Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Photographing Children - The Gadget Scientist

You may remember a few weeks ago I showed you how to use Rosco Litepads to light a studio PTC (Piece to Camera). Paul and I have now finished the video and it's ready to view.

The Gadget Scientist is a 216 page pocket or camera bag size book aimed at helping you make better photographs. It doesn't talk about camera brands but does give you an insight into what all those little symbols, knobs and dials do.

Photographing Children is a short video tip on how to get the best shots of your kids. It is the first in a series of guest blogs by Mark Burton aimed at people new to photography or digital cameras.

Mark is a London based photographer specialising in photographing weddings - you can see his impressive portfolio at

Do tell your friends about this video and more important send them to Amazon to buy the book - a bargain at £9.10 (today's price).

Or view using Vimeo, the choice is yours!

Wishing you all a successful and healthy 2011.


Thursday, 16 December 2010

Ansel Adams Gallery Photo Contest 2010

Ansel Adams has to be my favourite landscape photographer - in my opinion there are others who are his equal, but none better - yet.

Needless to say the Ansel Adams Gallery Photo Contest 2010 exhibits some stunning images.

Click here to view the winners. Whilst you're there, take a look through the gallery and be inspired.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Photoshop Tutorial Rap

I'm not a fan of rap music, but this is great!!!!! A lot of work has gone into the script which is pretty accurate!

If you are the sort of person tht is easily offended then DO NOT watch this - if you do, I told you so! If you do watch it with others around you, then either make sure they are the kind of people that appreciate this kind of thing or put your headphones on.

Probably best to click on the video and view via the College Humor website. While you're there, check out the new Photoshop PhotoBomb Tool video, an improvement on Content Aware Fill!

Enjoy, and then back to work;-)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Lighting Tutorial - Hati Chan

My youngest daughter decided that she can do mean Jackie Chan impression so I planned to capture her in the act and use the opportunity to share with you how to create a realistic sun or planet effect in camera, using simple equipment without resorting to Adobe Photoshop or other post-production.

As this an essentially low-key image i.e. dark, I needed to create a sense of depth in the frame. As it was dark outside I created a passable sun or planet using a Lastolite 20 inch white reflector/diffuser disc with a Speedlite behind transilluminating the white disc. I would have preferred some ambient light, but kids must do their homework before helping Dad with his daft ideas.

Hati was lit with a Speedlite modified with a honeycomb grid and Roscolux #302: Pale Bastard Amber gel to warm up her pale northern hemisphere winter skin tone. The shadow side of the shot was lifted with an Orbis Ring Flash.

Key to lighting diagram:

  1. Canon 550 EX Speedlite
  2. Rosco Photofoil rough edge snoot
  3. 2 x Rosco CTO
  4. 20" Lastolite collapsible reflector diffuser
  5. Orbis Ring flash
  6. Model
  7. Canon 580 EX II Speedlite with Rosco Pale Bastard Amber & 1/4 inch honeycomb grid
  8. Idiot with camera
Flash & camera settings:
  • 1. 1/8 power
  • 5. 1/32 power
  • 7. 1/128 power. Yes 1/128 is correct as the flash was no more than 18 inches from the model!
  • 8. f2.8, 1/40th second, 100 ISO, Daylight white balance
All flash were set to manual and triggered with the aid of a radio triggers.

Here is the translucent disc lit by 2 layers of CTO (aka Cinegel #3401: Roscosun 85) with a roughly cut piece of Rosco Cinegel #3809: Roscoscrim to reduce the intensity over part of the disc without diffusing and softening the light. At the top left of the disc you can see the shadow created by the rough snoot on the flash. This does not look very authentic when in focus...

With the focus adjusted to approximate to the previsulised shot the disc starts looking more authentic.

The key light only. The positioning of this this light is critical as the honeycomb grid creates a narrow beam of light with little spread.

The side fill light from the Orbis Ring Flash gives just a little detail right where it's needed.

