I love fog. Use it all the time. Sometimes though, I just want it on the floor. Theatres and movie sets have used liquid nitrogen (“dry ice”) for this for a long time. You can also make regular fog lie on the floor by cooling it down so it becomes denser than the surrounding air. There are a number of commercial options for doing this ranging from the £90 American DJ “Mr Kool” all the way up to liquid nitrogen foggers. There are even more DIY solutions involving lots of plumbing, and plastic bins – all of which are huge 🙂
Category Archives: Equipment
Having sorted the general lighting and approach to shooting some smoke, here’s the next phase in my smoke project – tungsten bulbs. The tungsten filaments in these bulbs can glow white hot and not just burn up because the bulb is filled with an inert gas, such as Argon, Krypton or Xenon. The so-called “noble gases”do not interact with incandescent material, and so the filament can carry on glowing at near melting point for thousands of hours. If you turn it on in regular air however….
There are some photo ideas that have been done so much that I will probably never do them, unless I think I can build on them to produce something a little bit different. This one has been on my photographic to-do list for some time, and I’m not done with it just yet, however I thought I’d share the journey so far.
Emilia Gaza contacted me recently to ask if I’d be interested in shooting some dance/burlesque with her. Her portfolio notes over on PurplePort are filled with such enthusiasm and passion for dance and to create images of it I immediately said yes! Continue reading »
Here’s a selection of corp head-shots I’ve done:-
…and here’s how I do em:-
My travel lens solution for my Nikon D810 is the Nikon 28-300mm super-zoom. This enables me to walk around, without a bag full of lenses, that can get stolen. It also means I can capture things on the go when changing lenses, would mean the moment is lost, or you just end up annoying your family while they wait for you to faff around in the bag. I carry the camera on a Black Rapid strap: it sits on my right hip, ready to go if something interesting should appear (lens cap off, lens hood on).
The only downside to this is that, well, 28mm aint that wide. I can sometimes persuade my wife to carry my little Nikon 20mm f/2.8 AIS in here shoulder bag, ad have tried carrying it in my pockets before. The problem with this arrangement though, is if you swap out the 28-300mm for the 20mm, you now have a large 2 pound lens to carry around – which doesn’t really fit in your pocket. I sometimes hide the $1300 lens and come back for it, but this is far from ideal – even in remote locations where there’s no one around to walk off with it.
However, there is a modern day solution. On the odd occasion I need something wider than 28mm, I just make a wide angle pano, and stitch it in Photoshop. Here’s an example: for some reason, the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik has more than it;s fair share of basketball courts – just staring back atcha from the stone walls, gleaming limestone pavements and elegant towers. I couldn’t fit this into 28mm – not by a long way, so I took 2 shots at 28mm and gave them to Photoshop. Clicked all the boxes apart from the content aware fill of edges (the content in this case was too complex) and we get the result at the bottom. Not bad. Note – Lightroom is, as yet unable to do this correctly. It has a go, but there’s a definite seam every time, as it can’t deal with the wildly different angles.
To do this from Lightroom couldn’t be simpler. Adjust one image, sync these settings to the other one, select both images, right-click and select “Edit in.. | Merge to panorama in Photoshop”. Leave everything on auto and check all the boxes except content aware fill. Only check this one if the edges of the frame are simple (sky, water, grass etc). Click go, flatten the image, save and close. Your stitched panorama will appear back in Lightroom.
