Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Innocent? (89 of 365)

Innocent? (89 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.
Ivan, our Russian Blue cat, was kind enough to help me out with my Day 89 shot. I tried a couple of other ideas that didn't pan out, so I decided that Mr. Ivan, who was hanging out and constantly bumping into the tripod that I was using on my other shot, was ripe for a portrait. I went with the title and caption because our cats are always causing trouble around the house and I we're always trying to figure out which cat was the culprit.

This shot, other than the crop, is straight out of the camera. With the lighting and setup, I was going for multiple shades of gray and white (with the table, background, and Ivan's fur) in an effort to let his eyes be the only stand-out color in the shot.

Check this one out large size, I really love how the details in his eyes, including the catch lights, came out.

I had an SB-600 through a softbox setup camera left and high (you see it in his eyes), which was acting as my main light, and another SB-600 through a shoot-through umbrella for some fill light camera right and high.

In Tune (88 of 365)

In Tune (88 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.
Tonight was one of those nights. I was exhausted to the point where the last bits of my personality and creativity were fading fast and I didn't have a shot. I tried about five or six different things and didn't care for any of them. So, in the end, I decided to pick the closest thing to me (the guitar that I was playing while I was trying to decided on a shot), find a somewhat interesting part of it, add some "interesting" light, and shoot away. These are the machine heads/tuning machines/tuners at the head of the guitar that are used to tune the strings.

So, I'm not thrilled with the shot, but it beats no shot at all. Hopefully something interesting will find me tomorrow.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Porsche, Bokeh & Water (87 of 365)

This is a picture of a small model of a 2007 Porsche Cayman S. We went to my wife's office to pick up some papers and I saw this sitting on the shelf and decided to snag it for my photo today. We used to own a full size Cayman S exactly like this one, but we traded it for the Cayenne when Ava came along. That was one of the more painful life transitions that came along with having a kid. Ava is totally worth it (but I sure miss that car). :.)

This isn't my favorite picture in the world (the model was about the size of a Hot Wheels car, so it lacks fine detail). But, the subject did give me a chance to try out some lighting techniques that I've been thinking about. First, I had the white balance on the camera set to tungsten, which means that everything bare flashed came out blue and everything flashed with a CTO (orange) gel came out "normal". The model is sitting in a cookie sheet (pan) filled with water up to the wheels. The background has crumpled tinfoil that goes down all the way into the water in the pan. I shot a SB-600 flash, no gel with a grid spot, against the tinfoil for the blue background bokeh (and the blue reflection in the water). I shot a second SB-600 with a grid spot and a full CTO gel at the car camera left and high. In order to get the movement in the water, I banged on the table before taking the shot. Besides the crop and a little further white balancing in the computer, this picture is pretty much straight out of the camera.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Put Your Left Foot In... (85 of 365)

I was looking through some things the other day and I noticed that Ava has built up quite a colorful shoe collection for a 16 month old girl. I think it is probably a sign of things to come. :.)

The setup for this was pretty straight-forward, just a SB-600 flash through a soft-box camera right and above the shoes. The camera was hand-held. Basically, once I set the shoes up in the circle, I just moved around looking for an interesting angle and snapped away.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rainbow Colored Glasses (84 of 365)

I decided to continue on my theme of simplicity and curves for a fourth day in a row. You are looking through wine glasses hanging in a rack. I added the color during post processing, but took the shot with the intention of doing this because I knew that the original shot was too "quiet" for my tastes.

I want to thank all of my awesome friends/contacts for helping yesterday's picture make Explore. I really appreciate all of your support.

Extremely simple setup on this. The glasses were already there. I just threw the camera on a tripod and then held the flash in my hand with it aimed at the wall behind the glasses. The only trick was getting the exposure correct in order to balance and detail.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wild Ride

Wild Ride, originally uploaded by lighthack.

This one isn't part of my Project 365 set, but I thought it was really cute, so I wanted to post it. My favorite part is her "wild" hair from the motion of the swing (and those little hands holding on).

Tones (83 of 365)

Today I decided to get away from complicated setups and go for simple beauty. This is a Larrivee 000-50 TSB acoustic guitar. It is hand made by Larrivee Guitars with mahogany sides and a spruce top and is finished off with a stunning Tobacco Sunburst Finish (at the time that this one was made, all of the sunburst finishes were hand painted by Jean Larrivee himself). The instrument really is a work of art. It's wonderful to look at and it's even better to play and hear. One of my favorite details of the guitar is the herringbone binding around the edges of the guitar and sound hole, which is made from layers of wood (also, the ebony pyramid bridge and the slotted headstock (not pictured here) are really awesome). So, for today's shot, Larrivee Guitars did all the hard work, I just took the picture. This is another shot that really needs to be looked at large to appreciate (hit the "all sizes" button at the top of the pic and then select original).

