My wife surprised me over the weekend with a large flowerpot she filled with succulent sedums to brighten up the studio door entrance. The area in question gets a lot of afternoon sun so she came up with something that can stand all that light and heat and also not require very much watering.
I had been in the studio shooting close-up images of blood testing kits and needed a bit of a break from all that close focusing so I headed outside to shoot close-ups of the new sedums! This entire shot occupies about as much real estate as the top segment of your thumb so we are definitely past 1:1 in scale here. I had recently upgraded to the newer Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens from the older 100mm USM macro introduced in March 2000. While I had no complaints about the older version except being slow to focus in low light (what else is new?) I wanted to see what the designation of L quality had to offer. Being almost double in price, I was expecting a lot and it did not disappoint.
For much of my close-up work with the older lens, I relied on a 62mm Nikon 5T close-up lens attached with a step-up ring to the 58mm macro. This arrangement allowed me to go beyond 1:1 for much of my macro work without having to employ extension tubes which eat a considerable amount of light. There is virtually no light loss with the 5T as it screws on to the front of the lens. With the new lens being larger at 67mm filter thread size, I would need a step-down ring from 67mm to 62mm and this situation had the potential for vignetting the corners using the smaller 5T CL lens.
I’m happy to report that was not the case as I soon discovered. I haven’t experimented at many distances yet, but in this instance I was only about 6 inches away from the little flowers and any slight vignetting was added in Lightroom4 but I was glad to see no apparent vignetting from the lens/ring/5T set-up. Shot in manual focus (as are 95% of my macro images) the lighting consisted of one dome-diffused Canon 600EX-RT on the left, aided by a white fill-card on the right. The colors were sweet but when I saw it on the camera’s LCD monitor it cried out for a B+W treatment. Enjoy
Had quite the run of family portraits this past holiday season which is great for the old bottom line because things tend to slow down around here as the year comes to a close. When networking in late fall, I always try to mention how the holidays are a great time to get the family and extended family together for holiday family portraits especially when folks are coming into Portland from out-of-town or out-of-country like two of my families were this season. Whether coming into the studio or having the shoot at your home, the holidays are a great time for family portraits!
I was called to the Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus last weekend to shoot portraits of a young man who shares his story of growing up hungry for knowledge to young people overcoming barriers in their lives. I photographed him speaking to a group of about 40 students in an auditorium for about an hour, then pulled him outside for some casual portraits for his website and marketing materials. His story was quite moving.
From an African village, to Food Stamps in America, to Harvard Graduate School, Tamam says “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish that matters.”
Words to live by
Like a kid with a new toy on Christmas morning I just had to try out the new Lastolite Triflash Bracket I picked up this morning from Pro Photo Supply. I also wanted to test how quickly I could shoot with three flashes rather than one and how good (or bad) the Canon ST-E2 Transmitter would work outside. Granted the light this afternoon was pretty flat and low with lots of medium gray clouds so the transmitter worked fairly well. I was shooting about three feet away with the flashes to my left on a lightweight Westcott stand. Camera was a Canon 5D, ISO 200, 1/200 @ f/2.8.
I didn’t do any posing with the kiddos obviously because they were so giddy with playing and it being Friday after all, that I just wanted to shoot quickly and put the flashes through their paces and keep the energy level high. It does strike me how much $ in flashes you can hang on the thing, where one Alien Bee 1600 monobloc will only run you about $360 so I do suggest a sandbag or gym weights in a sling when shooting with a white shoot-through umbrella as I was here. I can’t wait to use this ungainly thing more often!
Rummaging around up in the studio attic looking for something else one night, I ran across an old dear friend. We met in 1977, my junior year at ASU and while it was a little awkward at first, we soon learned how to make it happen and man, we did it! I graduated
So many rolls of film have gone through this camera that I sometimes laugh when I see one of these or similar cameras being used as a “vintage camera” nowadays in a wedding or fashion shoot If that’s your thing, that’s cool, but I remember when the real camera actually meant something. A step up from 35mm and “you now need a bigger negative carrier”. That sort of thing. It’s really neat that you include them in your shots as kind of an implied quality.
Man, I loved that camera can’t wait to take another look in the neg files to what gems (if any!) are there. I know there’s thousands of candidates!
This was shot in the very simple studio-in-a-box technique. I took a 16x16x16″ box, laid it on one side and cut out the remaining three sides, leaving 1″ of cardboard on either side. The inside was spray-painted flat black and tissue paper was taped over the openings. This diffused the speedlite’s light and created those large soft highlights. This is a great technique to use when shooting small products for catalogues, eBay or Etsy sales.
Since I was set up already shooting a tech assignment, I laid down a piece of black tile in the set and let speedlites do the rest. It was great spending time with an old trusted friend!
Providence Medical Center called recently for some new portraits of two of their doctors who were going to be going out and speaking at medical conferences. They needed shots together and portraits alone. So, early on a Sunday evening when the hospital was quiet, we nearly had the whole lobby to ourselves which made picking locations quite easy. They didn’t have a whole lot of time so I took along Canon Speedlites instead of my studio strobes to stay nimble and shoot fast.
I have begun to shoot a lot more horizontal portraits and in a lot looser fashion. This has been fun and I am excited to see the results. It keeps my peripheral vision engaged and allows me to see compositions and settings that I might not have noticed before when I was going in to “just do a headshot”. I’m enthused to see where this new direction takes me and present three of my favorites here!
Excellent final night with our speedlight class… they’re on their way!
Sweet! Just found out I’m featured in this month’s Shutterbug Magazine along with three other photographers in an article about book publishing by Maria Piscopo. Check out the article here!
Detailed coverage of Canon’s four speedlite-580EX II, 430 EX II, 220 EX and the new 270 EX-built exclusively for Canon DSLRs.
If you use a digital SLR camera, then you understand just how critical it is to have a capable flash. Canon Speedlite shines a whole new light on taking photos with a Canon DSLR. This full-color, in-depth guide takes you beyond the standard manual that accompanies the Speedlite and shows you the types of settings you can use on your camera when working with the Speedlite.
You’ll explore the possibilities of wireless lighting with multiple speedlites as well as the creative effects you can achieve. Author and professional photographer Brian McLernon demystifies setting up the speedlite, synchronizing the speedlite equipment, and determining lighting ratios.
- Canon DSLRs are only growing in popularity and the Speedlite system is a must-have accessory for exploring a new world of digital photo possibilities
- Shows you how to create an inexpensive and portable wireless studio lighting system that can go where you go
- Demystifies setting up the speedlite, synchronizing the equipment, and figuring out lighting ratios
- Covers other Canon lighting system components, such as the ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter, Macro Ring Lite, and Macro Twin Lite
Real-world information on using these speedlites illustrated by full-color examples and untangles the complexities of using the Canon Speedlite system.
Two new Digital Field Guides on Canon camera and flash technologies were debuted this month by Wiley Publishing and I am stoked after all the work to finally see them in print! Find them both here on Amazon.