Family Portrait on Location

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Family photo sessions are always on the top the list of my favorite work as a photographer. Sometimes, especially where are more than two family members involved including with small energetic children it could be unpredictable. But then all what I need is patience and positive attitude.

In July took place Summer Mini Session for very special mother and daughter. They both are my friends and I know them for some time but in this case I needed to act professionally and separate the friendship from a business side as they were my clients. We discussed about this photo shot before the session. We considered the locations, the outfit, the weather which is very important for outdoor photography and of course the time of the day due to most favorable light condition.

At the end we both agreed that the photo session will have 2 parts: 1 studio location and 1 outdoor parts. For the outdoor we chose my garden which is very suitable for small events like this. I will only briefly mention the studio here as it is not a part of the main project and this blog.

I have very basic studio seated up in one of my rooms. While working with my clients I used one continuous light and 1 flash with the help of the ambience light from a window. The studio part was mostly reserved for the young girl – Antonina and child fine art portrait. I chose the Victorian era and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais as an inspiration. The beautiful dress and other accessories and props like white flowers all together give the girl very nice vintage look. I was pleased with the result.

The second – outdoor part was very important for all of us as we wanted to create something special and show the relationship between the mother and the daughter. I suggested very simple colors and outfits like white dresses without too many frills so the viewers could focus on the personalities and the bonding between the family members.  I chose a nature as a backgrounds, not to disturbing and in the same time calming eyes and relaxing view.

We shot afternoon around 3 pm when the shadows from the sun stopped be so harsh. I read many times good advises for location and portraits photography and I always try remember especially the technical tips but sometimes we have to try not to follow the rules and create something completely different and if even won’t works it teach us a lesson.

I used two cameras: Canon D5 mark III with 24-70mm and Canon D60 with portrait 50mm lens. I didn’t use a tripod as I took photos from different angles and wanted to be flexible with my movement. I did some basic editing in Photoshop and Nik collection mostly to give more depth and retouch the skin including with color adjusting. The only one small extra I added on one image was a pollen look like overlay.

I chose 6 images for the outdoor portraits with exception to add one more from the Fine Art session which was continued after studio in the garden. I showed the two beautiful people: mother and daughter as individual with their own personalities and together in very natural poses and warm happy atmosphere. There is a visible love and bonding between them. All the images supposed to be in color but I changed my mind during editing process and converted the mother portrait into black and white.

If I will arrange similar summer photo session in the future I would probably also include bigger space like forest or quiet park area. I would like to take photos from longer distance and capture walking along a lake or running on the fields perhaps.

From the business side I would normally give to my client a leaflet with all the terms and conditions and time needed for editing. Also I would consider certain time for a photo session as this event took quite few hours and the little girl felt often tired in between the shots.

Below the final images

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In the footsteps of Poldark

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“Everything that matters to you is in Cornwall” – Elisabeth (to Ross)

Winston Graham, the author of the novel Poldark spent most of his life on the North Cornish coast and that is where all the inspiration came from for his story-lines. He loves Cornwall, its history and he based his fictional characters often on people he had met there.

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Image: images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/…/316f7raWQIL._UX250_.jpg

It is here, in the beautiful surrounding of the Cornish beaches the life of Ross Poldark home- Nampara was established. Emma Marriott in her book “The world of Poldark” mentioned about Graham: “Here he spent much of his time watching the flickering colors in the water; the white flash of gulls’ wings, angular and sharp, against slanting skies; the sea pinks clinging perpendicularly to the gentler rocks like close-cropped pink beards, the thump of waves forcing their way through a blow hole and turning spume into mist; the welter of wild flowers in the unspoiled fields…the endless procession of cloud and sun against the background of wide skies”

My love of Cornwall, Graham’s novels and only recent TV series Poldark lead me toward this project. It took a lot of time, patience, miles of walking to find suitable spots for shooting in the chosen locations. I needed courage due to my fears of heights as I had to stand sometimes near the edges of the cliffs to take the photos. I managed to complete 6 locations where the BBC series was filmed.

