Saturday, September 4, 2010

Watch Your Wallets...

The carnival is in town.

Nikon d40
18-55 lens (again, sigh)
ISO 400
natural light, spot metering

How does one follow up on Scott's post from yesterday?
I decided the only way I could possibly bring up with rear would be to go BIG. And by big I mean three stores big.

Three days ago my daughter and I noticed that the carnival was in town. I knew immediately that I wanted to take some nighttime photos of the carnival. All the lights, screams of the the wild teenagers, the smell of imitation cheese on the nachos and fried dough for the funnel cakes. Who can possibly resist a carnival?

Tonight gave me that opportunity. Daughter and husband safely at home with my mom, my dad and I ventured out to the wild world of the carnies. We met up with Scott and made our first outing as a team for 3C1D. My dad was a trooper and followed me around, carrying my tripod at times and listening to the endless photography jargon.

This photo was the 10th picture I took. Went on to take another 40. When will I learn to quit early?
I immediately went to the Ferris wheel upon arrival. I waited for the ride to fill so I could watch the lights swirl in motion. As the carnies loaded all the teens, I tweaked. Adjusting shutter speed and aperture until I had what I felt would work once Big Beauty was in full motion.
When the time came I left the tripod behind and instead laid on the grass using my body as a tripod.
The trick to going sans tripod is to place as much of yourself on the ground or a wall (as a second choice). If you're standing make sure your knees aren't locked and you take a big breath before shooting. At this shutter speed the slightest movement would make the photo blur.

My first attempt at nighttime carnival or light shots. So much to learn and so much fun.
I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend. Sere will be posting something wonderful tomorrow. Let's all be sure to congratulate her on photographing her first wedding tonight.


*the references to carnival workers were made tongue in cheek. I love the carnival and all it's workers.*

Friday, September 3, 2010

When it Feels Like Life is Passing You By

Canon 30D
Canon EF-S 18-55mm
Shutter Speed 2 Seconds
Aperture f/20.0
Focal Length 18mm
ISO 400
Speed Light and Natural Light
Manual Mode

The genesis of this photo is Brandi's post on her other blog. She wrote about something we all go through from time and time and she did it with the typical grace and personality that only Brandi can show. I was moved by her words for many reasons and I thought about how I might try to duplicate those feelings with a picture. What I came up with is not quite in the spirit of what Brandi was saying but the process began with her post.

The next step was me thinking about ways to improve our experiment and increase the attraction of our little home on the web. My thought was that we need to include people more often. I love photographing a sunset as much as the next guy. But people are fascinating in so many ways. Photographing people is equally fascinating and all four of us could use some practice. After a few hurried emails and texts we decided on a small change. So, with that somewhat disjointed introduction, I present to you the debut of "Friday Faces!" Hence forth, every Friday there will be a face on 3chicks1dude. It can be any face but the rule of connecting somehow to the previous post is still in effect. Who knows, maybe one of you will be on here someday - I certainly hope so!

With my first face picture I decided on a self-portrait. I did this partially because of my feelings on life passing by faster than I can keep up but also because it would tie in to what Brandi posted a few days ago. I can honestly say that my expression sums up perfectly my day on September 3, 2010. It was an exhausting and stressful day and the world indeed felt like it was moving much faster than I. I'm thrilled this turned out because I only looked at the camera 3 times (it was better that way, trust me).

Which brings me to set-up. For this shot, I used a Joby Gorillapod wrapped around the side view mirror. I had my remote trigger hooked up and my speed light in my lap. I had to use manual mode to ensure consistent exposure. Headlights wreck havoc on the camera's meter. Now because my camera is 4 years old (and the model itself is 5 years old) I do not have a built-in remote trigger for my speed light. So I literally had to fire off the flash by hand. Summing up, I was steering with my left knee, pressing the shutter with my left hand and firing the flash with my right hand. To make matters worse, I had to hold the flash about 18 inches from my face to get the exposure right. For that reason, I see a purple dot in the center of my view as I sit here and type this post. Thank God I drive an automatic! BUT, I was wearing my seat belt!

