Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Depth-of-field is more than Aperture

[Photo 1] Egypt—Missionary Mike Edens (left) worked closely with Egyptian Baptist pastors trying to enhance their discipleship and pastoral ministries. These pastors—(left to right) Mikhail Shehata Ghaly and Anwar Dakdouk—took MasterLife discipleship training in Cyprus during 1984. [photo by Don Rutledge]
Technically Depth-of-field—is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.
Don Rutledge
I have never met a photographer who understood more about packing more into a frame to tell a story than Don Rutledge.

The reason is it takes a lot more ability to take a photo of what appears to be clutter and compose it in such a way that you capture a story than it does to isolate by either getting closer or zooming in and isolating a subject.

What Don Rutledge taught me and yet I still haven't begun to execute it as well as he did was to use the environment around the subject to provide context and tell a better story.

He taught me to spend time with a person before I take a photo of them. Spend time getting to know their story, this way once you know them you start to see things around them and their body language that help inform the audience through visual clues as to who the subject is as a person and how they interact with people in their world.

[Photo 2] Cincinnati, Ohio, 1968: Children with a trophy of the streets. [photo by Don Rutledge]
Don taught many photographers not to just watch the edges of the photograph but pay attention to the "Depth-of-field" when making the photograph. He wanted to use the thing in the foreground and background more than any other photographer I knew to help tell the story.

In Photo 1 you can see down the street and around the men as they walk down the street in Egypt. While most everyone is laughing as if a joke was just told—notice the woman just behind the men. Her expression tells another story.

I can picture this woman being similar to the woman in Matthew 9:20, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it.

She is not apart of the men's group but has an interest in them.

In Photo 2 you see not just the rat being held by the boy but his friend and the place of their discovery. His friends body language adds so much to the context as does the alley where they found it.

[Photo 3] This is early morning in Mississippi for Luvenia and Bailey King. King sleeps as his wife puts breakfast on the table. [photo by Don Rutledge]
To get this type of "Depth-of-field" Don invested time with his subjects. In 1979 Don spent a month living with the King family in Mississippi. He added just enough money to the family budget to not add any financial stress on the family, but also not to change their living standards so he could cover what it was like living below the poverty line in America.

This photo [Photo 3] became a favorite photo of many from the story. The photo captures Bailey King and shows how thin he is and how hard his wife also worked to provide for the family. It is not a photo just about Bailey, but his wife as well Luvenia.

[Photo 4] Appalachian migrant family in Ohio during 1968. [photo by Don Rutledge]
Here in Photo 4 you can see a father who is obviously concerned and then you see his children in the background. The children are like all children and pull the viewer into the story of a migrant worker who will travel wherever finding work to provide for their family. Many photographers would crop just above the father's head and left out the boy in the window. The reason is they most likely would not have seen the boy.

Don had a patience about him that let him truly be in the moment. He could see things that most missed. I think Don really and truly had more empathy for his subjects than just about any other photographer I have known.

[Photo 5] Africa—Sally Jones (white coat) felt emotions well up inside as she shared this moment with concerned mothers at the Southern Baptist feeding and health care center's clinic in Ethiopia.
Many photographers might crop in much tighter on Sally Jones in Photo 5 here. Don goes wide and gets really close to be sure you see her expression. I remember often seeing the contact sheets of moments like this when Don was editing. He would show me the moment before and after where sometimes the lady in the background was only there for one of maybe 10 frames. She adds so much by helping pull you to the background after you have already seen Sally. There are more mothers outside is what this helps to convey.

[Photo 6] Israel—Missionary kid Sommer Hicks plays on the rocks of the sea of Galilee with her dad, Ray Hicks, in the background. [Don Rutledge]
So often photographers get so focused on the main subject they forget that those around the subject can sometimes give us insights into them. Here we get a glimpse of how normal life is for Ray Hicks in Photo 6 when we see how much fun his daughter is having at the sea of Galilee. Don shot it in a way to bring Ray into the photo and give a context that Don did so well time and time again.

Please take a look how often Don uses depth in his photos to tell stories. Here are two coverages of Russia that Don did in the 1980s. Don shot these for a magazine which would only use on average maybe 8 to 12 photos, but look at the true depth of his coverage. I remember seeing these coverages up on so many light tables and Dan Beatty commenting on how he could tell so many stories whenever Don returned.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Getting the moment in a portrait with the Nikon D4

Nikon D4, Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 500, ƒ/5, 1/640—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash. 
I was recently hired by my client to capture her grand daughter. She wanted the best expressions and said this was why she wanted me to do the photo shoot. I continue to help her with her commercial needs and she knew I concentrate on getting the "moment."

