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Let there be light!

Published January 14th, 2012

Tonight's self-assignment was light.



I've taken a number of natural light images, and while there is always a challenge to overcome, I do OK at it. Tonight I wanted to play around with my Nikon SB-700 Speedlights, off camera.



Since I've been wanting to photograph a still-life with some of my Japanese items, I figured this would be a good opportunity.



But first, a window. Or at least, a fake window.



I have been asked to shoot a couple of glamor sessions for some friends, so one of the things I wanted to do was try and recreate a warm afternoon sun, but without the sun, at anytime of the day. So, I cut a fake window out of a cardboard box, attached it to my light stand with some spring clamps, and put the orange filter that comes with the flash on the SB-700. It took a couple tries, but you can see that when I dialed back the flash a fair amount (I was -1 EV in flash compensation) it actually worked. If I put a barn door/flap on my flash, i think I can cut back on some of the spill past the "window frame". However the warmth and light amount itself was pleasing to me.



The next shots are the still lifes. You may notice a blue tinge to them. Yeah, I forgot to check the WB, it was set to tungsten and I was shooting flash. Fixed it in post, as you can see in the final image.



Because of the upcoming glamor shots, I wanted to get some practice at low-key lighting, shooting a light at an acute angle, as well as black out the background. After some error (not much trial), a quick phone call to a photographer friend (thanks Scott Wood Photography!!), I had some initial setting to work with.



The first two images are of a saké set and a shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute). The next images are of my Iaito, or practice sword for Iaido, the art of drawing the sword, as well as the same sake set. Also included is a B&W rendering of it, as well as the out-of-camera blue-tinged version, which has it's own appeal.



I finally settled on the last one, after changing the white balance, increasing clarity and pulling some of the highlights down. But that's pretty much right out of the camera.



Lessons learned:
Check WB
Lighting / flash can be fun

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Untitled

Nikon SB-700 Speedlight shot through a cardboard "window", covered with the orange filter that comes with the Speedlight. -1 EV flash compensation.

  • January 11th, 2012
  • Nikon D200
  • 70mm / f/4.5 / 1/60 sec
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Untitled

This was my first shot. As you can see, my settings to try and black out the background were a failure. A quick call helped it immensely. Also, I needed to add a black "reflector" to the area immediately behind the items, where the door/door-jamb are, as the flash spilled and cast a highlight on the wooden floor..even with a barndoor on the flash.

  • January 13th, 2012
  • Nikon D200
  • 50mm / f/22 / 1/250 sec
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Untitled

The final image of that set. Nikon D200, Nikon 18-70 lens @ 55mm, f16, 1/200th sec. White balance adjusted in LR4Beta.

  • January 13th, 2012
  • Nikon D200
  • 55mm / f/16 / 1/200 sec
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Untitled

One of the first images with the sword. Seemed empty, so I added another saké cup, and pulled the blade a little. WB adjusted in post.

  • January 13th, 2012
  • Nikon D200
  • 55mm / f/20 / 1/200 sec
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Untitled

This is how they were originally shot...I had WB set to tungsten. The blue does impart a certain foreboding, in my opinion. I actually like this one.

  • January 13th, 2012
  • Nikon D200
  • 55mm / f/4.5 / 1/50 sec
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Untitled

I desaturated all the color channels, increased grain and size/roughness. It's OK, but nothing special, in my opinion.

  • January 13th, 2012
  • Nikon D200
  • 55mm / f/11 / 1/60 sec
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Untitled

Oops...a dupe, but I can't remove this w/o having to u/l all the images again and redoing the captions. But it allows for a nice "side by side" comparison with the final image, which is the one I like best.

  • January 13th, 2012
  • Nikon D200
  • 55mm / f/11 / 1/60 sec
5

Untitled

After adjusting the white balance, I brought down some of the highlights.

  • January 13th, 2012
  • Nikon D200
  • 55mm / f/11 / 1/60 sec

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