Once I had the exposure tuned, I tooled around downtown Crystal Lake and fired off about 125 shots, sometimes turning, sometimes waiting for a car to go by. Once again, I got lots of looks. People walking by had to be wondering what the flash was that kept flooding my car with light! It was all worth it. This has to be one of my favorite shots I've posted yet. And aside from the fact that I have the world's largest Adam's apple, I don't even mind how I look.

I only had 1 scary moment as I flew down Rakow recklessly watching my camera slowly loosen from it's perch. Tip #1 kids: do NOT exceed 30mph with your camera clinging to plastic made in China and attached to your side view mirror. Just don't do it! I managed to pull over and remove my camera before anything bad happened.

My connection to Jay'me's lovely pictures of the ice are the striations in the cubes. It's something Jay'me herself pointed out to me. I immediately thought of my zzzooooommmm! post and how the time-lapsed lights were similar to the striations. One thing lead to another and next thing I knew I'm driving around wishing I had this lens but making due and getting several shots I liked in spite of my budget woes. For the record, that lens that I want isn't available yet, but if any of you want Christmas ideas for me, this lens will do. All kidding aside, this photo is a perfect example of using your brains and creativity to get a shot. I used the cheapest lens I own for this and yet it was just what I needed.

I'll wrap it up for now but make sure you check us out tomorrow. Brandi is sure to show her flair for photography and I for one can't wait!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Did someone say Bling - Aint no Thing?

BOY OH BOY ! Me & bling - not so much... I went for my daughters jewelery box and she's 6.
I've been working on another project and figuring out how to create "Clear" rock ice for it. (It's not easy). When I found a huge faux ring missing it's stone; I found my shot. Now the work and metamorphosis begins. HOW do I make this thing shine like BLING???
I'm not sure How this worked, But here it is...
Again, sorry for breaking our rules with multiple photos. However; I feel your comments may help me to compare them and learn about what it was I did here.

I worked in my kitchen dimming all but the spot lights over the sink area. Then I got busy finding the right spot to get this.

I worked this shot in shop. I went Black and white and bumped up the contrast.

Cannon Rebel
f 5.6
Flash on
ISO 400

This shot is interesting as it but the next was pretty cool too.

f .25
ISO 800

Last but not least... The MANUAL shot !

f 5.6
Flash on
ISO 800

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Who Likes A Little Bling??

Brandi's "flare" on her jacket made me think of bling. Not sure why, maybe it was all the little pins that it had on it. Those of you that know me, know that bling is not my thing, I don't typically swing that way. Go ahead and laugh, it was meant to be cheesy haha. But I do have a few things, so I went scrounging through my jewelry box and found something that might twinkle and flare. My first attempts were pathetically bad so I decided to wait for my husband to get home so we could have a pow wow together on what to do. I knew what I wanted, I just had to figure out how to get there. His brain though very different from mine complements my brain, between the two of us we can usually come up with something cool.

Nikon D90
Lens 50mm fixed
ISO 200
Apeture F3.2
Shutter 1/25 sec.
No Flash, ummm flashlight with filter

This was another one of those pictures where I had to look around and try to find something to photograph. "Bling" always reminds me of light and shiny things as does "flare".

For my set up we went downstairs to our basement and used one of those little kid tables. You know the ones where if any normal size adult were to sit down, their knees don't fit under the table. I placed a white sheet on the table and then used a couple of tri-pods to lift up the sheet so we would have a plain white background so as not to have anything interfer with the background. I then took a strand of white Christmas tree lights and placed them behind my main object for actual usuable light and to add some extra light interest in the picture. I am also trying to figure out how to blur tree lights so I can use that technique for our family Christmas picture. I snagged a crystal vase from my mother-in-laws curio cabinet and a necklace of mine from one of my good friend's weddings in which I was a bridesmaid. So there was my bling.