The rear effect light, a little too much in focus and before post-production retouching to clean up a reflection from the bar supporting the Lastolite disc.

Here are all three lights working together. This is the shot as it came out of the camera, requiring little if any post-production adjustment. I have cleaned up the sun in the background and darkened the light line in the scarf on the models forehead, but that's it!

Can anyone share with other blog readers in the comments below what else I have done to this frame in post-production? No prizes, just the kudos of knowing you maybe right;-)

Happy snapping.


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Rosco Litepad Axiom

I've been waiting for some time to let you in on this secret - Rosco have today released the new Litepad Axiom - Litepads with a difference, they are now available in daylight and tungsten colour balance, so no more correcting your LitePads with CTO and reducing their output.

As soon as I get my hands on these (not so) little beauties I'll give you the full lowdown here. In the meantime you can find out more by visiting

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Tap Attack - Studio Lighting on Location

Over the last few months I have been lucky enough to work with the talented and dedicated group of young people that make up the Tap Attack tap dance team who are representing England at the IDO World Dance Championships in Germany from 30 November to 4 December 2010.

Earlier in November I travelled to Reading to photograph the team at their annual fund-raiser. The brief was simple; full length and head shots of all 27 + team members and coaches, and you've got about an hour to do it, excluding set-up time!!!

What follows are some of the images and how I designed on lighting set for two totally different shots, all on a white background that could be used without resorting to too much post-production.

  1. 9 foot white background paper roll.
  2. 200J Multiblitz monobloc flash head - 1/2 power, 100J plus Rosco Cinegel #3008: Tough Frost. Giving an effective output of 50J. Both equidistant from background roll and centre line. 
  3. 200J Multiblitz monobloc flash head - 1/2 power, 40inch silver brolly. 
  4. Rosco Cinegel #3830: Spun Silver, 4 feet wide by 6 feet high.
  5. 200J Multiblitz monobloc flash head - 1/3 power, 66.66J reflected into bright silver side of this double sided material.
  6. Dancer.

I chose to use a paper background rather than one made from a more durable material due the damage inflicted by the hard metal taps of the heals and toes of the dancers shoes. Had I used a plastic or cloth background the material would have been damaged beyond repair. Here all I had to do was remove and recycle the damaged part of the paper roll.

The use of Rosco Cinegel #3830: Spun Silver  to camera left enabled me to create a broad  and tall light with some specular edge to it (one of the dancers is 6' 4" + ), rather than the softer light from a white reflector or diffuser. Silver is also a more efficient reflector than white. Reflecting an undiffused monobloc flash with standard reflector enabled me to maintain a relatively short recycle time and give me the vertical and horizontal coverage required when shooting moving dancers. The silver brolly to camera right gives a strong fill light reducing the harsh edge of the key light to camera left.

I could have set this lighting the other way around, but for the head shots I needed to show the logo on the new team track suits. As you can see from the above shots, with some thought and planning you can create a lighting scheme that will allow you to shoot both full and head shots on the same set.

The flash to camera left was triggered with a radio trigger and the remaining lights triggered using the Multiblitz inbuilt photo electric/optical triggers. There are two reasons for not using a cable to trigger the lights 1. I do not know the trigger voltage of the lights as they are over 10 years old and 2. Trailing cables make a great trip hazard when you've a load of dancers sculling around a set.

The two lights on the background are in the region of 25 years old and have two power settings full and half power, so if you want a lower power setting you need to use either an ND gel to reduce the output with altering the quality of the light, or some other modification, control or diffusion. Even the 25J 1/8th power setting on my more modern Profilites can be too powerful, which is why when I'm not shooting so many frames in a short space of time I will use Speedlites. Mains power will always be more reliable when shooting a heap of shots quickly.