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Image: serialeplay.net/serial/618/Poldark

Charlestown

Charlestown is a small port town in the Cornwall. The town received the name from the name of the creator Charles Rashleigh, industrialist involved in the trade of ceramic clay. The town was built in the Victorian style and inhabited by approx. 3000 people.In this town the BBC filmed scenes of ships arriving into a harbor, the port life in 18th century and the marriage of Blamey and Verity on a boat. thebeachhaven.co.uk/…wall/poldark-harbour

During my visit in Charlestown I had a chance to explore The Shipwreck and Heritage Centre which amazed me with the amount of treasures found in sunken ships.

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Bodmin and Bodmin Jail

It is the largest, most thriving city, the ancient capital of Cornwall, an ideal place for a family holiday. In the vicinity of the town centre are several fascinating historical sites as The Shire Hall, Bodmin Jail Bodmin and Wenford Railway, Town Museum and St. Petroc`s Church.

The heaths of the Bodmin area were extolled by writer Daphne du Maurier in her book Jamaica Inn. Stunning walks, tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of civilization makes a lot of people come here for relaxation. The small village of moorlands invites you to hospitable inns and churches full of ghosts of the past.

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Bodmin jail is dark and gloomy. It was built in 1776 and it was one of the first prisons which condemned served the sentence in solitary confinement and which they carried out public executions. In Bodmin Jail Ross Poldark was filmed going to the aid of an incarcerated Jim. spoilertv.com/…/poldark-episode-6-advance-preview

Shooting in low light condition especially when we are not always aloud to use a flash require knowledge of our camera possibilities. I have to admit that working in this condition is not my favorite and sometimes I need take a few shots before I decide about the one I am quite happy with.

Botallack

Botallack is an incredible building because you get a real sense of the connection back to the past. ”

– Margaret Mitchell, series producer

In Botallack was seated the fictional family mine that Ross Poldark tries restore to its former splendor and prosperity. I think it is one of the most picturesque places and the view takes your breath away. There is something special about this place, dungaree and beautiful at the same time. I experienced feelings as if time had stopped here. The engine houses clings to the edges of cliffs ready to tell their stories about past years and people who worked here. twitter.com/PoldarkPhotos

Information  found on :  https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/levant-mine-and-beam-engine/features/explore-botallack-mine     They said: Botallack produced 14,500 tonnes of tin, 20,000 tonnes of copper ore and 1,500 tonnes of refined arsenic. It was a submarine mine, and its shafts reach 570m deep and extend nearly half a mile out to sea.

The extra unexpected attraction of the afternoon was meeting with wonderful wild life painter Paul Apps which he kindly gave me permission to take photos of him while he was painting a landscape and ask also to send him the images so he can use on his website. paulappsfineart.com

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Levant Mine & Beam Engine

Levant Mine is my favourite Poldark location so far, maybe because I visited here just as the sun was going down and it simply looked so beautiful and peaceful. Residues of mine are located on the seafront and belong to National Trust. Quoting the https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/poldarks-filming-locations : “It’s the only Cornish beam engine anywhere in the world that is still in steam on its original site. The view of the coast in this particular place of Cornwall is really extraordinary. I didn’t have a chance to explore the mine shafts due to late hours but I will be back to this place hopefully soon to continue the journey of Poldark locations.

Porthcurno

 In the village one of the biggest attractions undoubtedly is amphitheater carved into the rock. Picturesque location among cliffs and views of the Atlantic Ocean, makes the local scene one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. In this charming place still performance shows. In the neighborhood of theater there is a small beautiful beach which was picked by the creators for Napara Cove – family place of Poldark. You can also come to here by walking down the narrow carved stairs in the rocks.   express.co.uk/…/Poldark-series-2-Aidan-Turner-kiss-wife-Eleanor-Tomlinson

Porthgwara

Porthgwarra Cove is a small and beautiful beach on the South West Coast between Land’s End and Porthcurno. It was also the place where Ross Poldark had his much talked about early morning swim spied on by Demelza. This secluded cove was also the location for the scene where “Ross Poldark gave Mark his boat, so he could sail to France and avoid arrest for the death of his wife, Keren.” poldark-tours.co.uk/voluntary-tour

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If I have a chance to back to Cornwall and do again the same project I would definitely stock myself with more equipment. I had only the use two Canon lenses: 24-70mm and 50mm and for landscape shots are required mostly 16-200 or 300mm for a full frame DSLR.  I had a circular polarizing filter and tripod but not always I used these items. Sometimes I had to act very quickly to catch the moment and I had no time to change the filter or use the tripod. Also due to my physical weakness of my back I am not allowed to carry heavy equipment.

