26 Oct 2013

Photographing a Vintage Wine in it's Natural Environment!

So this evening I photographed a 1990 Chateau Grangeneuve, which is a smooth red wine from Bordeaux and it was paired with tasty spiced and grilled pork chops with a dollop of delicious potato salad! The best part about photographing wine and food is consuming it afterward. It was delicious!

I used two speedlights to create the atmosphere I was after, a gridded sb600 from camera left at 1/64 power and a snooted sb700 from camera right set to 1/32 output. This combined to provide a nice intimate scene full of warm nourishing flavours and mouth watering grilled aromas. The camera was at 1/200s, f3.2, ISO 200, slightly warm flash white balance and RAW, always RAW. Speedlights were triggered via a cheap but reliable Phottix Strato wireless trigger system.

Mmm, another glass of wine anyone?

Photographing Artwork with the NIKKOR AF-S DX Micro 40mm f/2.8G

While the NIKKOR AF-S DX Micro 40mm f/2.8G may not be the ideal macro lens because of it's too short focal length it never-the-less certainly is a wonderful lens with tack sharp distortion free optics that are unrivaled at the price. Therefore it makes for a fantastic lens to photograph artworks like the painting below by talented local artist Birgitte Clark (who also happens to be my wife):

Here is a 100% crop from the painting:

22 Oct 2013

What on earth does a "grid" actually do?

I was asked recently what the purpose of a grid is on a flash, and while I can explain it easily enough a picture speaks a thousand words so here are about four thousand words worth in pictures! (...and a little text)

First up a flash firing directly at a wall (with a framed drawing hanging on the wall) without any attachments whatsoever:

As expected there is a large spread of light across the entire wall in front of the flash. The flash is set to 35mm.

Next up the exact same shot but with a grid attached to the front of the flash:

20 Oct 2013

Outdoor Portraits on a Grey Autumn Day in Sweden

Autumn in Sweden is a dull overcast cold and damp affair as the season changes from glorious Swedish summer to beautiful Swedish winter and aside from a few lovely sunny days when the colours come alive it generally isn't great weather for photography... or is it? I went out to take some portraits yesterday and I figured that the dim light combined with autumn enhanced trees would make for a nice environmental setting to utilise as a backdrop.

In order to make the subjects stand out from the dreary autumn background I took along one of my trusty speedlights, a long pole and a shoot through umbrella. This makes for a very simple outdoor lighting setup but please note that you will need an assistant to help you with that long pole or you could drive yourself insane trying to keep control of the light and camera at the same time. The pull back shot looks like this:

14 Oct 2013

I think in FOV therefore I'm a photographer!

It's a funny thing being a photographer because I find that everywhere I go I see photographs I want to take. The worst part of it is that I tend to see everything in a "normal" FOV (field of view) which is not so unusual because my eyes just naturally see a, um, normal FOV. I say the worst thing, but of course that is actually a good thing because I can pick up my camera and get a bunch of pics really quickly without having to think a whole lot about it as it just comes naturally. The bad part is that when I don't have a camera with me I still find myself seeing the shots, and not being able to take them which leads to regret about not carrying my camera with me more and then I get home p-eed off with myself because I missed that shot of the double rainbow over the sundrenched city with dark stormclouds in the background that I will never ever see again!

12 Oct 2013

Direct Flash vs Bounced Flash

I am often asked by people how they can improve their photography or which camera they should buy to take better photographs. My advice is always the same, if you already have a dslr then you don't need a "better" camera or lens. There are many skills you can learn to improve your photography, some complicated, but most as simple as riding a bicycle.

One of the simplest ways to improve a photograph is to learn how to use light properly and there are several simple techniques with an on camera flash that will step up your game and produce much better quality photos. For instance, I am always amazed by how something as simple as bouncing a flash off a wall can improve a photograph by 100%.

11 Oct 2013

Samsung S3 mini pics - no wonder traditional style camera sales are down

Every now and then I see something and I want to photograph it but I don't have my camera with me. At these times I naturally pull out the camera I have in my pocket all the time, my Samsung S3 mini, and take a few snaps. When I have done this and I finally get to view the pics on my computer screen at home I am normally amazed by how far cell phone cameras have come and it sinks in again just why the camera companies are reporting a slump in sales and smartphone manufacturers are booming! Take a look at these snaps of some autumn foliage I took today on my way home. I edited them in the very handy Snapseed program on the phone before sending them to my computer where I simply resized and branded them before posting.

All Alone in the Night - Time-lapse footage of the Earth as seen from th...

This really has to be watched in HD and fullscreen in order to fully appreciate this truly awesome time lapse photography video at it best.

9 Oct 2013

Portrait with Nikon AF-S 35mm f1.8G DX

If you want a very cheap but excellent quality "normal" lens for your crop sensor Nikon camera then I highly recommend the Nikon AF-S 35mm f1.8G DX. Here you have a lightweight and handy piece of glass that is sharp all the way from f1.8 but will not break the bank. I like to use it for anything from portraits to landscapes and it never lets me down in terms of image quality.

Since I bought it the second cheapest of Nikon's lens lineup has almost always been on my camera and sees more use than any other lens I own. No zoom? Who cares, at the price it outperforms every other Nikon lens ever made at simple IQ per $! Zoom by walking back and forth, the exercise will do you a lot of good... ;-)

7 Oct 2013

More from Inside the Spooky Crypt!

Another from the crypt beneath the Domkyrkan in Lund. If you are ever in the area it really is worth spending a couple of hours in there with your camera and a tripod.

Getting creative with the white balance slider got me closer to the effect I was really after!

1 Oct 2013

Spectacular Scandinavian Sunset

With so many people all over the world raving on about African sunsets and how wonderful they are we tend to forget that other parts of the world also have beautiful sunsets. I am currently living in Southern Sweden and in the now almost two years that I have been here I can tell you that even these northern climes produce awesomely beautiful sunsets, maybe just not as regularly. Take the photo below for instance, taken in a small town called Lomma at the river right by the start of the harbour just where the bridge crosses over with some shiny new apartment blocks on the other side. Scandinavian light can be wonderfully soft and pastel like, and lasts for a whole lot longer than the beautiful but abrupt African sunsets from my home country.

Moral of the story is that you don't need to travel all the way to Africa, or some other exotic location, to photograph beautiful sunsets. All you need to do is get out with your camera more regularly and take many more photographs because beauty exists everywhere if you take the time to find it!