Archive for September, 2011

Coastal Sunset

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Coastal Sunset 20mm, f/4, 1/45s, ISO 400

While setting up camp last weekend in Port Aransas, TX we saw the most amazing colors in the sky.  I’m usually in mission mode when setting up camp and wouldn’t normally stop for pics, but this was too cool.  Given that we were in an RV park there weren’t a lot of great foreground elements to choose from but I think the palm tree silhouette does the trick in a pinch.

This was shot with daylight white balance and post-processing consisted of noise reduction and bringing the luminance of the blues and oranges down a notch to get the colors looking like the actual sky.  I also dropped the exposure of the lower part of the frame (the campground) about a stop.  This image could use a border to keep it from blending into the background of the page…maybe I’ll update it later.


“Studio” Headshots

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Ezra 130mm, f/4, 1/180s, ISO 200

Ezra, a family friend, played the role of young Luke Chisolm in the recently released movie Seven Days In Utopia.  The movie starred Robert Duvall and Lucas Black as…well, just go check out the movie’s website.  Lucas Black played the “main” role of Luke Chisolm and Ezra played young Luke in the flashback scenes.

Ezra needed some headshots for a talent agency and I was asked to take them.  We set up a makeshift studio in our family room and went to work one evening.  The talent agency had recommended particular photographers so I studied their work a bit and prepared to imitate the lighting, depth of field, and poses (poses were generally very simple).  Each photographer had a different style.  One used particularly flat lighting (face and ears blasted with light…homogenous exposure throughout), straight-on poses, and lots of depth of field.  Another used light which added a little bit of shape to the face and a shallower depth of field to throw the ears out of focus — this is the one we chose to imitate in the shots you see in this post.  Almost none of the photographers used dramatic lighting of any sort for this kind of work.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6162744041/in/photostream

Ezra's Serious Look (he had some trouble not smiling) 200mm, f/4, 1/180s, ISO 200

There was a lot of trial and error getting the look just how we wanted it.  We ended up using the following set up: A 580 EXii into reflective white umbrella for the key light (slightly above subject at camera left).  A 430 EXii above and behind for a hair light.  An optically triggered Lumipro flash for the background.  Finally, a while reflector to add a little more fill.  I set a custom white balance in the camera and went to work — a few hundred shots covering many different in-camera crops, changes of clothes, and backgrounds.  In post I did almost nothing — fixed a few hairs, sharpened the eyes up, etc. but no exposure adjustments or the like.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6164701661/in/photostream

Our "Studio"


Hitting the Beach Again

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Sunrise at the Beach 17mm, f/4, 1/2000, ISO 400

Our family was supposed to spend last weekend in Rockport, TX but were unable to go to at the last minute due to medical reasons.  As a consolation I’m taking a few of the kids to the beach this weekend.  The shot above was taken on our last trip.  We had just watched the sunrise and my daughter shed her shoes and went wading. On a whim I got down low and took a variety of shots.  I wanted bokeh for the artsy look, yet enough detail to still see my daughter and the pattern in her dress.  Turns out that the widest aperture on my Canon 17-40mm (f/4) just did the trick.  I made a quick attempt at cloning the letters out of the shoes but it was soon clear that it would take a lot of work to make it look realistic…above my skill level.

This was the second shot I took (out of maybe 50).  In the subsequent images I framed the shot in all manner of ways — no sun or reflection from the sun, put the sun at the 1/3 point in the frame, showed my daughter completely, etc.  I like this one best.  In particular, I like the leaning subject (partially due to taking a step and partially due to the distorted perspective of the wide-angle lens) and the motion implied here.  I also like the extreme highlight in the left corner fading into the darker sky on the right.


The Next Generation

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The Next Generation 24mm, f/2.8, 1/125s, ISO 3200

We had a great bunch of little ones (three of whom are my children) gathered at a recent graduation party.  I grabbed a hastily posed shot of some of them who happened to be playing near me.

I shot this using shutter priority and on-camera flash.  I started out the night shooting with some off-camera lighting but it really got unwieldy due to try to take shots from all different directions (with no assistant).  There was nothing but open sky above (and walls were too far behind me) so fixed bounce flashes was out of the question.  I also tried a second remote flash for additional light and backlight but wasn’t satisfied with the results I was getting so I abandoned that.  If I had the ability to bounce that flash I likely would’ve been happier with the second flash.  Sometimes I use a 3′ sync chord and handhold my flash to get it off-camera but my cord went AWOL for a few weeks (it has since been located).

Since I was casually recording the event as a favor I wasn’t under pressure (except my own) to have “perfect” shots.  This picture — and most of the rest — turned out fine IMO.  Blue hour was just ending so I was able to retain some color in the sky even with the fast-ish shutter speed.  A back light or rim light would have been really nice to separate the heads from the background but this was a quick candid afterall.

My camera was a Canon 5D mkii so high ISO was an available lever.  I shot most of the evening using an ISO between 1600-4000.  In the RAW files there is some noise — especially in the underexposed areas — but Noiseware is great at fixing that up.  I can’t recommend Noiseware enough although I hear good things about programs like Noise Ninja and Topaz DeNoise too.


Bees, Flowers…and Wind

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Bees, Flower, and Wind 60mm, f/4.5, 1/2000s, ISO 200

These bees are hanging on tightly to this windblown flower on the bank of the Stillwater River in Nye, Montana.  The shimmering river provides some nice highlights in the bokeh.  The earthy tones in the background also contrast nicely (IMO) with the brightly colored flower.

Processing: A couple selectively masked curves (including the vignette).  Selective sharpening here and there.  Noise reduction on the background just to add to the creamy look.

For various reasons I couldn’t decide what crop I liked best.  Opinions – above or below?  The top is my favorite but I’m not overly keen on how the leaves are cut by the frame.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6105019451/in/photostream/

Bees, Flower, and Wind...Alternate crop