Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Folks :: Claresholm Alberta Photographer

This year my wife and I decided to do a really nice portrait of my parents for Christmas. They have been wanting a nice photo of themselves for a while. Merry Christmas Mom and Dad

Canon 40D, combination of 17-85mm EFS and 70-200mm, two flashes (one camera right through shoot through umbrella, one camera left and behind subjects).

Claresholm Alberta Photographer

I had the opportunity to photograph a large group (128 people) a few weeks ago. What I was faced with - other then the number of people to be photographed - was how to arrange them and light them evenly with two small off camera strobes.

The room we were going to take the photo was a small gym with a stage on one side. The lights in the gym were a combination of large fluorescent banks and tungsten pot lights. Fluorescent bulbs cast a greenish hue in daylight balanced images while tungsten lights cast an orange hue. To see what I’m talking about set your digital camera to the “sunny day” setting and take a picture in a room that is lit with regular light bulbs and see what happens. To address this I first turned off the fluorescent lights to so I would only have to contend with one type of colour cast (tungsten), and to bring the ambient light level down so I could easily over power it with my small lights.

I then set up a single row of chairs, 3 feet in front of the stage. Once I had addressed the ambient light and the area where I was going to position the group I focused on how to light the area. I shoot with a Canon 40D and have several small strobes that I use, but rarely on my camera. I use radio triggers to fire the flashes. I have a transmitter on my camera which sends a signal to the receiver which in turn fires the flash. In this situation I set up two of my lights on stands that extend to approximately 10 feet high. In this situation I set them to a height of about 8 feet and pointed the flashes towards the ceiling and away from the group. I did this because as I was looking around the gym I noticed that the ceiling sloped at an approximate 45 degree angle around the perimeter of the room. If I pointed my lights at the angled portion of the ceiling then the light would reflect back towards the group, softening the light and creating a larger light source (see diagram A). The light source is lager because the light from the flashes would have to travel the 10-15 feet to reach to the ceiling and when it reached the angled portion would have spread out to a larger diameter and would reflect back towards the group (see diagram B).

You might be wondering why I didn’t just turn off the pot lights and keep the fluorescents on and set my camera’s white balance to florescent. I did this for two different reasons:
1) I wanted to shoot at a higher shutter speed at a lower ISO (to reduce motion blur and high ISO noise). If I would have shot with the available light I would have had to crank up my ISO to get a nice fast shutter speed to freeze any motion which would have introduced too much noise (grain) into the image.
2) I wanted more control over the light and which direction it was going to hit the subjects. The fluorescents were directly above the subjects and would have cast unflattering shadows under their eyes.

Now that I had the lighting arranged I was ready for when the large group came in. The group consisted of individuals ranging from infants to the elderly. I naturally had the older members of the group sit on the arranged chairs and had most of the children sitting on the floor. I had the other members stand behind the chairs in two staggered rows, then another row kneeling on the stage and then the last row standing on the stage. This arrangement created a layered/tiered effect in the group and made it possible for (nearly) everyone to be seen.

This is by far the larges group I have photographed and I am pleased with how it turned out. Some things I’m going to take from this process are that my Canon EFS 17-85mm is a bit soft around the edges which resulted in the members on the sides of the group appeared a bit out of focus. Now I am contemplating purchasing a 17-40mm F4 L lens from Canon. This lens is a full frame lens and would effectively become roughly a 24-56mm on my crop sensor body. The thing with crop sensor bodies I both like and dislike at times is that they take the center portion of the field of view (which typically is the sharpest portion) of a full frame lens. It also makes your telephoto lenses that much longer. The down size is that a wide angle lens isn’t able to see as much of a scene because it crops out the edges.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Girl and Her Dog :: Claresholm Alberta Photographer

Canon 40D, EFS 17-85mm, two strobes (one camera right though shoot through umbrella, one camera left and behind subjects zoomed to 100mm).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tornado In A Cup :: Brooks Alberta Photographer

Canon 40D, 17-85mm EFS, one strobe behind glass and table on the floor pointing at the wall

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

All Wrapped Up -- Brooks Alberta Baby Photographer

I recently had the pleasure of hooking up with a couple I shot a while back. This time it was to capture the wife awaiting the arrival of their first child. I arrived at their home and set up my location equipment and we got down to work and had a lot of fun. I’m glad that they are pleased with the results.

Here is the set up for the top photo. two speedlights fired through shoot through umbrellas.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Boy's Dream -- Brooks Alberta Photographer

My son came up to me a few days ago and asked me to take a picture of him in his Halloween costume. This year he's going to be a ninja and he is excited to say the least. I have to admit I have a soft spot for ninjas my self so I'm a bit excited too.

