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Friday, July 30, 2010

The Flash tree.....

A brief video to see  what you need to overpower the desert sun.... Joe McNally shows what you can do with a bunch of speedlights properly used and packed together. If I had all those SB800s to use I would be a photographer in heaven, so much I love those little lights...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lastolite EzyBox

A couple of videos for you to watch. Is an interesting lesson of how to set your Lastolite EzyBox and then how to use it. I got mine a while ago and I'm sure happy with it. Is lightweight, portable, and delivers a terrific light. The image here on the left has been taken with an SB800 through it. Check them out and then maybe you will want to get one yourselves

Saturday, July 24, 2010 tests the new Nikkor 16-35mm 1:4G ED VR

This is how the review of this new Nikon lens starts in Dpreview, probably the best web page about digital photography in the net:

Our lens review starring the world's first optically-stabilized ultra-wide zoom: the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm 1:4G ED VR. Conceived as a relatively inexpensive alternative to the highly-regarded AF-S 14-24mm 1:2.8G, this lens features Nikon's latest 'VR II' stabilization unit in a high quality magnesium alloy body. We've put it through our usual battery of tests to see how it performs.

Read the whole review in this link

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Orbisflash for still life

For this test we found quite an unusual subject for the Orbisflash, a still life. I’m pretty sure that this ring flash was not designed for anything like that, but we had fun for half an hour trying different angles, and finally comparing it with a Lumiquest Softbox III, a Lumiquest Snoot and finally a bare SB800.

In this first image we have the Orbisflash on axis with the lens. That is, the lens goes through the hole :-) . The light gently wraps the whole subject

Now we moved the Orbisflash from the lens to camera left. The light is still nice and wrapping, we have more shadows and probably a more interesting picture

The Orbisflash is on top of the subject. This is the option I like the least, the light is a bit dull and there’s quite a loss of contrast and details.

Here we have the Lumiquest Softbox III right on top of the lens, trying to mimic the direction of light of the Orbisflash. The result is quite similar to that of image one, thus the light is not as wrapping and creates more edges

Lumiquest Softbox III on camera left. Compared to the second image we have more contrast here, darker shadows and stronger highlights. Is more contrasty

Softbox III on top of our garlic. The result is not too different from the one we made with the Orbisflash with the same settings.

Here we go for a very hard and narrow beam of light. The Lumiquest Snoot creates some kind of bad chiaroscuro, with very harsh and unflattering shadows.

Another hard light configuration. The SB800 is now bare, and the light again very unflattering. Lots of unpleasant contrast, same as in the previous example, yet we have a wider beam of light and it spreads more around the subject.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Orbisflash for macro work

I’m slowly getting familiar with the Orbisflash and this time I gave it a try with a macro subject. Working with the 60mm Micro Nikkor stuck at a mere 10cm from the lure, I did some fun testing

For works of this kind there is no other option but to place the camera on a tripod. Otherwise we would have the Orbis on the left hand and the camera in the other with both hands shaking and major focusing problems. Still, a sharp focus with a macro lens so close to the subject is extremely complicated. If you pay attention, even at f16 the depth of field is so limited that the metallic paint is not as focused as the eye, and I think the difference in depth between the two certainly cannot be spotted without a magnifying glass.

The Orbisflash, as many ring flash used in fashion photography, it gets reflected in a very unique way in the subject’s pupil. It is true that in the human eye is quite pleasing, very cool I’d say, I wanted to see if it would work as well on a plastic one, and to be very honest I believe it does. From the first to the second picture you can see we have slightly moved the Orbisflash from the lens axis to an off-camera position, and the reflection moved as well.

The light that provides such peculiar flash will sure have critics and devotee; I personally find it very cool. It wraps the subject in a very uniform shadowless way, yet not flat or dull, and delivers enough contrast to the image.

When I received it from the shop I thought it was a darn bulky monster, but now, after very little use I handle it with the same ease I handle my SB800 alone, and I am finding many and different applications for it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Colours and smiles

There are a few things, among many, dramatically affecting a fishing portrait: colors, or rather the contrast between them and the attitude of the fisherman. That man that holds the fish and that despite not being the main subject is very important just because is a bulky thing in the middle of the frame.

Pictures in marine environments, from boat or from shore, have a backgound that more than often is blue. A blue of various shades, sometimes dull and sometimes with an intensity almost cobalt. In both cases, having in front a subject whose overall color contrasts with the background, will result in a more powerful and successful image. Especially in the tropics, we find fish that have bright colors that help a lot. I think about the Cuberas and the Snappers, Groupers and of course the Dorado.