Nikon D4Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 500, ƒ/5, 1/800—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash.
I intentionally shot these on my Nikon D4 to use the off-camera TTL flash system I have come to love. I am using the off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash.

We decided to shoot outside on their deck because the little girl was really not happy when I arrived inside. The mother said she loved the outside and sure enough just as soon as we went outside she became another person.

This is where you have to remain flexible. Now I wasn't thrilled with the railing, but I liked the plants on the deck.

Nikon D4Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 500, ƒ/4, 1/1250—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash.
While the little one loved the outside she was starting to get a little fussy, so mom gave her blueberries that she just loved, but also gave me many photos with drool.

During some of the time it was sprinkling and the other time it was overcast. So getting a consistent color was achieved by winking in the flash.

Nikon D4Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/800—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash.
While I liked the green in the background I found this oversized recliner that I used for a three generation photo of the Grandmother, mother and child. I prefer the cleaner background and had it not been raining I would have suggested getting off the deck so I could eliminate the railing. This would have lended to an even better background.

While I love the Fuji system, when it comes to nailing the focus and moment, I still prefer my Nikon D4.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fuji X-E2 at ISO 25600

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 25600, ƒ/4.8, 1/340, Kelvin 10000
Last night we went to a concert at Red Sky Tapas & Bar to see the Dueling Pianos.

I am pretty sure this is how the light was in those caves at the beginning of time. Even with the LED spotlights there just wasn't a lot of light in the room.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 25600, ƒ/4, 1/240, Kelvin 10000
This is a good example of why Fuji designed their X-E2 to shoot at ISO 25600. Without the ability to use such a high ISO you would not be able to shoot a handheld photo with the Fujinon XF 55-200mm which at it longest zoom is a ƒ/4.8.

I am shooting across the room and right now Fuji doesn't have a ƒ/2.8 lens, so I am having to crank the ISO up.

Cropped close to 100% of photo above
Even looking at the photo at close to full resolution I am not displeased with the result.  I think it is acceptable resolution for publication in a magazine. I think it would have no problem being a two page spread photo.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 25600, ƒ/3.6, 1/400, Kelvin 10000
I was not able to go and get a custom white balance, so I started by dialing the white balance to Tungsten and it wasn't close. I then noticed that the lights were LED. I then chose to use the Kelvin setting and dial it to 10000. This I thought would be a good starting point and decided the colors look pretty good.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55, ISO 25600, ƒ/3.6, 1/350, Kelvin 10000
Conclusion is if you even find yourself in situations where the room is so dark that you need to shoot at a high ISO, be sure your camera can go as high as the Fuji X-E2 which at ISO 25600 really made these photos possible.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Why I own Nikon and Fuji camera systems

I now own two camera systems and I am not alone.

I think my friend Gary S. Chapman put it perfectly yesterday when I was talking to him. He believes we have gone back to the way we used to be before digital, multiple formats for the right job.

I used to shoot with 4x5 Linhoff, 2 1/4 Hasselblad and 35mm Nikon film cameras. Then when digital came along we all tried to get one camera to do it all.

For a while I think that is what I was doing and to a certain extent the Nikon D4 is doing. I shoot sports, general assignment work and most important addition--VIDEO. Two of the three things I shoot regularly the Fuji system just isn't cutting it: Sports and Video.

So I find I love Fuji X-E2 for shooting what I call general assignment still photography work great. It does affect your workflow just a bit. The Fuji does take longer to ingest because the file sizes are almost double the Nikon D4 RAW files.

Many of the clients that I shoot for are all photographers themselves. Some of them have gone out and bought the Fuji system based on what they saw from my images caught with the Fuji system. To me the Fuji system is like the Leica M series was when I shot that with film. I think for a while Fuji X system for many photographers will be an addition but not a replacement system.

Just like I want one camera bag that will do it all I think I want a camera system that will do it all. Just like the reason I own multiple bags to use for different purposes, so too I will own different cameras for different purpose.

I find that if I need some camera gear—meaning if it will help me retain or get new clients the equipment always pays for itself. I would not own most of my system if this were a hobby. I couldn't justify it. Lucky for me the gear keeps me quite competitive in this ever changing market.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Protecting and help retain the value of lenses

Not long after I bought my first Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 I invested in the LensCoat Neoprene Cover for the lens.

