Archive for July 2009


DIY beauty dish for portable flashes

July 12th, 2009 — 11:19pm

This afternoon I built the David Tejada variation of a beauty dish for my SB-800 flash. It was really simply and fun to make. What I like the most about it is that it’s ultralight!

The kids and my wife Stella were out most of the afternoon, so without interruptions it took me about an hour and $10 to build this thing. I really love the light it produces! It’s dramatic with soft edges. The contraption eats up more than one stop of light, but that’s ok by me, as I don’t mind shooting with a wide aperture.

I could only have a few minutes of “volunteer posing” from my son and my wife, enough to show me that I will be using the beauty dish often.

Here are three pictures, my two models and the beauty disk itself with the SB800 velcro’d to it, again using David Tejada’s idea. He’s a great photographer, by the way!

D700 with 85mm f/1.4 lens, 1/250s, f/4, ISO200, flash at pretty low power, 1/16 I think, with the beauty dish about 2ft from the suject. In Stella’s portrait I positioned the disk to be almost centered to get butterfly lighting. No reflectors were used as I was evaluating the light produced by the dish.

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More images from the Forest Ln. project

July 9th, 2009 — 11:46am

Here is the next installement in my Forest Lane project. I stopped by Staten Appliances this morning and photographed Harold, the owner, and one of his employees, in the back of the store.

Technical stuff: I used two SB800s for these shots. The key light was a SB800 with a 20 degree grid to camera left. The fill was ambient fluorescent light. The second flash was on the floor at the end of the row of washing machines, pointing up and throwing some light into the background. Both flashes had full CTB gels to mesh with the ambient fluorescent.

Exposure: 1/13s @ f/11, ISO400, 24-70mm @ 33mm on a D700 camera.

Postprocessing: Reset WB to 4500k and desaturation of yellows to get rid of color cast on the background and get a clean white-looking background. I really like the expressions on the men.

My second session this morning was with Mr. McDaniel, who’s run this old feed & hay store since the 50’s. He was very gracious when I asked him to be photographed and allowed me access to the hay barn, which is an old hangar. Photos 1, and 2 were done in the barn, photo 3 was done inside the store.

Photo 1:
Key light was provided by a Large Photoflex softbox to camera left with a WL X3200 monolight inside. Fill light was ambient light coming from the hangar door behind the camera, and also a window to the right. The flash light to camera left matches ambient and places a catchlight on his eyes without overpowering the nice sunlight coming in.
24-70mm @ 32mm 1/30 sec @ f/8 ISO400

Photo 2:
Fill light is provided by the X3200 with the 7in reflector bounced off a corner of the store, about 20 ft up and behind the camera. The key light is an SB-800 to camera right with a 20 degree grid on it. There is another SB-800 inside the office pointing to the door. Both flashes are gelled with a 1/4 CTO for some warmth. Note that here I am not using ambient light, as it was very dim - the bounced X3200 filled the place with light and I shot at 1/250 sec.
14-24mm @ 16mm 1/250 sec @ f/18 ISO400

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Trip to Houston over 4th of July weekend

July 7th, 2009 — 1:44pm

On Friday July 3rd we woke up early to drive to Houston.  Our plan was to go to a couple of museums, the Houston Natural Science Museum and the Houston Children’s Museum, then to dinner and to the hotel.  On Starday we wanted to go o Bolivar Peninsula, Crystal Beach, to hang out on the beach - and then drive back home in the afternoon.   We did just that, and it was a lot of fun.  The museums were crowded, especially the Children’s Museum, but Pablo and Christina enjoyed them just the same.   Stella found a nice prepaid deal for a La Quinta room in Sugarland, right by the swimming pool, and breakfast included… it was a great value!

I photographed everywhere, at the museums, the ferry, the beach.  Some of the pictures from the museum ended up in my stock collection.   I have a few of the children I need to upload for the family.  Overall a really nice weekend!  I include a single picture of Christina at the museum.

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Berny, founder of Garland Steel

July 1st, 2009 — 2:23pm

At the intersection of Forest and International, in Garland, there is a metal recycling place called Garland Steel International, GSI. Last week I met the founder, Berny Becker, the nicest man I could hope to meet, and he gave me a tour of the facility on a golf cart and agreed to pose for me. Today at lunch time I returned with my gear to create a portrait of him.

Some facts about the shoot: (1) It was 98 degrees at 12:30 when I got there, and the sun was right above us. (2) I wanted to photograph him outside in front of a bunch of metal bails, but this was a heavy truck traffic area, and he told me we could only be there for about ten minutes.

So we got to this dusty place on a golf cart at 12:45. I set up a single light, my new WL X3200 on a stand with a reflector and plugged into a Vagabund portable power unit. I didn’t measure the light because I knew I was in a sunny 16 situation. I set the camera to 1/320 and f/22, plugged the cord to the X3200 and fired away. (D700 with 24-70mm at 29mm)

I placed him in front of the metal bails and took 5 frames of him. I couldn’t see the LCD in full sun, so I said to Berny “We’re done, let’s get out of here” without checking the images I had just created on the LCD. Didn’t have time!

We left at 12:55, and I was soaked from the pressure to get this shot in 10 minutes including set up and take down time. This is nothing like studio photography, and it’s pushing me to work differently.

I liked this the best, pretty much straight out of the camera.

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