16 Jan 2012

11 Jan 2012

Looking down onto Paradise

The previous photo was taken from the bend in the river that you can see on the left of this photograph of the Vaal river.

I had to wait for a while for a break in the clouds to let some sunlight through onto "Paradise".

7 Jan 2012

This is Paradise!

After working hard all of December at the mall taking photos of kids with Santa (and it really was tiring!) I finally had a break and went on holiday to the Vaal river here in South Africa. No internet or cell phone connection, sheer bliss, Paradise indeed!

14 Dec 2011

My Santa Set-up

Since the 5th of December I have been taking the typical Santa in the mall pics that we see every year! It's actually quite fun, but a lot of work as it has been crazy busy. While I have been there a lot of "pros" and amateurs alike have expressed an interest in my lighting set-up, how I do it, and why! It seems that the "strobist" concept hasn't caught on in South Africa the same way it has elsewhere in the world. So here is a short explanation and a few sample pics.

My basic setup is a couple of Nikon sb flashes, one sb700 and one sb600. I bounce both of these into umbrellas in order to diffuse the light and get a nice even lighting over the entire set. I use a shoot through umbrella and a black backed bounce umbrella, and the reason these two? Because it's what I have of course! If I used studio lights it would become much more complicated and require cables running electricity around for people to fall over, it wouldn't be as easy to unpack and pack, etc. Here is a pull back pic of the entire set-up:

There is a very large skylight directly above the area where we are located and the light coming in is constantly changing because of the sun moving, clouds, rain, etc. so in order to keep the light and colour consistant I totaly underexpose the scene by setting my camera to manual at 1/200s and f11. Without flash it looks like this:

My flashes are set to TTL and they automatically bring the exposure back up to normal. I fire them wirelessly via Nikons very cool CLS system. The final result looks like this:

Perfectly exposed, sharp, and with very consistant colour! I don't have time to download these to a computer, tweak them and then print them, so I shoot jpg and make sure that all my settings are correct in camera to achieve the fastest workflow and print them directly from my SD cards at the lab in the mall. The resultant prints are just great!

So if you want to put that nice shiny new dslr to good use and actually make some money to justify the expense then you now know how to do Santa pics for Christmas 2012! Whoohoo!

13 Dec 2011

Todays Coffee!

At the end of a long hot day shooting kids with Santa in Mall@Reds, it just makes the day a little better, one of lifes pleasures! A "Serious Cappucino" from Mugg and Bean.

Nikon D90, Aperture Priority, Nikon 40mm f2.8 Micro, 1/250s, f3.0, ISO200, hand held.

5 Dec 2011

It's Christmas Season Again!

Which means it's time for Christmas photos at the mall again!

This year my very talented wife painted some backdrops for me and I am taking photos at the Mall@Reds in Pretoria from the 5th until the 24th of December. She also sewed all the costumes for the kiddies to dress in that you can see on the table in the photo below.

Here is a basic setup shot:

And what the final result looks like:

There is also a "Fantasy Forest" backdrop and a typical Christmas Manger scene.

Merry Christmas everybody!

16 Nov 2011


Another day another product shoot!

Nikon D90, manual mode, 200ISO, f11, 1/200s, Nikon 50mm f1.8D, Nikon sb700 and sb600 bounced in umbrellas left and right high. Set-up shot below.

Stock card seamless white background held up against the wall by duct tape. No photographer should ever be without duct tape!

This would have worked much better with a light tent... but I don't have one. Someone recently told me that photography is about problem solving, so sometimes you just gotta make a plan!
Note to self: get a light tent...

6 Nov 2011

A step into the not so distant past...

Who would have thought at the time that just a few years later Kodak would have abandoned slr's forever!

Check out this article about the then brand new and top of the line DSLR from Kodak: DCS 760 delivers crisp, clear photos.

1 Nov 2011

Portraits in small places

So you don't have a studio, and the wife won't let you convert the spare room either, and the garage is full of junk, so what to do to be able to use that shiny dslr and the speedlights you got for Christmas last year and you've been itching to put to good use? Well you make some compromises and improvise. I have been living in a small apartment for the past year and don't have much space, but I can still setup my lights for a two light pic like the one below:

Here is how I set it up:

By using the curtains as a backdrop and squeezing the lights in between couches and side tables I managed to get a fairly good two light portrait set-up. Behind the model is my Strobist DIY Beauty Dish on a tripod. To the right and high is a shoot through umbrella on my junky tripod converted to super cool light stand. Nikon sb600 in the beauty dish and sb700 in the umbrella, both triggered via Nikons very cool CLS system. Easy peasy!