Camera settings: f11, 1/125th sec, 200 ISO, manual exposure. Auto focus all focus points.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Shoreham Air Show 2011

The organisers of Shoreham Air Show have today announced the first flights for the 2011 display. More information may be found at:

Monday, 22 November 2010

Take a View – Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010 Exhibition

Today sees the opening of Take a view – Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010 Exhibition in London, England at the National Theatre.

If you're a keen landscape photographer or just like looking at wonderful landscape images, then this exhibition is well worth a visit - and what's more, it's FREE!

Exhibition details:

Take a view – Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010 Exhibition

In association with Network Rail and Natural England

With over 100 Digigraphie™ prints of stunning landscape images produced on the
Epson Stylus Pro 9900, using the latest Epson inkjet technology.

Admission free

Dates: 22nd November 2010 – 16th January 2011 (Closed 15th December)

Times: Open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 11pm, all year round (except for
Bank Holidays) and on a number of Sundays from noon to 6pm (check NT website
for dates).

Venue: Lyttelton Foyer, National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX
020 7452 3000

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Lighting The Gadget Scientist

Today I had the pleasure of working with Mark Burton, photographer and author of The Gadget Scientist. Paul Noble & I are making a series of short videos for Mark to promote his excellent book. Keep an eye on this blog for more on this soon.

In the meantime I thought you may be interested to see how I developed the lighting for Mark's PTC (Piece To Camera) shot in Paul's studio. I chose to use Rosco Lightpads exclusively because they are quick to set up, energy efficient, daylight colour balanced and cool running so consequently do not cook the talent!

Here's the shot showing the overall set up in the studio against a white cyc paper background.

Key to lighting diagram:
1. 9 ft white cyc paper
2. 24 inch Rosco Litepad HO
3. 12 x 6 inch Rosco Litepad HO
4. 12 x 12 inch Rosco Litepad HO
5. Mark Burton aka The Gadget Scientist
6. Paul Noble on camera. I'm out of shot directing and audio recording.

As we were in the studio I ran the lights from the mains transformers rather than the optional battery packs as they give a consistent light that does not dim as the batteries run low on energy. The 24 inch Litepad was run from its' own 120/240 VAC to 12 VDC transformer, whilst the 12 x 6 and 12 x 12 inch Litepads were run from one transformer with a two-way splitter lead and extension with no noticeable loss to output.

The images below show the effect of each light individually on Mark.

My first and key light was the 24 inch Litepad to camera left. Notice how the light spills onto the background. I chose not to flag, mask or diffuse any of these lights so you can judge the individual effect of each light in relation to what it illuminates.

The second and fill/effect light was a 12 x 6 inch Litepad.

The background was lit with a 12 x 12 inch Litepad warmed up with 162 Bastard Amber.

This is the final frame, composed very much as it will appear in the final video, showing the effect of all three lights on Mark and the background.

These stills were shot with a Canon Powershot G12 - manual exposure, white balance daylight, ISO 400, f4, 1/60th second for all frames.

Interestingly, Paul filmed with a new Canon XF300 HD video camera. His settings were almost identical to those on the G12 - f4, 1/50th second +3db gain with the camera on a tripod to get a nice steady shot; we're not fans of wobbly cam technique!

For you stills photographers the Rosco Litepads are perfectly useable as I have previously demonstrated. Providing you are are prepared to work at 400 ISO and use a tripod you will get some steady shots. That being said, there will be some of you who will happily hand hold shots at slower shutter speeds and still get a decent sharp shot.

That's all folks!


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

London Photo Walk 2010

The Palace of Westminster at sunset, just one of the many photo-opportunities
on Ian & Ben's London Photo Walk, 26th November 2010

Ben & I must be mad - we've decided once again to run a London Photo Walk and sunset/low-light mini workshop on Friday 26th November 2010.

This year the walk will start with the Landscape Photographer of the Year exhibition at the National Theatre and then walk along South Bank  of the Thames with its many photo-opportunities; a sunset low-light mini workshop photographing the Palace of Westminster at dusk and finishing with a chimping competition of images created during the day. There will a prize or prizes for the best photograph in the chimping competition - more details to follow.

