30 Dec 2010


If only we could retain the joy, wonder and innocence we had as children... the world would be sooo much better!

29 Dec 2010

Eliminate That Hotspot!

While I was out shooting Santa last week I had some spare time to play with my flash and shoot through umbrella set-up and took the following shot:

As you can see there is a distinct hotspot in the umbrella. Not so great for even distribution of light, which is the point of the umbrella to start off with. Of course it does help to distribute light, but not as well as it could. The flash was set to about 50mm here, so I flipped out the built in diffuser and it automatically went to 14mm wide with the following result:

Beautiful even distribution of light resulting in a better wrap around effect for portraits!

The light stand used here is in fact a junky old cheap tripod with the head removed and refitted to an extension pole which I then mounted to the top of the junky old cheap tripod, I then drilled a hole through the plastic head (taking care to avoid anything important) and voila! Nice tall light stand for the man on a limited budget. Here is a close up of the head:

Some people say I'm tight, but I like to think of myself as frugal...

25 Dec 2010

Shooting Santa...

...a profitable low point in my artistic career! Lets face it there is no artistic value in doing the typical Santa in the mall shots, but it does provide the bread and milk money.

I decided to go for the less is more philosophy and had a single shoot through umbrella with a Nikon SB600 flash, camera set to manual, 1/80s, f5.6, customised portrait mode, jpg only (to save time). The results were quite adequate for the task at hand:

The setup
Santa with baby

Santa with another kid

Santa and Helper
Everybody loves Christmas! Except the Grinch I suppose, but he wasn't there.

22 Dec 2010

Blue flowers in black and white...

If you are on a very tight budget and don't want to spend a whole lot of money (or any at all), Picasa by Google is a simple but fairly effective editing tool. It doesn't have the options of Photoshop, Paintshop Pro or the GIMP, but it is fast and very easy to use. It has all that the amateur home photographer/happy snapper needs, so don't buy into the "I must have Photoshop" line, you can great results without blowing the bank or needing a three month course in how to use the program first! (Photoshop will not make you a better photographer either btw.)

Picasa also has a few extra little bits that make it easy to publish to Picasa's on-line web-album, resize for email, and even watermark, if you feel the need. Download it here: Picasa

Taken with a Nikon D90 and Nikon 35 f1.8DX, edited in Picasa.

13 Dec 2010

The Power of a Fast Prime Lens!

Grand kids eating junk that will probably stunt their growth and hinder the development of their brains...

Nikon D90, Nikon 35 f1.8DX, hand held in crummy light inside a well known and popular (not sure why) fast food joint, no flash.

3 Dec 2010

Our Christmas tree is up...

Hooray, hooray, oh happy day!! Don't you just love Christmas? Ours started early this year!! Hooray, hooray!

Our Christmas Tree

Nikon D90, Nikon 50mm f1.8, deliberately defocussed and hand held by the oldest kid this side of the North Pole!

30 Nov 2010


Nikon D90, Nikon 35 f1.8, natural light, artificial hair colour. ;-)

17 Nov 2010

Photo too Overworked?

The fun of manipulating photographs digitally is all very well, but when does it become too much?

4 Nov 2010

New camera technology? Who cares?

Photography is and always will be first and foremost about creating memories! Years from now that great new wonder camera will be forgotten, but the memories that remain in print will be passed on from generation to generation. One day you will forget what resolution that Japanese techno-wiz ultra spec had or how sharp that German wunder kamera was, but you will always be able to step back in time and recall those memories from yesteryear just by looking at the photos you once took, regardless of the quality of the camera or lens.

Here is one of my late Grandpa, (who I loved very much) taken with my first camera, a Box Brownie. Who cares if it is out of focus, or the colours are not quite right? Who bothers to remember what the specs were of the camera? This is my enduring memory of Grandpa, a cheerful, loving grandfather with slightly wild eyebrows!

How about that first day off to school? I don't even remember how ugly the cars were back then except by this photo! And boy, was I ever a cute kid! ;-)

And finally, here are my great-grandparents that I never even met!

After all these years the memories remain!

So here are the lessons to be learnt from this little walk down memory lane:

1.) Always have a camera with you.
2.) Take lots of photos of your family, you never know how long they will be with you.
3.) Worry less about how sharp your pics are in the corners wide open, it really doesn't make for better memories!
4.) Your ancestors were probably better looking than you. ;-)

(If you are doing paid work for clients the advice above doesn't count, give them the best you possibly can.)

Add some of your own benefits below:

29 Oct 2010

Convex Mirror for my Strobist DIY Beauty Dish!