On the most basic level it prevents cosmetic blemishes on the surface of the lens and helped retain value of the lens. Your lens will still depreciate. Take a look here at KEH's guide and you will see how much depreciation is cosmetic.

KEH grades:

NEWAs packaged by manufacturer complete with manufacturer's USA warranty. Not previously owned or used by a consumer. *You have probably seen the words "NEW" or "LOWER PRICE" listed online or in our catalog where prices usually appear. Due to certain manufacturer's minimum pricing requirements, we are not permitted to publish the price if we sell it less than the manufacturer's Minimum Advertised Price (MAP). While these listings may seem inconvenient, it is our way of letting you know that when you call or click-through on the website, you will be quoted the lowest pricing anywhere for comparable items.
DEMOAs packaged by manufacturer complete with manufacturer's USA warranty. Never owned by a consumer but used for demonstration.
LN"Like New" Includes original box and instructions.
LN-"Like New Minus" Extremely slight wear only seen upon very close inspection. Box and accessories usually not included. Glass perfect*.
EX+"Excellent Plus" Exceptionally nice. May have slight wear on finish but visible only under close inspection. Glass very clean*.
EX"Excellent" Shows moderate wear. May have small dents and/or dings and slight finish wear. Glass may have slight marks and/or blemishes that will not affect picture quality*.
BGN"Bargain" Shows more than average wear. May have dents, dings and/or brassing and finish loss. Glass may have marks and/or blemishes that should not affect picture quality*.
UG"Ugly" Very rough looking. Multiple impressions in metal, excessive finish loss and brassing. Glass will have marks, fungus and/or haze which will affect picture quality.
AI"As-Is" Usually to be used for parts only. All equipment sold in As-Is category carries no warranty nor return privileges. The equipment most likely doesn't work and may have missing pieces. Defects will include, but are not limited to the problems listed on the description.

Here you can see the lens without the lens coating and that is how I hope I can keep it looking for a long time.

A great feature includes a clear, flexible UV-PVC window over the AF/IS/VR controls and the distance-scale window. This also helps you from accidentally bumping and changing those settings.

LensCoat® Lens Covers are manufactured from 100% closed-cell neoprene, offering protection from bumps, jars and nicks, with a camouflage-pattern fabric cover. LensCoat® Lens Covers also provide a thermal barrier, protecting your hands from cold lenses in lower temperatures. They are easy to install and remove, sliding on like a sleeve, leaving no residue on the lens. And LensCoat® lens covers are waterproof, providing protection in harsh conditions.

If the LensCoat performs as well on this lens as the last one I had on my older 120-300mm then I will recover the cost of the $89.

Here is a video explaining their product that was produced by LensCoat.

LensCoat Lens Covers from LensCoat on Vimeo.

Photographers need repetition to grow

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/7.1, 1/125, EV -1.7
My bird feeders are teaching me a great deal these days. The feeder doesn't change day to day but the light and the birds do.

This past weekend I observed we had a lot of fledglings. Fledge is the stage in a young bird's life when the feathers and wing muscles are sufficiently developed for flight. It also describes the act of a chick's parents raising it to a fully grown state.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/420, EV -1.3
Here I watched the House Finch feeding the Fledgling. It was just fun watching this take place and so I decided I would pull out the cameras and photograph them. The combining of one interest with another really enhances the experience.

When I started the photos were horribly over exposing. I was shooting in aperture mode. I had Auto ISO chosen with a minimum shutter speed setting of 1/500.  I compensated the exposure by turning the EV to -1.7 and would fine tune it here and there based on the histogram.

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm was pretty slow with a ƒ/3.5-4.8 aperture. I was getting pretty good results, but we had rain coming down most of the weekend and I thought this was a great time to test the new Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Lens, ISO 4000, ƒ/6.3, 1/320 EV 0
With the Red Bellied Woodpecker I was not having to use the exposure value compensation and got wonderful detail in the feathers.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Lens + Sigma 1.4 converter, ISO 4500, ƒ/6.3, 1/500 EV -1.3
However when the darker Downy Woodpecker visited the feeder I had to compensate the EV -1.3.

I was having fun and the thing is while I was having fun I was also learning how to check the exposure from bird to bird because that will affect the exposure. I could have tried the manual exposure, but the light was changing as the sun would peek through a little and then disappear.

I also enjoyed shooting with the faster ƒ/2.8. I was able to add the Sigma 1.4 converter when I photographed the Downy Woodpecker and get just a little closer to 420mm.