More information may be found by visiting the web page at:

Anyone wanting to reserve a place should email me directly - with the subject line "See You On 26th November". They will then be contacted with joining instructions etc.

It is recommended that interested photographers contact me quickly as the 2009 walk filled up within 3 days of publication.

Park Cameras have kindly provided a £10 gift voucher for all walkers who turn up on the day.

We look forward to seeing you on the 26th November, whatever the weather;-)



African Photo Safari February 2011

© Copyright 2010 Bob Johnson

Photographers Bob Johnson and Mike Wilkes are running a photo safari in Tanzania from 5th - 20th February 2011. There are limited places available so contact me in the first instance and I'll forward your details to Bob who will contact you.

Introduction & Outline
Together with my old friend Mike Wilkes FRPS I will be running a 15 night photography trip to Tanzania leaving on February 5th 2011 and returning back to the UK on February 20th.

This will be a full on photography trip with 13 action packed days of photography in some of the best game parks in Africa. We will be visiting the Serengeti, Lake Manyara & Tarangire National Parks together with the Ngorongoro Crater and the Ndutu Plains.

Our visit is timed to see the Great Migration which is usually in Ndutu & The Serengeti at this time of the year. We will stay in good quality lodges with some great food and we will also have the services of some of the top driver guides in Tanzania.

The trip will suit all skill levels and Mike and I will be there to help and advise the less experienced. If the numbers allow we will have a seperate teaching truck together with trucks for the more experienced. We will have three or four trucks with radios which allow’s each truck to be independent when on safari. This is very important as each truck can pick and choose where to go and how much time to spend with each subject. It also means that between the trucks we will be able to cover more ground giving us a better chance to find the more exciting subjects.

I am waiting for confirmation of the Lodge prices for 2011 but a current guide price based on sharing a twin room with four people per truck is £3,600. Single rooms may be available for an extra £500.

The trucks are a good size and experience tells us that we usually have two or three photographers in the back and another photographer in the front seat. This gives the photographers plenty of room in the back as we have six or seven rear seats, so each person has a spare seat for kit and plenty of room to move about. We can accomodate less people per truck for a premium so if you wish to get together with one or two of your pals or you would simply like to have a little more space then please ask me about this.

All food and drinking water is included in the price from day 2 to 14 plus breakfast and lunch on day 15. The flights are extra and were £750 in 2010. Bar drinks, tips and laundry is not included.

These prices are based on the current US dollar rate of 1.50 and are subject to change up or down if the pound falls or rises against the dollar at the time of our sending money to Tanzania.

The planned itinerary is:
5th Feb 2011 Day 1, Fly KLM via Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro staying one night at the Dik Dik Lodge in Arusha

Day 2, Game drive to Tarangire--- Tarangire Tented Lodge

Day 3, Game drive in Tarangire--- Tarangire Tented Lodge

Day 4, Game drive to Ndutu --- Ndutu Safari Lodge

Day 5, Game drive Ndutu --- Ndutu Safari Lodge

Day 6, Game drive Ndutu --- Ndutu Safari Lodge

Day 7, Game drive to Serngeti --- Serenora Wildlife Lodge

Day 8, Game drive in Serengeti --- Serenora Wildlife Lodge

Day 9, Game drive in Serengeti ---- Serenora Wildlife Lodge

Day 10, AM Game drive on way to --- Rhino Lodge

Day 11, Full day in Ngorongoro Crater--- Rhino Lodge

Day 12, Full day in Ngorongoro Crater --- Rhino Lodge

Day 13, Afternoon game drive Lake Manyara--- Bouganvilia Lodge

Day 14, Full day in Lake Manyara--- Bouganvilia Lodge

Day 15, Drive to Dik Dik for a day room to shower & re pack before our evening flight from Kilimajaro.

