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Old Dec 31, 2014, 1:24 AM   #1
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Default Some Recent Shots & Thoughts

Some recent shots, just for fun.

First - snow, Las Vegas style (K-S1, DA15 Ltd)



Second - snow, Frazier Park style, taken this afternoon (K-S1, DA40 Ltd)



More from Las Vegas (K-S1, DA15 Ltd)



Then we have a pretty sunrise:



I recently bought a set of Cactus V5 flash triggers. I decided that I really needed to learn more about flash. In the past I would get lousy results when using a flash either on the camera or triggered wirelessly with the on-board flash as controller and then give up. I thought if I got the wireless (RF) triggers, maybe I would get reasonable results. Also, since they are simple triggers, I would be forced to use the flash either in A or M mode. When I was asking about such things on a different board, someone said something that suddenly made manual flash understandable, even relatively simple to understand.

Another person brought up Strobist 101. I had tried to read through it before but was missing some of the suggested equipment and was also missing some really basic concepts, so I had gotten frustrated and gave up.

This time I started reading through it, and it made a huge amount of sense. While I'm still missing some of the pieces he suggests you get right away, I have others and decided to play around today (I have a cold, it was in the 20's and snowing today so I didn't venture outside).

All I can say is "Wow!" I tried a variety of things, made a ton of mistakes, and learned a lot from the exercise. Flash will be as much of a fun, long-term journey as all the rest of photography is for me. Change a position or something else and the whole thing changes - very cool.

I have some challenges in the house - almost all of the walls in my house are either covered with something (paintings, bookcases, windows, furniture), and the ceilings are all wood (tongue and groove upstairs, finished floor joists downstairs), so I've never used bounce flash much. Today I used the one corner that had white walls to experiment with. I had a table lamp on, so the light was mixed.

Some of my mistakes - be careful what your subject is. If it is glass, don't place the flash close to the wall behind it and try to bounce it: (K-S1, 100WR macro)



Are you laughing heartily at the sight of the flash? Horrid light, too.

Moved the flash back, so that it was against the table the subject was on gave reasonable results, though the color is off, the influence of the lamp. I'd need a second flash to make this type of thing work, I think.



Another one that has a problem. This one would have been reasonable if the subject wasn't a small crystal top to a small bottle. The color is correct. If you look at it closely, you'll be able to see the flash on the upside down dresser in the subject. I had the flash pointed toward a white wall so the right side of the subject light instead of it being in shadow. If it hadn't been that you can see where my flash is, and a dresser isn't the best thing to be reflected in a subject, the picture would have been nice, I think.



I did manage a decent picture early on, though there's some hot-spots - hard to avoid when your subject is crystal and silver. (K-S1, DA40 Ltd)



My final photo of the top, taken with the 100WR. There are things I like about this one and things I don't. I like the mixed lighting and how it came out. However, I didn't like the background - vertical blinds are not something you want reflected in your subject.



At that point, I decided I needed to call it a day. Next time I'll try the same thing with a subject that's not so shiny and that doesn't invert the scene behind/around it!

This exercise was very informative - I took pictures where the flash was the main light, some that had the light from the flash and the table lamp more balanced, and watched how it changed the shade of blue. I learned techniques how to do both. It makes me realize just how much there is to learn about flash, and how useful it can be, when it's done right.

I really love the DA15 Ltd lens because it's so easy to be creative with it. Flash looks like it will be the same thing - an easy way to be creative. I've got a long way to go before I can really feel comfortable and know what I'm doing with it. Now back to the Strobist and to anxiously wait for my second flash to arrive from keh.
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Old Dec 31, 2014, 8:56 AM   #2
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You certainly picked one of the most difficult subjects to experiment with. Objects that are both reflective and refractive are pretty much impossible to shoot without unwanted reflections unless you are using a light tent, or can control the scene sufficiently to make the reflections a point of interest. I think I would choose something a little easier for my experiments! Pretty soon, you are going to have a house full of strobes, umbrellas, softboxes and stands.
Enjoy the New Year.
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Old Dec 31, 2014, 11:57 AM   #3
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Brian - I figured that out. I've often thought vaguely of a light tent, many aren't that expensive. But then there will be storage problems, and how much will I really use it? Would I get bored with one quickly? It's not like I sell anything on ebay or anything. So I just think about it.