I was also learning about the birds. I downloaded the Peterson's guide to my iPad and enjoyed finding out the names of the birds. At first I thought I had a Hairy Woodpecker, but that is a bigger bird with a longer bill.

Taking photographs allowed me to have the time to zoom in and really examine the bird in detail. Too often they come and go on the bird feeder too quickly for me to study.

Now you know why so many birders are also photographers.

Do you have something you can photograph this regularly and see how your camera reacts in different light and also help you grow? If not I really recommend you look. I found mine in my backyard.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Process for buying a lens

While I reviewed this lens a year ago, I am just now buying the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Lens for the Nikon mount. Here it is on my Nikon D4.

This was more of an upgrade. This would be like selling your older car after getting 12 years of use of it and then buying a new one.

Up until last night I owned the original Sigma 120-300mm.

This is a screen grab of the ebay listing I did to sell the lens. Sold it in less than 24 hours. I didn't list it until I had the other lens.

I listed the lens for sale using 11 photos with this one being the main photo. Most people want to see what all is included.

One thing I did different this time was include photos taken with the lens.

These are all the photos I put up to sell the lens. Two of the four photos I posted taken with the lens were ones published in Sports Illustrated. I really think this helped to sell the lens.

You see too many people think that if it isn't a Nikon or Canon lens Sports Illustrated will not use it. I even had one photographer say this to me standing next to me at a football game trying to put down my lens. I laughed out loud to him and said that is funny because look at this weeks SI and you can see the photo. Then he started back peddling and asked how big it ran.

Here is that photo.

All this is to say the lens I bought twelve years ago was a great lens and did an excellent job through the years. The reason I was replacing it was the newer technology that has come along making it possible to get even sharper photos.

Sigma introduced a USB docking station that only works with their "Global Lenses" and the 120-300mm is one of those lenses. Micro-adjust settings clearly change the focus position bias and provides lots of interesting options for photographers who like to tinker with their equipment to get best results. I am one of those photographers.

I do not have the funds to buy all the lenses now available in this focal length and test them. By the way when I bought the first lens there was no other options except fixed lenses.

I highly recommend always going to DXOMark website and look at their test results on the lenses you are interested in buying. This is what I did when I wanted to see if I should buy the Nikon 200-400mm or get the newer Sigma 120-300.

This is the side by side comparison on a Nikon D4. That is another cool thing is you can check the results on your camera if they tested it.

I was also just a little curious about the Canon 200-400mm and how it measured up to it. So I compared it.

You can click on this comparison to see it larger. The bottom line is for sharpness it was pretty equal.

Price Comparison:
  • Sigma    $3,599
  • Nikon    $6,749
  • Canon    $11,749
Even after tossing in the USB Dock [$59] to calibrate the lens based on price alone it was a no brainer. 

you get what you pay for 
In commercial transactions, the quality of goods and services increases as the prices increase, i.e., the more one pays, the better the merchandise. 
Well the test results on these lenses and my past experience with the Sigma lenses was proving the old english proverb wasn't always correct.

If you buy the lens then be sure and buy the USB Dock and calibrate the lens.  Here is a blog post I did about this process.

After I did all this research I just looked for who had the lens and could get it to me at the best price. This was more about who offered free shipping because the price was pretty much the same no matter where you looked.

Stay tuned in the future and I will be sure to post many photos from this lens.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Your photography gets better when you synthesize

Teaching in Lisbon, Portugal. [photo by Jeff Raymond]
Synthesizing is the combining of two things for something completely new. I have discovered through the years some things that by combining things in teaching is making my photography better.


I have discovered that as I came to understand Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey as a framework for telling stories, I could not only analyze a project and make it better I am also able to apply this storyline to my own life and make changes.

Studying the concept of the storyline helped me to then do a better job throughout the storytelling process. I was able to do a better job for pre-planning and in the midst of the shooting of the story adjust more quickly and improve the storytelling due to understanding of the power of the myth of The Hero's Journey.

Steve Johnson did a great job a few years ago talking about how synthesis takes place in ideas.


I really have enjoyed teaching a lot more than I thought I ever would. I was terrified at first, but over time learned to thrive.

Teaching students in the Storytelling workshop in Lisbon, Portugal. [photo by Jeff Raymond]
I have shared in many of my past blog posts about how teaching is the highest form of the learning process.

Combining photography, video, audio and writing I have been able to tell stories more effectively than when I was just doing photography.

When I started to teach I was perfecting my storytelling skills. I was having to connect the subject with the audience. Often that audience is just one person. I would have to understand enough about the audience to know how to choose the right metaphors to engage them and to teach different complex concepts.

