Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Faces - How Did Tigger Drown in the Toilet?

He was looking for Pooh!!!

Canon 30D
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L
Shutter Speed 1/200
Aperture f/7.1
ISO 100
Manual Mode
External Speed Light

I must start with a confession. When I made the suggestion to start shooting faces at least one day a week I was thinking of exactly what Brandi did here - taking shots of people we don't yet know. So far, all I've done is take a self-portrait and get a shot of my oldest son Ethan (pictured here laughing at my all-star joke). That's not exactly all that adventurous but the fact is today just wasn't built for me finding a stranger. Just couldn't do it, at this juncture (what the heck happened to SNL anyway? It used to be so good!).

Which leads me to this shot. As I was cleaning up dinner, Ethan says "Daddy! What a beautiful sunset!" After checking it out myself and totally agreeing, a light bulb went off and I thought about how I've always wanted to expose a sunset correctly and still get a well-exposed portrait. Eureka! Here was my chance!

If you're scratching your head, here's a bit more of an explanation. Cameras have light meters built into them. The purpose of the meter is to tell either the camera or the photographer how much light you have and what your exposure settings need to be. It is because of the light meter that your camera knows to keep the shutter open longer when there isn't much light and to snap it shut quickly when it's midday without a cloud in the sky. The camera might use aperture and ISO for the same purpose. Most of the time the camera does a bang up job (regardless of the make). However, there are situations that will just mess up your meter and need to be handled with a bit more effort. For example, a snowy field has got WAY to much white for your meter to expose correctly and will result in your camera thinking there is more light than there actually is. I imagine a black sand beach would have the opposite effect.

With this shot, it was difficult because Ethan was back-lit. Furthermore, I wanted the colors of the sunset to come through. Here's the issue - if I set up to meter Ethan's face, my camera would have kept the shutter open for quite some time in order to expose correctly. The result would have been a completely blown out sky and most likely a blurry face owing to the long shutter speed. If I set up to meter the sky, I would have ended up with beautiful colors but a face completely engulfed in shadow.

Here's the solution. You must meter for the sky and use a flash to illuminate Ethan's face. Bingo bango bongo, you have a portrait that most people can't figure out how to do! The only thing I wish I had is a gel to warm up the flash. Maybe next time.

So there you have it folks. I promise next time I will try to get a stranger. In the meantime, Ethan was a fantastic model and I got to try another new technique. TGIF!


  1. You are a bad ass! This shot is so hard to get. Well done!
    And now I'm realizing that I'm up tomorrow. Hmmmm.....Does anyone else feel sick?

  2. Thanks Brandi. I had a great little model this time too! You should have seen him strutting. It was awesome. And you're going to hit another home run I'm sure.

  3. Nice shot! & I agree with Ethan, that was a beautiful sunset! Ethan is like the rebirth of the falling sun here. What a great way to share a sunset, laughing it up with your little man and his bright smile!

  4. Yes, that was me above !

  5. I think I should have used a relector held underneath Ethan's chin, about chest high. That would have softened those shadows a bit. Next time...

  6. Hmmm... you could have used the reflector if a certain friend didn't have it on permanent loan. Gosh, that friend is a pain.