Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pixel Test

We got a Pixelstick about three weeks ago, thought it would be a fun thing to add to the gear collection and possibly use at anime conventions.  The pixelstick is a narrow 6-foot strip of colored LEDs that will go off in a pattern, and as you walk with the stick, it will form a light trail or picture based on the loaded program.  Most people use it to create abstract light art or do light painting; however, it can also be used to create a background for a photo or add effects like fireballs and ghosts.

Last night I did a few test shots with the stick.  I did some light painting first.  Which is interesting, but I think I need to have a specific pattern in my head or be working around interesting objects and/or people.  I also determined we might need to get the attachment for the stick, which bends and smooths the light to form better curves.   Overall, the light painting turned out okay. However, I need to work on my timing for the moon. But the lantern background turned out well. 



The next test was to have my husband stand in the picture and shoot fireballs.  When I informed him of this role, he told me he couldn’t shoot fireballs because he only knew the somatic component for magic missile.   To do the fireball test (since there were only two of us) I put the camera on a 10-second timer and the flash on back-curtain sync. After I hit the shutter button on the camera, I would run over to where my husband was standing, hit the fire button on the stick, and then walked away from him perpendicular to the camera.  This worked fairly well; I just needed to start closer to his hands.  The one thing that did significantly help was my camera fires a pre-flash right when the timer ends but before the shutter opens, which was my cue to hit the fire button on the stick.   This will take practice but I am fairly happy with the results.


We do need to practice a bit more with the stick but start integrating it into evening photo shoots. We will be taking it to Anime USA to possibly use in a few shots with some adventurous cosplayers.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Historical Snow White

In honor of my photography Facebook page reaching a 100 likes, I ran a contest to give away a 100-minute photo shoot with digital images and a 5x7 print.   The winner of the contest was chosen at random from those who commented on the contest post.   The winner of the contest was Sara Cosplay, who does historical versions of the Disney princesses. 

Snow White in the Wood
She choose to do a combined outdoor and studio shoot for her historical Snow White cosplay.  We did the outside shots in a local park, which had a waterfall feature and a trestle area covered in ivy.  For the shoot, I used my standard 18-200 mm lens, using an ISO 100 with a f5 and smaller aperture, with various shutter speed, and an external flash.  The flash was used because the waterfall photos were taken in a heavily shaded area and it allowed for the me light the subject properly and separate here from the background.  My husband used his 70-200 mm lens with an ISO 100 with an f2.8 aperture with various shutter speeds and off-camera flash on a light stand.  The same basic set up was used for the photos taken in the ivy.  The goal of the outdoor shots was to capture Snow White in the woods.

Studio Shot
For the indoor, studio portion we used two backdrops, off camera flashes on light stands with shoot-through umbrellas and the same basic camera setting as previously.  My husband switched lens to a prime 50mm and a prime 85mm lens for his shots.   He also did not use the two flash set up, but a single off camera flash on a light stand with a 60-inch reflective umbrella.   The first backdrop we used was a dappled blue with a white wood floordrop.  Sadly, I did not have a baseboard to tie the two drops together.  Then we switch to a close to neutral grey backdrop, which also covered the floor. The goal of the studio shots was to capture a regal Snow White.

We post processed all the shots using a combination of Lightroom and Photo Shop CC.  For the outdoor shots we did basic retouching. While for the studio shots, we smoothed out the backdrops, which were very wrinkly, by using lens blur.  I also add a texture layer on some of the shots to change the background from smooth gray to a flower/paisley like wallpaper.   

Overall the session went well, and she was happy with the final product. 

Akron Zoo and a Wedding

In September, we were up in Ohio to attend a wedding.  The weather that weekend was mostly dreary and rainy.  

Coyote in a barrel
The Friday we arrived, it was cloudy and looked as though it was going to rain any minute, but we went to the Akron Zoo anyway before dinner with family.  The Akron Zoo is a small zoo that makes you feel you are up close and personal with the animals in the zoo.  However, the zoo does feel like a bit of a maze.  Overall, it is a nice zoo. 

I have upgraded to a new camera, a 70D and my husband has upgraded to a 5D.  I used my typical 18-200mm lens while my husband used a 70 – 200mm with 1.4x converter.  I kept my aperture around 8f, since it is the most versatile for the environment, while my husband varied his f-stop.  We used various shutter speeds with ISO around 200 and up depending on the exhibit.    We got a couple nice shots, plus lucked out and got to see the snow leopard try to catch a bird in its enclosure. (Akron Zoo Gallery)

Leopard relaxing


 The Saturday of the wedding, it rained 90% of the day.  In the morning, we took a walk along the CuyahogaValley National Park Towpath Trail.  It was dreary and misty which gave a walk a calm and serene feeling.   I was able to capture a few photos of herons both a great blue and green heron.  Sadly, we did not see any of the beavers or otters that call that area home.  I used my 18 -200mm lens with and ISO of 200, f8 aperture, and a 1/50 shutter speed.  

Great Blue Heron

The lovely couple
We were not the photographers for the wedding, just guests but we had our cameras with us anyway to capture a family event.  The wedding was conducted inside a country club, it was supposed to be outside but it was raining heavily in the afternoon into the evening.  The ceremony took place inside the country club in a room with dark wood paneling and large windows, but due to the rain, very little light was coming in.   We took very few pictures of the ceremony, due to our seating location. We mostly took pictures during the reception.  Overall, the area was dimly lit so we were glad we brought our flashes, which we had diffusers (stofen omi-bounce) on.  We both had our ISO at 400 or higher and used an f4 to f8 aperture depending on the light.  Shutter speed varied depending on the situation. Overall, we got some nice shots. Out of the 145 photos I took only about 45 were keepers and my husband had about a similar number of keepers from the wedding.  (Wedding Photos)



On Sunday, we drove back to DC, and it was bright and sunny that day.