“All you need is love” … I saw this saying on a pebble in a shop the other day and I thought it was a lovely saying and a great reminded that if you are loved or love something then that is all you need, and you will find a way to achieve what is possible… anyway I decided that the pebble did not belong in the shop but on a beach…
So I have took the pebble with me out and about and tried photographing it in a variety of natural environments, getting in close, and working with natural light and it is really interesting to see what effect different backgrounds make to my image. I never knew I could discover so many different beaches.
I think the one below is my favorite one…. I was amazed at the amount of different textures you found when you started looking, how different the pebble looked in different environments, how different angles, the changing light and shadows all effected the end image … I think I want to find another object to explore with.
I am starting to experiment with studio backgrounds – I want to take more baby and toddler photos and one of the things that became obvious when taking photos in a clients home was that to get a clean and pleasing backdrop I would need to think about supplying it myself, so today I experimented with some wallpaper and an old piece of skirting board, some window light on an over cast day and a few props to see what was achievable, and what happened when I changed the image in Lightroom to monochrome.
I hope to continue my experiments over the next few weeks.
A different angle – still lit by window light to the right
Monochrome effect 2
Basket on Green Backdrop
Basket in portrait with window light on green paper
Knitted baby nest on green background – focus goes more to the baby
A fake backdrop and floor lit with window light.
monochrome studio for a toddler
Baby nest on floor boards – the floor boards take the focus from the baby.
A hand knitted baby nest on floor boards in monochrome
A forest walk looking for signs of spring… and today I spotted definite signs that Spring is on its way in the New Forest. I was out with my 18-250mm lens and wanted to capture the detail of Spring at the lowest depth of field, what I hadn’t considered was how shutter speed effected the sharpness of the image… something I read about after I took today’s images.
It was lovely to see how the shallow depth of field totally blurred at the background twigs, creating a calm muted image – but looking at a larger version of the image it really isn’t sharp enough – based on the fact that I was hand holding the camera I need to pay more attention to the focal length and the shutter speed. Gavin Hoey suggests that I should “use the rule of thumb that the shutter speed should be double (or more) then the lens focal length. In other words if you were using a 50mm lens your shutter speed would be 1/100th sec or faster” with that in mind a 500 sec shutter speed would have been a much sharper shot, as I was focused at 250mm! By doubling the ISO, I could have doubled the shutter speed.
Both below photos are sharper – the idea shutter speed would have been 1/240 sec, as they were both taken with 120mm focal length – this was achievable if I had used a small F number, a shallower depth of field or increased the ISO, although I read up on this once I got home….
The first photo below also highlights that where you focus when using a shallow depth of field is incredibly important, the most dominant leaves are out of focus and so is the background as the leaves were relatively close to the camera, in this image nothing is completely sharp and you are left wondering what to look at – my focus was off 😦
Taken with the same settings as above – this image is much less cluttered and therefore a stronger composition but not sharp enough … I shall keep trying, and learning along the way – difference lenses make more of a difference than I realised.
I thought I would share my flowers … I thought I would also play with aperture settings … then I decided to switch to manual and add a little flash (off camera).
The lens was my canon EF 100mm, I used a tripod and kept it in the same position almost throughout – except when the dogs knocked it and the flowers were on my windowsill with a grey overcast sky beyond, with a fixed ISO of 100.
It is a really interesting exercise to complete, first you loosed the dirt on my windows (the cleaning thing again) and the the background drops out and then as the depth of field gets even narrower you loose the details in some of the flowers and leaves that are further away.
Based on the last couple of days of experimenting I then decided what happens if I add off camera flash and OMG, I love it … the first with the light focuses on the flowers it darkens the background, an amazing reflection appears on the glass window behind and it is the kind of photo I would love to send on a birthday day…
Moving the angle of the flash creates a whole different result, there is real depth added to the roses, the light catches the detail in places and it looks like it is almost lit be a ray of sunlight although it isn’t…
Lighting from behind my final shot from today and the next thing I need to look at with the flash – amazingly another totally new look.
I have been busy, a lovely run, time with family and I have just realised that I have not yet used my camera today – so with a choice between “top gear” and “call the midwife” on TV, I headed to the kitchen, got out my flash and tried to get my backgrounds dark in a lit room….
