Happy May Day!

It's the beginning of a new month... which means that it's time to move on to a new focus for what I'm doing in my free time. There are so many things to learn in this world and so many skills that can be developed that if you try and conquer learning about all of your interests at once, you will end up so spread out that it's hard to do anything well. To make my life skills a little more focused, I've decided that every month I'm going to try and learn more about one specific skill, or interest, as well as putting into practice whatever is associated with that skill set. Since today is the first day of May, that means that yesterday was the last day of April. April's topic for me was off-camera lighting for photography. and I had a lot of lighting assignments to get caught up on from the Strobist: Lighting 102 course that I had been working my way though. Wednesday night I finished watching the Strobist Lighting Seminar DVD set that I had started a couple of weeks ago which goes through most of the same material as the online Strobist: Lighting 102 "course" does (which is a series of blog entries that David Hobby put together to help teach lighting.) I didn't quite do all of the assignments from the course in order, but I worked on what I could, and here is what I ended up with.

Lighting 102 - 3.1 Balancing Light: Twilight

Balancing Light: Twilight - Mr. Matt was a great model while standing waiting for someone to toss him the frisbee.
Balancing Light: Twilight - Mr. Matt was a great model while standing waiting for someone to toss him the Frisbee.
For the photo of Matt here, I lit him from the front right with a Nikon SB-80 Speedlight. With the Speedlight, Matt's exposure in relation to the sky was easy to control. The flash that was lighting him was seemingly instant, which allowed me to get proper exposure on him right away, and the sky was then able to burn into the image while the shutter was still open with a longer shutter speed. Matt didn't get over exposed because while the sky was burning in, there was no light on him... once the flash had fired, he went dark for the rest of the exposure, but the initial image of him at the proper exposure was captured in that brief instant.

Lighting 102: 3.3 - Balancing Flash/Ambient Indoors

Lighting 102: 3.3 - Balancing Flash/Ambient Indoors - Josh Rose at posing for the camera.
Lighting 102: 3.3 - Balancing Flash/Ambient Indoors - Josh Rose at posing for the camera.
Balancing flash and ambient light indoors is pretty much the same thing that we did when we were outside with Matt. Here we've got Josh modeling for us. I actually used two flashes on this one, the first is of course the main light being thrown at him from the front left, and the second one is directly behind him, helping to make him pop out of the background a bit (in this shot I also ended up catching the side of someone's face in the background... ideally, you should watch out for things like this... but this was just me experimenting, and I've got a lot to learn.) Josh's exposure was set up first and after I got the proper exposure on him, the only variable that changed between the first and second photo here was the shutter speed. The aperture, ISO and lighting conditions did not change at all. Shutter speed controls the ambient exposure and aperture controls the subject exposure. There are a few other things that you can do to adjust the subject exposure as well... the flash intensity and flash to subject distance will also affect the subject's exposure. However, if you are changing the flash to subject distance, you will also be affecting the apparent light size as well as how fast the light falls off between your subject and background, for more info on this, read this blog entry on distance.

Lighting 102: 7.0 - Time-Based Variables

Lighting 102: 7.0 - Time-Based Variables - Sheila got into these shots without me having to tell her anything. she2
Lighting 102: 7.0 - Time-Based Variables - Sheila got into these shots without me having to tell her anything.
The time-based variables are always fun... I've been toying with these since I accidentally discovered it a couple of years ago. As I mentioned above, when the flash goes off, it lights your subject and since the flash is nearly instant it "freezes" your subject in that time, but while the shutter remains open the available light that is lighting the scene is still being recorded on your camera's sensor. With this in mind you can do some crazy stuff with that available light as it is being recorded in your photo by moving the camera in some way. You can rotate it, like the top photo of Sheila. You can shake it as demonstrated in Sheila's next photo, you can do a quick pan or zoom... you can even change your focus to throw your background so far out that it becomes abstract and very soft. One thing to be aware of is that if any of the available light is hitting your subject, it can start to cause a bit of ghosting in or around your subject. I do have more photos that I shot yesterday that I could get into, but I think that's enough for one sitting... that and it is a new month and time to move on to a new area of focus. There are a few things that have made me choose the topic that I'm going to be looking at this month. It is really starting to look like spring and living in Northern Minnesota, it is cold for a good part of the year. So when it does start to warm up, I get excited and want to spend time outside. No, I'm not going into gardening (sorry dad,) but I wanted something that would allow me to get out and enjoy the weather. Also, the vehicle that I normally drive is now in the shop having break work done. Which also got me thinking about riding my bicycle... I've been telling myself that as soon as the ice gets off the lake I am going to start biking to work. Wouldn't you know it? The ice is now gone, and today was the first day this year that I did pull the bike out of the shed where it has been hanging all winter. Last summer I had a goal of biking to work (or an equivalent ride) at least three times per week. I think I held on to that goal pretty well for the entire summer and I enjoyed it. Today, however, as I was biking in, it was a lot of work, I am defiantly out of shape. So, my goal this month is to work on learning about and moving toward a more physically healthy lifestyle. For those of you who were really enjoying reading about lighting and photography, hopefully I don't loose you on this one. So, there it is... my "life skill" set that I will be working on this month. Some people may ask how this relates to becoming more interesting. What better place to have great conversations with people and learn more about others (which is always interesting to me) than on a trail while biking with someone or by playing sports outside. I know that being physically healthy is more than working out, it involves other components such as eating and sleeping habits as well... I think that getting better sleep is going to be the hardest for me (last night I was up until after 2:30 a.m. working on projects.) Wish me luck!pixelstats trackingpixel