Looking into the light


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.

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An additional studio strobe

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


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:


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:


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:


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:


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

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Zuleikha: playing. Cat: sleeping.

Some hour or so ago:


Zuleikha: playing. Cat: sleeping. (Me: using my Olympus E-520 camera with the 40-150mm zoom lens, manually focused. In-camera b&w setting used.)

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An image taken in low light

We have a LED reading light in our living room, taking about 5W or so. Not very bright as you can imagine. Tuna the cat was sitting about 2 meters from it, and that gave me 1/13th of a second with the lens wide open at f/1.8 and ISO 6400, hand-held. No noise reduction, no sharpening:


Tuna the cat in low light, August 2014. Olympus E-PL5 with 45mm/1.8 lens at f/1.8.

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Our little studio helper

While I was setting up the lights and background for today’s family photo session, Tuna helped me a lot. And she seemed to like the storm grey, so I had to take her photo of course:


Tuna the studio cat 1/2. Olympus E-PL5 with 45mm lens, flash.


Tuna the studio cat 2/2. Olympus E-PL5 with 45mm lens, flash.

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Tuna the ‘tweener

Sometimes when it’s raining and Tuna – our cat – cannot decide if she rather wants to be outside or to stay in, she just sits in the opened door and waits.

“She’s a ‘tweener”

I told Mitchie, who laughed and agreed. Thankfully, at 18°C you can keep that door open for a while; it’s much more difficult in winter…


Tuna the ‘tweener

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Two with the ZD 40-150mm

My brother asked about longer focal lengths, and so I decided to use mine today again. Mitchie and me both have the original Four Thirds Zuiko Digital 40-150mm zoom lenses, and both are very nice. Not the fastest ones to zoom when used with the contrast detection autofocus of the “Pen” cameras, but still.

Here are two of the photos I took today, the first on our veranda, the second one during a Sunday walk:


Cat in the sun. Cropped 5:4 during post processing. 150mm wide open at f/5.6.


Which way should we go? 102mm wide open at f/5.1.

No sharpening for both, in fact – as almost always – nothing much “post processed” anyway.

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Tuna the cat, sleeping, with Mitchie’s 20mm lens

Had the camera on -0.3EV when I took this, but it had to be corrected to +0.5EV during post. Even at ISO 800, this push of +0.8 steps still gave a nice result. The camera was set to black & white without a simulated filter, and using RawTherapee I toned the image a bit with pushing the lights of the ‘b’ curve in LAB mode to +18 – in my opinion that fits the ‘old fashioned’ look of a b&w image taken with a 40mm-equivalent lens:


Tuna the cat, sleeping on Zuleikha’s bed, April 2014

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