The second thing which is required is knowledge. I definitely prefer to shoot in golden hours when the sun position on the sky is more suitable for beautiful photos with softer shadows. Usually I used manual setting in my Canon cameras but occasionally I needed to set up for automatic mode with white balance as the weather in Cornwall could change dramatically within a few minutes. Luckily it happened rarely.  I changed the settings a few times with the withe balance by using Kelvin temperature. I also used flash gun with octagon diffuser.

All images were adjusted in Photoshop and plug Nik Collection which I really like very much. Along very basic changes there were more advanced especially when the sky adding was needed due to create more dramatic, dynamic and more interesting look of the image. But this happened only occasionally and most of the photos still keep the first original look.

 

 

Using Photography Filters

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Shapes of filters

There are two different shapes of filters: Square and round. Round one we can screw directly into the lens while square filters we have to attach by an adopter.

Tape of filters

I am going to introduce 5 types of filters even I do not own all of them apart of UV and Polarising filter.

-Skylight filter

-Polarising filter

– Straight neutral density filter

-Graduated neutral density filter

-Variable or strong neutral density filter

Before everything Skylight and UV filters are protecting our lens before dust and damages. They also have a task to filter ultraviolet light. If it comes to choose the shape of the Skylight and UV filters definitely the screw-in round are the best option.

Polarising filters are one of my favourite filters and we can rotate them to achieve different effects. These filters increase the colour saturation; give dipper contrast and more blue sky. Apart of it also help to decrees silver reflections on the water or glass for example.

Straight neutral density filters reduce the amount of light and aloud use to use longer shutter speed. With their help we can blur waterfall or give it a softer look. Straight neutral density filters come in different strength or densities from 1 to 10 stops reduction. They are available in both shapes: round and square.

Graduated neutral density filter have very good use in landscape photography as they balancing the colour between sky and foreground. They also come in various strengths and densities plus in two options: hard and soft for different applications. Hard one is more suitable for clear horizon like seascapes for example while soft filters are more suitable for landscapes with trees and mountains in the background.

Variable or strong neutral density filters are good for very long shutter speed or very shallow depth-of- field. With this type of filters we need to set up the camera manually and use a tripod before we attach them due to their dark densities as it is almost impossible to see through them.

Below few examples of using different filters.

Image 1 Polarising filter with various rotations_E5A8842

Image 2 Polarising filter with various rotations_E5A8844

Image 3 Polarising filter with various rotations_E5A8846

 4 Infra red filter _E5A8850

More about filters:

http://www.techradar.com/how-to/photography-video-capture/cameras/5-essential-photography-filters-and-why-you-can-t-live-without-them-1320801

and

http://photographylife.com under Lens Filters Explained

 

Witley Court Project

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Short history of Witley Court

Witley Court is located in Worcestershire, England and is on the English Heritage list of historical buildings. In past it was one of the greatest houses of the Midlands, built by Thomas Foley in 1655.Today it only remains as a spectacular ruin as a result of a fire in 1937 but we still can admire beautiful restored gardens and and two fountains designed by Nesfield and partly redesigned by James and William Forsyth. The estate is one of the most beautiful visitors’ attractions in my opinion. While the main area is restored Witley Court draws attention not only older generations but also young people especially painters and photographers as the estate and its gardens are of outstanding beauty.

Client brief

One of the assignments for location project was to meet imaginary-in client needs, in this case English Heritage and to fulfil the task. The responsibility was to create a series of images that will be used to attract a certain age group, between 20-30 years old to increase their interest in Witley Court as a historical place. The client requested no copyright/trademarked logos, no text to be visible suggesting any political or religious symbols. Other requests referred to the file formats and resolutions, file names and copyright.

I think this is the first time I have fully meet the client criteria. In my previous work experience I have always had space for my ideas and proposals however this time I had to really focus on the task and make sure I can manage to take images not only of good technical ability but also interesting and adjustable for different cropping sizes.

