ObG Thursdays – Public Art with a Twist

This week’s oldie-but-goodie comes from August 2007, back when I was first learning to light with external flashes. Jeff and I were on a photo walk and came across this piece of public art outside of the Waterloo Library.

Being a bit foggy out I thought that backlighting the art would give a cool effect, with the metal plate becoming a dark aperture and the figure inside being lit from behind. I set a Vivitar 285HV behind the piece and triggered it with a cheapo Ebay trigger. The moisture in the air caught some of the light and gave a cool starry look.

Final settings were Pentax *ist DS (my first digital camera) with DA 16-45mm f/4 at 31mm f/5 1/50s ISO 1600 + lots of tweaking in Photoshop CS3.

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ObG Thursdays – A Photo-a-Day 2007/2008

This week’s oldie-but-goodie comes from February 2008, in the middle of my year long Photo-a-Day challenge. I challenged myself to produce a decent photo every single day for an entire year and, for the most part, pulled it off.

The images aren’t on my Flickr page (although my 2/3 of a year follow attempt is). No, they’re on my old photo site on Pbase. I haven’t paid my subscription to Pbase in many years, so it’s a miracle that I still even have a page up. Check it out here!

The photo is of friends making masks in a basement bathroom. When I saw what was going on I quickly grabbed my flash and mounted to the curtain rod in the shower with a super clamp. The flash was triggered with crappy old ebay triggers.

Details are: Pentax K10D with DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 at 18mm f/7.1 1/30s ISO 100.

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OBG Thursdays – The Flash (with 4 Flashes)

Today’s Oldie-but-Goodie is a fun little ‘portrait’ of an action figure. After reading about some cool lighting setups for defining muscle I wanted to try it out on a real live muscular person. Unfortunately, I am not this person…

7313886510_b9be4a5d09_oThe Flash (fittingly) would have to stand in for me. This shot is actually one of the more complicated lighting setups that I’ve done. It uses four flashes in total and each of them is modified. The principle of the lighting is to use a softbox in a ‘tabletop’ position, meaning that it sits directly above the subject pointing straight down. The direction of light causes the muscles to cast strong shadows, adding definition. With just this one light, the shadows are quite strong. Rim lighting or fill lighting can lift the shadows.

For this shot I used the lighting diagram below:

lighting-diagram-1363206547A Lumiquest Softbox LTZ on SB-900 sits directly above the subject (even though in the diagram it’s placed slightly in front) and points down. For rim lighting I use two more strobes. On the right is a SB-700 with a grid spot. On the left is a Metz 48 AF-1 with a grid spot.

For the backround I used a fourth light, an Alienbees B800 with 22″ beauty dish with a diffuser sock placed over it. I’ve had a lot of fun placing this light modifier directly into photos as a creative element in the past.

The SB-900 used for tabletop lighting has a Full CTO gel on it. The Metz 48 AF-1 on the left is gelled with a light blue. In hindsight, the blue was probably unnecessary as it doesn’t look much different from the non-gelled flash (see the highlights on his waist at left and right).

The final shot was with the D300s and AF-S 60mm f/2.8 G Micro at f/13 1/125s ISO 100. The B800 with beauty dish was set to minimum power and is still quite bright at f/13 ISO 100. The tabletop light is at 1/2 power and the two rims are 1/16 power.

ObG Thursdays – Photographing a Jaguar E-Type in a Barn

My good friend Portt was asked to photograph a fully-restored Jaguar E-Type for an Ebay sale. Being the “guy with the lights” and also a car nut he asked me if I wanted to come along and meet the fantastically beautiful work of art, perfection on wheels. “Yes”, I said.  I was fully expecting to park the car under a tree, near a fence, with a picturesque farm scene behind. Or on a twisty road, tunneled by tall trees. But in reality it was sitting in a dark and dusty barn basement under a tarp, boxed in by a bunch of other stored cars.

