Monday, June 28, 2010

So Where Are The Pots?

Yeah. Where are the pots? After this past weekend, I needed a day where I didn't spend the entirety of the hot sweaty day staring at the same mountain of pots. As much fun as looking at pots can be, there is a threshold. And I crossed it yesterday. At this point, I would be happy to start our sale a month early. (just watch out!)

Instead, I wanted to try some new ideas with my camera. I try not to dwell on some of my problems or snafus... but I have been grappling with an issue for about two weeks now. The strobes that I am using are not infinitely adjustable (as most new flash units are)... instead they use 1/3 power, 2/3, and full power. Even at 1/3 power I find myself shooting typically around 1/100 at f/5.6 or more. If you take just a few steps back at that aperture, the focal length preserves too much distracting background. So my goal has been to figure out how to retain that buttery background (narrow DOF) while shooting flash. I asked one of my photographer buddies (J.Souza!!) out in California for ideas and he suggested using a BIG bed sheet to increase the size of the light source (which then could be pulled back from the subject (to lower the intensity)... which is a great idea. Didn't get a chance to get to the fabric store this weekend so I was hoping there was another option.

J. Souza also suggested I try putting a neutral density filter on the lens. Most of my experience with ND filters has been using them to turn waterfalls into those silken streams everyone seems to think is so great. So... after having made my share of waterfall silken pics, I tossed the ND filters back in the bag and promptly forgot about them. This is the best thing about the concept of coopetition (cooperation + competition via LIDLIPS [syl arena]... the idea that even though Justin and I could potentially see one another as competition, the reality is that we are both learning from each other. What could be better? I only wish he lived closer so we could shoot together more! Perhaps as our professions grow we'll find reasons to both be on the same side of the continent and we'll have more opportunities.

Justin Bieber is in the house! Just kidding.

Back to the ND filters. I tossed them onto my favorite little 50mm f/1.8 lens, and kicked on my flash transmitter. First shot out of the gate was pretty close. Dialed up a bit more light... because the ND filter I was using was a .6ND which cuts a substantial chunk of light out of the picture. I anticipated it making the camera struggle more during focusing. It may have impaired it some, but not as much as I would have guessed. I shot pretty close to wide open and I LOVE the buttery quality of the background. Luckily I had an amicable (and patient) model today. We also had a chance to test out our reflector and stand today.

My chores,... ummm,... no, not yet.

Suffice to say, I LOVE the way the light is moving. I wish (and will probably keep right on wishing) that we had a grip who could lug lights and hold reflectors during our shoots. Seems like most of the time, it just isnt going to happen, so I need to learn how to do it without the extra hands. Stands are coming in VERY handy.

I guess this is her way of saying we don't feed her enough.

Fork you Dad. Talk to the Fork Dad.

As things would have it, today was as sticky and hot as summer days get around here. Mid-eighties by 9am, and the humidity has climbed all day. As I type this tonight, we're hovering around 94% humidity. You could wring gallons of water from this "air".

Shooting in the studio is always a fun respite from dealing with hot stuff in the house... chores, cleaning, bills. Somehow the studio stays cooler till much later in the day. Probably the concrete slab acting as a thermal sink. Tomorrow the day is filled with physical therapy and delivering images to my most recent portrait clients.


potterboy said...

Great set of photos.

justin said...

Glad my suggestions could help out! I'm so excited for your experiments with these new studio strobes.

I can't wait to see the photographs coming out of the studio once you convert it.

Actually, I'm picking up a muslin backdrop for my own interim studio later today. I'm just working with hotshoe strobes but in an enclosed area I've been pretty happy with the amount of light they produce. Granted they're not going to overpower the sun or anything but they do their jobs.

I'll keep you updated with some photos of it once I get it all together.

Alex Solla said...

So what sort of speedlights are you working with? Are they branded or generic? How are you tripping them? What are you using as modifiers? Are you sure you really need strobes? Do you have stands and such yet?