If we stop to think for a second about the species we have just mentioned they all have in common fewf colors: red and yellow or a reddish brown. Now if you look at the image of the color spectrum you can see that exactly on the other side of the blues are the yellows, oranges and reds, which means that these colors are opposites. This is exactly what we want; these are the tones that will create the necessary contrast in order to achieve a photo that will pop up, with major depth and strong personality.

Thus not always we have colorful fish in our hands hence, I humbly believe that it is the fisherman who has to add a drop of brightness to the image providing clothing that stands out. An orange, yellow or red shirt will surely strengthen the shot even with a gray sky behind, and obviously even more with a strong deep blue one that we can even improve with the use of a polarizer.

The attitude of the fisherman is another important element and I say this knowing well that I often forget about it either when I make the photos or the few times that I am the subject. A fisherman with a serious face simply doesn’t work. It seems that the guy instead of having fun is upset with something, and conveys a sense that is absolutely antithetical to what the reader expects. Something does not fit the image, and does not work. I can understand that you can be tired after a struggling tug-of-war with a strong fish, or with strong seas for that matter, once again we're having fun, and somehow it has to show!

Finally we have the casual fisherman who enjoys it a lot and you can see in the photo. It’s brightening. It gives off positive energy, he’s happy and it shows and his attitude is highly contagious. This man will have a much better chance of ending up in a two spread in a magazine or in the front cover, than any other moody or grumpy guy that may have taken a bigger fish.
Small details matter!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Molix, Italian design for lures

Let’s put it this way, if Italians are famous around the globe for their magnificent styling, design and architecture, why they cannot become the best lure designers in the planet?
I guess you guys are familiar with Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Armani, Versace, Scavolini and many other famous names and brands born and developed in my country. It’s something that we, as Italians are pretty proud of, can’t hide that.

Now, a group of crazy fishermen decided that it was about time to do something with a very high standard in the lure design field.

This is how and why Molix was born. Produce the best lures with original designs, no copycat or stolen ideas, with the best possible quality. So good they can rival the highest Japanese standards, and if possible, beat them. Molix Lures come for 100% Italian ideas, design and investments, mixed with Asian high tech quality manufacturing.

One of the owners of the company one day told me: “A Japanese guy said to us that we had a crazy idea - “The Italians are good at making ledgering and Bolognese rods, but they will never make good artificial lures, this is Japan’s business.” I couldn’t disagree more and we have hundreds of examples that show exactly the opposite. If we can build a Ducati we can sure make a 15€ plastic lure that fishermen will enjoy using and that will catch fish for them.

Nothing is impossible 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Metal Still Life

I studied THE BOOK “Light, Science and Magic” trying to understand the big deal of the Family of angles. Reflected and diffused light and did a bit of experiments

Using a black vinyl background and a metal lure can be a dangerous combination. I needed to keep the background black and make the lures shine, with a bit of reflection on the glossy plastic.

To achieve such result I used a combination of two lights, SB800 of course. One is bouncing the light off a big Lastolite 40” Umbrella box and the other one has an Orbis Ring Flash with it. Both light triggered with Nikon CLS.

First of all I made a sticky ball with duct tape to lift the jigs from the bottom. I put it in the back in order to achieve a bit of angle, reflect the light and show the length, height and width. Then I poured few drops of water to get more reflecting surface and decorate the image.
The Umbrella Box was placed 90º with the table. By doing so I had the light reflecting against the jigs but not the background that remained black. On the back of the jigs I had the other flash with the Orbis Ring to bring up the shadows a bit

Honestly, I love these still lives and will keep experimenting

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Carpe diem!

Grab de moment, freeze it, steal that image that only lasts for a second and disappears in the past. This is war reporters business, photojournalists, sport photogs, not mine for sure. Though, there are times when you are in the right place at the right moment and things just happen.

The following images are not new; I took them at the Maldives in November 2008 when we visited an atoll south of Male. I dropped the rod for a second, grabbed the Nikon and went to the bow, to shoot my friend Eugeni who was casting his large poppers.

Just to give you an idea of the action here to follow you will find a sequence of 4 images, while for me the real /carpe diem” image is the third one. Not only it perfectly froze the moment of the strike but also shows a good deal of body language and a precise moment of the action that speaks for itself.
Even though I spend a lot of time on a boat with the camera in my hand, I don’t have too many images like this. Carpe diem, that is!