We set up the lights as best we could to not create too many hot spots and blown-out specular reflections. The key was to have the light sources as large and diffuse as possible. Since I don’t own and giant car-length softboxes or strip lights, instead I brought my umbrellas and brolly-box as close to the car as I could. For lights I used my two Alien Bees B800s and a Vivitar 285HV, all remote triggered by Paul C Buff Cybersyncs. The camera was a D300s with AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17mm f/6.3 1/60s ISO 200.5608737566_032338f1c5_o

Screams at the Trepid House

Here’s a bit of nostalgia for those who were as lucky as me to have been part of the Trepid House in Waterloo.

For those who don’t know, the Trepid House was both a record label headquarters, music venue for house shows, art gallery and a great place to live. The house, mostly under the guidance of Jeff Woods, hosted in the range of 100 shows over its five years and served as a launching point for many local artists. I lived there from spring of 2007 until the winter of 2009, a time I will cherish forever. I do intend to write a much more expansive post about the house (and how my experiences there shaped me into the photographer I am now) but for now I’d like to show the images from an art installation I put up in the attic art gallery.

Called “Scream”, these images all have a common theme that should be quite obvious. They were taken mostly through 2008 using a lighting system that Jeff and I worked out with some trial and error. We worked with three lights, Vivitar 285HV, triggered with cheapo ebay triggers and then later on with Paul C. Buff Cybersyncs. A light was clamped to the door frame at the left and another on a window frame at the right. The third light sat in the back left corner of the room, pointed at the camera to provide rim lighting. Occasionally we would add a fourth light on the right side of the room, pointed at the drummer.

Enjoy!

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ObG Thursdays – The Wrestler

I’ve decided to start a weekly post called Oldie-but-Goodie (ObG) Thursdays where I’ll revisit an old photo of mine and explain a bit about how/why it was taken. Last week’s post was technically the first installment, so here’s the second!

I call it The Wrestler and it was taken when a friend, Colin Hunter, asked me to cover a wrestling match for a book he was writing on the world of amateur/semi-pro wrestling. He got me full ring-side access at Club Element, in Kitchener, and free reign to set up lights (incidentally, Element is kind of sketchy, as I found out when entering the washroom with my camera around my neck and getting harassed extensively by the manager. I think he was worried I was going to document the washroom!).

I set up three lights around the ring, each pointing into one side of the ring. This gave me the opportunity to have rim light at nearly every angle and still have fill in front. I triggered the flashes (2 Vivitar 285HVs and a Pentax AF-500FTZ, all at 1/2 power) with cheapo ebay triggers that were about 80% reliable.  As It turns out, it is quite difficult to juggle fast moving action, slow Pentax autofocus, flash refresh times and unreliable flash triggers… but I’m happy with the results that I got! There are a lot more from the day here.

Pentax K10D, DA 16-45mm f/4 @ 21mm, f/4.5, 1/80s, ISO 200.2917792968_540de20153_o

An Oldie but a Goodie

Here is a photo that I took a few years ago (June, 2008, to be specific) of my friend Elsa as part of a series of art for her upcoming album. Elsa wanted an “ethereal” feel and dressed accordingly. After taking a few in the garden and another few under a tree (with a lamb!) we saw that the sky was rapidly darkening. As the clouds rolled in and claps of thunder were heard in the distance I made the snap decision for us to hop over the fence an up into the field.2549214861_b348e08ffe_oWe had two lights with us, Vivitar 285HV, and cheapo ebay triggers for firing them. I set them up in a simple arrangement with the main light at camera right and the other at camera left to act as a rim. This second light can be seen at the left of the frame. I set the camera (K10D) to manual, 1/80s, f/6.3, ISO 160 to get the ambient exposure how I wanted it (1/2-1 stops underexposed) and adjusted the flashes to either 1/2 or full power. The lens, a Pentax DA 16-45/4 was zoomed out to 16mm.

A few quick snaps later and we were happy… and just in time, because as soon as we packed up the skies opened up and it rained like you wouldn’t believe!

Thoughts?