[photo by Jeff Raymond]
One thing I noticed is that when I showed the audience something the understanding increased over just talking about it. I was synthesizing [combining] the visual and the spoken word to create a more meaningful and understandable presentation.

I have had many "Aha moments" where what many might consider a failure was a calibrating moment. You try a metaphor and realize this did not work with that audience. You may use it later, but then you must come up with another way to connect with the audience the subject you are trying to teach.

When pros take photos their first pictures they make in a studio, for example, is to check the exposure, white balance and often checking a composition. They then look at the photo and analyze it. Does it need to be lighter or darker? Is it too green or magenta? Do I need to do a custom white balance to fix it?

Teaching storytelling has me teaching a variety of subjects. Here are some of the topics I am teaching for example:
  • Software like Adobe Lightroom, PhotoShop, Adobe Premier or Final Cut
  • Lighting— Hot shoe flashes, studio strobes, radio remotes, flash metering, custom white balance, high speed sync, slow speed sync
  • Camera — ƒ-stops, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, EV, White Balance, composition, lens choices
  • Subjects — Sports, Fashion, Portraiture, Science, Features, Photo Stories, Environmental Portraits, 360º Panoramics, Landscape
  • Audio — microphones, setting levels, natural sound, voice over
  • Video/motion — formats, audio, story boarding, scripts
There are more topics, but you can see when I start to teach multimedia storytelling I am synthesizing all of this into the class. You cannot teach a subject effectively if you do not know it inside and out. The reason is once the student starts to ask questions on thing you haven't thought about you must be able process the question and pull upon all this information to help formulate a response.

When you are able to answer the students questions and help everyone learn you get invited to teach more and more. You then get exposed to more and more questions which often may have you saying let me get back to you on that question. I then might find myself with a camera and working on a solution to the student's question.

You see when you teach you will synthesize the material and through the process of combining the content you create new content. You will start to CREATE new IDEAS. These new creations are what will make your portfolio stronger and help you get more work.

Since I don't always have a class to teach I use the blog as a way to help me continue to synthesize content and improve my skills. This is how you build a better portfolio—combining ideas.

How are you getting better?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Better bird feeder pictures with off camera flash

Fujifilm X-E2, 55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/180
I love our birdfeeders. We have two of the Brome 1015 Squirrel Buster Classic feeders. They keep the squirrels from eating the seed and the birds enjoy it.

When you start taking photos of the birds visiting outside the window, well you often have to open up the ƒ-stop by 1 or 2 stops since the house is on the shade side of the bird. This can often blow out the background.

The solution is to add a flash, but I didn't want an on camera flash for a few reasons. Having it on the camera and shooting through the glass would just give me a be glare.

I put the flash down out another window and I shot through another one. the result is what you see above.

I shot this with the Neewer TT850 flash [$104.95] and the Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger [$27]. This is a photo of the system above.

While not a TTL solution, I find it works just fine. Even the TTL solutions have to be tweaked so often that I really wonder if they are worth the extra money.

If the flash is too bright or dark I just adjust the EV up or down on the radio remote then push [SET] and it sets the flash. The flash must be on the same channel, but what is cool about this system is I can control up to 16 different channels. I have never shot anything with 16 flashes that I set at different power, but I guess I can if I want to.

Try this solution for yourself and by the way the solution will work on any camera that has a hot shoe flash mount.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

When you travel with Super Stars you need off camera flash to make them look good

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/250—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash. 
I am traveling with the famous Chick-fil-A Cow Mascots this week. They are traveling around promoting Cow Appreciation Day this Friday.

Click here to learn more
Dress head to hoof as they like to say at Chick-fil-A and get a free meal. Wear some Cow Attire and get a free entree.

Now let me tell you how I made the top photo. I had two VALS holding the two hot shoe flashes on either side of me. [VALS stands for Voice Activated Light Stand]

Without the flashes the cows would have been somewhat silhouetted and by adding the off camera flash I was able to keep the color temperature on them daylight and then also keep them bright enough to keep the rich colors in the background.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/4—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash. 
Very similar lighting setup, just I am have a subject close to me blocking the light to the left. I dragged the shutter to 1/4 to be sure you saw the photo he was making on his phone.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/4—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash. 
Here you can see one of my VALS holding the hot shoe flash. The other VALS is behind me pointing at the cow. If you look at the Cows eyes you can see the reflections of the two flashes. Notice the shadows on the concrete. This tells you they were all backlighted and the flashes made a huge difference.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/4—Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900 & SB800.  The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash. 
Here I am behind the flashes and you can see the other VALS here in the foreground. The other VALS is further to the left in the photo.