I'd love to be on this safari, but a prior commitment prevents me:-(

Monday, 8 November 2010

Frio Cold Shoe

Thank you to those wonderful people at Enlight Photo who kindly sent me a pre-release sample of the long awaited Frio™ Coldshoe.

The Frio™ Coldshoe is one of those bits of kit that any photographer who shoots with off camera Speedlites should have in their bag - not just one, but one for every flash and a few spares.

Most of the best ideas are simple and the Frio™ Coldshoe is no exception! This little piece of blue moulded plastic will accept most hot shoe flash units, including the Nikon SB 900 with its wider than normal hot shoe connection.

Remember that the Frio™ Coldshoe is not limited to securing Speedlites or hot shoe flash; you can attach any accessory, microphone, LED light that has a hot shoe type fitting.

Fitting a flash to the Frio™ Coldshoe is simple - the flash hot shoe just slides in and the raised clip stops the flash or accessory sliding out. If your flash has a locking mechanism this will add extra security. Removal is just as easy, just press the raised clip and your flash slides out.

The designers of the Frio™ Coldshoe have even thought about fixing the device to your lighting grip gear - on the under side is a metal standard 1/4 in 20 TPI screw socket.

These little beauties will soon be available worldwide. As I write the first shipments have left the factory on the way to distributors.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Coastal Landscape Photo Walk 23 October 2010

Seven Photographers for Seven Sisters - there's a pun in there somewhere!

On the 23rd October a group of enthusiastic and willing photographers joined me for a photo walk to photograph the coastal land and seascape at Hope Gap & Seven Sisters, located between Brighton and Eastbourne on the south coast of England.

The Seven Sisters chalk cliffs as seen from the beach at Hope Gap

A little thought goes into planning these walks as I try and get the low tide and sunset to coincide by 30 minutes maximum, thus ensuring the best photo opportunities. On this day we were also blessed with some wonderful light throughout the walk.

The image above was shot with a Canon 5d MkII with 24 - 105 mm L Series glass at 24 mm. A circular polarising filter was used to reduce specular reflections from wet rocks and enhance the sky - in this case to define the clouds and darken the top right of frame.

Sea defences make a graphic composition in the post sunset light

Just because the light fades at the end of the day, you should not let it stop you creating images. This shot of the sea defences was observed just as I was packing my bag! In other words, do not pack your bag until you get back to your car - you never know what opportunities will be missed.

This frame was tweaked in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) - a bit or recovery for the clouds, contrast, clarity and vibrance. For me the horizon is level - a minor miracle.

Moon Rise over the Friston

All I had to do was turn through 90 degrees to be met by the rising moon. OK, it wasn't close enough to make a decent size image with a 400 mm lens on full frame, but it did allow me to illustrate how to expose for moon images.

Remember that the moon is illuminated by sunlight, so a good exposure to start with is one similar to daylight on Earth - in this case 1/200th @ f11 ISO 400, daylight white balance. A second exposure was then taken for the whole scene with minus one stop exposure compensation dialled in to darken the scene. Had I used the indicated exposure with the camera set to Av, Aperture priority, it would appear too light. Camera exposure meters are (generally) calibrated to expose for mid-grey. More on this another time.

The two images were then combined in post-production to create this scene.

Neal Ball created this excellent image early in the walk by taking the sky from the south and combining in post-production over the barn in the west.

South Hill Barn by Neal Ball - this is one of those images that would also look good in monochrome

This was one of those shots where I know the group were getting a little on edge waiting for the light, but well worth it when you see a shot like this.

It also goes on to prove that good landscape photography is more than having the right gear. You need to be able to read topographical maps, sun tables, tide tables, weather charts, obtain local knowledge and interpret it all once you get to your location.

Then, once you've pressed the shutter release, have the vision and experience to create the image you visualised in you minds eye during post-production.

I am planning more of these walks soon. If you'd like more information or would like to added to my mailing list, do email me.

