Archive for July, 2014

Prime lens street shooting

Sometimes I like to challenge myself by limiting the equipment I use. One of my customers works downtown in the Westlake Center building and we would get together now and then with our cameras and go out and walk around and do some street shooting. For this excursion I brought my Olympus e-3 and my Panasonic-Leica 25MM f1.4 lens, which has the equivalent field of view of a 50MM lens on a 35MM camera. What I like about doing this is that it challenges me to be more thoughtful in my compositions. With a zoom lens, I can easily change a composition by zooming in or out and/or focusing on only a small part of the surrounding environment. With a prime lens, you have to make the best of whatever the lens presents to you.

I don’t think I made any works of art that day, but it was a fun exercise nonetheless. We didn’t really do much walking around, most of these were taken from one of the balconies at Westlake Center.

2011 1110 Westlake Center

2011 1110 Westlake Center

2011 1110 Westlake Center

2011 1110 Westlake Center

On Camera Flash Experiments

My general philosophy about flash is that (if you have one) the flash on your camera body is for emergency use only and that if you have a nice speedlight, the only place it should be is on a light stand where you make it fire remotely, “strobist” style. Using the flash on the camera usually produces unpleasant results that include “red eye”, harsh shadows, “ghost face”, and having the surrounding environment turn black because you have over-powered the existing or ambient light. However, there are times when you may be in a situation where you need to use the flash on camera. I almost always have a flash with me if I have my camera, but I don’t always have light stands, triggers, receivers, and modifiers with me.

Faced with that dilemna, how can you make the best of the situation? The answer is to “bounce” your flash and better yet to “flag” it so that you’re not blasting light directly onto your subject. Instead you’re shooting light behind you and letting the room act like a big diffuser, spreading the light all over which makes the light look much more natural.

In order to do this, you need to put something between your subject and the flash. One option that I like is what Neil Van Niekerk calls his “black foamie thing“. You can see my friend Martin in one of the images below with his DIY version of the black foamie thing. Martin, by the way, is the king of DIY! I’ve seen him make snoots out of straws and the things he does with duct tape… anyways, I digress.

I like to buy things, so my preference is to use the Rogue Flashbender. It folds up pretty small so I can always have it in my camera bag and you can bend it into a number of shapes to direct light where you want it. I simply put it on “backwards” with the black side facing the flash.

This is a great solution for photographing weddings or events where you can’t set up remote flashes on stands. Note how in the shot with Judy in front of the window, there’s no reflection from the flash. It’s also a lot less obnoxious than having your flash go off right in someone’s face!

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

2011 1110 On Camera Flash with Martin

Playing with light with Koree

Koree is one of my favorite models. She’s always fun, creative, and easy to work with. We’ve shot together a number of times. This shoot was at her home and it was an opportunity to experiment with some “new” Sunpak flashes – a couple of 522 and 622 “potato masher” type flashes. I’ve found these to be great for location photography, weddings, events, and other situations where it’s nice to shoot “strobist” style using off-camera flash. I have a number of Sunpak TR-PAK II battery packs and also a Quantum Turbo battery pack with the appropriate cable for the Sunpak flashes. The 622 Pro is a beast! It has approximately the same amount of power as my Alien Bees B800 studio flashes.

I wanted to see how well they worked outside, using them as fill to eliminate shadows and be able to keep Koree out of the bright sun. They were also great for the indoor shots we did.

I also used this as an opportunity to try out my new Panasonic-Leica 25MM f1.4 lens. Since I shoot with Olympus, the effective field of view with the 4/3 2X crop factor is 50MM. One of the knocks on DSLR cameras with smaller sensors is that they can’t produce shallow depth of field for the pleasing look where only part of the image is in sharp focus, but as you can see, this lens is capable of producing that look.

2011 1105 Koree

2011 1105 Koree

2011 1105 Koree

2011 1105 Koree

2011 1105 Koree

2011 1105 Koree

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GM Photography

My blog will focus on the "behind the scenes" aspects of photography, my thoughts and beliefs about photography, a chronicle of my shoots, and discussions about equipment and personal projects I'm working on. I hope this becomes an interactive page and look forward to your feedback.