Thursday, April 29, 2010
I discovered a spectacular breed of horses last month through an email my brother sent me -- Gypsy Vanners -- and I was immediately drawn to contact some breeders to photograph them. I am scheduled to take photos next week, but I wanted to post this picture now. I photographed the young lady and the famous Gypsy Vanner horse, Romeo, indoors as they were preparing for a performance at a horse show in Shelbyville, Tennessee. I was frustrated by the dim lighting and unappealing shadows I had to deal with in the holding area, but it was all I had to work with. I added the background -- a shot from the Great Smokies -- to try and salvage the image. It is impossible to cut around hair in Photoshop and make it perfectly believable, but I did the best I could. I like the image, although it is not perfect.
Next week I'll be posting some images from the horse shoot that will take place outdoors in ideal lighting. I bought a lens specifically for this event -- a 300mm f/2.8 IS. I thought my 500mm f/4 would be too long, and I wanted the out of focus background that is characteristic of a large aperture like the f/2.8. Stay tuned -- we'll see what I can capture next week.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
This is a great time of year to photograph nesting birds, and nowhere is it easier and more exciting than the alligator farm in St. Augustine, Florida. The large mature trees attract hundreds of egrets, herons, and woodstorks, and the alligators (which are also great to photograph) keep rodents away from the nests. You can get frame-filling pictures with a 200mm in many cases. Longer lenses can reach birds higher up in the trees.
When shooting white birds, it is essential you shoot in RAW mode versus jpegs. It's important to retain the beautiful detail in the white feathers, and this can only be done when shooting in RAW. Jpegs discard information in order to save space because the images are compressed, and first to go are the pixels that define the most subtle detail in the highlights.
Photographers can pay a special fee at the entrance gate to get into the farm early and to stay later for the beautiful early morning and late afternoon light.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Expressing the idea of motion in a still photograph seems like an oxymoron, but it can be done with a slow shutter speed. In addition to that, you can add a zoom where you change from one focal length to another during the slow shutter speed and while the subject is moving. That's what I did with a Whirling Dervish in Turkey last year. The room where the performance was taking place had some construction materials in the background, and this was a way to eliminate the unattractive environment.
Monday, April 12, 2010
I am not a wedding photographer, nor have I ever had an aspirations to become one. I've done 4 weddings in my life as favors for friends, and I hated every minute of it. I often tell my friend Dave Pavol, a very well-known and highly respected wedding photographer in Nashville, Tennessee, I'd rather photograph a charging rhino than the mother of the bride! However, I had the opportunity to photograph a lovely bride in a unique environment, so I took advantage of it.
The off-camera lighting you see here came from a Paul C. Buff Vagabond II portable power unit. This allows you to use a powerful studio strobe -- in this case the White Lightning X-series X1600 flash unit -- away from an AC power source. The flash was positioned up against the wall striking the model at a 90 degree angle so her shadow wouldn't block the graffiti/art work on the opposite side. The variable power slider on the White Lightning allowed me to adjust the flash output until I liked the exposure. I had a friend hold a reflector on the right side to bounce a little light into the shadows. I didn't use the modeling light capability because I wanted to conserve power in the Vagabond II, but also because I didn't need it. I triggered the flash wirelessly with a transmitter/receiver from Paul C. Buff.
I also took some shots with available light, and then I added a reflection using Flood made by flamingpear.com.
When I look at the formal black and white wedding pictures my parents took when they got married in 1945, it's hard to get my mind around how different things are now. I'm sure they couldn't begin to relate to a bride with tattoos, graffiti as the background, and edgy side lighting.