One of my reoccurring mistakes is taking to many photographs. I am still in learning process to decrease the amount of shots. It always take a long time for me  to make a choice for final selection and I knew  in this case it have to be only 10 images.

The photographic session took place on hot sunny day around midday when most photographers wouldn’t choose it for their shoot due to high sun position in the sky which creates harsh shadows. There wasn’t one small cloud in the sky as well which made the images very plain and less interesting. Of course I could add a sky in Photoshop but this could mean more time spent on the editing process.

The keys for taking  good photographs are composition and patience. I first tried to observe the potential shot before using the rule of thirds, the other time I used the golden triangle rule which is important in composition.

In the selection process I guided myself by looking at few things: mentioned above creative composition, unique perspective, interesting object, viewing the photos in large size, proper exposure. I spent several hours editing the final images. I added clouds on almost every image which gave them a more dramatic look. I selected images of the main house, fountain, cloisters and near surrounding area with beautiful lake.

To fulfil one of the client’s requirements I gave every file name with reference number, place, subject and dimensions.

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From my perspective I did everything what I could to finish this task professionally. I chose the final images carefully regarding the costumer’s requirements. The project was enjoyable and gave me a lot of satisfaction especially when I saw the finished photographs. If I could come back and do it again I would bring a few models with me, probably a family with young children to photograph them as an extra addition to the composition. It would have more of an advertising purpose; especially in the age group this project was aimed at.I would also spend more time discovering this place. But then on the other hand I have to learn to handle client’s requests and sometimes is not possible to have the whole precious day for a photography session.

Final images

 

Toning processes

“In photography, toning is a method of changing the colour of black-and-white photographs. In analogy photography, toning is a chemical process carried out on silver-based photographic prints. This darkroom process cannot be done with a colour photograph and although the black-and-white
photograph is now toned; it is still considered a black and white photograph as it is monochromatic.
The effects of these processes can be emulated with software in digital photography.”

We can divide tones into two types: chemicals and natural. Chemical toning is usually created in traditional darkroom by mixing different chemicals while natural could be use even at home and may be made with natural ilngredients like juices, wine and coffee.

I think my favourite toning is sepia but I also like to experiment with different variants of brown colour tones like antique, gold and lith which also create brownish effect. Selenium is a popular archival toning process and it gives a red-brown tone.

There are a few examples of chemical and natural toning processes which I had a chance to try on the workshop.
First one is an antique toning process. I used one of my developed before in darkroom photographs and left it in the try for 3 min. It gave rich gold colour with nice brownish border around.

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Next image I toned for a few min in blue and salt then moved to tray with antique toning and bathed for another 1 min. This is the result.

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Last photo I toned in natural ingredients: red wine and coffee.

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Another two images I left to long in my opinion in the tray with salt toning. The blue surface was completely washed out and partly solarised the images.

The Fashion Photography Workshop

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Yves Saint Laurent said once: “Fashions fade, style is eternal”.

A career in fashion industry often seems to be an unattainable dream. Photographer’s most important implement is a good portfolio thematically linked to the work he/she try to get and showing photographer’s style. More tips and how to become a fashion photographer in very interesting article I read on https://www.fashion.net/howto/fashionphotographer

There are few things that are independent from us and we can’t control them. One of them is weather. The fashion workshop in which I had the opportunity to participate came at cold and overcast day. The model and the clothes she was wearing were prepared for summer shoot. I know that professional models use to work in difficult sometimes uncomfortable conditions but I also thought about photographer in this case –me and how I am going to use my creativity to handle this session.

I tried to use the time at the workshop effectively and do my best to create interesting shoots. However when it came to chose the final images I had difficulty because most of the photographs looked almost the same with minor differences and that was the first lesson I learned. I didn’t take the opportunities to shoot pictures from different angles. Even it wasn’t fully my fault as the model felt very cold during the shoot and I understand it was difficult for her to move and to try various poses it still doesn’t explain my luck of perception in important matters.

Next step was to convert the photos to make them look sunny and warm. I chose four images as a sequence and I edited them in Photoshop with hazy, dreamy overlays. There were two reasons for this: first one to create atmosphere suitable for the model dress and her romantic posses and the second one to hide another mistake I made in few cases – I didn’t focus on the model face.

I only chose four photos as like I mentioned before most of the shoots look very similar. At the end I decided to add one more picture but it didn’t fit with the others because of wearing autumn jacket by the model. I also edited the color of the tree leaves on this image for more brown and yellow look like to match autumn time.

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To summarize I really enjoyed the fashion workshop. This experience broadened my horizons and has taught me to see small details so important in fashion industry. I believe these few mistakes I made also will prepare me to be more careful in my future photography sessions and contribute to the improvement of my skills. On the bright note I like the final images with the hazy, dreamy and soft look.

 

Lumen Printing and Gum Bichromate Photography

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Lumen printing is another camera-less process and belong to alternative processes area. It involves black & white or colour photographic paper and natural light. Apart of it we need organic materials or digital prints could be use for this process.

Lumen printing is solar photogram so the most important in this process is the sun. Any organic materials like flowers, cereals, and leaves we can find in our gardens or parks.

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Lumen print by John Fobes

The process

In darkroom or in adopted for this experiment place we place the chosen organic material or digital negative on the board and cover it by glass. Next we expose the board in sunlight. The exposure time is very different and depends on weather condition. In bright sunny day can take 30 min while in cloudy day the time may extend to 4 hours.

I used for my project black & white photographic paper, one digital negative and few composition created from flowers. I exposed both of them on the sun for the same time, which in this case was 1 hour. The day was bright and sunny. The organic composition works well while the one with the digital negative was a bit washed out and very little visible. Reason for this may be that the exposure time for this perticular composition was to short and also the digital negative wasn’t enough contrasty.  After I removed the top glass from the boards with already exposed photographic papers I scaned the result and then moved to Photoshop to experiment more with the colours, textures and curves.

This is the final results

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Gum Bichromate Photography

Gum Bichromate is very creative and inspiring alternative process. “Is a deceptively simple process which involves just a single light sensitive chemical, is developed in water, and can be printed on a variety of papers and other surfaces.” http://www.gumphoto.co.uk/about_gum.html  The preparation (part I)

  • One or more with high contrast images
  • Sheets of Digital Transfer Film

I prepared the image in Photoshop and inverted it to negative looks like. Then I printed on Digital transfer Film.

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The preparation (part II)

  • Paper or other surfaces like canvas for example
  • Brushes
  • Scales to measure the chemicals
  • Small mixing cups for combining pigment/gum sensitizer
  • Glass
  • Frame board
  • Hair-drier
  • Gloves
  • Working area
  • Pigment concentration

After mixing the chemicals I coated the paper with the chemicals by using flat wide brush. I tried to do as quickly as possible and then I used hair-drier to dry the paper. Next step was to leave the paper in dark area to dray a bit more. After this process I could place one of my digital negatives and ready composition expose on the sun.

The time of the exposure again will depend on the weather but also on the sensitizer along of negatives and papers. My first try didn’t work due to much to long exposure (1,5 hour) in very bright sunny day. What else went wrong and I can think about is referred to the paper preparation and maybe not very good choice of negative. I will try to experiment again with Gum Bichromate in a near future and I will pay more attention to preparation procedure. I will try also to reduce the time of exposure but this will depend on the weather condition I guess.

 

 

 

Pinhole Photography

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Pinhole camera doesn’t have lens. Very small hole represent the lens. Light travel through the hole and format image inside the camera, which could be created from, simply box. Images from Pinhole cameras are softer and not very sharp. The exposure can be very long and take several minutes, hours or even months. The images can be exposed on photographic papers (negative, positive, black & white or colour) and film.

Although the history of Pinhole photography reaches far back and is mentioned in Chinese text from the fifth century BC only in the 1850’s sir David Brewster, a Scottish scientist, was one of the first to make pinhole photographs.

I used for my project pinhole camera called Harman Titan 4×5

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The F Stop for this camera is 206. The other readings: ISO 3, and the exposure time was 1, 5 min. I used two meters to calculate the right exposure. First one was simple circle piece of paper where I could manually to find out all the readings. The second meter was app in my mobile phone.

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In the darkroom I put 4×5 negative photographic paper inside the camera. Next I found nice spot with old building to photograph around my collage. I faced the camera toward the building and took a picture.

