Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Backlighting & Overpowering Ambient

Red Leaf
The shot above was taken on a sunny day light in my living room - how did I do it? Check out the rest of the post.

First of all - I backlit the leaf
What does that mean? It means I use a light source (a Nikon SB-600 flash) and that light source is located behind the object (the leaf). This means that the object is sandwiched between me (and the camera) and the light source. Your light source could be anything: the sun, desk lamp, flash light, TV, etc. I just happen to use my Nikon flash - plus it provides a strong enough light to overpower the ambient light - which brings us to the second point.

Secondly - overpowering the ambient
What is "ambient light"? It is the light that is around you in your current condition. So in this case, my ambient light was sun-light coming through from some windows in my house as well as the kitchen light from my left.

What does "over-powering" the ambient mean? It means that I use an external light source (my Nikon flash) to be the primary light source and rendering the ambient light to be secondary light source or to be non-existent. In this case - I want the light coming out of my flash to be the ONLY light captured by my camera in lighting the leaf and I want the background to be dark (black or close to it). So my flash needs to be my primary light source and I need to render the ambient light into close to non-existent in the final picture - thus "overpowering the ambient".

OK then - how do you overpower the ambient? It is actually quite simple: I close down the exposure enough so that when I take a picture without flash it becomes dark/black. There are a lot of combinations you can use to accomplish this among shutter speed, aperture, and ISO setting. I picked ISO 100, 1/320 and f/11. I want to close down the aperture enough to capture the detail of the leaf and since I am handholding a 200mm lens, I want high enough shutter speed (more than 1/200s) . So that means low ISO, high speed, and closed down aperture - hence I selection.

After that, I position my flash behind the leaf, put it into High-FP mode (which enable the flash to work with shutter speed higher than normal sync-speed) and put it in 1/4 power and do a test fire. Adjust the position of the flash and adjust power to 1/2 and VOILA!

I did some post-processing with the image produced: cropping (I actually captured the whole leaf), sharpening (to strengthen the detail), and manipulate the color of the leaf a little bit (it was originally yellow/orange).

I use Nikon D80 camera, Nikkor AF-S 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens, and SB-600 flash.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumpkin Patch!

Jon, Helen, and I went to the pumpkin patch last Saturday. It was fun - a bit cold and windy - but fun overall. Sky was gorgeously blue in the morning. The patch that we went to was at Dublin (take 33 west, exist @ Post) - so it was not that bad of a drive from our house. We went with a bunch of friends (and their kids) - so we have a big group.

Once we got there, we got several options ... we can walk on our own to the area (which is about 10 minutes walk - not bad at all) - OR we can take a hay-ride. Since Jon has never been on a hay-ride, so we opt for the hay-ride.

Here is Jon sitting on an unused tractor while waiting for our hay-ride:

This is inside the wagon - there were about 20-something people inside the wagon, so it was packed. I sat across Helen and Jon and able to get this shot.

Once we got to the area, it was a free for all ... we can pick any pumpkin we can find. Most of them are bad though or too big. After searching for about 45 minutes or so, we finally found one that is big but not too big and one that is small enough for Jon to hold.

On our walk back to the weighing area - there was an area where it was filled with small size pumpkins. So we played around a little bit there and try to find some small pumpkins for Jon - or he was trying to find for his own.

It was fun and we enjoyed it - although warmer weather is more desirable for next trip. We ended up going home with 4 pumpkins (1 large one and 3 small ones).
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