Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘sb800

ASL Handshapes

with 12 comments

I have some friends who are teaching an American Sign Language class and needed a photographer this past weekend. In ASL, signs are constructed using a limited set of specific hand shapes. They needed each hand shape to be photographed for use in the class’s course materials, including the class website and various keynote presentations.

Photos needed to be done on-site, so I had lug my equipment over. My goal for the lighting was to make the hands look as dimensional as possible. I didn’t want the the lighting to be too flat, and I wanted it to be easy to determine what shape the hand is making in every shot. I have one SB-800 hitting the background, one SB-900 unit firing from above, and a light-stand below holding a silver reflector. The image above is just a screen capture from the Library module in Lightroom 3 Beta.

Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135 f/2.8

UPDATE:

I’ve received a few requests to make prints of this hand shape chart available for ASL instructors. If you’re interested in purchasing a print or poster of this chart, head over to asl.jonathanflemingphotography.com.

Written by Jonathan

March 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Suki’s Night Walks

leave a comment »

I take Suki on shorter walks during lunch, but we usually go for longer strolls at night. This particular walk was a little more difficult for me because I was hauling some camera gear on my shoulder while out on the town, but I wanted to get a nice night shot of Suki for my 52 week Flickr project. The image above didn’t quite make the cut as my selection for week 3 of the project.  I really like this shot of her, but the fact that it’s ever-so-slightly front-focused bothers me.

Someone on Flickr asked me if I took my latest shot of her using available city light. I was glad he asked, because that’s exactly how I wanted it to look! At this spot, there wasn’t nearly enough ambient to get this kind of image, so I used a couple of carefully placed, gelled speedlights to help me out.

At times I hear photographers complain that they don’t like the look of flash and and so they shy away from using it. I say they’re missing out! Perhaps when they’re referring to “the look of flash,” they mean the harsh, bare, unflattering light that comes straight from camera axis. But “artificial” light can be modified: softened, directed, colored, and controlled to achieve a desired look. Using it creatively opens up endless photographic opportunities that simply wouldn’t be possible by relying solely on the sun or the crummy light radiating from a street lamp.

So get to know your flash! It can take your photography to the next level.

Barbie Repro

with 3 comments

Click on Image for Larger Version

Bridget had this Barbie made just for her, how cool is that? She’s made of porcelain instead of plastic, and her hair is meticulously hand-made. She asked me to take a few photographs of Barbie, and these are a few from the set I shot for her.

All of these images were made around the same time of day, using an SB-800 and SB-900, both bare and wirelessly (Nikon CLS) triggered . Different white balance settings and use of gels helped me change the color of the background, which is basically the sky through a window as the sun sets.

Bridget has a flickr set for all the Barbie’s she’s collected here.

Nikon D300s + AFS Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8, SB-800 + SB-900

Written by Jonathan

December 27, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Orchids

with 2 comments

Nikon D300s + AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G at f/18, ISO200 1/200 Second / SB900 (camera L) +1.7EV, SB800 (camera R) -0.7EV

We have some lovely orchids in our bathroom that recently bloomed, and Bridget’s been after me to take a photo of them. Seeing as I’m still getting over this nasty cold that I’ve been fighting all week, which has been keeping me indoors and preventing me from heading outdoors for photography, I decided today was a good time to make an image of these flowers.

Until I started getting more comfortable with hot shoe flashes, I relied solely on natural light for flower shots (or any kind of still life for that matter….or any kind of photography for that matter….). The sun had already set when I started shooting the orchids, so natural light was not an option. Sometimes, you just gotta roll your own light! This shot was taken using the pop up flash on the D300s set to command an SB-900 high on camera left and an SB-800 low on camera right. Both flashes are firing first through dome diffusers followed by a light tent that is housing the flowers. I shot in manual so I could set a shutter speed that would prevent ambient light from effecting the exposure while setting an aperture that would give me long depth of field for this macro shot.

Speaking of macro, it’s been quite a while since I’ve used my Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G lens. I forgot what an amazing piece of glass it is. Focus speed is absolutely silent and feels instantaneous, even in low-light. To think I considered selling this thing!

Once again, the photo looks amazing in Lightroom and just so-so on WordPress. Can’t figure out why!

Written by Jonathan

November 26, 2009 at 7:50 am

From the Hot Shoe

with 4 comments

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/5.6 ISO200 1/30 Second, SB-800 on Camera

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/5.6, ISO200 1/30 Second, SB-800 on Camera

Ok, so after we got home from work last night, I was photographing some items for Bridget that she wants to list on Ebay, and I decided “hey, I like your hairdo today, let’s take a couple pictures of you.” After she lamented that her makeup was smudging off and she wasn’t happy with the way she looked, we got started anyway. =)

With a single, ceiling mounted lamp providing ambient light, there’s no way we were going to make a pretty photograph without flash, so I mounted my SB-800. Is it possible to produce soft, pretty light with a flash mounted on the lens’s axis? One of the photos above might make you think not.

The photo on the right was taken with straight, bare flash on the camera set to i-TTL (intelligent through the lens metering). And there you have it: a nearly two thousand dollar camera making a properly exposed, aesthetically disastrous photograph. The harsh, straight light hits my poor wife right in the face, creating hot spots, flattening her features and widening her face, lighting up her ear like crazy (which draws the viewer away from her eyes), and casting unflattering shadows, including a big huge mass of dark ugliness in the background behind her. Yuck. And it’s my fault, not hers nor the camera’s.

Small light sources produce harsh light, and camera mounted flash fired straight at a subject kills depth and dimension. For the shot on the left, I used the same settings in the camera, but tilted the flash head 90 degrees, pointing straight up. Turning the camera vertical, the flash was now firing straight into a large white wall to my left. The camera and flash took care of nailing the exposure for me (though I did dial down the flash power just a tad after a test shot). Now, the light is popping off the SB-800, spreading, then hitting a large white surface, spreading even more, and then coming down and sideways across my subject, producing light that is directional, soft, even, and dimensional. It’s like a big fat soft box, without the soft box.

I guess the moral of the story is….for the love of all that is good, do everything you can to avoid firing on-camera flash straight at your subject! Unless, of course, you’re not particularly fond of your subject ;)

 

Written by Jonathan

October 27, 2009 at 8:15 am