Picture of the day. Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex

Back in December 2009 Pocket Wizard run a US meet up tour hosted by Mark Wallace. First of all, thanks to Pocket Wizard for showing firsthand how capable this devises are; it was great being able to use them in real life scenarios. As expected this little creatures did not disappoint anyone within the over 100 photographers that were there.

Mark Wallace is a top-notch instructor. His demonstration was outstanding, with plenty of information and knowledge not only about the use of Pocket Wizards but lighting and other techniques in general. The 6 or so hours of the class went by really fast shooting live models in a great studio location. The lay out was nothing but perfect, there were 5 stations with models and different lighting and backgrounds.

Pocket Wizards are not Pocket Change, but are worth the investment. I just got one Mini TT1 and two Flex’s and I’m looking to buy a third Flex as soon as budget allows it to end up with a 3 light set up. It is great being able to set  stands with light modifiers in a matter of minutes without the need of plugs or wires, indoor or outdoor and maintain E-TTL, the freedom and features that this system allows keeps on going on and on.

Here is a link to some highlight from the class http://www.youtube.com/snapfactory#p/a/u/1/Ea2PLp74b6E

Self portrait Canon 7D Remote shooting

Last night when I came home from work I thought of taking some self portraits from a different angle and this is what I came up with.

I mounted a Canon EFS 10-22 f 3.5-4.5 set the camera to master to trigger the Canon 430EX II flash and the flash was set to manual power and adjusted the power to suit the image at about 1/16th. To trigger the camera I used a remote control Canon RC1.

Photo of the day. Photoshop Layers. Multiple personality

A while back I made a few images of my daughter all over the place, then I made a few of my self and then when I showed them to a friend the kids liked the idea and they want to be part of the fun.

There are a numbers of different things that can be done and I guess creativity is the limit. The basic concept to make this kind of images is to set the camera on a tripod, and go manual, all manual, exposure and focusing. The other key is to make sure nothing moves between shots aside from the main person changing locations.

For the sake of making the process easier it’s best if the main subject does not overlap itself on any frames (if  the person is going to be on the image twice do not set it where the one in the foreground is blocking the one in the background) once the set up is done shoot all the images and sack them in Photoshop it’s easier to start with 2 images to have a feeling of it and keep it growing from there.

Let’s say you have 3 images in Photoshop already, you should have 3 layers now select the bottom layer first, uncheck the two top ones to reveal the  bottom one and make a selection of the person outline; it does not have to be the most precise, as a matter of fact my selection is well (within reason) outside the person (it blends better in most cases with the other layers on top) once you have the selection done and active reveal the two layers above it select the top one and click delete, then select  the middle layer and click delete again, now you should see the image on the bottom layer and that should do it for that layer. Now move to the middle layer and do the same process. The more layers the more fun.

If you are confused by now, I would not blame you since I usually have a hard time explaining the process but in reality it’s a lot simpler than it looks like.

Photo of the day. Close up photography of water droplets.

This are some images I took a while ago. I first tried this with milk and the results was not what I was hoping for. Lighting was not the best. The idea on this type of photography, aside of capturing the water droplet properly and sharp, is to have nice reflections and some highlights and shadows created by the ripples, thus enhancing the image by adding some depth.

Front lighting is not the way to approach this topic, unless you are looking for a flat looking image without any sence of relief. The way to do it (one of them at least) is to use one or more lights detached from the camera. In this set up I used one light; if you can imagine a clock I was at 12 the water droplet was the center of the clock and the flash was at 4 pointing at the droplets.

The set up was quite simple. Pirex with water on a low table. The camera was sitting on the tripod in front of the pirex I was using a Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro lens set at f8 for good depth of field. Speed was at 200 and ISO at 100. The key to illuminate the water here is the flash, that is what is going to not only light the frame but also freeze the action; therefore I set the Canon 580EXII to manual and lower the power to let say 1/64th  and from there find the right output up or down until you have the right exposure. 

