Reflections on a year in 365 photographs

Posts Tagged ‘tripod


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The Ravenel Bridge from a new angle.

Nouvel Angle

A week ago I discovered a new vantage point for the Ravenel Bridge here in Charleston.  Tonight’s image is from that point and with the 80-200mm f/2.8 L at 80mm and f/8.0.   I like this angle, but I’m not sure there is room at the spot to do anything more interesting like a portrait.  I might try it, though, in the near future.

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Written by Brian Fancher

April 13, 2010 at 9:32 pm


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Following up on last night’s HDR airball, I went back to the same spot today, armed with the right settings on my Canon 40D to ensure a proper 5-stop, 3-image bracket.  As I headed downtown this afternoon, the sky promised some fireworks at sunset.  But as I finished an 8 mile running loop I saw the horizon start to become soupy and indistinct.  I took some brackets of the bridge but the sky in that direction was flat and grey.  

When things aren’t really working, turn around.  You never know what you’re going to find.  The sky here is still not exploding, but the bands of pink and magenta break up the greys and blues to make a worthwhile image.  

You can see the extra detail throughout this shot that is the product of an HDR merged photograph.  There are a few ways to make HDR images.  Photoshop has its own merging capabilities, but generally produces less than satisfactory images.  For this shot’s workflow I uploaded my CF card into Aperture 2.1 and then exported the three exposures to the Photomatix Aperture Plugin.  Once I had the image merged and tone-mapped I exported to Photoshop for a bit of curves adjustment, sizing, and sharpening.  There is a lot of information in this image that isn’t going to show up on a monitor.  With a couple of days’ work this image could actually pop right off of the page.  I will revisit it when I’ve got more time.  

So for today, I’ve conquered my camera’s bracketing with 2-second timer and mirror lock-up settings.  Success!  What have you done to challenge yourself to do better today?  

Check out my Flikr Photostream for more HDR images from today.

Written by Brian Fancher

January 21, 2010 at 1:35 am


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Blown Away

This one is for the strobists out there!  More, umm, “vintage” readers out there will well remember the Maxell ad that provided today’s inspiration.  I had a lot of fun with this one, especially after yesterday’s trials.  I tried to ape as many of the original details as possible, but play on strobe light and not sound.  I managed to include just about everything except the spilling drink, which isn’t an option if I want to continue sleeping INDOORS!  If I’d had more time I would have clothes-hangered a tie like the original, but instead I opted for tying one end of a scarf to the door handle behind me.  Plausibility, not exact copy, was my aim for the image.

The photograph and lighting are fairly straight forward.  Camera low and shoved against the opposite wall with a 24mm lens to give as much space as my kit will allow.  I put the 580EX II on the stand to my front and then used the 430EX bounced from the rear with white fill boards to direct plenty of light into the subject.

I count at least three and probably four lights in the original, so I knew I couldn’t get shadowless.  Then it hit me that this is a strobist LIGHT, not invisible sound image.  The hard shadows of the 580EX II from the front are congruent with the concept.  And I knew it had to be black and white with a bit of grain, just as the original.  Add curves, contrast, crop, sharpen, and noise.  Perfect.

Comment and critique welcome….

Written by Brian Fancher

January 14, 2010 at 1:22 am


with 3 comments



Sometimes things just don’t work.  I tried.  I learned.  

Lesson for the day:  “No! No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned. No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”  Yoda  

****Updated***  So I did a little research to see where I could have improved this shot.  My first problem was the white balance discord between the strobe and ambient lights.  I had a 1/4 CTO on the strobe, but discovered I had left the camera on Auto White Balance; hence the green bridge and yellowish-orange path lights.  This should have been a 3/4 or full CTO and a custom White Balance of ~3200k.  I had done some test shots without the strobe for ambient levels and found AWB showing ~3500k.  Cool that down just a bit and then warm up the subject and I’d have been a lot closer to the shot I was looking for.   If anyone has any other ideas for color correction of this type of shot, I’d love to hear them.  

The next problem is the soft subject.  This is easily rectified by simply focusing on a stand-in subject in the composition.  Well…either that or use one of David Hobby’s patented Voice Activated Camera Releases (aka an assistant)!  

Last, I need a new subject.  This one seems a bit morose!  😉  

“Always in motion is the future.” Yoda

Written by Brian Fancher

January 13, 2010 at 4:53 am


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Fifteen minutes and a polarizer filter; that’s all it took to create this image.  Having left work later than planned, I had scant time for today’s capture so I took a quick detour through a waterfront park hoping I could find something interesting.  The park teems with art and sculpture which might have made cool images if I’d had some lighting with me.  There were no ships passing close on the water.  And the cold temperatures had driven all the visitors into their warm cars to head home for dinner.

Enter the lowly rock.  You’ve seen one rock picture, you’ve seen them all, right?  Ok.  Add a bit of water and wave action.  Toss in a bit of twilight and we’re getting there.  Of course there was still too much light to get a properly long exposure for blurring the water.  The best I could do at a ridiculous f32 was a couple of seconds.  And I was running out of time to get home to dinner myself.  What to do?  Aha!  Pull out my trusty old EF28-105 II f3.5-4.5 on which I keep a circular polarizer permanently mounted.  That polarizer is worth about 1.7 stops which translated into a 13 second exposure; enough time to blur the water into an ethereal quality.  Perfect!  Just compose on a diagonal for a bit of drama and voila…something from nothing.

Lesson for the day:  Someone commented on another project photo that I might have had the tool at hand that I wished I’d had, but didn’t use.  So today, when I was racking my brain on how to get the image I wanted, I dug a little deeper in my kit bag and came up with the right solution.

Written by Brian Fancher

January 12, 2010 at 12:37 am