Happy snapping.


A Good Season for Fungi - Mushrooms and Toadstools

For those of you interested in photographing fungi - mushrooms and toadstools in the wild, 2010 seems to be a particularly good year here in Sussex and other regions of UK.

Sulphur Tuft
Photograph by Anna Allum
Most of you will associate the RSPB with birds, but their reserves are examples of biodiversity in action supporting more species than just birds - put simply, birds need habitats to survive.

People in Sussex will have the chance to wonder at some weird and wonderful fungi this autumn, says the RSPB.

The wildlife charity believes that the wet summer and current mild autumn will mean a bumper year for fungi. And if you get out into the countryside you could be treated to some impressive sights of a huge variety of fungi in its full glory.

Sophie McCallum, RSPB South East media officer, said: “Fungi might not be the first thing you think about looking for on a day out but there are some fascinating colourful specimens.

“And unlike some wildlife, you are guaranteed to see them as they are everywhere at this time of year, especially after the recent conditions.”

Fungi is separate from plant and animal kingdoms, and includes the well-known mushroom and toadstool varieties.

At the RSPB’s Pulborough Brooks reserve in West Sussex you can find a stunning array of fungi around both the wetland and heathland trail ranging from dinner-plate sized parasols to the dinky fairy bonnets.

Perhaps the most distinctive and well known is the red and white fly agaric which belongs to the amanita family – a group which includes some of the very poisonous specimens like the death cap and destroying angel.

Fly Agaric, the classic fungi we see in children's books.
Photograph by Anna Allum
There are also false death caps which are white with a lemony yellow tint and ‘The Blusher’ which gets its name from having flesh that bruises pink.

You will find a whole range of milkcaps which exude a milk-like substance when the gills are damaged.  These include liver and rufous milkcaps, along with the aptly named Ugly milkcap and the fenugreek milkcap, which smells enticingly of curry but is in fact slightly poisonous.

You might also see the spongy looking boletus mushrooms, which include the tasty penny bun (known by many as cep or porcini) and the rather dramatic orange birch bolete.

Other magnificent specimens are the amethyst deceiver which is shockingly purple and the collared earthstar that starts out looking like a plant bulb, but once ripe opens out into a beautiful star shape.

In East Sussex at the RSPB’s Broadwater Warren reserve near Tunbridge Wells you can hunt for one of the most unusual specimens, the Green Elf Cup, which colours pieces of rotten wood a bright blue-green.

It was used to provide the bright green colour for Tunbridge ware. The woodwork, from the 18th and 19th centuries, was decorated using an inlaid mosaic of countless small pieces of different coloured woods.

To find out more about what you can see at this time of year visit:

Photography Notes
When photographing fungi you will have to be prepared to get down on the woodland floor which will invariably will be damp, dirty and dark. Before leaving home to photograph fungi, make sure that you have a good ground sheet or heavyweight rubbish bag, a pad for your knees or even knee pads from a builders merchants!

To ensure that you create sharp images you will need a sturdy tripod with low-level capability or even a bean bag. At present I use a Giottos MTL 358B, see my review for more information. This tripod has a centre column which hinges from vertical to horizontal and beyond, allowing you to get a rodents eye view of the fungi.

As the woodland floor will be darker than normal you will also need some sort of remote trigger or shutter release for your camera in order to prevent blurred images from camera shake. You should also shoot with the reflex mirror locked up or with Live View to prevent further unwanted vibration which will cause blurred images.

Some fungi are quite small so you may want to take a macro lens or even a close up filter with you. The macro lens will allow you to get closer to your subject than the macro setting on your zoom lens. In my experience, the macro setting on a zoom lens is a"get you closer by 4 inches" setting and no where near true macro capability.

