Tag Archives: Flash

Project 365 status: Complete!

Reflections (P365-31)What a year!  As you have probably read in my New Years post, this year has been quite the roller coaster.  So many ups and downs that I probably would not have even remembered them all if I hadn’t been doing this project.  On of Dec 31st 2013, I took my last Project 365 picture.  It was one that we had planned, probably from the beginning of the project.  My buddy Louis and I both started P365 on Jan 01 2013 and have had lots of conversations through the year about “What should I take a picture of?” and “I am out of ideas!!” also “Why did we agree to this!!”.  In the end I am glad we stuck with it though.  I look back on some of my earlier shots and can actually see a lot of progression in technique and style. (Quick Edit: Louis wrote up his post about P365 over on his site: http://www.gamutofgeek.com/i-need-to-figure-out-my-picture/ )

There are a number of types of shots that I don’t know that I would have done had I not been forcing myself to take something every day.  By the end I really started to see myself shooting in 4 different categories:

  • Life event – Something significant happened that day and I wanted to document it.  Usually this was something like a concert, or event we went to see, but occasionally was something like “we went to see a movie”.
  • Outdoor Artistic – This was when I wanted to capture something outside in good lighting, and usually had to travel to get, or at least spend some time getting the right shot.
  • Indoor Artistic – If weather was a limiting factor, or I just couldn’t get out, I typically went for a new style or technique. These shots often involved a lot of set up and there is a certain style to them.
  • Lazy – Let’s face it, getting a shot every day is tiring.  Some days there just isn’t much to shoot and life has beat you up.  So I would just grab the camera and take a picture of something/anything.

We had some pretty lenient rules set in place before we started:

  • Using the DSLR was primary, but falling back on a Cell phone was ok (Sometimes you just don’t have your good camera on you)
  • Midnight was not the cut off, before you went to bed was.  (When we started, Louis was working a late shift and would often be up till 2-3am)
  • Try and do something different each day

One of the big issues I had in the project was the time change when I was going to and from Kuwait earlier in the year.  There was actually a huge scare involving day 35.  You see, I apparently suck at numbering.  I was constantly getting my day number mixed up (until I found this website to help me with it) so I would usually use the picture from the day before as a reference.  Well, with dateline crossing and time shifts, also being up after midnight, my numbers were always getting messed up.

Emergency Breakfast! (P365-35)Some time in August, I went into the Flickr set and did a manual count, only to find that my pictures were off by 1 day.  Not just the numbering, but the actual total count was missing one.  I was crushed.  I traced the issue all the way back to Feb 5th.  This was the day I traveled back to the states from Kuwait and apparently lost almost an entire day in the process.  I freaked out and started looking everywhere for any pictures I may have taken.  Thankfully I found that I had taken a picture of my breakfast that Sarah made me.  The time frame matches up and I was saved.

After that I was much more diligent about numbering.

So now that I am done, I am planning on taking a small break from carrying my camera around everywhere I go. (Even though Sarah bought me an amazing new camera backpack). Now it’s on to projects that I can focus the theme.

Some advice to anyone willing to try P365?  Do it, but go out and explore!  Work on something new each day, be it a location, a technique, a style, etc..  Explore Flickr and find some types of shots that you want to try and then do them.  Most importantly….. document your life with it.  Lots of stuff happens around you, grab a picture of it, but don’t forget to experience it too.  When you have the picture, put the camera down and enjoy the show with your own eyes too.

Enjoy the pictures!


On the subject of Jelly Beans

The other day Sarah was out at an event with some friends while I gleefully stayed home and slept of played video games.  Sometimes we do this.  Well, when she came home she was loaded down with various food stuffs that were excess from the event.  Some very evil person sent her home with a jar of Jelly Belly brand jelly beans.


Yes, the most amazing jelly bean on the planet.  It is taking all of my willpower to not devour the whole jar in one sitting (it’s a big jar too).  To combat my desire to “eat all the things”, I decided to set up a little photo shoot.  Below are the results:

Forever Alone
No one likes the black jelly beans!

Jelly Bean Statistics
As you can see from this chart, we show 100% Deliciousness.

