Saturday, April 11, 2015

Project Feline - Part 2 "The Shoot & The Gear"


Part 2 in this series is the behind the scenes look that shows how I got the shot, and the gear I used to make it happen.

First, here's the list of gear that was used:
  • Nikon D810
  • Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 Lens
  • SB900 Speedlight
  • SU800 Commander Unit
  • 32" White Shoot Through Umbrella
  • Lastolite 5 in 1 Reflector w/Reflector Arm Attachment
  • Manfrotto Background Stand Kit
  • White Seamless Background Roll (60")
  • Folding Table
  • Cat Toy
  • Cat Wrangler (aka my wife, Lori)
Below is a shot of how everything was set up. Lighting set-up was pretty simple with one SB900 at camera left on about a 45 degree angle to the set, and on the right side was the white reflector. This was shot in my home office and you can see there's not a lot of space. The SB900 was obviously my main light and the reflector was close enough in on the right to get a good amount of fill light. I also shot this at night so the light spill from the window behind was not a factor.


Camera settings were full manual mode - 1/100 @ f8, ISO 640. SB900 was also on manual at 1/4 power. I've always tended to lean toward manual flash as opposed to using full TTL. I also wanted to have a lower power setting so the flash would recycle faster.

Now the fun part...getting them up on the table, and trying to get them to cooperate! This is where my wife, Lori, my "ace cat wrangler" came in. Her job was to get them on the table, keep them on the table and try to get them to face in the general direction of the camera...and she did an amazing job!!

Here are few unedited, and uncooperative, outtakes. Lori managed to get their attention long enough for me to bang off about 10 to 15 shots each, and I was lucky to get a few keepers.




So there you have it, Project Feline Part 2 "The Shoot & The Gear."

Stay tuned for Part 3 "The Post," where I'll walk through how I post processed the final shots.

Cheers!

DC



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Project Feline - (Part 1 - "The Shot! or Shots!")

Here we go with another installment of "The Shot", "The Shoot & The Gear," and "The Post."


The background goes something like this...my mother-in-law wanted some photos of our babies (i.e., our fur babies).  My wife went out and found a frame with 3 4x6 slots in a portrait format, which was perfect as we have 3 cats. So now I had 2 options, 1) scour my Lightroom catalog for existing photos, or 2) shoot new photos.


I did take a look through Lightroom, but I didn't see anything in a portrait format that had any consistency between the three; all of the backgrounds were different and I shot a lot of them in landscape orientation. So it was option 2...shoot new photos!


Stay tuned for Part 2 - "The Shoot & The Gear," where I'll review the lighting set-up among others things.

Cheers!

DC

Monday, March 16, 2015

In the Nick of Time!

You have less than 2 minutes to capture a perfect sunset...don't screw it up! 

Sometimes you see a gorgeous sunset, and it’s always slowly slipping away. This was the case for this image…and I almost missed it! 

My wife and I recently vacationed in Maui. On this day we had just returned from visiting Pearl Harbor on O’ahu and were driving back from the airport. We were heading west along highway 30 and the sun was slowly going down. We were on the twisty turny section of road between Maalaea and Lahaina and there was not really a safe place to pull over.

We continued to watch the sun going down and I was getting a bit anxious because I wanted to pull over and grab a few shots before it left for the day. We had just come out of the twisting section of road, and just as the sun was almost touching the horizon a left turn lane presented itself…like it was saying here’s your chance take it or leave it! 

Now for the record, being safe should always be paramount to getting a photo. I mean there is a sunset every night so it’s not worth causing an accident. However, judging by the way others were driving some just don’t care about safety…sigh!

So we pulled off (safely) and I scrambled out of the car, grabbed my camera from my bag in the back seat, and moved quickly to find a spot (by the way the sound silencers on the Think Tank Photo Retro 7 make it easy to get into your bag quickly). By this time the bottom of the sun had already started to drop below the horizon. Just to give you sense of timing my first shot was at 6:23:36 pm and my last shot after sun dropped below the horizon was 6:25:25 pm, so less than 2 minutes. This shot was taken right in the middle at 6:24:38 pm.

I was shooting with a Nikon D810 with the 28-300mm lens. I really didn’t check all of my settings because I was moving pretty quickly. But I do remember doing 3 things…on the run…AF switch on, check (it can get moved going in and out of the bag), VR on, check (shooting handheld with 300mm lens), and I also switched off bracketing mode that I was using earlier. 

I began shooting and made a couple of exposure adjustments on the fly. But I totally forgot to check my ISO so it was still at 100. Aperture was at f6.3 and I had dropped the EV Comp by 1/3 of a stop. When all was said and done I realized that I got away with 1/400th shutter speed…whew! This shot was racked out at 300mm so having turned the VR on earlier was helpful for additional stabilization.

Sometimes you have to move quickly and make adjustments on the fly, and then hope that you made the critical choices. I was lucky that I got away with it…this time!

Cheers!

DC

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ghost Town - Nelson, Nevada (Part 3 "The Post")

The third, and final part in this series is the "The Post." The following video tutorial walks through how I created the final image. It goes from Lightroom to HDR Efex Pro 2 over into Photoshop CC, and back into Lightroom.



Cheers!

DC