Just playing around with two lights

I was changing the standard reflector of the newer studio strobe to a gridded one, and played around with hard light. Then I used it as an effect light from the front, like here:

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Fruits. Olympus E-PL5 with M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 at f/5.

You can see it in the reflections that I was using two lights, and they were set up like this:

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Setup shot of “Fruits”. Olympus E-PL5 with Panasonic 14mm/2.5 lens at f/5.

I had the side strobe with the socked beauty dish on 1/16th power, and the front gridded strobe at 1/32nd power, which gave me an aperture of f/5 at ISO 200. Could have gridded the beauty dish as well to get less spill onto the background (a 5-in-1 reflector/diffuser/light blocker). But even with a quick setup like this you’ll get some usable results.

Update: I just did that – a shot like this takes half an hour, together with setting up and removing the lights and background plus the few things that I do in post processing:

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Fruits II. Olympus E-PL5 with M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 lens at f/4.

As you can see, there are still two lights, but changing the sock to a grid on the beauty dish takes away 2/3rds of a stop of light. I decided not to adjust the light but the camera’s aperture, so now that side light is more an effect light, and the gridded light from the front is more of a main one. Also changed angles a bit, and all in all this one is lit a bit more on the “dramatic” side. Small changes and movements can make quite a difference.

In the end it’s all more or less a matter of taste – and for me it’s still an interesting way to learn to light.

Thanks for viewing/reading.

One more of Zuleikha’s horn

Zuleikha considers to change her horn for a smaller one – one more reason for me to take some photos of the current one. For this photo I used two studio strobes, one with the beauty dish as main light, the other from behind and above the black background. Taken at an aperture of f/8:

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Model 702 horn, by Meister (master) Hans Hoyer. Olympus E-PL5 with M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8 lens at f/8. Two studio strobes at 1/8 and 1/32 power.

Thanks for viewing.

P.S.: while thinking about what I could show you as an example of good music made with wonderful instruments like this one, of course Maurice Ravel’s Bolero came to my mind first. The best interpretation I ever heard (and I bought the CD and gave it as a present to our aunt) is the one with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Sadly, the video on Youtube doesn’t play here in Germany, most probably due to a legal problem with Gema I suppose. So consider listening to a version conducted by the wonderful Daniel Barenboim instead – his isn’t really worse than Ozawa’s, just different of course, and it’s always a pleasure to see that maestro perform. There’s a short moment where you’ll see a hornist with a double horn, and later you see them as a group – but all the other instruments and performers are also playing so good.

If you want to see Seiji Ozawa instead – I didn’t know until today that he even performed the also very beautiful Polovtsian Dances from Borodin, together with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, open air. And also with this one, you’ll see that Ozawa is the one in classics who really understands rhythm – the man lives and breathes it. But watching Barenboim is even more interesting, at least in the Bolero above. Here’s one who’s conducting with ever so slight movements, and still it works out very beautifully. Highly recommended listening. And both pieces are wonderful.

– and the meter works as if nothing happened

Yesterday I wrote about some sudden problem with my light meter, and that it began working normally shortly afterwards. It still measures just fine again today, so I don’t have the slightest idea where that hiccup came from. Measured only the first of these two photos – by now I pretty much know the apertures I need anyway as long as I don’t move things around:

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Concert cards. Olympus E-520 with Zuiko Digital 50mm/2 Macro lens at f/6.3.

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Zuleikha, looking at a toy catalog, November 2014. Olympus E-PL5 with Micro Zuiko 45mm/1.8 lens at f/6.3.

Oh, and while you can count every single eyelash of our daughter, the chin and everything beneath falls nicely out of focus already even at an aperture of 6.3 – so whoever said that Micro Four Thirds wouldn’t give you enough blur or had no “depth of field control” obviously never took any portraits like these. Just love those lenses.

Thanks for reading.

practising, measuring

Today I wanted to take another cat photo, with flash – but my light meter constantly showed me “E.u” (about which the manual said: underexposed). Hm. So I guessed the exposure for this one:

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practicing

After changing batteries a few times (which didn’t help), and simply waiting a bit and trying again, it worked:

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measuring

Strange. Thought it was the battery, tho the symbol for that showed just fine. And now it works with the battery which was in it before. Have to keep watching that…

By the way, if you care for these settings you see: yes I set the light meter for a reading at ISO 125, both for the E-PL5 at ISO 200 and the E-520 at ISO 100, which are their lowest settings. And according to DxO these settings are pretty identical, and both are nearer to what they also measure as ISO 125 than to anything else. So setting that ISO value in the light meter gives me good results, and I agree with DxO in this regard, even if I cannot understand some of their lens measurements.

