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Archive for the ‘Lighting’ Category

Ok every since I saw my first hummingbird show up this year I have been dying to take a good photo of one. My first photo is not great and is a male sitting on a branch. But I wanted one in flight.

Ruby Throated male Hummingbird

So I looked around on Flickr and got a few tips. My next try was ass backwards. I set up six flashes triggered by Nikon wireless CLS around a feeder and blasted the poor hummingbird on full power while my Nikon D300 was set to a shutter speed of 1/8000.

Hummingbird Setup

This resulted in these photos. Note there is still motion blur in the wings.

Humming Bird

Humming Bird

Turns out I made a few mistakes. First FP Sync has issues. Again more tips and help from the Flickr community.

According to John Groseclose. Checkout his photos. They are great.

“If you’re trying to “freeze” motion, FP Sync isn’t the way to go. Since it turns the flash into a constant light source for the 1/300 or so it takes for the complete transit of the shutter slit across the sensor, you will still end up with blur.If you’d used an ND filter to knock down the ambient to black instead of using the high shutter speed to do it, you’d be using the flash duration of 1/1000ish at full power instead of the 1/300ish of the FP Sync. And since FP Sync loses a lot of power anyway, you might even be able to drop the flash power to 1/16 or so, and get a flash duration of 1/10000 or shorter (see page 122 of your SB-800 manual for the power/duration listings).

See webs.lanset.com/rcochran/flash/hss.html for details.

“You’ll want to get to a point where the ambient light is *zero*. If you shoot without flash, the scene should be *black*.

Then add flashes until you have enough to see the bird at a good exposure. That’ll freeze it.

At 1/250, f/8, ISO 400, you’re almost shooting for direct sunlight (f/16, ISO 100, 1/125 is “Sunny 16″.) Turn your ISO to 100, shutter to 1/250, and hit f/16. Don’t be afraid to crank your power up – the Metz 48 shouldn’t exceed 1/1000 at full power, and 1/2000 at half power.”


According to Michael Roy a.k.a. digitaldirectphotos.com. Checkout his photos and setups. They are awesome. Maybe buy his calendar.

” the ghosting appear because too much light hit the sensor. if you disconnect the flashes, everything should be almost black… if not ghosting appear. 1/16 should be ok for the flashes…, i would increase the f stop to f14 to f20 lower the iso to 250… the flashes have to be close to subject… use a patio umbrella or shoot when it is not in full sun… just like in studio.”

I really needed to reduce my shutter speed to 1/250 (i.e., no FP sync). Second I needed to decrease the power of the strobes down to say 1/16 power. The lower power settings actually allow the strobe to fire faster. This is where I am learning that when the strobes are the primary light source their speed is actually the important factor in the exposure. In stead of six flashes I am now using three on stands set around the feeder. Finally some of the blur was from my wide open F stop. I closed down that F-stop to the point that without flash, the photos were black. The next photos show this. Note that I have much better motion stop less blur.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

Also note the black background. I wanted a beautiful background. So again more tips from Flickr community. I put a piece of black foam core behind the feeder. I took an out of focus shot of my day lillies, printed that on a piece of plain paper and taped that to the foam core behind the feeder. Finally I took one more strobe and used it to light the background. This resulted in the following photos. I learned this trick from digitaldirectphotos.com as well.

Here are the backgrounds I have used so far.

Yellow Day Lilly Background

Pink Cone Flower Background

With these background I got the following photos.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

So I haven’t seen the male come back since my first photo and I sit around for hours and I am lucky if the female comes around once or twice. Today there were two females and they came around much more frequently and did not seem affraid of the flashes. One just about flew up the camera lens and into the house. My understanding is that by mid August the offspring will be leaving the nest. Cross your fingers. But this is sure a lot of fun. Now the next challenge will be changing up the backgrounds to see what I can get.

Yea I finally had a male show up. It happened so fast I didn’t even realize it until post.

Hummingbird on Gold

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Gels

For an upcoming photo contest at the Arundel Camera Club with the theme of Still Life, I created my own rendition of the traditional wine and cheese still life.

