Thursday, April 19, 2012

I'm in love with my SB800!

I've been working hard at understanding two new things to me: off camera flash, with my Nikon SB800, using the D300s as the "master", and the SB800 as the "slave", set on remote.

The second thing I'm working on is using my SB800 on manual rather than TTL or TTL-BL. (I know, I know. . . I've had the flash for over two years, but it's only now that it all seems to be coming together for me now!)

One thing which has made a huge difference was picking up the "One Light" DVD by Zach Arias on eBay, and it is incredible! He is making the concepts so clear that I'm finally making some headway with this!

The second thing that has been helpful has been getting a copy of Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Flash Photography." The only down-side is that he focuses pretty heavily on the Nikon SB900, which is difinitely different from the SB800, BUT he focuses extensively on putting the flash in manual. What a difference this makes!

Now, I can finally read some of the information on Strobist, and chunks of it are making sense to me now! Like, whole sentences full!

Literally, I can barely sleep at night, wanting to play with my flash now. (Doesn't that just sound wrong?)

Anyway, here are two rather serendipitous shots of Ruby, shot immediately after first learning how to put my camera in off-camera remote, the flash sitting on the couch next to me, Ruby walked up, and I "shot" her.

She's such a good sport! Like Bonnie, she knows Camera=Treat. None of the rest of my family will work so cheap for food.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday Tutorial: Low Key

Another Tutorial Tuesday! But I had such a hard time with this. The concept seems so simple: use one light source, against a black background, control a minimal amount of light on your subject, and take your shot.

I did not have a black background, but used a dark hallway. I used an external flash, set on manual, remote, 1/4 power. The camera was set at ISO 400, 1/320, f/11, and I used a 50mm lens on manual focus.

Then I blocked off part of the external flash with a gobo (translation: a Yogi Ginger tea box, and two of my fingers) to try to block more of the external flash light, in order to have less of it spill off Ruby and onto the background. ("Gobo" apparently means "go between" your subject and flash).

Then I processed the photo with a RadLab black & white action.

I'm not thrilled with the shot; I think it makes sweet Ruby look like a wolf. She wasn't completely happy with this process, but she's such an agreeable puppy, and there was one miserable piece of dog kibble hanging in the balance, so she waited and waited and waited. . . . . and this was the best I got!

Here's the link for Tutorial Tuesday if you'd like to play along and learn cool things:
Tutorial Tuesday

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My wonderful sister-in-law, Maria, asked about the Roasted Butternut & Sweet Potato Salad I made for Easter.

So here's the recipe:

Roasted Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Salad
Delicious Blend of winter veggies, nuts & dried fruit

YIELD 8 to 10 servings

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 " cubes
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 " cubes
2 T olive oil
2 bunches green onions, sliced
1 c snipped fresh parsley
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
1/4 c golden raisins
1/4 c dried cranberries (I used cherries)
1/4 c olive oil
3 T orange juice
2 T maple syrup
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground nutmet


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread sweet potatoes and buternut squash in a single layer in two 15 x 10 x 1" baking pans. Drizzle with the 2 T olive oil; toss to coat. Roast, uncovered, about 30 minutes or just until vegetables are tender. Let cool.
In large serving bowl combine sweet potatoes, butternut squash, green onions, parsley, pecans, raisins and cranberries. Cover and chill for at least 4 hrs or up to 24 hrs.
For dressing, in a screw-top jar combine the 1/4 c olive oil, the oj, maple syrup, blasamic vinegar, ginger, salt, cinnamon, and nutmet. Cover and shake well. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Let stand at room temp for 30 min before serving.

One word: Delicious!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When Zebras Attack Poinsettas

I already did one Tutorial Tuesday: Double Exposure play, but then, I noticed that my poinsetta was infected with zebras! So, what could I do, but post another image?

The afflicted poinsetta:

Before the infestation:

The source of the zebras: Animal Kingdom Lodge (or are they really native to North Dakota poinsettas?)

Tutorial Tuesday

Conflict of Seasons

Today, I played with the Tutorial Tuesday technique of blending a double exposure, creating this Conflict of Seasons. Kind of like the weather in Grand Forks, where yesterday we had snow flakes, but last week it was in the 70s.