My Convex Mirror for my Strobist DIY Beauty Dish arrived at Midas in Centurion today, so I went and picked it up! It was a grand total of R25 (US$3.27), so not too bad.

Here it is by itself:

And here it is mounted inside the CD spindle cover:

The idea is that the convex mirror will throw more of the light from my SB600 flash into the white bowl of my Strobist DIY Beauty Dish and distribute it more effectively towards my victims willing volunteer models. More light is always a good thing in photography.

The ugly mug hiding behind the camera is me.

Sample photos to follow soon, watch this space!

23 Oct 2010

Strobist DIY Beauty Dish, on the cheap!

Some of you may remember that a while back I made my own flash diffuser. The original post is here. Well, I am sad to say that it was a dismal failure! In fact I couldn't tell the difference between photos taken with or without my diffusion disaster... at least it didn't cost me anything!

But for some time now I have wanted to build something more effective, a Strobist DIY Beauty Dish! Woohoo! But would it work?

Stuff I used:

1. Old flower pot
2. CD spindle case
3. White and black spray paint
4. Plain white piece of plastic
5. 4mm rivets and washers
6. White silicon
7. Stanley knife

19 Oct 2010

Monochrome Waterfall - The "magic" of black and white film.

I may have posted this one in the past, but when looking through my photos this morning I was struck by how wonderful real black and white film looks and how, try as I might, I just don't quite seem to be able to replicate that look by converting from digital. Can anybody explain to me what the magic of black and white film is? And have you had any success getting your digital to get that same look? If so, please let me know how, I am sure there must be others out there wanting the same answers!

Nikon F801s, Nikkor 50mm f1.8D, Ilford XP2 Super, polarising filter to get rid of reflections, 5 second exposure on a tripod, developed in C41 by my local lab, scanned on a CanoScan 5600F, edited in the GIMP.

17 Oct 2010

I found a true artist!

As I mentioned here: Am I an artist now? I have heard that you are not a real artist until you have photographed a toilet, so using that criteria I have deduced that my friend Chun Chung Lee over at Light Frame Photography is a true artist in the very real sense of the word! Check out this beautiful photo right here: Time For Reflection

A hearty round of applause is in order!

16 Oct 2010

Welcome to the Free State!

Miles and miles of flatness:

But the people are great! Just love them!

Featured Photographer - John Sevigny

Love him or hate him, the guy certainly stirs up emotions and makes you sit up and take notice!

This is my favourite John Sevigny photograph, something in this pic just speaks to me:

A whole lot more John Sevigny here: www.johnsevigny.com and here: http://gonecity.blogspot.com/

15 Oct 2010

Ellie - Cross Processed!

Another of Ellie, but this time by natural light and run through the "Cross Process" plugin of Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

14 Oct 2010

Low Key Portrait

I attended an excellent studio lighting workshop by Pat Bredenkamp today and at the end we were allowed to play with the lights for a bit, so I had some fun! Single 250 watt studio light high right and slightly behind the model with snoot and honeycomb grid.

12 Oct 2010

The Aliens have landed!!

I was bored and decided to have a little fun with an LED flash-light, my tripod and a few victims willing volunteers!

Arrested by the Aliens!

Bedazzled by the Aliens!
Please be careful of those Aliens!

28 Sept 2010

Secret Film Development Process

I have been working on a new top secret film developing process which I shall now explain for the more technically minded among you. Please keep it to yourself because if this gets out then everybody is going to be doing it and it won't be unique, or secret, any longer.

Here it is step by step:
1.) Acquire any old 35mm film camera (cheap because nobody wants them any more) I used a Trip 35, but this process should work equally well with other types/brands too.
2.) Find some heavily expired, discontinued slide, E6, film. It's even better if it has been hand rolled into a C41 negative film canister. For the purposes of this scientific, photographic research I used Kodachrome 64, hand rolled into a 200 ISO Agfa negative film canister.
3.) Load said film into purchased camera.
4.) Find a subject and shoot it.
5.) Take film out of camera.
6.) This step is very important. Take film to local film development lab and hand it in without telling them what the film really is. They should just stick it through the regular C41 machine and press "go", or whatever it is they do back there that got so expensive to do in the last ten years.
7.) When you go to pick up the film they will think the film is ruined and they might not charge you for the development. Make sure you take the film home anyway, don't be a sucker.
8.) Scan your film as negative film.
9.) Mess with the resultant images in the GIMP/Photoshop/Paintshop Pro, etc. until it looks kinda old and groovy like the samples below.
10.) Post them on-line for all to see and claim that you have discovered a new top secret process for developing film.

What are you doing here reading this blog post, get out now and go have some fun! GO!