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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

under the bridge

i had another photoshoot with helen recently and this time we decided to take a couple of pictures outdoor. i brought a lot of equipment along i did not end up using (lightstands, multiple speedlights, umbrella) because there was a fairly strong wind which made it very difficult to not be hit by the lightstands.

still, there were a couple of shots that, after adjusting the exposure settings, turned out quite nice i think.
here are some of them:




while a few people walking by stopped to look at what was going on and what we were doing, there was not too much distraction. unfortunately it was also quite cold on that day and the light was fading quickly so we had to make the shoot rather short.

Monday, 24 March 2014

plants at night

i went out to take a couple of pictures a few nights ago and only recently managed to have a look through them. the idea initially was to do some light painting which in the end did not quite come out as planned so i will have to give that another try.

i realized however, as i took a couple of shot of the plants around the area of altes akh in vienna, that you get a really nice color gradient going on with all the soft bounce-light at night.

in combination with a really shallow depth of field this gives a somewhat dreamy look:


Friday, 21 March 2014

fundamentals (tutorial)

this time let's have a look together at the very basics of photography,
what the different terms mean you often hear and, most importantly, what you can do with it.

any picture you take with a camera is influenced by a couple of factors. if you use the "auto" a lot, you get something that you have very little control over. that might be great for snapshots, but sometimes you want a specific look in your pictures. this short tutorial is meant to put you behind the wheel of what comes out when you press the camera's shutter button.

here is a summary of the most important information to get you going, feel free to distribute:


some of these things may not be scientifically correct to the camera-repair guy (if you are one, please correct me) but they are artistically correct enough to make it easy to understand for you and keep it as a reference.

in order to get your feet wet with all this information, you could just forget about the auto modes of your camera and stick with manual mode for some time to practice (that's usually the one called "M" on your camera which allows you to set iso, aperture and shutter speed as you like). i will do that with you, let's see what we learn.

there are many different automatic modes (Av, Tv, Sv, ..) on most cameras and they are very useful too - but i will ramble about them some other time. if you have suggestions or questions don't hesitate to comment and we will figure it out.

have fun!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

abstracts

i'm trying to make a habit of always having my camera (a pentax k-3) with me whenever possible. so today during a coffee break i snuck (yes, that's a word) to the terrace of our beautiful research building to take a couple of quick shots and on the way home there also was a cool street lamp that needed to be captured on chip.. hmm.. film would sound better here but it was digital so there you go.

i particularly liked the sci-fi look that these images had (or i just watched too many sci-fi movies for my own good). in both cases i added some split-toning which actually didn't change it too much as the pictures were already taken at sunset where you get the nice cool blue shadows and bright warm highlights.

i used the incredibly flexible 18-135mm kit lens for both shots.


the really strong out of focus effect is a combination of (as you may already know) a very wide open aperture (f 5.6, the largest on this lens) and a long focal length (100mm here I think). this means the rest of the image not in focus will be very efficiently blurred out as you can see.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

old school

since i bought a holga camera some time ago i started to dabble a bit in middle format film (so.. old school stuff that is) including developing it at home and "scanning" it with my dslr. [i will make a blog about that process some time in the future.]

so i was starting to dabble with my holga when i was invited to a friend's party .. and there i saw it! the most beautiful piece of camera equipment imaginable. an old twin lens reflex (tlr) camera.. something so striking and intriguing that i knew i had to have one..

source: wikipedia

so i feverishly browsed ebay and it's clones for some time and in the end (since the rolleiflex depicted up there is a tad expensive) i settled on a cheaper version, the "seagull".. basically a chinese knock off version produced in the 1960s:

source: wikipedia

while these cameras are perfectly capable of taking high-quality photos in the hands of the experienced film photographer (which i am not) i particularly like the low-fi, gritty, dirty side i can get with it. including dust on the film, scratches etc.



.. and if you want to collect hipster-points, these cameras are just the thing.

(plus you can take the obligatory selfies because these things a mechanical self-timer)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

DIY ringlight

as promised i finally got to write a very small how-to on making your own inexpensive (50€) ring light for video and stills (most suited for indoors since it is cable-bound and not weather proof).

step 1: buy a lamp with a circular tube (see below). those you can get at any hardware store (got mine at bauhaus jägerstraße in vienna if you are a local). some of them are around 100€ because they have reflectors and glass covers. the one that i found and used here does not have all those things and therefore was comparatively cheap.

this is what the lamp looks like:


step 2: since i want to view through the ring towards the model i need to somehow separate the lamp base from the tubes and rotate them up. in this case it was easy as can be because the fluorescent bulb is just clipped onto these two plastic holder that you see there. the third one i secured with tape so the ring does stay in position once i move it up.


