31 May 2013

How to Enlarge Your Lightsource for Softer Light, easily.

I did a little experiment this evening just to demonstrate how to make a really large lightsource and give much more even light on your subject than just blasting away with direct light.

I have two 65x65cm light boxes that are quite handy. So here is a pic of them set up pointing directly at a nice Dutch vase. The camera was on the tripod in front of the table.


From here it looks like that should make for some pretty good light on the vase, but as we can see in the next photo they also leave some not so great specular highlights on the vase and two distinct shadow areas behind the vase.


Not a bad photograph as such, but we can do much better than that! So, in order to increase the overall size of the light source I simply faced the lights up at the ceiling. Of course I also had to increase the power output of the lights because the light now had much further to travel and the inverse square law robs us of light very quickly when we increase the distance the light has to travel.


As you can see from the pic above the light has now been spread over a much larger area. So what has that done for our lovely Dutch vase?


Well the first thing you notice is that the ugly specular highlights have vanished and the light is much more evenly spread on the vase itself. The second thing is that the shadows behind the vase have also disappeared. Overall a much more pleasing result!

If all you have are two speedlights instead of the bigger studio lights then don't be disheartened because the exact same principle still holds true and will work just great. Simply pump up the power a bit and let 'er rip, it will have a similar wonderful softening effect on the quality of light.

Happy product photographing folks!

27 May 2013

Citadellkliniken in Landskrona


The Citadellkliniken in Landskrona is probably the most beautifully located clinic I have ever seen, nestled as it is on a piece of land jutting out into the Öresund, with a lovely beach on one side and gorgeous seafront parkland on the other. Taken at 22.37 with the sky still fairly bright from a sun that set at 21.27 it is resplendent in a golden glow that couldn't be more spectacular!

Tripod, Aperture Priority, f11.0, 10.0s exposure time chosen by the camera, ISO 200, quick run through DXO and then time spent in PSP X5 working on colour, contrast and sharpening.

25 May 2013

24 May 2013

Why I think shooting after sunset is a good idea!

Yesterday I posted a comparison between a CPL filtered and un-CPL'd photograph and how using a Circular Polarising Filter can improve the look of your photographs during the day when the sun is shining.

But now I'm going to show you a photograph taken from the same spot (almost exactly) but that has a whole lot more "wow" factor simply because of the time of day it was taken. I took this photograh about 55 minutes or so after sunset but while the sun was still giving plenty of golden glow to the sky. The foreground is also lit by the street lights which kind of matches the colour of the sky, and also prevents the foreground from just being plain black.


Of course this required me going back to the beach much later and dressed a little warmer, but I think the results were well worth the effort!

At this time of the day colours are super saturated and beautiful. However, because the light is nowhere near as bright as during the day shutter speeds are way slower than while the sun is shining so a tripod becomes essential. I used f11.0 and let the camera choose it's own shutter speed which was a full 30 seconds in this particular case. A bit of playing with sliders in PSP X5 lowered the highlights, raised the shadow areas and increased the saturation some more until I got what I was after.

Nikon D90 and my trusty el cheapo 18-105mm kit "plastic fantastic" lens.

Landskrona Citadel - a High Dynamic Range Photograph.


From WikipediaLandskrona Citadel (Swedish: Citadellet or Landskrona slott) is situated in Landskrona, Scania, southern Sweden. Initially built 1549–1559 as a purely defensive fortification with two complete moats, the inner with a width of 70 metres (230 ft). The outer (complete) moat is between 40 and 70 metres (130 and 230 ft) wide, and has cross fire bastions for artillery and guns. Outside the outer moat, a third narrower moat covers the northwest and northeast. There also exist remains of a fourth moat (between the two outer moats). The fortifications and moats system surrounding the castle is known to be one of Europe's largest and best preserved.

Three bracketed photos taken 2 stops apart, a quick run through DXO 8 for the special pixie dust magic that the elves at DXO lavish upon RAW photos to make them look better, and then "Exposure Merged" in Corel Paintshop Pro X5. Tweaked the levels, contrast and did some sharpening, also in PSP X5. For this type of photography a sturdy tripod is essential because of the very long exposure times. I used my D90 and the 18-105mm kit lens, Aperture Priority and f11.0, always RAW. :-)

23 May 2013

Comparison between Polarised and Unpolarised images.

After all these years the effect of a circular polarising filter still seems a little magical to me. First picture is without and then a few seconds later I took the second with the circular polarising filter applied. I am sure you will agree which looks best!



Like I said... magic!

This is a beach in Landskrona, the building is a clinic of some sort and in the distance you can see the island of Ven. The concrete blocks in the foreground are left over fortifications from the Second World War that Sweden built just in case the Germans invaded. They remain unused to this day, to the great relief of everybody in Sweden.

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G DX AF-S, Circular Polarising Filter, M mode.

17 May 2013

A (fairly) Standard Three Light Portrait


Three Elinchrom lights used. Main light camera left Elinchrom 4 bounced into a black backed umbrella from about 45° up and 45° to the subject. Fill light camera right Elinchrom 4 about 1 stop down from main shot through a transparent umbrella. Back light Elinchrom 2 right and behind subject in a medium sized softbox. Nikon D300s and Nikkor 50mm f1.8D.

All this and another light, light stands, plus a background stand, backdrop, two cameras complete with lenses, plus a tripod all fit into one large rolling case to become my highly portable studio ready to leave and shoot on location at any time. Very convenient indeed!

15 May 2013

Church in Mellösa Sweden (another take)


I posted a black and white pic of this church last year on this page here: Church in Mellösa Sweden The pic above was taken on the same day, but I prefered this one in colour. Why? I think it has to do with the red building on the left that brings a splash of life to an otherwise drab colour scheme.