At first I tried to use my wireless remote Nikon Speedlights to flash on the object and give it some twinkle. Nikon has a system where my D90 is considered a commander and I can signal, wirelessly several different flashes that can be placed around what it is you are photographing. This is an awesome technique to use because I can get studio lighting in onsite locations without the mess of wires and fairly minimum equipment. You can also set each flash to a different strength, depending upong available lighting and what you want to do. Long story to say that I did not like the results with the flash. So Jonny had this great idea to use a small penlight for some straight, rather harsh lighting. We then placed several different colored filters over the penlight to give the light a different hue. Not completely satisfied with the results, but again this is a learning in process for me and I am definately stretching myself with these kinds of shots.

Let's see how Jay'me likes a little bling!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Did Someone Say Flare?

In Scott's previous post he mentioned sun "flare".
As soon as I read the word my mind immediately went to this scene in the famous movie Office Space.

After that quick chuckle in my brain, I thought about a long lost jacket. A jacket I had circa 1998. I was almost positive I still had my jacket and all my "flare". Much digging through old Rubbermaid containers ensued and sure enough, there it was. The jacket and the "flare".

Nikon d40
1/125 sec
ISO 200
34mm focal length
spot metering, natural light

This shot was probably the single hardest shot I've taken for this blog to date. In a perfect world I would have had someone either pose for me or take the photo for me. Fantasy world would had also brought me cooler temps, less wind and a slightly better location.
Alas, I do not live in a perfect world. I live in the real world. A world where it was 93 degrees with huge wind gusts. Talk about sweaty. And let's not forget, I no longer have a wireless remote after dropping it in the lake, so I was working with the 10second timer built into my camera. Not exactly convenient.

Here is a list of what it took to get this shot.
camera (obviously), tri-pod, light reflector (gold for added warmth), kitchen chair (to prop the reflector up), chip clip (to hold reflector in place on the chair), bag of charcoal (to anchor the reflector in place - I said it was windy) and lots of patience.

I spent the hot afternoon standing on the front stoop of my house for 30 minutes, setting and resetting my timer, taking photo after photo while waving at my neighbors as they laughed at me. I would have preferred a different location, maybe one with a little privacy, but the harsh sun today was more than I could compensate for being solo in my mission. So I chose the brick wall under the porch that offered some shade.
Post processing - I didn't do much. I really tried to watch my histogram while I was shooting so I would have appropriate exposure. Using the reflector gave that soft, warm, goldy glow to the photo. So all I needed was a quick sharpen (for web viewing) and a little cropping in Photoshop and I was set.
Lots of challenges for a seemingly simple photo. But, isn't that what this is all about?

Sere's coming up tomorrow. Where will she take my "flare"?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Still More Light Shows!

Canon 30D
Canon 24-70mm f.2.8L
Shutter Speed 1/2000
Aperture f/6.3
Focal Length 30.0mm
ISO 100
Natural Light...LOTS of natural light!

In response to Jay'me's awesome fire pic I decided it was finally time to post a wake boarding shot. I say finally because I have literally taken more photos of wake boarders than anything else. I have probably taken 5000 shots of wake boarders and I honestly haven't had a good one to show until now. It's remarkably difficult to get a good action shot that has interest, unless of course the target is your child or some other loved one. This time out was different.

First, I had tremendous backdrops, full of fantastic clouds and forest vista's. Second, the light was really harsh but plentiful. Furthermore, it often was coming from dead straight ahead and behind the subject, something I'm still learning to deal with (but it certainly was plentiful!). And lastly and most importantly, I had taken 4500 shots before this and managed to learn about a teaspoon of technique. So off we went down the Fox River early in the morning and off I went shooting 5 frames a second in a desperate rush to fill my CF card!

