Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Flame Thrower - Day 30 of 365

The Flame Thrower (30 of 365)

This is a "Flame Thrower" Orchid (Epicattleya Rene Marques) that my mother-in-law brought in from her greenhouse for me to photograph (she braved the 25 degree cold, wind and rain in South Carolina to go out and get it). It is an amazing plant...very unique. We went to her house for the weekend, so I brought my camera and one of my flashes along to see if I could get some cool shots of her orchids. This shot is from the top down on the flower (it seemed more dramatic from this angle). My father in law was a great help as he held both the flower and the flash as I tweaked out the picture.

I used one bare SB-600 fired remotely via Nikon's CLS system from my D90's pop up flash, which was set to off. I used a quick shutter speed and low ISO in order to black out the background (we were in a lit room, but you can turn it to black by using a close flash on your subject).

This is a really stunning flower to see in person, I'm hoping that I captured it's vibrant colors here.

[Edit: Here's a little more info on how I got the background black. First, you probably won't be able to do this in the bright sun or a sunny room. You can do it at a normally lit room though. What you need to do is have your flash fairly close to the subject and have the background a ways off behind it. That way, you're flash has room to fall off after it hits the subject. Next, I set my ISO down as low as it would go (100 here). This gets you the best clarity and the least sensitivity to light. Then, I set my aperture relatively high (f/6.3 here). This gives better focus through the depth of field and it allows in less light. At this point in time, I took a test shot with my flash on a relatively low level and then adjusted the flash output until I had a good exposure on the flower. I forget what I ended up at. Once the flower is properly exposed with the flash, you can bump up the shutter speed until the shutter is fast enough that it won't allow in any ambient light (which isn't too hard given that we've already adjusted the ISO and the Aperture to "resist" light). The shutter speed won't effect the flower because the flash that lights the flower occurs more quickly than the shutter, so, even if you set your shutter ultra-fast, the flash is still faster. ].

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