Saturday, February 21, 2009

Long exposure images.

I’d like to re-visit a subject that I have only wrote about once before, and only briefly.

The whole idea of long exposure photography intrigues me, and I do love to practice it as often as time and weather allow. I have always enjoyed using introduced light as a brush while allowing time to develop the rest of the image. I use torches (flashlights) most of the time as a great slow burning light introduction tool, but flashes are fun to use also.

One of the problems that I often run into is light spillage, or light contamination. While I am careful to only illuminate the subject matter that I wish to paint with light, it often spills around the edges of objects, or some of the light reflects into the foreground or the background of a long exposed image.

I have tried many methods of controlling the spill of light, starting with the experimenting of many different types of torches. I settled with incandescent bulb types, those with bulbs instead of L.E.D. lights, for their quality and temperature of light. I fell in love with torches that have a focusing beam. Perfect for this exact use are the “Mag lights”, of varying sizes. These are reliable and the beam can be adjusted from wide coverage to a small spot.

However, the problem of unwanted light spillage still remained in my images. I tried to use my hands to shield the light into a certain area, but it proved way too hard. I have tried all sorts of tubes, as snoots, but it only made the effect of spillage smaller, and did not get rid of it all together.

The solution? Well, as I was making my grids and snooted grids for my flash heads, I gave making one for a torch a shot. I wrapped a round-cut grid (of black colorplast) with black foam paper, and then wrapped that in black scotch tape. This was easy enough, and it only took about an hour to put together. It isn’t pretty, but it works unbelievably well!

The images below show the beams' spill over of light, before and after. I was amazed at just how much light spilled over even at its’ sharpest focused spot, and that was at a very close distance. The spillage only gets worse as the distance to the subject increases. Once I slipped the "form fitting" gridded snoot onto the end, the spillage was completely gone!

Why the re-visit of long exposure (or bulb) photography? Well, as fate has it, I am lucky enough to be going to Arizona for the first time. The misson for the trip is to meet my real father, also for the first time. We are both very excited to say the least. Second, I plan on spending many nights out in the desert taking long exposures. If I could only figure out what equipment to leave behind.... I can see myself explaining to the air marshals, exactly what this thing in my luggage is!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

John Paul Caponigros’ Atmospheric FX 3 DVD set

Yes, I know that I posted an entry not too long ago praising 3 DVD collection titled “Drawing with Light: 21st Century Dodging & Burning (Tutorial DVD - 3 Disk Set)”, but this is a separate 3 DVD set, titled “Atmospheric FX’, and this one is just as good!

John Paul Caponigro is a well recognized name in the photography world, and advice from him is advice well taken! John does not fail to amaze. His creative minds eye is a world that I love to explore, and he lets us all in as you watch this Drawing with Light: 21st Century Dodging & Burning (Tutorial DVD - 3 Disk Set). First he explains what makes an image work, using atmospheric effects such as smoke, clouds, and fog, just to name a few. He explains many ways to incorporate these effects into your own images, holding our hand the entire way.

Perhaps the gold mine here is the fact that he shows his own finished images alongside the works that he is creating, along with the viewer, so that an end result can be seen and understood.

He goes into great length the many different Photoshop techniques that he uses in order to best apply these effects. He also explains why he chooses these certain work paths, and the trouble with going in a different direction. This is also gold as time is all too often money.

I love how he breaks from working on images to talk more about certain aspects, and theories behind the techniques that he is performing. He manages to keep the viewer completely informed, and with him a he works on his images.

Drawing with Light: 21st Century Dodging & Burning (Tutorial DVD - 3 Disk Set)
John also details the many different ways in which to get and then incorporate “fx” into your own images. This information was great, as it isn’t as hard as I was led to believe.

If you have a desire to take your images to the next level, in the easiest way possible than rush out to get and watch the Drawing with Light: 21st Century Dodging & Burning (Tutorial DVD - 3 Disk Set)! You will thank yourself for the rest of your career.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Nikons MC-30 remote trigger

Sometimes I am amazed with an image that I have taken. Too often, though, I am not. Talking about the ladder of the two, I have been frustrated as of late.
NIKON MC30 Remote Cable Release

It seems that my flare is for taking long exposures, and often using torches in order to only light certain parts of an image. Point is that I have had to come up with creative ways in which to hold the shutter open. Believe me, as often times money is very tight, and gadgets come later.

Macro photography also shows any camera shake in the final image, so something had to be done to remove even the smallest of jolts to the camera. NIKON MC30 Remote Cable Release

Well, I used to go to such lengths as using electrical tape and small stones in order to hold down the shutter release button. I have switched the stones out with such items as wire nuts and coins, all to the same results….Bad. Plus, in cold weather, you can forget the electrical tape doing its job. Lastly, doing this redneck fix causes camera shake, no matter how much I tried to prevent it. Looking back, I can’t believe that I actually did this, let alone tell you all that I did.

With money as tight as it is, I was happy to find a solution to my troubles for as little as I did. The NIKON MC30 Remote Cable Release  sells for fewer than 100 bucks, and even cheaper than that on EBAY.

This little gadget simply screws into the front of my D-200, in the 10 pin remote terminal, and that is that. The NIKON MC30 Remote Cable Release  then takes over the operation of the cameras shutter release button. This little and wonderful device even focuses as you depress the NIKON MC30 Remote Cable Release  button half way down. Pressing it all the way down releases the shutter, remotely, and snaps the picture.

Perhaps the best feature of the NIKON MC30 Remote Cable Release  is that it has a simple to use lock on it, in order to keep the shutter open as long as you want it to remain open. This will completely remove all camera shake from the remainder of my long exposure career.

To sum up the NIKON MC30 Remote Cable Release , I would say that it is just the perfect size and weight. It feels good in your hand, and it is straight forward in its use. If you do not have one in your gear bag, get one. This will only improve your macro game as well as your long exposures.