Both of these shots were done with my SB600 strobe mounted on the Gorilla pod stand, positioned about 2 feet away and the Lightsphere about 1 ½ feet above the subject. (Triggered remotely)

Long Exposure lessons from the fail book.

Last night I decided to try out a neat technique using long exposure and strobe highlights.  in a good environment, this can be used to highlight areas and paint light into dark spots.  Unfortunately, if you don’t have the right subject, it just doesn’t come out right.

The plan was to set up the camera on a tripod, up on the deck of my back yard, overlooking the trees in the yard.  I set up a shot for F-16, ISO200, and decided on around 2-3min exposure.  Then I took my SB-600 out into the yard and flashed various parts of the yard and the trees to highlight them.

(Important side note, wear shoes you don’t care about if you own a dog that typically uses the back yard as his restroom)

The end result was not what I was expecting at all, and not in a good way.  The final picture looked like a picture of my back yard with spotlights on the trees:

The sky was very overcast, the angle was wrong, the subject of the trees just wasn’t that interesting.  The only thing this shot had going for it was the concept.  I understand the concept better now, it’s just a matter of finding the right subject.  I’ll certainly revisit this idea again in the future after a scouting trip to find a good shot.

Interestingly enough, one of the shots you can just make out a ghostly figure of myself in the distance.


Decided I really need to step back up my picture taking so my goal is to try and get a good shot in at least once a week.  This doesn’t include the shots I take for Sarah’s food/craft blog.


Click to embiggen.

Self Reflection

Decided to play around a little with a different subject…Myself.  Well, myself and my son.  I picked up a set of extension tubes to play with macro photography a bit and was frustrated when I found that the AF-S lenses auto close up their aperture when you remove the lens from the camera.  Without the electronics to “make it go” the $8 extension tubes were rendered useless because the view was too dark to accomplish anything.  I found a neat trick to get around that though.  Over at Nikon Rumors this article got posted about using a bit-o-plastic to jam the aperture open.  Worked like a charm!  Also took a few portrait shots to practice.  here are the results:

The Many sides of Andrew
Window to the soul
Eye See You

Chat Noir

Chat Noir

Chat Noir

Sarah was out gathering food for the evening and ran across this bottle of wine. I thought it would make for a good shot.

Strobist info: SB-600 speed light on wireless remote trigger located roughly 2 feet off to the right of camera. Camera: Nikon D5100, 50mm F/1.8, 1/125, ISO-100.

The Diffused Flash


I learned a few important lessons at DragonCon. First and foremost, never let James talk you into laying down with a Jägermeister bottle if you really like your pants, but most of the lessons revolved around using my flash on my camera.  (the Jägermeister story will have to be asked of me in person if you really want to know.)
I had planned to take a lot of pictures at DragonCon (DC) of the various costumes and such, and I like to think I did a fair job, but there were some much more serious photographers there with much better gear.  I know I know, it’s not the gear, it’s the eye that goes with it, and there were some folks that had great gear but the shots I saw them make made me kind of weep.  But I digress, my biggest failing as far as gear went was my flash use.  

I’ll be honest, I am a little scared of my flash.  At least I used to be.  I have gotten pretty good at adjusting ISO, Aperture, and Speed, to get the right light and clarity, but when you throw a flash into the mix there is a whole new dynamic.  Nothing over 180 speed, F-stop is more for DOF than it is for light, and then there is the whole calculating how much flash for the distance to subject…..UGH!  Sometimes I felt like I was back in math class!  See, I have a SB-600 speed-light to use for Off camera shots and bounce shots, but I ate how harsh the light from it is.  Bouncing isn’t as bad, but at when the ceilings are too high and the walls are few….needless to say, I only use it for special occasions.

While at DC my biggest problem when taking shots of folks was lighting.  I was using both my 50mm and my 35mm f1.8 and they just weren’t giving me enough light without bumping to ISO 6400 (I had more grain than a 1930’s film!)  So I talked with a few of the other Photogs and got some tips on flash use.  Derek helped out a Ton with some of these tips.  The biggest one being DIFFUSE!!!!  I noticed a lot of guys using covers on their flashes, anything that would soften the harshness of the flash.  Some went all out with the Gary Fong stuff, while others just had basic caps.  There were a few that went simple with a bounce card.  Another huge tip was (and I feel kind of silly for not knowing this) Change the White balance to “Flash”.  Yeah yeah, say what you like, but when you don’t use a flash that much, this doesn’t occur to you!

