Thursday, March 31, 2011

Session With The 85mm

I was able to setup a practice session with Canon's EF 85mm f/1.8 last Sunday. The place where the session we went to was indeed nice and have probably lots of potential spots to shoot. But due to the private and high-class nature of the place, I was on my toes for anyone that might make us wrap-up prematurely. Brought  along the kids during the practice session to add a little distraction.

I've planned to shoot with ambient light only and some flash when possible. Oh well, the ambient light setup was a bit tricky as the afternoon was overcast. Moreover, add some wind and drizzle into the mix.

See what I mean? Though it wasn't drizzling when the photo above was taken. We were able to take shelter on a small play area for kids when it drizzled. It was a nice area as it has an open door and huge windows where an adult can easily pass through. It's a good opportunity for good light but if I were to consider the direction where the light should come from and and the subject's position, it meant I should be out of the play area?! Come on, it's drizzling outside.. =) Here's a couple of shots:

f/3.2, 1/100sec, ISO 200
Both photos were retouched to remove some blemish on the skin as the light direction emphasized it. Additionally, the corner where these two photos were taken was dark and it drowned the her into the background. I fired a flash behind her which is more evident on the second photo to give space between the subject and background. I liked how the black and white post processing worked on the image and the accent made by the flash behind her. =)

After the drizzle, we went back to the hut where we left our stuff and went on a break. After a light meal, we tried to get some snaps with one of the support beans of the hut. I had my 4-year old daughter hold up the flash for me when I took this shot. What a dandy light stand. =)

f/3.2, 1/320 sec, ISO 200 +  flash with diffuser cup
Jolly after the snack. =) We then headed out again since the drizzle had finally stopped but still very overcast. We found some steps and leveraged the steps for a different angle -- from a low point of view.

f/3.5, 1/160, ISO 200
The spot on the steps was very windy and we decided to look for a better spot. We strolled further after steps and found this green bench beside a tree. The sun was behind the tree and the bench in front of the tree. It's a good spot indeed. The sun peeked a little from behind the tree and somehow gave a slight rim light on her on the following photo below:

f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 800
I wanted a shot seeing the green bench and how it complemented the green background and the flowery dress.Using the wind too to open up her face a bit.

f/3.5, 1/125 sec, ISO 200
f/3.5, 1/125 sec, ISO 200
It was a fun practice shoot with the 85mm but as I reviewed the photos, I was a little disappointed on the sharpness of the photos. Since the 85 is a longer focal range that I am used to using -- 17-50mm, it's really important to take note of the DOF and should be careful where to focus. Still the day ended well, a little exhausted but truly worthwhile.

f/5.6, 1/50 sec, ISO 800
Well, I guess I will be looking forward for another practice shoot with the 85mm. =) The next photo is not taken with then 85mm but I just thought it's worthwhile to post the cast and crew (supportive wife and adorable kids). =)

f/5.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 400, flash bounced on roof of the hut

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Coffee Assignment

I am a part of a young and passionate photography club called Quezon City Photography Club (QCPC). It's a growing club in the city where I currently reside.

One of the club members wanted to start of with something like of a contest or some sort and we ended up having a monthly themed assignment. For the month of March, we have a coffee-based theme.

I joined this activity to push my creativity and as well as to develop more my photography skills. It's really a part of learning I guess. When this theme was announced, it came to my thought that for sure there'll be lots of coffee cups and saucer and teaspoons photos. I wanted to be different so I thought of using coffee beans. Using just coffee beans was too simple of a shot and I don't how to make it more interesting.

Then I remembered seeing an ad on the TV of coffee beans being roasted. I wanted to recreate this picture I have in mind.

So, I was able to loan a half-cup of coffee beans from a colleague of mine from work. Here's the result of my session with the loaned coffee beans.

Hot Beans

I wanted an effect that looked like that the coffee beans were recently roasted and are still venting off steam.
Hot Shot

Took a shot glass and I wanted the same effect as the one on top.
Spilled Beans

Tipped off the shot glass and still trying to get the effect on hot coffee beans.

Where did the smoke come from you might be asking. The smoke came from some incense and I waited for the smoke to be wafted towards the coffee beans for an effect the smoke comes from the coffee beans itself.

