Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bullet's Interview

Bullet is a beautiful Great Pyrenees/Labrador mix, about 1 1/2 years old, who was shot by his original owner. The dog was rescued by Panora PETS, who got him fixed up, and Donna has now formally adopted him. You can read his full story here.

Channel 13 TV in Des Moines reported the story, and today sent out a crew to shoot a follow-up out at the farm.

Getting "shot" again, but this time by cameras!

Making friends with the news crew.

It's challenging to get a good picture when your subject moves so fast!

...and now the close-up.

The rest of the family wanted in an the action too. In this shot are Monk, Bullet, Harry and Lexi.

Bullet's story is scheduled to air tonight (December 27th) on the Channel 13 News at 5:00 pm. Tune in and see him, and please consider making a donation to Panora PETS.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My New Business Cards

...arrived yesterday! do good work!


We had fifteen inches of snow last night, with more promised for today. On top of that the wind chill is -20 Celsius (-5 F). Staying in today, with hot drinks and good movies....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shelley Family Portrait Shoot

My second shoot of the day was of the Shelley kids - Tina, Zachary and Zander.

Krueger Family Portrait Shoot

My first "victims" were Marjory Krueger and her children Toby and Cam.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Classroom Studio

I set up today for tomorrow's two studio family portrait sessions, in the Prairieland Herbs classroom. This is a converted barn extension that is used as a storeroom, chandlery, classroom (among others), and tomorrow it will be a photo studio. It's not really an ideal setup, being a bit (OK, a lot) on the small side, and the ceiling slopes down to just over five feet, so it will be an interesting challenge.

Here's my basic setup - a grey backdrop and my two White Lightning X1600 lights. I will also have my Nikon SB strobes at hand, and a selection of modifiers and reflectors.

First light test. In the absence of a better subject, muggins sat in. I hope tomorrow's pics look better :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

On the Ball

Messing about in the studio on a Sunday morning, with an old 28mm lens ($10 from the bitza bin in the local camera shop), some strobes, and a pen. I need to practise more with this type of shot, but here's this morning's effort:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Photoshoot in the Park

I did my first family photoshoot today, in Nile Kinnick Park in Adel. Jaden (age 3) was not entirely sure about the whole thing, while Bryce (4 weeks) wasn't overly concerned. I am reasonably pleased with the results.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Maggie's Bunny

Maggie got an angora rabbit yesterday. She plans to spin the fur and make fabulous, soft yarn. Her name is Anya (Joss Whedon fans will appreciate that :) ). Anya is very friendly, smart and inquisitive. I sense a lot of fun in the future!

Monday, November 9, 2009

DIY Softbox Part 2.

Part 1 is here.

Now we get to the fabric diffuser. I'm using a small offcut of white ripstop nylon - because that's what I have. Any material that diffuses light could be used - tracing paper, Roscolux, Target shower curtain, etc, as long as it doesn't give it a colour cast. There are many ways in which the diffuser could be attached to the box (Velcro would be an elegant solution), but because of my sartorial ineptitude, I elected for a "no sew" process.

I cut four strips to fit inside the front edge of the box...

...and stuck them together with Gorilla tape to make the frame.

The frame should be a snug fit in the front rim of the box.

Ripstop nylon rips even less if you cut it with a soldering iron, and for other synthetic materials that do fray, this is by far the best way.

The fabric is cut a bit larger than the frame.

The corners are cut off, then the diffuser is stuck to the frame with spray adhesive.

The completed softbox ready for testing.

Test shot 1. Without the diffuser. Nikon SB-900 set to manual 1/64th power and zoomed out to 18 mm, and triggered by Pocket Wizard. Exposure 1/60 sec, f/14, ISO200, WB auto. The shadow in the top left corner is cast by the edge of the softbox.

Test shot 2. Diffuser in place. Strobe settings as above, exposure 1/60 at f/11. I'm very happy with this result :)

The setup the test shots. The strobe and box are just propped on bits of scrap wood for the test. The next part of this tutorial will deal with making a mount for the strobe and a means of fitting the assembly to a lightstand.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spicy Spray

Another product shot for the Prairieland Herbs website, this time a seasonal special, Spicy Spray. I had lots of fun making this shot, and did loads of experiments with lighting. There is a setup shot on my Flickr page.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

DIY Softbox Part 1.

I have been wanting for some time to make a small softbox for my product shots. Well, I finally got the project under way. There are lots of tutorials online already, but I thought I'd show you how I did it.
My plan is for a box about 16' x 12", made of black foamcore lined with aluminium foil, fitted with a wooden collar to which attachments can be fixed, and with provision for a grid.

The materials for the box are: 2" X 3/8" softwood offcut, black foamcore, aluminium foil, black duct tape. Other items required are: sharp knife (I used an X-Acto knife), pencil for marking out, straightedge, scissors, spray adhesive, masking tape, woodworking glue, a sheet of coarse sandpaper, and some old newspapers.

I made the collar first. The dimensions I used were purely arbitrary, I just wanted to create an opening large enough to accommodate the head of any speedlight I had, with a little to spare. Woodworking is not my forte - I simply glued the pieces together.

Cutting foamcore is easy, but I'd seriously recommend the use of a metal straightedge, rather than a wooden one. (Do as I say, not as I do). The use of a cutting mat reduces slippage, prevents damage to the work surface, and avoids trouble with the Significant Other.

The four sides of my softbox. The "thin ends" are sized to fit the wooden collar, and the "wide ends" are cut to give a 16" X 12" opening. It is important that the lengths of the tapered edges are the same on all pieces - this will ensure a good fit.

The panels are scored with the craft knife to allow the foamcore to be folded into position.

The softbox assembled with masking tape to check fit.

The tutorials that I have seen recommend crumpling the foil and then flattening it back out again to reduce specularity, but I find this method tedious and the foil always tears for me, so I just pressed the foil against a sheet of very coarse sandpaper (I'm using 40 grit here), and rubbed it down with a piece of soft cloth. This gives an even lustrous finish that should give nice diffuse reflections.

The panels are sprayed with adhesive (the masking tape is useful, the newspapers are essential), and the textured foil fitted in position and trimmed...

...the four panels lined with foil.

Inside view of the box during assembly. I'm very pleased with how the textured foil looks in the finished article.

The box taped up with black duct tape.

In the next part, I will make the front diffuser for the box, and do a couple of test shots.