What I used for the droplets was an empty gallon of milk with some water in it, poke the smallest hole you can (I mean this) you just want a constant drip and that is it. Hung it from something above the pirex (about 30 inches) that way you don’t have to be holding the gallon. Doing this will keep the source of water still and the droplet will hit the same place every time. Set your lens to manual and focus the place where the droplet hits, and the rest is fun time.

If you have a cable release it going to be useful. Also, the amount of water on the pirex and the distance of the water gallon to the pirex will determine the shape of the splash.

For more fun. If you change the withe balance to Tungsten the picture will turn out blue. If you put a color source in the back of the pirex and point the flash to it the relection of it will light up the water creating some interesting results.

I’ll upload some more with the different colors if anyone care.

Thanks for looknig.

Alex

PS: If you have any questions or comments free free to post or share your thoughts.

 

 

Photo of the day. Dice roll

I just found this set of dice that belong to my grandma. I can’t tell how old they are but I know I used to play with them as a kid (just a few years ago 😉

Pretty simple set up. Two umbrellas, one on each side Canon 430EXII on the left and Canon EX 580EX on the right the master was a Canon 580EXII and the ratio was set 3:1 and I shot them on ETTLII The lens was a Canon EFS 10-22 F3.5 4.5 USM set at 20mm  f7.1  ISO 200 Speed at 250th .

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Close up of flowers.

The other day my wife got this flowers and the moment I saw them I thought, picture time. I took a whole bunch of pictures and although I liked them I was looking for something different with more punch, so I decided to change the back ground from solid to a white silk and light it from behind with a Canon 580 EX and Canon 430EXII flashes with a Canon 580EXII as the master. I went really close and shot some pictures with a Canon EF 50mm  1.4 at F5.6 ISO 200 Speed 100th . The flash mounted on the camera pointed to my back  (reversed the head) and put a reflective surface behind me to bounce some of the light as a fill for the flowers. And this is the result.

Thanks for looking

Alex Elias

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Macro Photo of the day. Feathers

Lately I started to look at common items around the house and get up close; really really close. This is what some feathers look like with a macro lens Canon EF 100 mm 2.8. I guess aside from having the lens and something to photograph what is paramount for this king of images it’s the lighting. Here I used only one light Canon 580 EXII flash  directly to the right of the image, diffused with silk, on the left side I placed a reflective surface to bounce some of the light back into the left side of the image as a fill light. This lighting shows the texture of the feather and makes it for an interesting image.

Pretty cool what a simple feather can look like up close. Lots of common items can become a topic of abstract  photography when we get close enough. Play with shapes, textures and shadows, and take lots of pictures until you are happy with the results. Besides it’s free. Unless you are shooting with film.

Some tips for this kind of images.

  1. A tripod it’s helpful. (very  helpful )
  2. If the camera has mirror lock up function make sure you use it. It helps reduce vibrations.
  3. A cable release it’s also a good way to help reduce movements. Otherwise you can used the self time on the camera along with the mirror lock up feature.
  4. A small F stop. Since the working distance it’s not much at all so it’s the depth of field (DOF) very narrow, you’ll be surprised how little it’s in focus when working like this. F8 or smaller F11 depending on the subject it’s not a bad stating point (play arround and see what suits your subject) if the camera has DOP preview that will give you a good indication.
  5. Set the lens to manual and use the live mode to aid focusing.
  6. Make sure you have enough light ( you’ll have to play with it) if you have a flash do not use it  directly on the subject, otherwise you are most likely burn it (over expose) or have unattractive results. Try detaching the flash from the  camera (if your are using one) with a cable or wireless. Use something to diffuse the flash like silk, fabric or something like it will do.
  7. Have lots of fun

 

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Night photography.

I waited for a full moon night to take this picture. The light that the full moon cast over a period of time it’s enough to illuminate this wonderful truck.  Needless to say, a tripod it’s paramount for this type of images.