This was my original idea … could I make the background dark and less distracting….
By first taking a photo in maual mode and getting the background completely darker – this can be done be increasing the F number until the background is dark – a smaller aperture, then adding my flash – off camera, pointing away from the beer with an umbrella reflector (partly closed) – I managed to achieve this … the shot could be improved by adding more flash for different angles… but I only had one available!
I then thought would would happen if I included the whole kitchen, with the spot lights on in the ceiling… could I make them and the washing up disappear … with no one to help – I had to rely on focusing from a distance with my camera remote… so for the first time in this blog… you get to meet me … SELFIE time 🙂
1st attempt, you can see me, the floor, the lights, the camera release… time for some out of the box thinking….
2nd attempt, camera timer – so I solved the issue of the remote cable, but with a busy background there are still reflections of household objects, my jumper soaks up the flash light and I am realising I am uncomfortable taking photos of me… you can see my nose 🙂
Where to look – at the camera, at the flash or somewhere else? Photos that do well of portraits have the person in the image looking directly into the camera, so that together you can build a relationship up… I need more catch light and the right hand side of my face is in more shadow than my left but this is defiantly the look I was aiming for. Although I really should edit this picture so you can’t see the kitchen tap!
Time to swat up… what is next … I feel unnatural as a model, so I gave myself something to do – a book to focus on… no catch light but the flash lights the top of the book and bounces or acts as a reflector and bounces the light back into my face …. I am really quite pleased with this one … and it is hard to believe that the kitchen lights are on… although it does seem to have disappeared, although I think more practice required!
Emma posted another focus today for #remarkable2015, this time on Aperture – you can watch her videos on it here… and I really recommend signing up… so today I headed out with my Sigma 18-250 mm lens (my old best friend in terms of lens) and had a play with the zoom function and aperture to enhance my understanding… The ISO for all images was ISO800 today, as I was shooting in the shade and handheld!
This first two photos are taken with my camera at a wide angle – so that as much of the picture is included. They both struggle with too much foreground and background to tell what the subject really is, but saying that the send picture with the widest aperture – F4, has a much shallower depth of field and you can see that the pine cones are what you are suppose to be looking at… you can also see how the grass and distractions in the background soften and become less intense.
Full zoom on the lens, so at 250mm and focusing on a relatively near object you can see more clearly the impact of aperture – at F29 – the maximum for the lens you can make out clearly the trees across the field but you can also see a number of lens marks and splodges which are really distracting as well as the droplets of water and the cobweb. The wider aperture, F6.3 (it can not stop down as low on full zoom), makes the depth of field more blurred and in this case really smooths the background, removing all the detail to make a calm and pleasing shot.
This is one of my two bored companions this morning – this is Mack .. I wish i could come up with a way to lighten his eye, but this shot of him sniffing around was all to do with getting low to the ground and playing around with aperture controls. I have zoomed in a bit for this one, largest aperture was F5.6 – and you can see the depth of field with the foreground and background grasses softened – so you really need to be aware of how far into the pcture you need to focus.
This is my other companion – I love how the light was bouncing into his eyes – that is what I wanted with Mack – he was slightly closer to me, but I still wanted to soften the background and foreground slightly, so a shallow depth of field was used, large aperture, it was also important cause he was moving and the large aperture meant a higher shutter speed – but in this case it is maybe too shallow as it softens off on his second eye. I thought about positioning with the photo and got down low – I like how he is looking straight at me, but my timing was off – as I took the photo he somehow rotated the twig so the branch towards me was vertical, straight across his face… grrr!
Time to another shot – not today… his interest was them off somewhere else….
The last two days I have took photos of items with a white background – today I wanted to experiment to see if I could take a photo with a dark background. I failed. I ran out of time, and I think it is something I need to read up on… I can’t remember what the settings should have been – so you can the clutter in the background… some of it can be disguised with a vignette in Lightroom, but it is not the look I was going for.
But this blog is all about learning new skills, practicing old ones and undertaking new challenges – so I think I have found something I need to learn more about. I did however notice the difference in light quality today…. the first image was taken in aperture priority mode, with natural light from a window to the left, the second with a flash pointing away from the bear bounced off of a reflector which at the same time diffused some of the window light.
I think the colours look much warmer in the bounced flash image.