Lighting Setup: A single SB-600 flash through a 1/8" grid spot aimed at the front of the guitar. I went with the grid spot in an effort to prevent light spill so I could keep the background black. I went with a fast shutter speed in order to keep out any ambient light.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Midnight Daffodil (82 of 365)

Midnight Daffodil (82 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.

Far from technically perfect, but, for some reason, I kept on coming back to this one. So, I decided to go with it as my shot today. I hadn't intended to do another "product" shot tonight, but the bottle made its way into the shot because it was more interesting in the shot than not.

Setup info: SB-600 flash through a softbox flower right and high. Me on the floor looking up at the flower and vase trying to get the shot.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

iSpoon (81 of 365)

iSpoon (81 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.

iSpoon. Why? Just because. Eating should be beautiful.

Admit it. You would wait in line for one. :.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Starbucks Grande Extra, Extra Bold (80 of 365)

I had a few minutes off this afternoon, so, once I finished my coffee, I decided to do my day 80 picture for the day early.

Nikon & Bokeh (79 of 365)

Nikon & Bokeh (79 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.

Back to a bokeh background shot. I tried to add some additional interest to the bokeh this time by going with two colors. The D90 was on a light stand that I ended up cloning out because it wasn't very attractive.

SB-600 through a 24"x24" softbox on the D90. SB-600 with a green gel on the crumpled tinfoil background for the green bokeh. Christmas lights for the orange bokeh. I had to play with the shutter speed to balance out the two types of bokeh to taste (longer exposure made the orange bokeh brighter -- green was flashed, so it was a function of flash power and aperture only).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Sun - Day 78 of 365

Spring Sun (78 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.

I went for a walk around the yard yesterday evening and was pleasantly surprised by s couple of daffodils. I figured that I would share them with you all.

No special lighting or processing, just the sun and lens working here. The sun was shining from the back of the flowers and it was really pretty in person. Unfortunately, the camera didn't do the real scene justice because the petals got a little blown out -- maybe I could have saved them if I did an HDR shot, but I wanted to enjoy the moment, so I was fine with the blown-out petals.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Fallen - Day 76 of 365

The Fallen (76 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.
I went to dispose of my sunflowers last night because they were dropping whithered petals all over the place and I just couldn't do it without getting one last shot. Even in the current state, the flowers have extraordinary, interesting detail and color. So, I figured that I would take one last picture -- a tribute of sorts -- of the flower from Surreal Sun that brought me my first Explore on flickr.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lots o' Luck (75 of 365)

Lots o' Luck (75 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.

While I was brushing my teeth the other morning, I saw these jeans sitting on the counter (they belong to my wife) and I laughed when I saw all of the shamrocks and wishes of luck. I figured that they would make an "interesting" shot for St. Patrick's Day.

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tweed - Day 74 of 365

Tweed (74 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.
Just a simple shot tonight of the back of a tube/valve amp that I built a few years ago. Any guitar player who has played a while will be able to tell you that tubes/valves are the key to heavenly guitar tone. I built this amp based on the classic Fender 5E3 circuit (with a few mods) from the 1950s.

Sunset Goose - Day 73 of 365

(73 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.

One of my favorite things to do lately is go down to the water with my camera, sit on a bench, and feed the ducks and geese bread. I snapped this one while doing that. I am really loving the 85mm lens' ability to get close in on the geese (which are now comfortable enough to hang out a few feet from me). I took a bunch of shots, but ended up choosing this one because I loved the amount of feather detail and I loved the reflection in the water. I don't normally say it, but this one is best viewed at a large size so you can see the details in the feathers (and the beak). To do that, hit the "All Sizes" button above the picture.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Easter Dress - Day 72 of 365 (alt.)

Easter Dress (72 of 365 alt.), originally uploaded by lighthack.
This is from the same "session" as Easter Bunny (72 of 365). Once I cloned out some major boogers, I thought that it was pretty cute. So, I figured that I would upload it too.

Easter Bunny (72 of 365)

Easter Bunny (72 of 365), originally uploaded by lighthack.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Catching Light - Day 71 of 365

Theoretically, this one should have been fairly easy, but, once I got setup, I think it took me about 75 shots to actually "catch the light". Unlike my shot the other day (Surreal Light), this is straight out of the camera, there is not much post-processing on this one other than a little sharpening, some dodge&burn and a crop.

The lighting was pretty straight-forward on this one. A Nikon SB-600 flash through a softbox camera right and a little above (just out of the frame) to light me and another SB-600, bare and zoomed tight behind my hand pointing at the camera to create the flash of light in my hand.

Thank you

I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time lately to visit my Photostream, look at my photos, comment on them and "fave" them. Today has been quite a day. First, I woke up and learned that Surreal Sun (69 of 365) was "Explored" on flickr (my first time). Then, I learned that Sugar-Free (67 of 365) is, according to flickr, the fourth most "interesting" photo taken with a Nikon D90 right now. Last, tonight I found out that Sunflower Bokeh (68 of 365) was published in a KPBS newspaper article in San Diego (unfortunately, it was a sad article - my heart goes out to the family).

So, tonight I'm pausing to say thank you to everyone because without all of my great friends and contacts on flickr, I probably would have given up on my 365 Project after a couple of days. I genuinely appreciate all of your support and your kind comments. I also want to apologize because I am a bit behind in viewing and commenting on all of your photos. I promise that I will be spending extra time "paying" your kindness back with comments and faves. Also, if I can every do anything to help you out or answer any questions, please do not hesitate to shoot me a note.


PS - I took my 365 shot tonight, but I don't have the energy to process/post. It will have to wait until the morning.

Friday, March 12, 2010

flickr Addiction - Day 70 of 365

I was scrambling for a shot tonight and nothing was working out. As I was thinking, I caught myself looking at my phone at flickr to see what was going on. So, I decided to do a "self-portrait" of what I was up to at the time in order to get something photographed before midnight. I guess some days are just like that when you're doing a Project 365. This one isn't my favorite, but it definitely shows a piece of my day.

This shot actually may be more interesting from a technical standpoint than it is visually. My setup/thought process was as follows: (1) Light the phone/hand - I setup an SB-600 through a lightbox camera left and above (close in for a big, soft light source). I had to make sure to hold the phone in a way that the screen didn't reflect the light back at the camera. Once I had that the way I wanted it, I moved on to the background. (2) I setup the pieces of crumpled tinfoil from the other night in the background and aimed a green gelled SB-600 at the tinfoil. I adjusted the light until I liked the balance between the hand/phone and background. I also tweaked with the aperture to adjust the size of the bokeh (which forced me to adjust both flashes in equal proportions to the aperture adjustments). (3) Once the "strobed" portions of the scene were set, I worked on getting the screen of the iphone to photograph properly. I did this by adjusting the shutter speed -- which does not affect your "strobed" portions of the scene. Basically, I slowed down the shutter speed until it was open long enough to let the light from the screen "burn in" and balance with the flashes. I was working in a dark room, so ambient was not a factor. There you have it. Also, I used auto-focus, which was easy here because the screen was the only light, so the autofocus saw only screen light and focused on it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Surreal Sun - Day 69 of 365

A sunflower for a second day in-a-row? Yep. It was incredibly rainy and dark all day in Atlanta today, so I decided to create my own sun again.

I've had our sunflowers up high on the mantle so the cats can't get at them, which has forced me to appreciate the underside of the flowers more than I normally would. I figured that it would be cool to do a shot of a flower from the bottom up for a change.

I originally shot this on a white, blown out background. But, when I got it to the computer, it was really uninspiring. So, I decided to figure out how I could spice it up a bit. I started by getting rid of the white background and inserting a sky in place of the white. Then, I decided to take the colors beyond what you would typically see in the real world for some extra pizazz. Looking at it now, it reminds me of something from that show Pushing Daisies because of the colors.

For the sky, I used Tehran Sky from Hamed Saber (utilizing its creative commons license). I really loved the clouds in the photo. You should check out Hamed's photostream for some cool shots.

The flower was lit with an SB-600 through a 24"x24" softbox, which was camera left and close, but a little above the flower.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sunflower Bokeh - Day 68 of 365

I decided to do a sunny, springtime shot tonight because it was so nice out today. Unfortunately, by the time that I got home from work, there wasn't any sun to play with. So, I decided to go with sunflowers and blue bokeh instead.

SB-600 into a 24"x24" softbox camera left right next to the flower. Another SB-600 behind the flower with two blue gels fired into a wall of crumpled tinfoil to create the background bokeh effect.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sugar-Free - Day 67 of 365

Sugar-Free (67 of 365)

I've seen a couple of shots of sugar being poured on strawberries on flickr lately. I'm not sure why this is popular, but I thought it was kind of cool, so I decided to do the healthier, sugar-free version.