step 3: the lamp is of course made to be connected to your ceiling, not a power socket, so just was two cables hanging out of the back side. to make it into something i can plug in i sacrificed an old computer cable and soldered it to the wires. this allows me to use another standard power cable and just plug it in without the clutter of having the cable constantly dangling below the light in case i want to transport it.
if you don't feel comfortable doing the soldering yourself ask an electrician friend to do this for you. this should be done properly! i secured the cable with some tape which looks a bit like a hack but so far it works fine.



step4: plug it in, shoot away and have fun with it. here's a quick mugshot made with this lamp





Sunday, 16 March 2014

children of the corn

had a photoshoot this week with a friend and we found a very cool location at a corn field.
unfortunately i had underestimated how dark it already was so i lost some of my shots due to too-low shutter speed induced blur because my camera's auto-setting (which i activated to get a feel for the right exposure) defaults to iso 100 and i didn't notice in time.

still, there were quite a couple of nice shots in that set. here is one:


i am thinking of shooting a series of these at various locations because i like the surreal look of this particular pose (which happened more or less by accident)

Friday, 14 March 2014

the one you have with you

there is the mantra that "the best camera is the one you have with you" and in order to take full advantage of that i want to make a quick shout out for a (free) app that i love to take pictures with if i have no camera with me. it's called vignette (click for the link) and i find it a near-perfect solution for mobile phone photography.
below are some example pictures i took with that app. get it if you can and try it out, i think it's worth your time. (and no, i'm not sponsored in any way)

these were taken with my phone (galaxy s4) using the vignette app:



Thursday, 13 March 2014

no color

here are two more pictures from the rooftop shoot i wrote about last time. for these two i converted them to black and white to get a slightly different mood.

here they are:




i also picked up a ringflash reflector (this one http://www.ray-flash.com/) yesterday that i bought second-hand, payed 60€ instead of 170€, and am looking forward to try it out. it's basically a reflector for your flashgun that gives you a ring-like illumination for a relatively low budget. there are also some very cool led-ringlights which are awesome for video but considerably more expensive (for instance this one http://www.fvlighting.com/store/lighting/led/r300.html about 250€) so i built a video ringlight myself. Cost me about 50€ with things from the local supply store and as long as i can find a power outlet somewhere this should work well. i will give it a try and post the result (and maybe a small how-to if you want to build your own).

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

over the rooftops

today we had a rather spontaneous photoshooting on the roof of a building next to the lab i am working in.
a friend and colleague wanted a picture for his linkedin-page and that was the perfect opportunity to give the new yoguno flash a first try.

so we waited until close to sunset ("golden hour") and then started picking the best location. i wanted to blow the background out almost completely so I used my pentax 55-300 lens at close to 135mm focal length and f7.1 at iso 200. in retrospect, since this gave me a shutter speed of only 1/180,
i could have gone higher iso to prevent blurring the pictures by shaking the camera at the long focal lengths too much. something to remember for next time.

the lighting setup was simple- i mounted the flash on a lightstand and used it without diffuser to brighten up the side of the face opposite to the sun, directly pointed towards the head. about 1/32 power and triggered with the built-in flash from my pentax-k3 set to "normal" flash mode and flash brightness -2 stops (to just use the flash as a trigger, not to significantly light the face).




Monday, 10 March 2014

reflections

over here the sun slowly but surely starts creeping in and there is more opportunity for outdoor shots with decent natural light.

so here is a shot from a stroll along the wien river on a sunny sunday.
i kind of liked how these white patterns reflected in the water and how the park benches and trees frame the ladder in the middle.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

more portraits

this is another one from the photoshoot with helen. in this case i diffused a lamp through a frame with a shower curtain used as the diffuser material. this gave us very soft shadows on her face.

i used a small additional lamp to create catchlights in her eyes and bring out the structure of the hair a bit more.



finally my second yognuo speedlight arrived as well so i am planning an outdoor shoot soon to test them out. stay tuned!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

lighting setup

here is the lighting setup i have used for the first picture in the last post. nothing special in particular but in case you would like to try it out, here it is.


i held the lamp behind the model's head manually with my arm and used a remote control to trigger the camera (the black shirt i wore completely blended into the background, i didn't even have to edit it out).

the second light was on the floor in front of the model facing away from her and was shining light onto a white canvas i used as a reflector to bounce soft light onto the model's face and to cause a reflection in her eyes.

the canvas was resting against a lightstand so it was semi-stable for the shoot.

try it out, have fun!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

and so a blog is born

first blog post.. ooh the pressure.
i will be posting random blurbs about photography and art in vienna here, so here we go:

i had a photoshoot yesterday with helen who modeled for me in my humble homestudio.

the good: we got some nice photos i think (see below)

the bad: my flashguns (sigma EF 500 DG super and a Yoguno 560 Mark II) don't play nice with each other. needs to be fixed. i'll keep you posted.

in the end we kept shooting with continuous lights which turned out all right (iso 1600 though)

here are some pics from yesterday: