An Artists Communion Through A Lens

Posts tagged “Shutter Speed

Heavenly Light

First Baptist Church, Cary, North Carolina

Made this while walking on Academy Street to photograph dancers performing in Cary.

Classic “Sunny 16” within 1/2 stop of light due to partial overcast.

Set ISO to 100 for best quality image  & Aperture at f8 for single subject and lens sweet spot.

Shutter at 1/400th of a second keeps it sharp without a tripod and tree leaves still.  Increased exposure about 1/3 stop in edit


Manual Exposure Epiphany & A Sunday Walk

I’ve had a “Daily” folder of photographs since 2009.  The first were portraits of a contractor’s kids that came with Dad to see the finished addition he’d built us. Next  were thunder clouds & a plane on approach to RDU, made from a parking lot in Morrisville. I was starting to look around and see.  My Epiphany was taking control by using manual exposure to make the images I saw, instead of hoping the camera’s programmers knew what I was thinking.

My gateway to Manual Exposure was reading Bryan Peterson’s “Understanding Exposure” and reading The Ultimate Exposure Computer until I knew it.  Bought the first at Barnes & Noble, the other is a free download.  I’m not affiliated with Amazon, just wanted to show the book.

Understanding exposure is very straight forward but it takes some effort to learn a few ideas and then, practice to get used to them.  If you learned it with film, you still got it.  Like riding a bicycle.  That doesn’t mean you’ll qualify for the Tour de  Paris but you can probably get where you want to go.

So yesterday, like a lot of days since, I took along a camera and it wasn’t a paid shoot.  It’s the practice thing.  It’s the “how” part and the muscle memory and seeing which all need to be used or they atrophy.  It partly explains why I’ve been using the same brand and series of cameras since 2007.  I can and do use them in the dark, by feel.  The benefit from frequent camera use is getting rid of the self consciousness and preoccupation while out with the “really nice camera”.  It’s simply a tool, use it. That enables the good part, which brings us back to yesterdays walk.

What could be better on a beautiful Sunday afternoon before dinner than a walk?

Image 1 is “Buddy” who is a rescue dog and skittish about strangers and a regular on our walks.  While his owner does yard chores, he surveys his realm. Each time we’ve met, he has allowed us closer.  On this visit with his owner, he didn’t run away. He briefly ignored me when I knelt down to his nose level because my wife spoke to him.  I set exposure before I knelt, knowing he wasn’t staying put.  It was “Sunny 16” except for the patch of shade on him.  I got one frame before he moved away.  The good news is, his owner asked for my card and wants to have a family portrait made. Which is another reason to go walkabout with a camera.  I don’t take the trash out without a business card. Trust me, you’ll need it when you don’t have it.

  1. Buddy: Top Lit, hard sun & patches of shade, medium key, f8, 1/320, ISO 400.

01 Loop Walk

The next two images are two different mailboxes and two different exposures.

2.  Blue Clematis: Top lit, low key, shaft of sun light coming through trees like a spotlight, surrounded by shade.  Lit like a studio setup by Mother Nature, saw this walking down the street.  F8, 1/400 and ISO 100 so Sunny 16 except I swapped two stops of aperture for two stops of shutter speed in my exposure budget.

02 Loop Walk3.  Blue Clematis: Top lit with the soft diffuse light of heavy shade and some bits of hazy sun. Medium key, f2.8, 1/800, ISO 400 so Sunny 16 minus 4 stops.   A week ago, there was only one blossom.  Had to back up as my lens had a MFD ( Minimum Focus Distance) of 3 ft.  I used  the maximum aperture of f2.8 to emphasize the flat single plane of the blossoms in sharper focus from the rest of the background.  Shutter speed of 1/800 for wind picking up.

03 Loop Walk4. Hybrid Encore Azalea: These are still blooming and just like them. Back Light, hard direct sun, high contrast, low key.   F8 to keep the whole blossom sharp and I maxed my shutter to 1/8000 to make the background go dark, bumped ISO to 800 which is still pretty noise free.

04 Loop Walk

Image 5 is actually is two frames side by side to show the difference when you  move a little with the same exposure but different backgrounds. This is a flower box on our deck rail.  On the left image, I crouched down so the background was the dark tree canopy.  On the right, I stood up an swiveled a bit so the bright Tulip Poplar trunk was the background.  

