Thursday, June 30, 2011

Strobo



With apologies to Harold Edgerton (and with a little help from Mrs. Documentary Photography) here's a little stroboscopic experiment.

The setup: a Nissin 466 with a red gel on was set up to light the background, then a Metz 58 AF-2 in stroboscopic mode provided 5 flash pops at a rate of 20 Hz. The exposure was ISO 100, f/11, with a shutter speed of 1 second. (The metz was at 1/128th power.)

"But what about the purple and blue?" you ask.

The Metz was fired through a snoot to control where it hit, directed at the ball and the left side of the frame. It puts out light that is at a color temperature of about 6000K, so by adjusting my white balance setting to about 3000K I was able to shift the light to blue -- and it turns purple where it mixes with the red light from the Nissin.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Maillol LOL



A museum visitor poses in front of a sculpture by Aristide Maillol at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 28, 2011.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Meta



Robbert Flick photographs curator Tim Wride during the opening reception for the "Street Sight" exhibition at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Saturday, June 25, 2011. The show includes work by Flick as well as Adam Bartos, Darryl Curran, Bevan Davies, John Divola, Judy Fiskin, Dennis Hopper, Graham Howe, Grant Mudford, Jane O’Neal, Marvin Rand, Seymour Rosen, Ed Ruscha, Julian Wasser, and Terry Wild.

Street Sight



Two people view photographs during the opening reception for the "Street Sight" exhibition at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Saturday, June 25, 2011.

You'd Think She'd Know When They'll Arrive



A woman waits for customers in a storefront "European Psychic" shop in Los Angeles, Saturday, June 25, 2011.

Standard Stoppage



A dog and owner attend the opening reception for the "Street Sight" exhibition at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Saturday, June 25, 2011.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Using the Metz 58 Second Reflector Well



Let's start with this: the Metz 58 AF-2 is a great hotshoe flash. In my opinion, it's the smartest flash out there.

I do, of course, understand why a photographer might choose the top-of-the-line flash from their specific camera brand. I think it's worth comparing, though, before a purchase -- it has some features that photographers might not even realize they need or realize are left out of the Brand Name flash.

I'll address the Metz 58's merits some other time, though. Today, I want to address an element I see presented badly around the web, and I just want to clarify a bit about this feature.

I'm talking about the Metz 58's "secondary reflector." Here's the deal: besides the main flash head, the Metz has a smaller, less-powerful flash tube ("reflector") that stays facing forward even when the main head is tilted up for bouncing.

So what do I want to clarify? Well, the typical discussion of this feature goes like this: "Hey, great idea, let's try it. Oh, tried it: it's too harsh."

So, let's look at this quickly. In the photo above, I set a camera bag down and made a quick shot by tilting my Metz up and bouncing the flash off the ceiling. Simple, and it worked well. But ... if we are really picky, and look at the buckle and at the shadows under the flaps of the bag, we can see the drawback of ceiling-bounce-flash: shadows. On a person's face, this can mean that the eyes get a bit dark: the brow ridges cast a shadow and "hide" the eyes.

Well, a quick solution can be to pull out the built-in white card on the head of the flash (similar to putting an index card on the flash held by a rubber band -- the old school solution). Alternately, we could bring in a reflector and redirect some of the light back into the eyes.

But can we use the Metz' "secondary reflector" to help us fill these shadows?

Yes ... and no ... and yes.

So, the Metz lets you sets:
  • Secondary reflector at full power.
  • Secondary reflector at half power.
  • Secondary reflector at 1/4 power.

Cool. Let's try those.



Above: the main flash head is titled up at the ceiling, bouncing its light. The secondary reflector is pointed at the bag, set at "full power."

Awful. It looks like the flash from a little compact camera. Essentially, the secondary reflector is about the same size, so that makes sense. But don't blame the flash: this is the photographer's fault. We need to adjust the power levels between the main bounced flash and the secondary reflector we want to use as fill. In that first shot, the direct secondary reflector was too powerful, so let's turn it down.



Above: the secondary reflector is now turned down to 1/2 power. Better, but the quality of light is still not great. We are getting too much light from the smaller, "harder" light source and not really doing what we set out to do, which was fill in shadows left by the bigger, "softer" bounced light. So let's adjust further...



Above: now we've set the reflector to 1/4 power. Not as bad ... but not good enough.

And usually, that's where the test ends, and why I think this secondary reflector feature has been treated a bit badly by reviewers. They tend to say "Hmm. If it would cut down to 1/8 power, that might work...."

Well, shucks, is it so hard to help the flash out a little?



Okay, that's better. If you look at this shot, and compare it to the original, you can see some positive improvement. The buckle in the first shot is too dark, and here we can see it. And we've done it without letting the little (and harsher) secondary reflector ruin the quality of the light.

How did we achieve this? The Metz only lets you use the secondary reflector on 1/1, 1/2 and 1/4 settings. So ... how did we go further?



Well, duh. I just attached a little diffusion over the secondary reflector. I took out my Honl Strap, put it on the head of the flash, then velcroed on a Heavy Frost gel. If I wanted to cut further, I could use more diffusion.

This could be a very easy and workable technique if one is photographing people and seeing shadowed eyes. Any diffusion material can work -- and you can vary it as you like. For someone shooting night club photos, or a wedding reception, a little refinement of this technique could be a very plausible solution for no-worries fill.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Flower



I'm not really a flower guy. It's important to stretch, though, I think.

This image was made as a little flash-technique exercise. I shot at 1 p.m. under full daylight sun. The trick: I set my flash on HSS (High Speed Sync) and changed my exposure to ISO 100, f/4, 1/4000th of a second. Since the flash was connected via an off-camera cable, I was able to position and direct it where I liked -- letting me decrease the background exposure but still intensely light the flower.

Perfect for Rush Hour



A component of a Richard Serra art work is prepared for transport at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, Thursday, June 23, 2011.

See also: Cor-Ten

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Que? Serra, Serra



A construction crane, used to move art work by Richard Serra, is seen at Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

Found



Tatum O'Neal strides forward to join Mario Lopez for a television interview at The Grove in Los Angeles, Wednesday, June 22, 2011.

Dogtown and TV-Boys





A Los Angeles television reporter learns to skateboard during the "Wild in the Streets" event at Lafayette Park in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

CORRECTION:
Los Angeles television reporter Cary Berglund learns to skateboard during the "Wild in the Streets" event at Lafayette Park in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Downside of Street



A skateboarder falls during the "Wild in the Streets" event at Lafayette Park in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

And on my other blogs:
Wild in the Streets

First Day of Summer

First Day of Summer



A skateboarder attempts a jump during the "Wild in the Streets" event at Lafayette Park in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

Wild in the Streets



A skateboarder lands after a jump during the "Wild in the Streets" event at Lafayette Park in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ambient Sound: Quarters Dropping



Returning from Utah, we had a few flight delays. While waiting in McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Mrs. Documentary Photography suggested we play a small amount of money on a slot machine.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Face in the Crowd



I heard sirens, and went outside. I photographed this incident. I looked around at the crowd, and saw the expected mix of curiousity and shock that an accident had happened.

And then, there was the guy above.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pink Shoes



Firefighters help a person involved in an automobile accident onto a stretcher in Los Angeles, Friday, June 10, 2011.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Looks Like He Made It



Barry Manilow is escorted from a performance stage to a waiting limousine after a performance at The Grove in Los Angeles, Thursday, June 9, 2011.