Using the setup I described in the last post (sigma 105mm macro on 3 extension tubes with electrical connection pass-through. Lighting from one on-camera SB900 with Rogue Flashbender XL II softbox), I captured a few insect shots including this one of two ants farming some aphids on a foxglove. The ants stroke the aphids to encourage them to release a sweet liquid commonly referred to as “honeydew”. They defend them from predators (ladybirds mostly) and even carry them to greener pastures when the food is exhausted. Getting the head in focus took probably about 15 shots on a stepladder. All the light here is from the flash, firing on TTL at –0.3 EV. Continue reading »
I watched Tony Northrup’s video on how to interpret the test scores on DxOMark (click here to watch this). Tony and Chelsea’s videos are always well researched and I recommend them as a source of objective information. Moreover – Tony takes a scientific approach to the research. What does this mean? Well, science is all about fact and evidence, and if you find evidence that contravenes your hypothesis, you need a new, or least modified hypothesis. Tony does this – if he finds evidence that what he thought before was wrong, he changes what he says. Not everybody can grasp this as can be seen in the comments below his videos 😛
In this video he observed from DxO’s test charts that especially for the sensors in Nikon bodies, there was almost a 1:1 trade off in dynamic range for every stop you gained in sensitivity – so in theory, you were not really gaining anything. E.g., if you shoot at ISO 100, and then same thing again at ISO 200, you gained a stop of exposure, but lost a stop of dynamic range. The extra dynamic range in the ISO 100 shot, allows you to bring it up a stop in post to match the exposure of the ISO 200 shot, with pretty much the same results.
I have a bunch of Nikon bodies so I thought I’d test this. I used my D810 for these test shots. I took 3 shots in manual exposure. One at 1/320th of a second, f/8 and ISO 3200. Then I took the same shot but at ISO 100, and added 5 stop of exposure to it in Lightroom. As a reference I then kept it at ISO 100 and dialled in 5 stops of exposure time to get a clean shot at 1/10th of a second, f/8 and ISO 100. Here they are:-
Fancy doing some insect macro out in the wild and I’ve been trying out various lens solutions and lighting. Last time I did any of this I just brought the flies into the studio and this works well. See here. This time I wanted portable rig for capturing the flies in their natural environment. Here’s the first rig. A Sigma 105mm Macro with some passive extension tubes on it to give more magnification, but with the loss of auto-aperture control. Normally, with modern automatic cameras, the aperture diaphragm is wide open when you are looking through the finder, and only stops down to the aperture you dialled in when you take the shot. This means there is plenty of light to see and focus the subject by. Without auto-aperture control, you either have to open up and stop down the aperture using the aperture ring manually (and in doing this you’re mess up your focus) or you need to look into the darkness and attempt to focus the subject with the aperture stopped down. As you can imagine, the success rate isn’t high :-/
For the light I jammed on a small soft box, which has enough surface visible to the subject to cast some light on it. Most of the light is lost though, and it’s a bit harsh. I’ve switched out the soft box for the Rogue Flash bender XL with the soft box attachment. This gives a good wrap around light and the best bit is that of course, you can bend it, so if you want more light on the right or left you can bend the appropriate side down, or bend the far edge down for some more backlight etc. The subjects will be around 40mm from the front of the lens (or back of the lens in this pic as it’s reversed :P) so from that position it’s a really nice soft light.
I’m just using the flash on TTL, with the camera in manual exposure, 1/250th of a second at around f/8 to f/16. I’ve left auto ISO on for these as well. As you’ll see below, this means more or less ambient in the scene depending on the magnification, with an almost black background for the higher magnification shots, as the ratio of distance to camera (and the light) between subject and background increases (and so the light falloff is more pronounced).
It’s been a while since I did any classic beauty style shots in he studio, and I’ve learnt a lot since the last one. Mainly I’ve been influenced by Joel Grimes in recent months for this sort of look – joelgrimes.com Go check out Joel’s work – he’s been working as a photographer for over 25 years and has honed his craft to a fine level of detail, and that’s what his style is all about – the lighting, shooting distances and angles are very finely tuned. That doesn’t mean he gets a tape measure out, in fact one of the hallmarks of Joel’s approach to his work is that nothing matters except the result – he’s not interested in meter readings, modelling lights, histograms, ratios or any of that stuff – if it looks good on the back of the camera – it’s right. Having studied his work both via his website, YouTube, and a couple of his videos on KelbyOne – http://kelbyone.com/members/joelgrimes/ I booked into my friend John Gannon’s studio http://www.studio-de-lumiere.co.uk/ with model Jessica-Jane Taylor and Make-Up and Hair stylist Emily Rose Connor to put what I had learned to use 🙂