Friday, June 25, 2010

Patterns, Texture and Lines

My favourite things to shoot are landscapes and scenic shots, but sometimes I’ll try to find some different, but interesting things to shoot. I think this is what helps us to continually challenge our creative ability.

Now, I’m the first to admit that creativity is not something that is natural to me. Some people have an innate creative sense, and others, like me, have to work hard at it.

One of the things that helps me is to remember some of the basic elements and principles of design (there are a lot of resources available - all you need to do is a Google search). I’m not a design expert, but I’m going to share some of the things that work for me.

I tend to focus on the simple stuff and look for patterns, texture, lines, colour, etc. If you take some time to look around you’ll notice these everywhere. The more you pay attention, the more you’ll see and this will help you develop a more creative eye over time.

Here are a few of my attempts:

I really like this shot for its simplicity. There are a number of elements that I found here starting with the texture of the coconut, the colour from the green and yellow leaves on the ground as well as the texture of the ground.

Look for a repeating pattern that this tile roof offers. I also like the feeling of waves that it creates. The other photo is a series of phone booths all lined up together. There’s symmetry to them and the blue colour really makes then stand out.

For this shot, I liked the contrast in the shades of the rocks. We have a lighter colour rock in the centre surrounded by the darker tones. There is also a nice sense of texture and randomness.

Lines can always make for interesting compositions, too. The mid-day sun high in the sky was throwing shadows all over, all you need to do is see it. These are the shadows from the railings on our cruise ships that the sun was throwing across the deck. I really like the way the lines draw you around the photo.



Sunday, June 13, 2010

This is Roxy...She's Really Cute... Need I Say More?

 Okay, maybe I can say just a little more. Friends of ours recently added Roxy to their family, and she’s just too sweet! She’s about 1.5 – 2 pounds of cuteness.

We brought her a toy cow. She seemed to really like it!

You can really see how tiny she is... that's my size 8 foot.

This is Roxy and me. I’m very rarely in from of the camera, but I made an exception this time.



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Water Drop Set-Up

Okay, I promised to detail the set-up for the water drop shots I posted last week so here goes…and no critiquing my drawing ability; I take photos specifically because I can’t draw.

The key ingredients:
  • Nikon D300, 70-200 f2.8 lens, SB900 speedlight and an SU800 commander unit
  • Coffee mug – or anything type of container that will catch the water drop
  • Ruler – or something you can use a reference to set your focus
  • Something that produces water drops – in this case it was a leaky faucet; however, your faucet doesn’t have to be leaking you just need to open it up a little
So, the mug goes in the sink, obviously. However, the sink has a curved basin and the mug didn’t sit flat so I found a 5x5 piece of flat plastic to set the mug on in order to keep it level. I set my camera off to the right of the sink about 45 degrees. Because of the minimum focus distance of the 70-200, I needed the space to back up, and that room is longer than it is wide. I placed the SB900 to camera left at about the same 45 degree angle; I was using the SU800 commander unit on camera to trigger the flash and control the power levels.

I used the ruler to set my focus manually. I placed the ruler standing up inside the mug. From there I was able to set my focus on the ruler marks at approximately the spot I expected all of the action to be. After that, it was take a shot, zoom in on the LCD to check focus, make a tiny focus adjustment and shoot again. Sounds simple right? I shot 103 exposures, 8 had a decent focus, and 4 made the cut. That’s about a 4% success rate.

I shot in manual mode and the camera settings were variable as I was constantly tweaking things. Shutter speed was fast at 1/1000 to 1/2000. Aperture was between f8 and f11 as I was trying a keep a decent depth of field without shutting out too much light.

Flash was on manual and I started at around ¼ power. However, I wasn’t initially getting the light I was hoping for so I had 3 options: 1) Slow down my shutter speed and risk not being able to freeze the action, 2) open up my aperture and lose some depth of field, or 3) crank up the power on the SB900. Well, I’m a guy so of course I cranked up the power; first to ½ and then I pushed it up to full power (aye, givin’ it all she’s got captain). I also found that if I zoomed the SB900 to 200mm I was able to get more concentrated and “punchy light” (let’s thank Joe McNally’s “Hot Shoe Diaries”).