_DSC0232 _DSC0227
_DSC0229 _DSC0225

I used a Metz48 behind and under the table to light the wine bottle and glasses by aiming it at a black background with white boarders on each end. I used a SB800 to light the cheese and grapes with a gobo to keep from lighting the wine bottle and glasses. Since I used Nikon CLS to remotely trigger the Metz and SB800 I also used another gobo to keep the on camera flash from lighting the wine bottle and glasses. Then I used colored gels to change the background color and thus the color of the wine bottle and glasses. I don’t like the red. The blue has an interesting effect of making the wine bottle nearly black.

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For a recent Camera Club Contest with the theme of Still Life, I created this photo.

I used a SB800 Camera right high though white umbrella with black backdrop triggered remotely via Nikon CLS.

I shot five shots focusing on first the teacup, then the flower, then the marmalade jar, then the top left and right corners of the frame. I used Helicon Focus to put all of these photos together into one phot where everything was in focus. This gave me much better depth of field.

I did have a minor problem where the top right of the frame was crooked. I used Photoshop to correct by Transform->skew.

Finally I converted to monochrome using Lightroom 2.

Here is the setup Shot.

Dundee Marmalade and Tea

I entered this in the Arundel Camera Club Unlimited Monochrome Still Life Competition on 02/11/2009 and won Fourth Place.

ACC 4th

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Peppers, originally uploaded by bmthomas.

To light the peppers I used a SB800 Camera right high though white umbrella full power. To light the background and turn it green I used a green gel on a Metz 48 at 1/2 power aimed at a black backdrop. Black backdrops seem to work better at reflecting the gel color. I sat the peppers on a sheet of black Plexiglas. Black plexi seems to work much better than glass on a black cloth. See the following photo for the setup shot.

Peppers

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Since the copy of Helicon Focus I downloaded is good for 30 days, I thought I would try some more experimenting. Here are three more shots I put together with Helicon Focus.

Yellow Tipped Tulips (Helicon Focus)

Wet Macro Pink Tulips (Helicon Focus)

Pink Tulips (Helicon Focus)

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Christmas Balls (Helicon Focus)
Originally uploaded by bmthomas

Setup: I used a green geled Metz 48 behind and below the table at 1/4 power bounced off of a black background. I have a SB800 on a stand through a white umbrella camera left at 1/10 power. The gold ball is much more reflective than the red and green. I had a gold reflector on the right. Flashes triggered via Nikon CLS.

Christmas Balls Setup

So the challenge with this shot it that I could focus on the gold ball but the red and green balls were out of focus due to the limited depth of field.

Christmas Balls

or I could focus on the green ball but the gold and red balls were out of focus. This was probably the best of the three images.

Christmas Balls-2

Finally I could focus on the red ball but the gold and green balls were out of focus.

Christmas Balls-3

During a recent photo contest at the Bowie-Crofton Camera Club, the Judge Tony Sweet suggested that I could have used a program called Helicon Focus to put together a series of photos each one taken focusing on a a different part of the scene to create a final image that had greater depth of field.

So I downloaded a trial of Helicon Focus to put these three photographs together and create the final image which shows all three Christmas balls in focus.

Of course you need to shoot each shot from a tripod and manually focus. I was a little curious how Helicon would handle my hand held reflector on the right. Looks like it did a good job.

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Christmas Ball

Originally uploaded by bmthomas

I used a green geled Metz 48 behind and below the table at 1/4 power bounced off of a black background. I have a SB800 on a stand through a white umbrella camera left at 1/6.4 power. I had a gold reflector on the right. Flashes triggered via Nikon CLS.

Christmas Balls Setup

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Berkut Vodka
Originally uploaded by bmthomas

Setup: I used a blue geled Metz 48 behind and below the table at 1/4 power bounced off of a black background with white on either side. I have a SB800 on a stand through a white umbrella camera left at 1/10 power. I had a silver reflector on the right. I set the bottle and glass on a sheet of glass on a black cloth. I set thee camera to tungsten for a really blue shot. The bottle and glass were sprayed with water. Flashes triggered via Nikon CLS.

Berkut Vodka Setup

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