A close up filter will screw into the front of your prime or zoom lens and allow to record a bigger image. Close up filters are a cheap alternative to true macro lenses but you will sacrifice image quality. When I use a close up filter I do tend to stop the aperture down to f11. Some close up filters will give you the effect of a Lens Baby on a bad day - but there is nothing wrong with that look. Close up filters or lenses are lighter than macro optics and take up less space on your bag.

When out photographing fungi do not be tempted to do a bit of foraging for some homemade mushroom soup. many species of mushrooms and toadstools are highly toxic. Unless you are experienced in collecting wild food or have an expert with you, don't do it. Why not leave the fungi for some else to admire or photograph?

Happy snapping.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Photo Workshop - Coastal Landscape and Dusk

I have one, maybe two places available on the photo walk workshop this Saturday 23rd October.Numbers are limited to eight persons only. For information visit

The Seven Sisters at Sunset

This is a great opportunity to photograph the Cuckmere estuary with the classic meander loops, beach, coastline and spectacular white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters between Brighton and Eastbourne.

The walk meets at 3:00 PM and is timed to coincide with low tide and sunset. If the weather over the last few days is anything to go by, we're in for making some stunning images.

You will need a tripod (essential) good walking shoes or boots and warm, wind and waterproof clothing. This is not the most arduous of walks, but does include a gentle slope on the return leg of the walk and steep steps to access the beach.

For more information, feel free to email me.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Coloured Studio Backgrounds with Rosco Strobist Gels

Light is like water - both are boring
until you put something in them.

Just about everyone who moves into studio portrait photography wants to know how to create the perfect white background. Recently a student asked me how to create a strongly coloured background for a portrait shoot. Here is a breakdown of a technique I call Colour Reinforcing.

Colour reinforcing relies on projecting light onto a background which is the same colour as the background i.e. red light onto a red background and blue light onto a blue background etc.

Basically, a white background reflects all wavelengths of light in the visible spectrum. Hence the pale blue colour when white light is projected onto a cobalt blue background.

 If you colour the light with a gel of a similar colour to the background only light of the wavelength in question is transmitted by the filter and reflected back from the background. Effectively adding blue and blue makes a deeper blue. The colour can be made lighter or darker by increasing or decreasing the flash power output.

Remember - Generally, more power less colour - less power, more colour.

This the set up I used for these images. The model is Fred. Fred stood at the last minute as the booked model failed to turn up. Fred  is easy to work with; he's easy going, doesn't break for hair & make-up or the odd fag! He is clean shaven and doesn't suffer with skin shine. Best of all he doesn't bitch about how long the shot is taking or want to get away early because he's going to meet a cute fella;-)

This blog is an introduction to this technique. I've prepared a detailed PDF file that you may download here.

Good luck and don't forget to experiment as much as possible. The more you practice, the better you'll be. If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments section below.



Saturday, 2 October 2010

Yongnuo YN460 Speedlite Update

I've had to return the flash to the UK supplier as the PCB mounted on/off switch has already gone intermittent!

If you do own one of these units, or for that matter any electrical device that does not have a switch with a physical contact. i.e. one the is open when off, there will always be a small current present at the switch which will drain the batteries over time. I strongly recommend not leaving batteries in any device when it is not being used.

Very embarressing when you go to use a flash or other device and the batteries are flat!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Mixing Rosco Litepads with Off-Camera Flash

I've just completed a post reviewing the cheapy Youngnuo YN460 manual hot shoe flash and thought it would be good to share my lighting for the review pack shot with you. This is an interesting exercise as I have mixed both flash and a continuous daylight balanced LED light sources.

