Stock Photo Gallery

Friday, May 21, 2010

Philothamnus thomensis, Sâo Tomé Green Snake

I’m not a nature photographer. Never approached any kind of wildlife and to be very honest I don’t even have the tools for the business. Thus, I’d love to be good at that, even though I think is a very complicated technique because you not only have to be a good photog, but also have a good knowledge of the wildlife, their behaviour and move your fat ass a lot to find them.

Another major issue is the lenses you need to capture such distant subjects but hey, if this is really what you like, instead of spending money like me in 20 different wide angle you just save the $$$ and get yourself a nice 200-400mm and off you go to the bush. Nevertheless, one day I’d love to treat myself to a nice trip just for this purpose, I’ll swap the fish for the land based critters.

Anyway, there are times when things just happen in front of your face and you can grab the chance and do some “wildlife” work. One afternoon, back from fishing, when I returned to my room at the hotel I saw a little Green Snake jumping from somewhere around me and hiding in a little bush nearby. I got closer and saw this little nice fellow sticking its head right out of the foliage apparently curious about me. I dropped my stuff, headed for the camera rigged with the 18-200mm, grabbed the SB800 with a Lastolite Pocket Bouncer and went back.

After few shots, with the snake absolutely unmolested and comfortable during the photo session, I went back to the room to change the lens. The Nikon 18-200 (the first image as been taken with this lens, the other two with the 60mm) is probably not the sharpest lens around hence I decided to go for the Nikkor 60mm micro, and what a difference it makes. Thus, with that lens I had to get closer, something that didn’t make me feel too comfortable, not knowing what kind of snake I had in front. Eventually everything run smooth and I had my shots, some good some not, but I was pretty excited about my vis a vis with the little green snake. Back to Madrid I did a little bit of investigation and discovered that it was absolutely harmless. Glad to know that I didn’t risk loosing my nose on that shot

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Large diffusers, one more try

Today I wanted to give it a try to a new combo that I bought a while ago. Is a very large reflector, the Lastolite TriGrip and its specific bracket, that not only can support the diffuser but it also has an articulated arm to hold a flash to bounce the light off the diffuser.

It started as a stand alone test but whilst trying I decided to compare the results with another big Lastolite light modifier I got myself, the 1m Umbrella Box with 7mm shaft. They both are quite large light modifiers, at least for my minimalistic studio, among the largest I can deal with my small speed light.

The distance of the light from the subject is always the same. The shutter speed and f stop too, what I had to change a bit was the flash power rating in order to compensate the light absorption by each combination. For the sake of a comparison I also put a third image shot with a small LumiQuest Softobox III, of course the difference is staggering and is not fair to the little guy, but this is not what I wanted to prove, just to show how soft the light can be with a very large diffuser.

The fist image is shot with an SB800 at ¼ power bounced off a 1,20m Lastolite TriGrip on the Softsilver side (the other side is sunlite). As you can notice the light is extremely soft yet very scattered, with much diffused shadows, but quite poor in contrast. No reflector was used on the other side and in Lightroom I adjusted a bit the contrast, clarity and sharpening (the editing of the other image shave been synchronized with this on)

For this second take I used the Lastolite Umbrella Box. Same ratings as the previous image. The light is still soft and wrapping and the shadows less diffused. Due to the lesser spill of light the image is also a bit more contrast which I like a bit more. Being much closer to a softbox, with the Umbrella you have a better control over the light and it doesn’t scatter everywhere. I like this diffuser more and more

The third image shows how the light works when diffused by a small softbox. Imagine the difference in size from a 1,2 meters TriGrip, a 1 meter Umbrella and a 20cm softbox… Too much to handle.

In this final image you can see the TriGrip and the Umbrella Box together. Remember that the TriGrip is 1,2 meters, quite a huge thing, not too easy to handle and waaaaaay shaky on a light stand. I can see myself using it during one of my fishing trip and flying away with it like a kite surf at the first breeze. Thus, it can bounce the light over a standing subject and perfectly work as a fill light.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Favourite Stickbait

Without a doubt this has been my favourite stickbait of the last season. I have used and abused it mercilessly trip after trip and for some strange reason, when most of the other lures went lost, this one always made it back home. Is a lucky guy, and it now deserves some rest in the museum of the great survivors
It can work as a walking the dog, is this was the right way to use it, but is when it gets speedy that it shows its potential. I managed to sink a bit its nose in order to play it under the water making its belly shine, but this is not the easiest way to work with it. To take advantage of its real potential you have to think like playing with a pencil popper, just a tad slower, with more stops and more rod tip action. This is how it worked for me with almost any kind of predator.

