Archive For July 31, 2013
Is the reason I started doing off-camera flash. His approach, and teaching style from his OneLight video makes it so even a caveman (read previous post below) can do it. 😉
I just finished reading his book, Photography Q&A – Real Questions, Real Answers and found it very insightful and informative. I’m not one to usually do a review on a book, but I thought I needed to voice it for this one.
This book is a collection of over 100 questions you and I, or anyone in general (in the photography world) may have wanted to ask when it comes to photography. Zack tends to tell it like it is, without sugar coating anything. If it’s crap, he’ll tell you it’s crap.
He does a great job of breaking it down and speaks from his own personal experiences. Feel like a fraud? So does Zack…Hit rock bottom with your creativity? Zack’s been there…Too much G.A.S. (Gear Aquisition Syndrome), and the debt to go with it? Zack’s got a personal story for that too.
In this Q&A, he covers everything from gear suggestions when starting out, to how to kick start your business, the Do’s and Don’ts, branding, lighting, pricing, getting paid, etc. He also includes a collection of photos he’s taken throughout the book (sort of a visual intermission), as well as the story behind each of them.
It is definitely worth checking out. It comes in book or kindle format. I bought the kindle version because A, it was cheaper, and B, I didn’t want something else to lug around when I already lug around my tablet. 🙂
And if you haven’t heard of Zack Arias, check out his blog. It’s way better than mine 🙂
In the flicker of light
I’m an I.T. guy….and power outages are not my friend…
I work in a two story office building. You may think that’s nothing out of the ordinary (and probably small in comparison to these multi-story, neck-breaking skyscrapers you see in the city with hundreds of windows), but then picture a two story building with only one window. Yeah…our building is a cyclops. That’s it. It makes for an isolated feel to the building. A “corporate cave”. Stepping outside is like coming out of a bunker into the blinding light, holding your hand over your forehead to shield your eyes from the cornea-scorching sun.
Now imagine this office building brightly lit with its eye fatiguing, migraine-inducing fluorescent lights….everyone is going about their daily business, and then the lights flicker a bit….
The power company stated it may take a few hours to get restored. We weren’t given the go-ahead to go home either. Oh sure we could go outside where there’s light, but then we’d be standing around in the blistering heat. So, we did the only logical thing….
We sat around in the dark. Yep….we are corporate cavemen. 🙂
A lack of light isn’t going to stop me from a photo opportunity.
I’ll be the first one to reach for a speedlite to provide some light for a photo. Who wants dark, underexposed shots? I do…when the image calls for it 🙂 Letting those shadows creep in, sucking up the light like a black hole. It can give an image a veil of mystery. Thankfully I’ve got my own portable black hole, my trusty Canon 50L, and light cannot escape it. It’s like a tug of war with light, and the 50L is great at making low light situations its b*tch.
There’s a bit of mystery to this image. What was going on? What were they talking about? Then I tell you the guys were talking about sports and babies since one of them just became a dad, and one of the others is about to be… I shed some “light” on the image, and now it isn’t that intriguing anymore is it? 😉
So that wraps up my experience for the day. But for anyone wondering, this was shot at f/1.2, ISO 200, 1/15s shutter speed (hand-held). The back-lighting is coming from the kitchen window mentioned earlier.
My Anniversary Dinner
Today is a special day. For everyone else it’s Thursday, July 18th. For my wife and I, it’s our 5 year wedding anniversary…
And that’s about as special as it gets. 🙂 Today was like any other day for us…. wake up, work, come home, eat, bathe, sleep…rinse and repeat.
So today, my big sister sends me an email:
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!! Hope you get out and do something special today! Love you!
Thanks :-) nothing but work for the both of us today. we get off at 5, pick up Liem, gome home, cook dinner, give him a bath, and go to sleep. no time for anything else lol.
Pizza and a bottle of wine!!!
So I chatted up my wife and we decided pizza sounded like a great idea.
Of course an extravagant dinner such as this needs to be photographed. How often does a 5 year wedding anniversary dinner come around? 🙂
I setup the shot on our dining room table, which is two feet away from a very large window. I didn’t want any ambient light. I wanted to kill it all off, with nothing illuminating the plate except my flash.
Here is a setup diagram of what I did.
Our dining room table is in….well, the dining room. It sits next to a large window. I didn’t want to take any chances of ambient spilling over into the shot, so I used a piece of black foam core to block it out.
I setup a boom with my 580 EX II (set to 1/128th power), with a 45 degree Grid Light Modifier attached to it.
My 5D II, with my trusty 50L was set to f/11, 1/200s shutter speed to kill ambient, and ISO 400 (I forgot to change my ISO settings from a previous shoot…normally I would have done ISO 100….live and learn).