I don't generally use these last two photos where you can see the flashes, but kept them to show to you so you can see how simple this is to do.

Monday, July 07, 2014

The best photo is often the difference is as clear as Night and Day

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/600 [3 images stitched together in PhotoShop CS6] Hand held
It is a Night and Day difference between these photos. Maybe we need to remember that saying next time we travel.

I just find that few photos from the middle of the day stand up to dusk and night time photos.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/11, 1/5 seconds [three images stitched and the photo was shot on tripod with a 2 second delay to eliminate camera shake]
Major difference to me between the two photos.

Couple of quick tips for shooting the night time shot.

  • Use Tripod
  • Use cable release or shoot on delay [I used a 2 second delay]
  • Shooting ƒ/22 will give you a star effect around the lights. I shot at ƒ/11
  • Also this is a great way to eliminate many of those pesty power lines

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Cosmic Bowling & Off Camera Flash

Panasonic DMC-TZ5. ISO 1600, ƒ/3.3, 1/30
This was a photo I took with a point and shoot Panasonic DMC-TZ5. I love the camera and it had a great Zeiss lens. ISO was limiting up to about 1600.

This is the type of photo most people will get at the bowling alley during cosmic bowling without a flash.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/2.8, 1/4 with off camera flash
I shot this of my daughter bowling a few years ago with the Nikon 14-24mm lens at 14mm. So I am pretty close and the flash is really close to being straight on to her face or about 45º to my left. I panned and the shutter was dragging.

The camera was set on Aperture priority and the flash was set to slow-sync to pick up on all the ambient light. The panning action created the streaks you see across the image.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/4, 1/15 with off camera flash
Now because the flash is so close to the subject and being controlled by TTL [Through The Lens] metering it shuts off and is just winking a light. The camera shutter remains open picking up the available light in the background so it doesn't go black.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/2.8, 1/15 with off camera flash
The cool thing about using Slow Sync on the flash is I am capturing the atmosphere of the room and the flash is putting light on the subjects face.  Just look at that first photo here and you will be reminded they would be silhouetted without the flash.

My suggestion is to go and try this with your friends. Go to a Cosmic Bowling Night and have some fun. I can tell you will enjoy the images for years to come.

More off-camera flash posts:

Apr 05, 2014
I prefer off-camera flash any day to the pop up flash on any camera. I have written many articles on it here on the blog. Just put in the phrase "off-camera" in the search field I have on the blog and you will see many posts ...
Jul 05, 2013
This is just a list of what I recommend for those wanting to do off camera flash with the Nikon TTL system and using Pocketwizard radio system to fire the flashes. You can substitute another Nikon TTL or off brand if you wish to ...
Jul 14, 2014
This can often blow out the background. The solution is to add a flash, but I didn't want an on camera flash for a few reasons. Having it on the camera and shooting through the glass would just give me a be glare. I put the flash ...

Jul 09, 2014
Without the flashes the cows would have been somewhat silhouetted and by adding the off camera flash I was able to keep the color temperature on them daylight and then also keep them bright enough to keep the rich colors ...
Apr 14, 2012
By combining off-camera flash and having people moving I get two great results; great expressions and good color. The very first thing I started with on the assignment was a group photo, but the best results as far as ...
Feb 25, 2013
Off camera flash and gels for the sky. When I get this kind of a situation on a cloudy day in Kona, Hawaii sometimes I fix it with flash. By using a off camera flash I set the flash to be 2-stops over the available light and the ...
Apr 10, 2012
When I first wrote about doing off camera flash I realized I need to come back to this and highlight some points. ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture and +/- There are a few things that will affect you getting a proper exposure. Let's set ...

May 21, 2011
There are three things that make me choose my Nikon Speedlights over the manual flash: 1) I have no sync speed limitations, 2) quick—I don't have to pause to take readings and then set the camera, and 3) I can shoot at very ...
Jul 06, 2012
You can trigger the off camera flash many different ways. I often use the Nikon SU-800 which uses infrared to trigger the off camera flash. I chose to use the PocketWizard Mini TT1 on the camera with the AC3 which lets me ...
Jul 05, 2012
I also used my Gitzo carbon fiber tripod to keep the camera rock steady so I could shoot these at dusk. This way everyone's eyes were open and not squinting on the beach. To trigger the flashes I had the PocketWizard Mini ...