The one that I entered in our club's themed assignment is the 'Spilled Beans' as it has some other element in the photo which is the shot glass and making it not look too bare like on the first photo: 'Hot Beans'.

All photos were taken at 85mm, f/11.0, 1/200 sec, ISO 100, Off-cam flash with the setting below:

Black background and coffee beans were set on top of a glass table for the reflections on the beans. The snooted flash allowed the environment to be dark and only shed light onto the subject. The reflector bounced of some light from the snooted flash to fill-in some light on the right side of the photo where the shadow should have casted due to the position of the flash.

Position of the flash was considered for two things: 1) to get the texture of the coffee beans and 2) to shine light on the smoke just like the way I did on my smoke photography.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Flowers Delight!

Over the weekend, my wife together with my two daughters and I, went to church early and ate out for breakfast as I wanted to go to the Orchids Festival that was just recently concluded last March 7, 2011. These were taken at the Quezon City Memorial Circle where the festival was held.

I wanted to be early so I can still have soft natural light and didn't want to use flash in this occasion. Indeed the day was blessed with magnificent light. I really like taking photos of flowers under ambient light. Flower photography is my first love in photography and I can't wait to get myself a true dedicated macro lens for this (but it has to wait for awhile).

So let me share some of my favorites which I am very happy to share with you along with some description of the photo.

Here's an orchid where my intention is to focus on only one or two blossoms and let the others in the cluster blur in the background. Though the other blooms are blurred, it retained it's general form, shape, and color suggesting that the only focused bloom is part of a group and not a solo.

f/3.2, 1/200sec, ISO 200

Here's another bloom where I intentionally took a shot of the top part only of the cluster and show the color and the remains of the previous night's rain on them.

f/3.2, 1/640sec, ISO 200

A close-up shot (not a macro) of a bloom from a cluster of orchid blooms where I intentionally shot only one to reveal the patterns and color of this particular bloom. Actually, if you can look closely, there seems to be an alien's face (similar to movies -- big eyes, small mouth, and probably a third eye on the forehead) there in the pattern.

f/3.2, 1/320sec, ISO 200

This particular bloom is quite interesting for me as this variety is very seldom seen. The common color of this bloom is pink. I am actually trying to grow the common variety of this in our garden.

f/4.0, 1/125sec , ISO 200

I remember that this is my second shot from the series of photos that I have taken from this trip. My wife actually spotted this particular bloom for it's peachy color. The shallow DOF was intentional as I wanted to introduce dimension to the flower. I hope I achieved this. :)

f/2.8, 1/125sec, ISO 100

Ain't that delightful? Thank you for viewing. I hope you were enjoyed the photos as I enjoyed taking photos of them.

Share your delight and mine by sharing this blog entry to your friends.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Studio or Not?

Previously, I posted my favorite photo from a recent portraits photoshoot session here. That was ambient light only. These ambient light only shots were only additional shots after the actual session.

Here are some of those studio shots -- not!

I was commissioned to do some portraits to be used for a debut invitation. Client wanted a studio session but I didn't have one so I improvised. The client was willing to go to our place and I planned out where the shoot will take place and I've picked our veranda which was spacious enough to move around and of course it has lots of good ambient light!

I didn't rely only on the ambient light that's coming from the left of the subject. I had to mix it with artificial light from my flash. I positioned it at the subject's right side to act as a filler so I'll have two sides with light. Balancing the output of the flash was a bit tricky since I have one light source that's varying in intensity as the clouds move across the sky. :) I guess that's why on the first photo, the right side has a warmer (yellow-orange) light.

Here's an overview of my setup. Can you see Mr. Sun on the right side smiling? :)

I would like to have more opportunities to have this kind of sessions in the coming weeks. :)

By the way, I did edit a little on the background to make it that white and remove the not so visible creases on the white cloth used in the background.

Original Background Edited Background

With additional lighting, I could have done it without any editing. Next stop, additional light. :)


Saturday, March 05, 2011

Beautiful Ambient Light

Last weekend I was able to take another portraits session and I just want to share this ambient light that I was able to use -- soft and just beautiful.

Sharp Eyes

It even created wonderful catch lights on the eyes and casted soft shadows. It's one truly a softbox made in heaven.

This was taken in full shade at around 11:00 AM where the sun is probably almost peeping from the edge of the roof where we were.