Two days, two motorcycles and two moons. This weekend I found myself at a couple restaurants with motorcycles out front and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph them with the rising moon and twilight sky. In both cases, I brought along my Nikon D700, so I increased the ISO to 1,600, held my breath and squeezed off a few shots. A few came out with decent sharpness while the rest were a bit soft from motion blur. I guess I should have brought my tripod as well.
We were driving back to our lodge from the Mara River in the Northern Serengeti when we crossed over this small stream. Just as we passed through, we all spotted a tiny lizard sunning itself on a log. We all yelled “baby crocodile!” and stopped our Landcruiser. Upon further inspection, this little guy turned out to be a young monitor lizard. It was a neat find and a totally different photo subject from the lions, wildebeest and zebra we’d been photographing earlier in the day.
Took a trip to Seattle today on the Bremerton – Seattle ferry. Had a great time with a Nikon D700 and a few lenses while taking a group tour of the Seattle Mariner’s stadium. Walking the streets was fun and capturing the iconic city locations from different perspectives was a great challenge. Here are some pics.
A few weeks ago I worked with local artist Sanne Beavin to photograph a series of artwork she created for Lent, Holy Week and Easter. The art depicts Jesus’ last week before crucifixion. The entire series of paintings is beautiful, yet powerful. Working with Sanne to take the photos was a great deal of fun and we were able to share these images with people all around the world.
Because this blog is all about photography, I thought I’d share a couple of quick photo tips and behind the scene shots.
The artwork was fairly large and required quite a bit of space to shoot properly. I brought my big muslin backdrop and stands, but in the end, it wasn’t big enough! I wish I had a 30′ wide by 30′ long muslin. Since I didn’t have a huge muslin, I had to shoot everything very tight.
Lighting equipment was simple and straight forward. I used two Photoflex umbrellas and two flashes. In this case, I used an SB-800 and an SB-900 remote. I used my SB-700 flash as a commander unit on my camera to trigger the remote flashes. I also set the flashes to fire with Manual output. One was set for 1/8 power and the other was set for 1/4 power.
Setting the power on the flashes to a consistent output (i.e. Manual 1/4 and 1/8 power) meant that I could shoot anything in the scene without worrying about TTL changing exposures from shot to shot. For example, the flowers below were shot at exactly the same settings (ISO, aperture, flash output) as the artwork above. Locking everything down in manual mode is frequently the best way to shoot large projects like this.
I used a Nikon D700 camera set for ISO 800. White balance was “flash” and my lens was the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8. Most of the photos were taken at an aperture of f5.6.
The most important piece of equipment was the tall ladder! Fortunately, the church had one in a back room so I didn’t have travel back to my office to pick one up. Since the artwork is so big, I needed to get into a higher vantage point in order to photograph the pieces and keep apparent distortion to a minimum. If I photographed from a low position, the art would have keystoned and looked a bit funny. Thank goodness for serendipity!
When photographing flat artwork, dealing with reflections is generally the hardest part. Often times, the solution to removing the reflection is to move the camera angle ever so slightly. The other solution is to move the position of the lights up, down, right, left, forward or backward. It can be a delicate balancing act in a complicated scene like this one because moving the lights for one piece of art will impact the light on the other piece of art.
You can see in the two photos below that changing the camera angle by a smidge will make a big difference in the amount of reflection in the image.
Check out these other links for more information on Sanne’s art and the story behind the story.
I’m always looking for shots whenever I travel. Just before the light faded away for the day, I ran out to my vacation condo’s balcony to capture the pool and the resort. This is a panorama merge of four images from my Nikon D700 and 14-24mm f2.8 wide angle lens.
After the merge, the image was wildly distorted, so I used the Transform tool in Photoshop CS5 to straighten out the corners and fix perspective.
I love the sky in Tanzania. The daily afternoon thunderstorms almost alway guarantee some type of dynamic light that begs to be captured by your camera. It is easy to point your camera towards the heavens, but the challenge is to find a way to juxtapose wildlife or an austere landscape underneath those dramatic skies. This combination of amazing sky and wildlife/landscape is one of my reoccurring photo goals each time I travel to Tanzania.
Here are some attempts from our last photo safari with the Nikonians Academy.
One of the traditional artforms in Tanzania is wood carving. Artists create all types of carvings such as faces, masks, people, bowls, bracelets and animals, but my favorite carvings are of faces. Makonde is the best known type of carving in Tanzania and is typically created using African Blackwood, or mpingo.
Mpingo is very dense and fine-grained, which allows the artists to create extremely detailed carvings. Buying carvings can be a great way to contribute to the local economy and prices for these pieces of art can vary between $10 USD to $10,000 USD.
Artisans are able to create emotions and expressions in their work that always amaze me. In fact, staring into the face of some of these carvings can be completely mesmerizing. Just like any good piece of art, I often find myself captivated in thought while viewing the carvings.
The images I show here were taken of carvings at an art center in Arusha, Tanzania. Since most of these pieces are outside in the weather, they are are beat up from years of sun and rain. I like the added texture derived from the weather and think it enhances the overall look of the carvings.
I processed these images in Nikon Capture NX2, using Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0. I added just a touch of Bleach Bypass and increased the saturation by a few points. Bleach Bypass added to the grittiness of the images and the small punch of saturation returned a bit of color that was eliminated by the bleaching effect.
Just wrote a review for a great new product called Capture Pilot from the good people at Phase One. The product allows anyone with an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to view photos from a tethered photo shoot in real time. The product is truly awesome. Check out the article and see how I used it to photograph a bunch of young kids in an impromptu hotel studio.
Here’s the link to the review: http://www.nikonians.org/resources/reviews/capture-pilot
Click on the section “Pro Reviews” to read the article. If you only want to see the fun pictures, then click on the fourth page titled “Real World Testing.”
Each month I give out a GOAL Assignment that is designed to encourage you photographically. The GOAL Assignment for March, 2011 was to create a triptych. Here’s an example from some photographs I took a couple days ago at the Tacoma Museum of Glass which features work from Dale Chihuly.
I took each photo in the series with a Nikon D700 and a Nikon 14-24mm f2.8. I was photographing a fundraiser event called the Chair Affair for a local charity called the NW Furniture Bank. During the event, I stepped outside to shoot some images of the building at dusk in order to add another dimension to my coverage. I’ll detail how I put together the triptych in next month’s newsletter.
The iconic image in Tanzania is the acacia tree at sunrise or sunset. Every time I go on Safari, I work to find different variations of this theme. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. Gotta keep trying!
The two images below are from the same photograph. The bottom image is the original and the top image is cropped to just include the sky. Both have a different look and feel. I like the graphic nature of the cropped photo, but I like the interplay between blue and red of the uncropped photo. Choices, choices. What to do?