25 May 2013

Photo Shoot Your Way to Sales Growth - from TIME Business & Money

There is an interesting article on TIME's website in the Business & Money section that says what we knew all along! ;-) Click on the link below:

Photo Shoot Your Way to Sales Growth

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.

24 Apr 2013

Krönetorps Mölla photographed with Nikkor 35mm f1.8G DX AFS

You may remember that I posted a photograph of Krönetorps Mölla in Sweden in June last year here: A "Normal" focal length Prime Lens as a Landscape Lens. Well, this one was shot on the same day but I zoomed in by walking several hundred meters closer than I was in the other shot and caught the sun a little lower down in the sky and hence a little warmer. I like the almost painterly feeling of the photo which is achieved by the wonderfully soft lighting.

Photography is all about the light, and to get your pictures a step up in mood and quality it is worth developing a patient attitude towards what you are doing and not rush it. If that means waiting all alone for hours on end in all kinds of weather, then so be it. But I can guarantee that you will be getting more keepers that way. When I am in a hurry I hardly ever get anything I would like to print and hang on the wall, but when I slow down, apply some thought to the process and savour the moment for it's beauty then my keeper count soars!

22 Apr 2013

Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.8 G = Smooth as butter backgrounds!

Even on my crop frame D300s and at a small distance from the subject this beautiful lens renders lovely out of focus backgrounds! This was set to f2.8. Taken during our Sunday cycle through the countryside.

Just to give an idea of how sharp this lens is, here is a pic also taken on Sunday with the 85mm f/1.8, and included is a 100% crop of the windmill section below that:

100% crop:

One last point, if there is any distortion from this lens I am totally unable to see it! :-)

18 Apr 2013

Available Light and the Nikkor 50mm f1.8D = Great Portraits!

My friend Mario is a well known figure in Malmö as he goes around reaching out to the homeless and needy of the city offering them food, friendship and a helping hand. He does all this without pay, and many times without thanks, but keeps simply plugging away. A real hero in my book!

Taken handheld with a D300s, 50mm f1.8D lens and whatever light was available. An aperture of f2.8 ensured a lovely out of focus rendition of the background and sufficient shutter speed to give a sharp portrait.

For those of you that care, here are the settings I used according to the exif data:
Manual, f2.8, 1/125s, ISO 400, auto white balance, and a quick run through DXO Optics Pro 8.

13 Apr 2013

Travelwide 4×5 camera (how you can get your very own large format camera)

I came across an interesting project that seems like a lot of fun and could generate some interest in large format photography for a small investment.

This is from their website:

Travelwide is the ultralight 4×5 film camera that goes wherever you go.

"Pretty amazing" — Photojojo
"Super cool" — The Phoblographer
"Ultralight 4x5 camera… ultra-friendly price" — The World's Best Ever
"My neck and shoulders already like this camera." — Mortal Muses

It's easy to fall in love with the incredible quality of 4×5 analog film, but no one loves lugging a heavy metal camera. We wanted to create a 4×5 that you could take anywhere in the world, and carry every day at home. The result is Travelwide. It's lighter than a DSLR, and not much larger—yet tough enough to toss in a side bag or cram into an overloaded backpack.

For much more info, and to check out their request for a small $99 investment to secure your very own Large Format camera, go to their website by simply clicking here -> Travelwide 4×5 camera

12 Apr 2013

Putting my Light Tent and Elinchrom lights to Good Use

For the last couple of years I have been buying up beer mugs in second hand stores, and it was all started by my daughter who purchased this mug for me at a boot sale:

It turned out to be pre German unification, so it has a little age to it as well. Since then I have added to my collection and below you can find a few of them. I used my light tent with black board inside for the seamless background, an Elinchrom D-Lite-it 2 with 65x65 softbox and Nikon D300s with Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX G AF-S attached. All manual settings for consistency from shot to shot. Post processed with DXO Optics Pro 8.


4 Apr 2013

Natural Light Still Life Photograph

Taken with only my D300s and a bunch of natural light coming in through the window... and an underrated 18-105mm Nikkor kit lens.

I buy props from time to time in second hand stores that have a used, worn, or old look about them just for these kind of shots and keep them handy in a drawer, like the wooden cutting board. Sometimes I just like the look of something even if it isn't particularly old, like the striped cloth, which I think works well with the wood. The bottles on the left were from an antique shop. The fruit veggies and nuts are from the kitchen, some of which was used for dinner shortly after being returned to the kitchen! :-)

Getting the right look in post is usually a matter of trial and error, and lots of experimentation, but the more you do it the easier it gets to arrive at the look you want to achieve. Every photo is different to me and needs to be moulded into my own vision for what I want the final product to be. There is no single way or magic potion that will work for everybody. This kind of thing is always very subjective and according to taste, mood, the weather and the alignment of the stars, so be prepared to take time and find out what works for you.