Strobist info: SB-600 flash camera left through a 24"x24" softbox. SB-600 flash camera right through a grid spot for some added fill. I could have frozen things a bit more by going with lower power settings on the flashes (for a shorter pop), but I wanted a little bit of motion in the sugar.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Looking for Love - Day 66 of 365

Looking for Love (66 of 365)

I went and sat on a bench down by the water tonight before sunset. The ducks and geese were my best friends because I brought a couple slices of bread with me. This guy was one of the many male mallards showing off and wondering why there were so few females. I counted 11 males and 5 females. Poor guys. I remember way too many parties with ratios like that when I was in college.

I think this is three natural light shots for me in a row. I think I might get back to flashes tomorrow night (I'll probably be forced to b/c it's back to work tomorrow). As with yesterday's shot, I messed with this a bit in photoshop to try for a more vintage, less digital, feel.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pods - Day 65 of 365

I photographed these Sweet Gum Tree pods when I went to my old house today to check on it for the week (it's for sale still). These pods were all over the place. When I picked one up and looked at it, I was amazed at the amount of detail in each one, so I decided to take a few pictures and see how they would come out. I also like the texture of the deck railing that they're sitting on (even though it reminds me that it needs a new coat of paint).

This is another natural light photo -- just a hand-held snapshot. I used my 85mm f/1.4D lens on this. At first, I had it stopped down to 1.4, but the DOF was far too narrow to have an interesting background. So, this one was taken around 5.6. When I looked at it on the big screen, I liked how detailed the pods turned out. As with yesterday's picture, I messed with this one a little in photoshop to try to highlight the details a bit and emphasize the harsh textures in the pods.

Friday, March 5, 2010

i luv txtN - Day 64 of 365

Ava wasn't feeling well enough for daycare today, so I stayed home from work and we hung out. She thought that my blackberry was the coolest thing. (I'm sure she won't let her inability to read, write or speak more than a couple dozen words get in her way of figuring out how to text someone :.)).

Nothing too fancy about this shot, just sunlight coming through the window as far as light goes. The 50mm 1.4D is a great lens for shooting indoors with available light (f/2.2, ISO 800 and Aperture Priority Mode). I also messed around with it in Photoshop when I got it into the computer (obviously).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

There's No Place Like Home - Day 63 of 365

I saw Ava's "ruby slippers" sitting around tonight and I decided to go with a Wizard of Oz theme.

This is pretty much the same setup as Bokeh Frog (56 of 365) (one SB-600 flash with a grid spot shining down on the shoes and Christmas lights in the distance for some bokeh). I went with holding the camera by hand with a longer shutter speed (instead of a tripod) to soften the background a bit.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm this many... - Day 62 of 365

I'm this many... (62 of 365)

I snapped this while Ava was sitting in her favorite chair and telling me how many years old she is. I thought that it was really cute, so I decided to go with it as today's picture. A side benefit of using this as today's picture is that I get to go to bed early tonight. Staying up late taking pictures for my Project 365 has really started to wear me out, so I am looking forward to a full night's sleep tonight.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jasmine - Day 61 of 365

Jasmine (61 of 365)

Wow, what a night. I had some "great" ideas, but nothing really looked up to par by the time that they made it to the camera. I just checked and I shot 125 pictures tonight and wasn't satisfied with any of them. So, I was in a bit of a panic to get something that was, in my opinion, at least a little bit interesting. That's when I looked down and realized that Jasmine, who had been enthusiastically helping me all night long, should be the star of the show tonight. You've met Ivan in previous pictures, here's Jasmine. My Mom bought Jasmine for me when I moved to Georgia several years ago because I didn't know a single person down here and she thought that I needed a friend.

Lighting is fairly simple here, just an SB-600 flash fired through a 43" white umbrella camera right and slightly above (you can see the umbrella in her eye). One interesting note is that I had to fire the flash with an RF-602 wireless radio trigger because Jasmine's reflexes were too fast for the Nikon CLS pre-flashes (CLS is Nikon's optical remote flash trigger system). When I tried to fire the flash with CLS, Jasmine's eyes were half closed by the time that the flash went off every time.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fire and Water - Day 60 of 365

I was somewhat at a loss as to what to shoot tonight. So, I decided that I would go sit in my photo room with my camera and force myself to make a shot with the things in the room. This wine glass was still down there from She Loves Me Not (51 of 365). I also had some gels and grid spots sitting around. So, I decided to have a go at it.

In the end, it's not exactly what I would call "art". But, I did get to learn a little bit about using gels on my flashes, which is something that I've been meaning to play around with.

There is an SB-600 flash with a 1/8" grid spot and a blue gel shot against the back wall (it is a white wall). There is another SB-600 flash with two orange gels (both full CTOs) and another 1/8" grid spot shooting straight down on the wine glass. The flash shooting the glass was a little much, so I held a white paper towel between the flash and the glass for this shot.