In any case, here is the finished shot. We had a Pizza Hut Dinner Box. My wife’s favorite is pepperoni. My favorite is a some-what veggie pizza…well…it has red onions and green peppers, and tomatoes. Some cheese breadsticks and buffalo wings to top it off….and of course we couldn’t forget the wine. 😉
My wife helped me arrange the food items (ok she did it all on her own because I just kind of threw them on the plate and said “tada”.
If you look carefully at her expertly crafted paper towel “napkin”, the napkin ring is actually our wedding bands. We decided to “upgrade” our wedding bands with Tungsten Carbide bands with inlaid wood (wood is the traditional 5th anniversary gift after all).
The white plate did a pretty good job at bouncing a bit of light back up and illuminating the wine glasses.
I didn’t care about the hard, dark shadows because hey,…it’s our anniversary…and we deserve to be in the spotlight. 😉
I would, at this time, like to tell my wife “Happy Anniversary” to 5 happy years of marriage. I couldn’t have done it without you (Because then I would just be single…and celebrating my singleness? How sad….). I love you sweetheart.
And a big thank you to my big sis. I wouldn’t have had this dinner without you. 😉 Love you sis.
And get my hands dirty?
That’s the response that went through my head when I saw my son’s expression when I told him to smash his cake.
I haven’t posted in a while, and that’s been due to life (Life happens right?). My son turned two during the Fourth of July week. Amidst doing things last minute in decorations for his party, the cake, food, gifts, entertainment, etc….photography was the last thing on my mind. 🙂
My wife once again wanted some smash the cake pictures. I asked her if this is the last year she wanted to do this type of thing. She said “no”. Damn….
So nearly two weeks after his birthday, I finally get around to taking some portraits of my “little man” who’s growing up faster than I realize.
Being uncooperative (comes with the territory of being 2), the usual bribing techniques were employed (gummy fruit snacks). I shudder at the thought of what his “price” will be as he gets older. I can see it now…
<cue fairy-tale dream sequence harp music>
Me: “Hey son, come here and let me shoot a portrait of you.”
Him: “Sure pops….Let me borrow the car this Friday. I’ve got a date.”
Me: (grumbles): “Fine…”
Snaps some shots. Tosses over the keys.
Him: “Thanks pops, now I need some cash for my date.”
Me: “What?! I just gave you the keys. That was your payment.”
Him: “The keys were my sitting fee. The cash is for me granting you rights to put my pictures up on your site for all to see.” *grins*
Damn smart kids….
In one of my earlier posts, I showed my son’s first smash the cake photos, along with a lighting diagram and a behind-the-scenes shot of my setup. During that shoot, I used 5 foam core boards, a 48″ octabox, and a rented 70-200 f/2.8 IS II lens. I was curious as to whether I could do it with less than ideal variables. In other words…less space to work with, and a 50mm lens…..I know I’m going to be cursing….
This time, instead of using a softbox like last time, I wanted to try a 22″ beauty dish. Since my mini me is growing up, I wanted something a little harsher and edgier than the soft light of a softbox.
This is a two light setup as you can see from the diagram. I used a Yongnuo 560 on 1/2 power with a 22-Inch Beauty Dish. The dish was positioned just off-center to my camera, and in front.
My framing in the viewfinder looked great….Well, the 5D II’s damn 98% viewfinder looked great that is….Until I went to process the photo and noticed a corner of the picture had part of the damn light stand in it. 🙂
My second flash was my Canon 580 EX II at 1/16th power on a boom arm set to go nuclear on the foam core background. I used a rogue flashbender as a flag to prevent too much spill from the flash hitting my son. Some stil did anyway.
Both flashes triggered with my Phottix Odins.
I really do wish I would have used more foam core boards lol. I only used two, and that made for some tight framing. Even then, trying to frame something “tight” with a 50mm lens isn’t ideal…but then, that’s what I was trying to go for…see if I could do a shoot similar to my son’s first smash the cake, but overcoming some obstacles (granted they were self-inflicted…I’m a glutton for punishment as my wife puts it).
As you can see, I didn’t have much room to work with. If I remember correctly, the foamcore boards are only like 30″x40″. Consider that my son is almost 37″ tall. 🙂
I didn’t use a tripod with his first smash the cake shot, but I wanted to with this one so I would have consistent framing.
So….in the end, I tell my son to smash the cake, and he gives me this look…..
Are you kidding??? I couldn’t have had him fake that expression even if I had a 5lbs bag of gummi bears. It’s shots like this that fuel my love of photography.
A few more edits.
My son doing his “Wreck It Ralph” impersonation…..Looks more like Bam Bam from the Flinstones if you ask me. 🙂
And success on a smashed cake!
Disclaimer: My son still did not want to cooperate and get all messy, so gummy snacks were recruited (drafted…they did not want to go willingly) to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, covertly hidden within the confines of the sweet, tasty, creamy prison that is called “cake”. Once we told our son that gummies were seeking refuge in the cake, he went forth and liberated them from their icing prison…and into his mouth. We lost a lot of good gummies that day….
<moment of silence>……..burp.