And the original two photos:

Sadly, these are DC tulips rather than Grand Forks, ND tulips, but ours are on the way!

Pin It

Check in here for the wonderful Tuesday Tutorials:

Tutorial Tuesday

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I'm not completely happy with these. After 145 shots, this was the best I could do. I really wanted to get the paper in the background nice and sharply focused in the water drop, but, alas, this was the best I could do. And figuring out how to keep the shadow of the faucet out of the shot was also an interfering variable.

But here they are, without further ado:

And this is the setup for the waterdrop photos.  The patterned scrapbook paper is near the faucet, and I tried to use a reflector to diminish the shadow of the faucet cast by the flash. Settings were ISO 200, ss 1/250, and f/5.6.  I tried using f/11 to see if I could get more sharpness of the pattern in the drops, but it allowed to much of the background to be in focus to be satisfying.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fun with Bubbly Fruit

I had WAY too much fun doing this!

But you would not believe how many shots I took to finally get it how I wanted it.  The instructions for this are at Bonnie's blog.

My main mistake at first was using a round container.  You just cannot get a good, sharp, focus when the light is "bent" by the curves of the glass!  Finally, I headed off to Pier One Imports and picked up a small vase with flat edges.

I did try using a reflector  to direct the sunlight for my shots, but could not get enough light.  I finally gave up after 30 shots or so, and used my flash.  Direct flash reflects off the glass, so bouncing it slightly seems to be the best approach.

I didn't have seltzer water, but have bottles of Sprite in my garage, left-over from Christmas.  Here's a truism:  no one likes Sprite, except in punch.  I have not been able to give this stuff away and have tried for months!  I finally found a use for it. I also found that if you use a straw and blow into the vase, you can stir up the bubbles a little more if they start to lose their sizzle.

Long wooden skewers work MUCH better than toothpicks.  I had lots of toothpick disaster before I headed off to the store to get bamboo skewers.

Here's a shot of the set up:
The clamp on the end of the skewer helps position it exactly where you want it suspended in the bubbly.
The construction paper against the foam board can, of course, be any color you want to contrast with the fruit.

A macro lens may be essential.  I used my Nikon 105mm, ISO 200, f/3.2, ss 1/30 with the SB800 set on TTL.  I had to keep adjusting the flash to get the level of light I wanted for the background as well as on the fruit.

At one point, I played with a string of Christmas lights around the vase to see if I could get colored sparkles of light on the bubbles, but I couldn't get it to work.

Important last step:  Eat the fruit!  Throw away the Sprite (because it really is disgustingly sweet), unless you had the foresight to use champagne, in which case, you should drink it!

Pin It

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tutorial Tuesdays: Using Reflectors

Last year, for Mother's Day, I got a reflector. And then promptly set it aside and let it collect dust.

So when I saw that Tuesday Tutorials was focusing on using a reflector, I thought it was time to dust off the reflector, dust off my (mostly) willing favorite husband and try it out.

I don't exactly know what I'm doing, so I hope I can get some feedback.

This first photo is back-lit by 6 pm western light and a reflector held on my husband's left side. Should I be aiming the reflector higher up? Above his eyes?

This is the same set up with no reflector.

Next, I had him move so he was side lit, on his right side, by the sun, and the reflector positioned on his left.

And this shot is with no reflector.

Pin It

To learn more about Tutorial Tuesdays, check out the link below:

Tutorial Tuesday

Sunday, April 1, 2012

DC Conference

Every couple of years I go to a conference in DC for a few days. The hours are long, usually from 8am until 9:30 pm each night, with minimal breaks for long lines to the bathrooms.

 Feeling sorry for me?


Because this is a conference that knows how to work in a little pleasure and joy wherever it can to brighten things up!

Now, don't be too jealous; this was just the surprising "intro" to the conference, not the ongoing content, which was much more content/work/skill focused, (translation: dry).

And for one glorious 45 minutes, and the day without rain, I slipped outside the front of the hotel and got these beautiful shots!

 I  offered to take a shot of a young couple among the tulips, and just when I was feeling  a little arrogantly-camera-smart, I managed to fall over backward into the street! (Not hurt, and the guy of the couple strongly helped me get back up. Escape helped my bruised ego!)

Pin It