No Flash = Lots of NR and Bright Background:

Camera Nikon D5100
Exposure 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture f/1.8
Focal Length 35 mm
ISO Speed 6400
Flash No Flash
Exposure Program Manual
Subject Distance 2.51 m
Metering Mode Spot


Bounce Card = Color, Clarity, Separation!

Camera Nikon D5100
Exposure 0.017 sec (1/60)
Aperture f/3.5
Focal Length 18 mm
ISO Speed 1600
Flash On, Return detected
Exposure Program Manual
Subject Distance 0.94 m
Metering Mode Spot
Light Source Flash
White Balance Manual


My Macgyver gene kicked in and I set about rigging up a simple white bounce card out of some tape and cardboard bits we had in the room.  I dropped my ISO to 100-200, Speed to 160, flash down to -1.8, and Aperture to 1.8.  Boom! Shots were clear, not too harsh, and great color.  I was amazed.  For the rest of the night I only had to adjust the strength of the flash to compensate for the distance to subject.  I even busted out the 18-270mm to get some wider angle shots.  (Although the D5100, with the SB-600, and the 18-270mm meant Zomg Heavy!)

What I found was that I had to do less noise reduction, I got a MUCH better seperation of subject and background, and the details of the subject came out much better.  Not to mention after having a few drinks my steady hand wasn’t so steady!  That cinched it!  When I got home I started looking up some different diffusers.  A lot of the guys at the con were using the Gary Fong Lightsphere but I couldn’t really justify $60 for something that did what a 20 cent piece of cardboard did.  Instead I found the Prolight Dome.  It was exactly the same as the Gary Fong, but only $13!  Sold!

A few days later it arrived and I have to say that most of my shots now are taken using this setup.  (indoors of course).  I tried a few using off camera, and then a few portrait shots.  Thankfully my pets are always willing subjects!  (well, almost always.)  Given this new found love for the flash, I think I may look at doing a few more Portrait type projects.  

So the important take away’s here are:
Diffuse that sucka!
Check your white balance!
Adjust for distance!

Ok maybe not profit.

Glowing Pockets

Was playing around with my off camera flash while at pool the other day:

Glowing Pockets

Inside the Bag

This week I got the chance to tag along on a photo shoot with a buddy of mine in an abandoned NIKE missile bunker.  It was pretty adventurous, but sounded like fun.  He had a model that was coming up for this and we aimed to make it as professional as possible.  Paul was the primary photographer on scene with his Assistant/Apprentice, Andy helping out.  I was on hand more for the behind the scenes shots to document the shoot itself.  Overall it was a blast!  I uploaded the Behind the scenes shots to my gallery and you can find the model shoots over at Paul’s Flickr stream.

This got me thinking about what all I am carrying in my portable kit and why.  So I thought I would break it down for anyone who may be interested:


Some of the things to draw attention to here:

      • The iPad: I mostly use this for very quick spot processing and shot review and looking up any info.  I can also do instant uploads  of shots if I need to send them out ASAP (depending on Signal on my 4G Thunderbolts tether).  The app I use the most for processing is Filterstorm.
      • The SB-600 is my Speedlight.  It’s a low end light but I am working to get some remote triggers for off camera lighting.
      • The combo of the GorillaPod and the Pistol Head tripod mount makes for a small easy to aim pose-able mini tripod that is great of remote locations.

The item that I catch the most grief for is the one that brings it all together.  You may have noticed that all of my gear is Nikon based, yet I have a Canon bag.  When I was shopping around for a backpack that would carry everything and not break the bank, the Canon one kept coming up.  It has protective compartments for everything and is small and light.  Sure it’s misleading sometimes but it gets the job done.

So there you have it.  All of my gear laid out for all to see.  now that I have shown you mine, how about you show me yours!

Another Gizmodo shot, this one for the Strobing challenge….

Another Gizmodo shot, this one for the Strobing challenge.  Unfortunately I didn’t get it sent in time.

%d bloggers like this: