Archive for May 2009

My wife as a mathematician

May 27th, 2009 — 11:34am

A few evenings ago I did some portraits of my wife. She is in a technical field and I wanted to convey some of this with her portrait.

The formulas (mostly linear algebra with a bit of formal logic to make it cool) were written on a sheet of plexiglas, held by two lightstands with super clamps on them. My wife was positioned between the sheet of plexiglas and a large white foam core board. Lighting was a single portable Nikon SB-24 flash on a light stand to camera right. There was a large (39″x72″) Photoflex Litepanel with white diffusion material on it, hence making the little SB-24 into a very large softbox. The reason I used this setup is that I did this in the living room and didn’t want to drag studio lights, set up light boxes, etc. So I used a single portable flash and the frame in front of it. No fill or any other light was used.

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Double difussion portrait

May 20th, 2009 — 3:48pm

Here is an image from last weekend with lighting diagram and a picture of the setup. I used a light panel in front of the softbox to create a larger source of illumination, like a larger softbox. The other interesting thing is that I didn’t have a fill light, only another light panel with a white reflecting surface.

In the diagram below I incorrectly identified the panel to camera right as a diffusion panel, it’s actually a reflection panel.














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May 19th, 2009 — 11:37pm

I wanted a natural portrait of me as a photographer, but without an obvious camera on my face. I also wanted color, the warmth of indoor lighting contrasting with a cool background. Some of you may recognize this place as the table where I photographed my son Paul doing his music homework. I wanted to light my selfportrait, as lighting is one of the things I enjoy about photography. I finally decided to include my kitchen lamp in the photo as another symbol for light and lighting. Including the kitchen lamp will also add some compositional interest, I am hoping.

For the photo below I used a camera on a tripod and a remote trigger, which I am holding in my hand with the light meter. I used three portable flashes and the tungsten ceiling light in my kitchen area.

D700 with 35mm f/2 lens, f/9 at 1/13 sec, ISO 200, Tungsten white balance, camera on a tripod. I had to shoot at 1/13 sec to capture the ambient light, namely, the lamp over my head.

Key light: Nikon SB24 on a lightstand with a home made snoot pointing down at my face, with a full CTO gel.

Accent light on the equipment: Nikon SB800 with a full CTO on a stand, pointing down to the equipment on the table.

Background light: Nikon SB25 flash with no correction gel, sitting on the table and pointing up to the wall behind me.

Hair light - 100W tungsten lamp over my head.

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May 6th, 2009 — 7:37am

Here is a portrait of my son doing his music homework.

D700 with 85mm lens on a tripod, f/2.8, 1/15 s, natural light coming from a large window to camera left, and a foam core board as reflector standing to camera right. This is the kitchen table and my son was working on his music homework. I interrupted his work and took a few shots to capture this personal moment. His expression here seems to show a little bit of his curious and intense personality. I converted it to black and white to give it a more timeless feeling - it’s hard to tell whether the image is from today or from 50 years ago.

I was planning on setting a flash or two, as it was the end of the day. I had the (tungsten) kitchen ceiling lamp on. I measured the light on him with my light meter and it was about 1/30s at f/2.8. So I decided that I could do without the flash, as the window light and the overhead lamp seem enough to illuminate the scene. The problem was that I was mixing ambient and tungsten and the color images didn’t look as good as they should with a single source of light and uniform color temperature across the image. So I turned off the kitchen light and it looked really dark with the window light only. It was actually 1 f-stop darker. I said, what the heck, the camera will use what’s there, and I already had the camera mounted on the tripod anyway. So I shot at 1/15 s.

This mini session reminded me not to be too quick to resort to artificial illumination - even if my eyes judge a scene as being dark, the camera will suck in whatever light is there - as long as the light is right, the intensity could be low. I believe this picture would have looked less appealing if I had used flash - for one thing I don’t have a softbox or diffusion panel as large as my kitchen window! Also mixing color temperatures really creates problems with color images.

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