Some tips here are to make sure the moon it’s out of the picture, as well as any other light sources. Otherwise we would end up with an unpleasant burned spot on the final picture.  The set up here was pretty simple. Set the camera on the tripod, attach a cable release to the camera and set the camera to manual exposure. The lens  it’s set at F5.6, ISO 100 and the speed it’s BULB. This is where you have to experiment to get the right time to match the effect your after. In this case it was between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 min. The lens ( Canon EFS 10-22 mm ) was on manual focus, I composed the frame, and with a flash light’s aid focus where I wanted it.

Now to the lighting effect. While the camera it’s open up recording the image I was by the side of the truck with an LED flash light cover with a red gel (painting with red) for about 1 to 1 1/2 min. Make sure you keep on moving the light to avoid creating any hot spots. Other things to keep in mind when painting with light it’s to avoid pointing the light source to the lens. In this series of images a few did not worked out because of that. There was one picture were I illuminated the windshield from the inside. That created a strong reflection captured by the camera. Other thing to look for it to keep the light source (flash light) away from the frame. The camera will record a split second of direct lighting. For example. When I was done illuminating the inside of the truck I walked away with the flash light on and I left the light trail right behind me. So make sure the light source it’s off. For the head lights I did the same, get close to them (but outside the frame) point at them and illuminate them  (in this case 8 seconds) using a green gel.

Now that you have the ABC’s go out there, find a friend with a cool truck and have some fun.

As always, if you any any questions comments or like to share an image feel free to do so.

Thanks for visiting.

Alex Elias

Night photography

Night photography

What’s in your fridge? Beer

Here is the picture of the dream frige; full of beer.

For the lighting  I got a Canon 580EX II connectect to the camera with an off camera cord as the master to the Canon 430EX II that was inside the fridge. The master was of,  the purpose of the off camera cord was to have the infrared signal go in a straight line inside the fridge.

The lens was the Canon EF 50mm 1.4 at F9 ISO 100 and speed 1/125thGot beer?

Tips to photograph childrens.

 Here I’ll give you some quick basic tips on things I do when taking pictures of my little ones,  by no means this are rules nor the only or best way to take children pictures but it’s worth trying if your are not all that happy with your current results. I’m not going to cover technical information about camera setting or use of flash. (if anyone want’s that kind of details let me know)

1)   Most grown ups are about twice the height or more of most kids. While taking pictures from up there can be comfortable for your back, getting down to their level will make for more intimate and natural looking kids pictures. If you are not doing this yet… Try it. Even if you don’t do anything else this by itself will improve your pictures.

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2) Zoom in. If your camera has a zoom; use it, that’s what it’s for. When there is nothing of interest on the background, why include it on the picture? Frame what ever it’s important and relevent.

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3)Zoom in even closer. Why not?  Eyes, hands, feet you get the picture…

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4)  Make sure your focus is on those eyes. That is what youreyes look at first on the pictures. Make sure they are sharp Other parts can be blurred and that is quite alright, but unless there is a reason to have out of focus eyes, keep them sharp.

 

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5) Give them room to play and be themselves. Some times it’s good to stay away, use that telephoto and let them be. Candid, natural images tend to be the nicest ones.

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6) Be aware of the background. This is one of the things people pay the least of attention to. When one is taking that picture, the one thing we are paying attention to is the moment and not the place so much. Then when looking at the final image we notice the place more than the moment when it’s a bit late. Uniform not distracting backgrounds work good; grass, sky, water, a solid wall, Etc. Try not to have a light post or something similar right behind the kids where it looks like it’s growing out of their heads.  Also Try to avoid hard transitions of colors or lighting in the backgrounds, some times they not only are distracting but it gives the impression that you are splitting the subject in two.

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Since the topic it’s lengthy I’ll talk about it some more. 

If there is something in particular any one like me to add and or get deeper into make sure you ask for it. Also if  any one likes to share pictures, tips or comments, please do.

Thanks for looking

Alex Elias