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After coming back to the darkroom I developed the negative, let it dry and then placed on photographic paper under enlarger and create positive image. The exposure time and aperture: 10 sec, F 8

The progress

The negative image

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The positive image

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The Cyanotype Process

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Sir John Herschel invented cyanotype in 1841. The tone of the image is Prussian Blue and is created by using two solutions of Ammonium Ferric Citrate and Potassium Ferricyanide. They are iron salts and when we expose them on the natural or artificial light, “producing a high contrast blue image when oxidised.”  www.silverprint.co.uk

Oxidation process takes place during washing in running water, which also remove the unused iron salt.

My interest in alternative processes started few years ago and since then I tried to develop myself in this subject by experimenting with different techniques.

For this project I used my garden, simple glass frames and cyanotype kit with two bottles of chemicals and various papers. I chose sunny day for the experiment and I prepared the paper in place, which was quite dark. I mixed these two bottles of chemicals and painted over the paper by using brush. I painted in different direction, as I wanted to give unregularly surface look instead of covering the whole piece of paper with the solutions. I left the ready papers to dry and then placed them in the frames and covered with glass.  Before I put the glass on the top I prepared composition from collected objects like flowers, leaves and grain. I had also digital negatives to use for this project. Some of the papers I toned in tea and coffee to give them brown/beige colour. I used different textures like part of a photo frame border to experiment with.

My next step was to expose the compositions on the sun. I left the frames with painted papers and objects/digital negatives in the garden for few hours (2 to 4 hours). Because it was bright day the exposure time wasn’t very long.

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When I was sure the exposure time is right (I checked every 30 min) I removed the glass and put the paper under running water for 5 min until the ferric ammonium citrate was removed. I left the paper to dry.

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The final results

 

Cyanotype effect could be achieved by using digital software like Photoshop.

Outdoor Flash Photography

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In the outdoor Flash Photography we work out with 2 different light sources: flashlight and ambient light and we need to learn how to balance these light sources. While we can manage the first one, the natural sunlight is out our control.

Firstly we need to set up correctly our exposure. In outdoors flash photography we going to work with 2 exposures: our flash exposure, and the camera’s exposure. As I mentioned earlier we can not to control the ambient light but we can consider when is the best time during a day for the sun to reach the lower point (golden hours) otherwise when the sun is high in the sky, we will get harsh shadows and high contrast. We can obviously adjust this by using various photographic lighting devices like white diffusion umbrella and softbox for example.

For this task I set up my camera on f 11 with shutter speed 1/125 and ISO 100 and settings on my flash were on manual mode with full power 1/1 to start with. Full power is the maximum setting and it will give a constant amount of light.

Sometimes the full power of the flash can flatten the contrast of an image, which means the shadows, and the highlights are almost the same like on the photograph below.

Picture 1_E5A8686

“Guide Number (GN) is a prime fundamental, related to Inverse Square Law, and is about how light works, something to know, which will always be important to know. The light fall off means that direct flash exposure can be correct at only one specific distance from the flash. Anything closer is brighter, and anything farther is darker. But how much it changes works on sort of an exaggerated percentage basis (inverse square law), and a greater distance simply has more middle ground range. Bounce flash can seem to extend this range, but direct flash exposure falls off with the square of the distance. Flash will be two stops underexposed at twice the distance, or two stops overexposed at half the distance (inverse square law). So the general rule for flash is to keep all of your subject parts near the same distance plane (same idea as focus depth of field) “ 1 http://www.scantips.com/lights/flashbasics1c.html

For example, for my speedlite YN568EXII the guide number is 58 at ISO-100,105mm zoom.

Picture 2_E5A8687Readings: f11/1/125/ISO 100/Flash power ½

On this photograph we can see the shadows and highlights are more contrasty which doesn’t give us flat impression.

Picture 3_E5A8688Readings: f11/1/125/ISO 100/Flash power ¼

Picture 4_E5A8689Readings: f11/1/125/ISO 100/Flash power 1/8

Picture 5_E5A8690Readings: f11/1/125/ISO 100/Flash power 1/16

Picture 6_E5A8691Readings: f11/1/125/ISO 100/Flash power 1/32

Outdoor flash photography is a very interesting area to explore but I need to practice and experiment more with light and subject positions to find out what works for me.