Once I had the images ready for editing, I was immediately drawn to the patterns in the water. I had 4-5 shots that were just begging for some attention. Before I dive into the editing I should share a bit more on the techniques and equipment I employed. Probably the single most important piece of equipment I used was the lens hood. The purpose of the hood is to minimize flare, which happens when stray light (non-image forming) hits the lens and creates artifacts in the image. Sometimes you want flare. It can be a fantastic artistic tool. Other times, you'd rather avoid it because it has a tendency to de-saturate images. I wanted to keep as much detail as possible so the hood was a must. The lens I used has a particularly large hood and top-notch optics, 2 things that I absolutely adore.

The second technique I used was to always keep an eye on the horizon to ensure a level shot. It really chaps my hide when I get a great shot but the image is skewed. You're only option it to straighten and crop and that sometimes leads to unwanted composition. It's just plain best to get in the habit of checking the horizon, and that's especially true on a boat.

Third, I set-up my camera for auto-shutter (5 frames a second) and set the focus to manual. The action happens so fast you just can't time it perfectly. As for the focus, it may be hard to believe, but it's much easier on manual focus for something like this. And it's easy to understand why. The rope is a fixed length and as long as you sit near it's anchor point, you will always be the same distance from the subject. So, focus once and forget about it. And you completely avoid the headache of your camera choosing to focus on background subjects and blurring the foreground (in this case the wake boarders). It's odd to mention this in light of the above picture as I clearly focused on the water. But I only took about 3 of these and the rest were focused on the wake boarder.

Lastly, I had to constantly adjust exposure as the lighting was constantly changing. The in-camera metering is only so good and when you have the sun blazing right into your lens you have to compensate and over expose a bit. It's something every camera struggles with and it's crucial to good images when lighting is tough. I just used the exposure compensation function on my camera and shot in aperture priority. This allowed a certain amount of control but left the shutter speed up to the camera. The conditions were just changing too quick for me to shoot in full manual.

Okay, so on to editing. The back lighting proved vicious in it's intensity and yet the patterns it created in the water were stunning. I knew I had to over expose while shooting but that meant compensating for contrast while editing. So, the first thing I did was convert to black and white. I find blown highlights can be quite dramatic and B&W really emphasizes that for me. Next, I overdid the contrast to bring out the patterns in the water and obscure the detail on the wake boarder. The boarders name is Jim and he's a great guy. But for this image, the star is the water (sorry Jim - next time it's you buddy). After getting the contrast right I sharpened more than I normally do. This works because the water is so complex and fluid (pun absolutely intended) and the artifacts sometimes created by over sharpening get lost. Still, you always have to be careful not to overdo it. Once that was done, I saved it and edited several others. This is the image you get. If you want to see the others, drop us a line and I'll gladly share.

So now, I get to wait 3 days and see what the Chicks' have lined up. Isn't this a blast? Time to rock out Brandi! Thanks for all of you checking out our humble little spot on the web and keep giving your feedback. We just love hearing from you.

light show of sorts

f 5.6
no flash
ISO 800

HEY! HEY! HEY! I have moved off of my AUTO setting and started to venture into a world of making it work for me... It's learn as I shoot time. I will really have to pay attention to get efficient at this. (Thank you Brandi for getting me started).
So, I shot tons of things this week. I worked a little on setting some shots up, but in the end something spontaneous won the blog spot.
We were enjoying an evening with family up at our family farm. It was a beautiful evening for a fire. I noticed as My brother-in-law threw logs on the fire the sparks were nicely rising straight up and not blowing towards anyone enjoying the fire. The only staging needed was having my brother-in-law "make the fire angry". He didn't mind stirring things up & like a happy caveman, he made me a firestorm. Thanks to him, I played with settings until I got this.
I could see this blown up huge and hung as mural piece in an edgy contemporary city dwelling.

Below is a quick oops I made before adjusting things on my camera. I could see how even our mistakes can eventually become artistic pieces we can make work for us. I was upset I missed this shot. However; now I see what happens when our setting are too open for our light source.
This was after saturating the photo in shop to see if there was anything in the almost white photo and here she is... It will take work and practice to get a balanced usable shot but it's a fun start.
She was holding a sweet yellow ducking on a beautiful day.

f 5.6
no flash
ISO 800