5. Two Exposures of a violet flower: Top front light, hard sun, low and medium key respectively.  F2.8, 1/2500, ISO 200 or just about Sunny 16 except 2.8 to isolate the blossom from the background, almost 4 1/2 stops of shutter speed to offset the wide aperture and the wind and ISO 200 for a little bump in sensitivity.

05 Loop WalkI could have made all these images with Program, or Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority Modes but they wouldn’t have looked like I wanted.  Also and importantly, I could make one exposure decision and then frame with the zoom without having to recalculate for variable aperture.  All my lenses are constant aperture.

None of these will win awards but I have to make them to have a chance.

Gear used in this post: Pentax K5IIs camera, Pentax 50-135/2.8 lens.

Editing Tools used in this post: Adobe CC2015, Nik Collection, Pixel Genius Photokit, Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet, Pantone Huey Pro

 


Gallery

Made In The U.S.A.

Commercial product photography is rare for me but I’m always pleased when  clients call me back.  In the spring of 2014, I did a shoot for the website of Curtis Blake Leather.  This spring, their assignment was to photograph a new line of wine and beer totes with the idea of having some images for boutique magazine use.

01 CB 2016The first step, just like a portrait session, was to meet with the client, learn about the products, what they wanted and propose some ideas.  My client wanted to use a setting we’d used before.  It suited the products and it would help maintain a consistent look and feel with the existing web content.  I proposed some studio setups that would allow me to control the lighting more completely than an outdoor location.  We agreed on some approaches and I planned the shoots(s).

While the lighting was very different for the outdoor and indoor setups, some basics were the same.

To get the sharpest possible image, the camera was mounted on a tripod and the shutter triggered remotely.  I also used a shutter release with a 2 second delay and MLU ( Mirror Lock Up).  The tripod holds the camera still and the remote trigger eliminates vibration by not touching the camera shutter button.  When the shutter is tripped, the mirror in a SLR or DSLR flips up, introducing vibration. Locking the mirror up and using a 2 second delay before the shutter fires allows the mirror vibrations to dampen, maximizing sharpness. Mirrorless cameras eliminate this variable.

Outdoors, I used an aperture of f8. Generally 2 or 3 stops from the widest aperture is the sharpest or “sweet spot” of a lens.  I didn’t need a wide aperture to isolate the subject from background, everything was in the same plane of focus.

Lighting the outdoor images was a matter of balancing the ambient light with a pair of manual speed lights or hot shoe flashes.  Without the flashes, everything would look flatter and the texture of the leather barely seen.   With flash, I could establish the modelling and contrast I wanted, to show the product at its best. It was a simple setup with two remotely triggered flashes on light stands, camera left and right.  Ambient or daylight was part of the “fill” and the speed lights were “main” or “key”.  As always, I moved them and adjusted power to get the direction and ratios I wanted.  Instant review on a digital camera is the modern Polaroid test shot and it’s a wonderful tool.  While I didn’t make detailed notes of the lighting setup, I did use “snoots” to concentrate the flash output.  Using bare flash as a point source gave me the hard light I wanted to match the character of the leather.

Indoors was more complex to setup but simpler to light.  Ambient light was a non issue.  I set my aperture for f11, ISO 100 and Shutter for 1/160 so if there was no flash, the image was completely dark.  The only light that would be recorded would come from the flash.  When I had the set built, I put a single gridded light on a boom directly above the setup. Again, I moved it adjusted power to get the directions and ratio I wanted. The grid let me keep the light where I wanted on the product and off the background for the dramatic lighting ratio.

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Gear used in this post: Pentax K5IIs camera, Pentax 17-70/4 lens, Manfrotto 055XProB Tripod, YN-560III Speedlights, YN-560 TX Remote Trigger, Vello Wired Remote, Expoimaging Rogue Flash Grid & Flashbender, Impact Multiboom Light Stand and Reflector Holder, Savage 53″ Seamless Paper, Gaffers Tape

Editing Tools used in this post: Adobe CC2015, Nik Collection, Pixel Genius Photokit, Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet, Pantone Huey Pro