Sunday, September 28, 2014

Learning From Success

You can learn much from your failures, but you can learn equally from your successes. Case in point: this shot.
I was approached by a friend, who needed some pictures taken for a job she was applying for. She sent me the list of requirements for the pictures, and boy were they long.
And detailed.
And involved.
And on occasion, contradictory.
I wasn't sure I was good enough to take the pics, but I said I would try. So I read and re-read their requirements, pulled out some of my photography books on lighting and poses, read some more, and set up my gear.
I had a black cloth backdrop to absorb some of the light, she (and my snake, Pokey) in front. A hair light shining down from above, one strobe at a 45 degree angle on the left side about 4 feet away, and another one at 90 degrees from her at the same distance.
I used my 50mm lens at F/14 (now, a sidetrack here: F/14 isn't a "real" f/stop in the classic sense, but it worked in this case) set the ISO to 200 and shutter to 1/250.
One of the requirements of the shots that are submitted is they cannot be photoshopped in any way, straight from the camera only. So what you see is what I took.
I took about 30 shots, and she submitted the ten best. All ten were accepted and she got the job. I was super happy for me, but also for myself, for it showed I could pull off demanding shots in an area I'm not well versed in.

Learning from Failure

A local photography group had a themed shoot where the main focus point of the image should be the colour red. Being an inventive sort, prone to thinking outside the box, I thought I'd shoot in infra-red.
Well, too clever for my own good it seems. I'd scored a mint condition Nikon D1x (with buffer upgrade even) on eBay for pennies (literally, it was condition unknown) which I thought would make a perfect IR camera. Grabbed a 720mm IR filter and went to town on the shoot.
Sadly, the day was partially overcast and the IR-look I was after didn't quite pan out. There were several challenges in getting this shot, one, the bike was sandwiched in a parking lot between several large cars, so I had to decide how best to isolate it from the background clutter. This meant getting down low, so I broke out the tripod, set the camera for a 2 second exposure on my 17-35mm lens, and fired. 
I did this about 10 times from different angles and positions until I was happy with the result. A little post processing and here you have it. More Black and White than IR, but it was a learning experience. In addition, when I get the spare cash laying around, I'm converting the D1x to a pure IR camera so be on the lookout for some (hopefully) otherworldly shots.

Up Close and Personal

One of the wonderful advantages of the 80-200mm lens, is getting right into the action, and coupled with the track not being that wide, gives me the chance to fill the frame with the biker. 
The downside is you really have to be quick on the focus and tracking, not an easy accomplishment when you're being pelted with gravel spray. I tossed more than one shot like this where I missed the focus.

Falling Behind

I've gotten way behind in posting pictures, so the next few posts are not going to be in chronological order. Life has gotten in the way (as life seems to do from time to time) and while I've made time to take the shots, I've not made time to post them.
Here is another dirt track bike race. As always, they are great fun to shoot, part action, part noise, part getting pelted with gravel spray. Everyone there was friendly, even the Canon users (and to all my Canon fans, they only thing more insufferable than a Canon user, is a Nikon user) and we had a great time swapping stories. Given this was a race for real-world money, hotdogging like this rider here was a rarity. I think he recognized there were more than a handful of photographers on site and was simply showing off for us. And we thank you for it.
Taken with my rock-solid, never-say-die Nikon D2x and impossible-to-kill Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8.