Thanks for reading.

Some photos for Zuleikha

Zuleikha got her instrument from / for school yesterday, and I took some photos for her so that she can write about it on her blog. That’s why I only show one of them here which I took using the “PanaLeica” 25mm lens, and with the camera set to black & white. So this is a kind of a “teaser” image while waiting for her to show the ones in colour:

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French Horn

Thanks for viewing.

Quote of the day (Nov 12th, 2014)

“Picasso, Monet, Degas, Warhol – and almost any other artist of renown – would have been eviscerated by modern critique culture.”

David duChemin in “About Critique

Reminds me of Ian Gillan (lead singer of Deep Purple), who said to the media lately that he (or Mick Jagger or Bob Dylan or whoever has some kind of profile) would fail the first rounds of today’s “star search” TV shows…

Looking into the light

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Tuna the cat, November 2014

Strobist info: Simock E300 studio strobe camera right at 1/16th power into 42″ white reflective umbrella gave me an aperture of f/2.5.

Thanks for viewing.

Another one for Wikimedia

What do you do with your photos? Hang them onto walls, keep them in albums, have a few in your phones to show them around? And what do you photograph anyway, and why? Planning to sell some?

Well you can try, good luck. You can upload your photos to stock agencies if they’re good enough, but you’ll only make other people rich – not everyone is a Yuri Arcurs.

Almost 3 years ago I decided to “donate” some of my photos to the Wikimedia Foundation instead. Most if not all of my photos are CC-licensed anyway, so they’re usable on your own blogs, pages, in your articles, whatever. And tho it doesn’t bring in any money (I’m happy enough that I don’t have to monetize my hobby), some of my photos actually do get used, like the one of Mitchie’s sewing machine in an article about “Sewing machine” in the English Wikipedia.

Just uploaded this one as well:

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Apfelstreusel – crumb cake with apples

It won’t win any prizes, not even on Wikimedia/Wikipedia. But maybe it’s of use to someone. And that’s still better than to be stored and forgotten on my own devices, isn’t it?

Update, from short after 4pm: just let Wikimedia check all my 3000+ photos via this tool – for which you need your Flickr ID of course (mine is 99713555@N00)

Thanks for reading.

An additional studio strobe

Just bought another studio strobe, which arrived today. So of course I had to test it right away:

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Tuna the cat, November 2014

I took this with the new strobe bounced over the wall and ceiling across the room, from between our bookshelf and the entrance. The flash was set to 1/4 of its maximum power output (of 300Ws), which gave me an aperture of f/2.8 on the sofa where the cat was dozing. I left the modeling light off for this one, and the photo above is as good as straight out of camera.

Here’s a photo of the new device:

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N8fang Simock Mythos E300 studio strobe

For this photo taken with the same aperture and without flash, I had to use 1/1.3rd of a second (at ISO 200), and my tripod. Ok for a static object like this, but for anything which moves and breathes, I’d take the flash at 1/160th of a second instead.

In my opinion it’s the best thing you can buy to improve your indoor (and with a generator, even your outdoor) shots. You can even mix flash with daylight without any filtering tricks – just turn to strobist.com for advice on how to do that.

A studio strobe like this one is way cheaper than your typical camera makers’ TTL flash – I bought my first one together with a 36″ Octabox and a light stand for under 200€ new at N8fang, and I wrote a long-term review of it on/for the Lighting Rumors site. Just in case you’re interested, I receive nothing for recommending it.

Update, from about half past 6 in the evening:

Here’s another one of Tuna – this time with two strobes:

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Tuna the studio cat

Another update, from short past 7pm:

Here’s another photo for which I used both studio strobes, and this time the PanaLeica 25mm lens. In this case, the second strobe provided some kind of room lighting for the background, which would otherwise have gone almost completely black:

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Mouth piece and valve oil, again

As you can see, having more than one light can be really useful to include things like a background, or to set accents or whatever. By far the most popular use of two lights would be some kind of clamshell lighting, either from above and below or angled up to 180 degrees from each other – that is what you see in your TV series each day (usually with some more lights to simulate windows or whatever).

But even one light, even a compact flash like our sub 40€ Yongnuo YN-460II ones will really help in getting better colours, contrast, and even sharpness. Especially in the dark season which lies ahead. Much more important than what kind of camera you’re using.

Here’s an image – one last one for today – which I took using only one of these lights:

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Leaf. Olympus E-520 with 50mm macro lens.

Thanks for reading.