On the other hand, I can see my house filling up with strobes, umbrellas, softboxes and stands very quickly. I do NOT want to turn my living room into a studio. I'm just not interested in taking portraits and models and fashion. On the other hand, I live alone now so I don't have to worry about Dan objecting to filling the house with such things (he wouldn't have objected to me having them, just that storage is in such short supply that he would have objected to umbrellas blocking the TV and tripping over stands to get to the kitchen).

By the way, I ordered an umbrella, a stand and a second LumiQuest softbox for the second flash...
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Old Dec 31, 2014, 12:30 PM   #4
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For something temporary, just to play with, I have used fabric draped on a couple high-back chairs. This can be nice, because you can vary the colors and patterns, which could look pretty interesting with reflective objects.
Hobbies do tend to get out of hand - there are a couple rooms I don't enter due to my wife's fiber arts 'stuff'. Two looms, spinning wheel, quilting table and frames, carders, sewing machine & table, plus accessories, and all the various fibers, cloth and yarn.
To be fair, I have a room packed with computer gear in various stages of completion, and the entire basement full of wood and metal working equipment, as well as more electronics. (not to mention camera gear). In the rest of the house, we don't have walls, we have bookshelves.

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Old Dec 31, 2014, 12:34 PM   #5
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More lighting experiments, this time with an easier subject.

This first is with the bare flash bouncing off the ceiling. As you can tell, it's not a great idea because the color from the wood gives an odd color cast. I could try to adjust it in post processing, but that can be frustrating if you don't have something neutral in the frame. So I don't use it often.



The strobist talks about light modifiers and the difference between using a big omnidirectional light source and a small light source. There's a place for both. I never quite understood that concept before so while I bought a softbox for my flash, I never bought a globe. In Strobist 101 he talks about getting sweet and sour soup and using the container as a cheap globe. I didn't have sweet and sour soup, but I did have lobster bisque last night. Washed the container, put an X in the top and attached it to my flash. It's thinner plastic than it probably should be, and with some of my experiments I noticed very little difference between it and the bare flash. A little softening of the light but not much. Then I tried it with the flash pointing straight to the ceiling, like the above shot. I saw a huge difference then, most of the odd color cast is muted. Here's the shot more or less straight out of camera, using the same processing as the first one.



Changed the levels a bit in the above photo to increase contrast a bit and I think I have something that would be useful. If I were to use white for the table, I think I could have a nice white-on-white picture. What do you think? Does this work?



And finally, there's a place for hard light. For some reason I've always been attracted to it, I like high contrast pictures. But I've never managed to get mine to look like the ones that I think are fun. I thought that most of my problem was that I only had one flash, but now that I'm playing around with with bouncing light off of a wall, I can see more of what I like. I used the soup container with the flash to the side, pointing toward the wall above the subject. It was at an angle so I didn't get a huge amount of bounce, but I thought it was enough to add detail to the shadows.



I'm sure I've now managed to bore everyone else. And so many of you know all this already. But I'm just now discovering it all, and having a blast doing it. In many ways I wish I had figured all this out years ago (but then I might not be having so much fun right now). Looks like the first part of 2015 will be the time of flash.
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Old Dec 31, 2014, 3:06 PM   #6
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G'day MtnGal

I have found this post to be very interesting ~ thankyou

While you might thing the vertical blinds are a problem, I look at that image and see these cute lines running up the glass and wonder 'how did that happen - what smarts has the photographer used to get that effect?' ... so not all is 'bad'

Many thanks for your info
Phil
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