Sometimes I wish I could just pull out my wife's point'n'shoot and snap a picture but I can't. I have to pull my gear out and have at it (especially when it's for my son).

Here is the original:

two flashes one on each side with DIY grids on them to restrict/focus the lights on the subject

Next I cleaned up the image a bit by getting rid of a few scratches on his face

Then I created a new layer and painted it with a scattered white brush at 100% opacity and 70% flow

After that I applied a Gaussian Blur at 190 pixel radius

I then lowered the opacity of the painted layer to 75%

Then I applied a layer mask to the painted layer and painted with a black scattered brush to reveal the layer underneath

To add a little extra themed punch I found on the Internet the word Ninja written in Japanese characters and added it to the image along with a boarder the same colour as the hilt of the sword

I ended up doing all the post processing after my son went to bed. When he woke up I showed my the image and he immediately asked if I could print off a few so he could show his teacher and friends at school.

Here is another from the shoot.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Trip to the Zoo -- Brooks Alberta Photographer

Have you ever gone to a National Park that boasts of it's wildlife but when you get there with camera in hand there is no sign of the little critters? I have done this a number of times. With the exception of Yellowstone I have returned with lots of pictures of the sights but no animals. If I did happen to come across some of the four legged residents of the parks the pictures would end up being reminiscent of those taken of the Loch Ness Monster (too far away and unrecognisable).

My solution for my recent craving for wild life was a trip to the Calgary Zoo with the family.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lighthouse At Sunset -- Brooks Alberta Landscape Photographer

This was shot last night. I set my white balance on my camera to "shade" so the colours in the sky would be more saturated and warmer. if I had left it at "full sun" the image would have come out a lot more blue. I also used a graduated filter to bring the exposure of the sky down so it would match the reflection (reflections in water tend to be darker then what they are reflecting). After I brought the image home I cropped the image and sharpened it just a little bit.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I love Landscapes -- Brooks Alberta Landscape Photographer

There is something about shooting landscapes that is so therapeutic. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m often alone and am left to reflect and ponder while waiting for the right light. It might be that I am witnessing the unfolding of another beautiful day or the close of one more that I have been able to be alive and spend with those I love.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Take me out to the ball game -- Brooks Alberta Sports Photographer

PPOC open shoot -- Brooks Alberta Photographer

I had the opportunity A few days ago to get together with some photographers from Lethbridge and the Brooks area. A few models also made the trip from Lethbridge and brought some clothes made by some designers in the "Bridge City".

The venue for the event was provided by Canal Hill Studio (which by the way has an awesome outdoor studio.) There was a short demonstration by Cody Belter on a few lighting set ups and then we got shooting.

It was great to network a bit and work with some great models.

The other photographers that were in attendance were:
Grant Forsythe , Samantha Postman , Rachel Boekel and Maros Hana . you should take a look at their work.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thanks Des -- Brooks Alberta Photographer

This year my wife and I decided that it was just easier for each of us to buy our own anniversary presents and pretend it was from the other person (much easier that way). Des got herself some fitness equipment and I bought a... lens (I know...big shock).

for those that are interested it is a 50mm f 1.8 lens. at 1.8 it has a really shallow depth of field so you can isolate parts of your subject really well. In addition, it is 4x faster then the "kit" type lenses that come with cameras, meaning it lets more light into the camera. it's not the most expensive lens (actually it's one of the cheapest lens canon sells) but I wasn't prepared to spend 4x the price on the next best one (f 1.4) or 12x on the top of the line one (f 1.2).

Here is a sample shot I took to demonstrate to my wife why I bought it:

And again for those interested. Here is how I shot the above image:

I used an old cardboard box, 2 sheets of white paper, 2 sheets of glossy craft paper and some flashes. I cut holes in the sides for the light to shoot through and covered them with the white paper. Then I cut a hole on the top and covered it with one of the glossy pieces of paper in case I need to have light come from above in the future. Than I taped the last glossy page to the back wall and let it curve toward the camera to create a seamless background.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Old Wheel -- Brooks Alberta Landscape Photographer

Here is an example of what you can do to fix a blown out sky. On the day I shot this the sky was overcast and gray (not to interesting). I couldn't sit around waiting for the clouds to break up so I composed the image and planned to spruce it up in post. If the sky did look like this when I took the picture I would have used a graduated filter (or 2) to get the same effect.

To get the final image I brought the original photo into Photoshop, cut out the sky and brought in the sky from another photo. Once the photos were layered on top of each other I used a digital graduated filter to get the effect I was looking for

The way I look at is if you know what you would have needed to do in the field to get this shot if/when it presented itself then you can create what you saw in your mind when it doesn't. Does that make sense?

Here are the images I used

here are the layers involved