to do that better than he did. So, I did it with out and just tried to create something visually stimulating.