Saturday, February 28, 2009

Using Natural and Artificial Light

With all the flowering plants sprouting up outside I decided to do some close-up macro photography using the flowers as my subject. I went outside setup my tripod, attached the camera and mounted my Tamron 17-70mm MACRO lens to the camera.

I then set the aperture to f/25, manually focused on the flower and looked through the view finder to see the flower wiggling back and fourth as it was buffeted by the winds. I popped off a few shots and quickly determined that this wasn't going to work because I couldn't keep the ISO at 100 and get the shutter speed high enough to compensate for the movement caused by the wind. So what to do next? I went in the house to get a pair of scissors and vase. I was going to cut the flower and bring it inside and photograph it there. But what do I see sitting on the kitchen table? A new flowering plant that my wife had just purchased and the flowers where orange, my favorite color. I had a new subject to photograph.

I typically shoot using natural light but I was in an experimental mood so I retrieved my tripod and camera from outside and set it up in the kitchen. I placed the flower pot near a window to provide some back lighting using the soft natural sunlight flowing in from the northern facing windows. Because I was using the natural light as a back light I had to use artificial light to illuminate the front of the flowers to prevent a silhouette effect. I could have used the camera's built-in flash but that would have most likely washed out the color and flattened the image. I set up my portable light stand and umbrella and mounted my Canon 480 EX flash in slave mode and placed it at a 45 degree angle just to the left and above the flowers and bounced the light using the umbrella. I mounted my Canon 580 EX II flash on the camera's hot shoe and pointed it straight up to bound the light off the ceiling and provide fill light. I overexposed by about 1-1/3 stop to blow out the background.

I like the results, what about you?

f/22, ISO100, 4.0 sec, 70mm

This is the same image as above post processing in Lightroom 2.0 to convert it to black and white and overexposed to give it a high key look.

All images copyright Daniel Ray Photography.

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