I managed that the guy who makes it builds few for me; they will be available at the shop in two nice colours. But what I’m truly looking for is to have it build in several different sizes to use it with every kind of predators. We are looking for a name, even though “El Habano” is gathering quite some consensus

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Three Books for the Lighting enthusiasts

If you're a lighting fanatic I got three books to suggest you. I red them all, they are quite easy to understand, bring a lot of solutions, ideas and practical tips, and sure teach you one thing or two about lights. Any kind of light. The author is Kirk Tuck, a photographer based in Austin, Texas, who has a great degrees of knowledge about what he does: working with lights.

Have a good reading!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lastolite Umbrella Box 40"

Lately I have red many good things about the Umbrellas with Diffusers so I decided to treat me to a brand new 40” Lastolite Umbrella Box. I had the choice for a larger one but I knew I couldn’t use it with small speed lights so I had to quit on the megalomaniac idea.

Photographic Lighting Equipment: A Comprehensive Guide for Digital PhotographersKirk Tuck, in his latest book mentions a lot the Photek Umbrellas with diffusers, he suggest they can deliver a light almost as soft as a very expensive Octabank and uses a lot the 60” with Alien Bees or Profoto 600W lights. This is where I got the inspiration for my purchase and decided to give it a try the minimalistic way.

It would not be fair to say that I run a very extensive test, in fact I didn’t. Just put together a background, two stands and the D90 on a tripod to take some shots at my new baby reel, a Team Daiwa Bradia 2000, a tiny little jewel. I left the diffuser dome in the SB800 and had to pump it to ¼ power in manual and 200 ISO to achieve this f11 at 1/200 seconds. The Lastolite Umbrella Box was positioned right on top of the reel. The second light is an SB800 with diffuser dome on through a LumiQuest Softbox III, a small yet powerful light diffuser. This was feathered a bit towards the background and flagged with a small gobo to avoid light spill on the reel. The power of this light was set at 1/32. Both flashes have been triggered with Nikon CLS in separate groups
For the sake of it also have a look at how the light works with different modifiers. For the following images we got rid of the second light and just used the SB800 on top of the reel, see the difference:

SB800 with diffuser dome only

SB800 through LumiQuest Softbox III

SB800 through Lastolite Umbrella Box

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lumiquest Softbox III

A couple of hours ago I received the prizes of my March win of the LumiQuest contest. The parcel, which arrived in 48hrs since I choose my goods, included one Softbox III, a ProMax System and two cinch straps.

Didn’t really wanted to wait too much to test it, so I quickly unpacked it and put it on my SB800 on a stand. I choose one jaws of my collection and made few test shots.

Camera settings: D90 with Nikkor 35mm f2. F9 at 1/200 sec at ISO 100. Flash in Manual 1/10 when using the sole flash with diffuser and 1/8 when using the Softbox III still with diffuser. The light was at around 45º camera left and the reflector is a white cardboard placed on the right of the jaw, slightly behind it.

Here is the sequence of the images:

Only SB800 with diffuser. Harsh, harsh lights

Only SB800 with diffuser and reflector. The light bounced by the reflector smoothens a bit the shadows but yet they are unpleasant

SB800 with diffuser and Lumiquest Softbox III. The shadows are way smoother compared with the first image

SB800 with diffuser and LumiQuest SoftboxIII with reflector. we have quite an even light and reasonably soft shadows.

"The rig"

Quite a great result for a 22X19cm softbox. I think it will be my "secret" weapon when doing the fishing portraits. It doesn't get on the way of the CLS and is very light, so hand helding the SB800 with the Softbox III mounted will never be a problem.

Thanks you guys at Lumiquest for giving me the chance to try this cool diffuser, now we just have to wait for the Grand Prize :-)