This is the wide shot of my lighting set up, click on the image to view larger:
  1. Rosco Litepads 12 in x 6 in running from a mains transformer 100% output
  2. Mid grey PVC background clamped to the studio bench to provide a curve or scoop continuous background
  3. Elinchrom Mini Spot Lite with venetian blind gobo. Light source is a Canon 550 EX Speedlite with Gel Clip and Rosco full CTB gel for effect. This was well out of shot, probably 4ft 6in or so. Speedlite on manual 1/8th power, fired with a radio trigger.
  4. Rosco Litepads 12 in x 6 in running from a mains transformer with in line dimmer 25% output
  5. Manfrotto Proball 468RC
  6. Canon 50D with 50 mm f1.4 lens at f2.8 - not too sure why, it just felt good at the time. Maybe I should have used a smaller stop?
  7. Salon studio stand. A solid piece of heavy metal that I once used with 5 x 4 film view cameras! Rock solid for long or slow exposures.

This the first frame with just the back 3/4 Rosco Litepad (1). The camera was set to Av (aperture priority) to gauge the base exposure.

I then fired a second frame, and as luck would have it, the exposure for the Mini Spot Lite (3) is right where I wanted it:-))

The back plate of the flash lacks detail so a second Rosco Litepad (4) was added with an in line dimmer to control the output. The frame above was at 1/3rd power. Notice where the blue light hits the flash head that it is darker than on the grey cyc. Worth remembering when lighting backgrounds if you want a richer, more intense colour.

Personally 1/3rd power is a little too bright so I dialled the output down to 2.5 on the dimmer. Subtle but effective. I have also changed the angle of the gogo in the Mini Spot Lite to give a more dynamic diagonal line to the effect light. This is the frame used at the head of the YN460 blog.

With the Elinchrom Mini Spot Lite you can focus the front lens to give a sharper or softer effect. In this shot the detail in the gobo is lost to give a blue wash of light.

That's it for now. Off to do some work on Gel Clips.

Happy snappin'.


Yongnuo Digital Speedlite YN460

Yongnuo Digital Speedlite YN460

This is a manual only hot shoe flash of Chinese origin suitable for Strobist and off-camera flash lighting. The YN40 features a bounce and swivel head, turning through 270 degrees horizontal and 90 degrees from front facing to vertical with an inbuilt optical only slave.

The back panel is a simple layout with rubberised switches operating directly onto the PCB (printed circuit board). There are 3 operating modes M manual giving 1/64th to full power, S1 which works really well with Canon Speedlites, or other Speedlites using a pre-flash system as a slave and S2 for Speedlites that do not use a pre-flash system.

YN460 features:
* 33 Guide Number, making this about half the output of a comparable Canon, Nikon, Nissin or Sigma unit
* In-built mini bounce card and wide angle diffuser
* Bounce/tilt head 270 degrees horizontal, 90 degrees vertical
* Audio charge indicator
* 1/64th to 100% power output adjustment
* Built in optical slave for off camera flash
* Plastic stand with a metal 1/4 in Whit threaded insert - unlike the stand supplied with manufacturers units
* Powered from 4 x AA alkaline or Nickel Metal Hydride cells
* Fixed flash tube with no zoom facility.

The door to the battery compartment is a little flimsy and would not stand up to regular use or some who is heavy-handed or clumsy VALs (Voice Activated Lightstands) aka assistants or helpers.
Power adjustment is simple and by default is 1/64th from left to right in whole stop increments.

In my tests, the optical slave trigger works well in low ambient light situations, but not where there in high ambient light i.e. outdoors on a sunny day. Um, could be a good unit for the British weather. Maybe not, I would draw the line at using this one in the rain.

For the optical sensor to work it needs direct flash light to within about 30 or so degrees of the red sensor window. It does not work with weak indirect or bounce flash.

Overall this is a value for money unit, costing only £36.89 from a UK based Ebay seller. 

If you are starting out and experimenting with Strobist lighting then this is cheap starting point for you. With plenty of practice and the right modification and control you will be able to create some stunning images.

Pack's rating 4**** or 80%

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Frio Cold Shoe

Those clever people that bought us the wonderful Orbis™Ring Flash have now created the new must-have accessory for fans of off-camera flash or Strobist lighting, the Frio Cold Shoe™.

Basically, the Frio Cold Shoe™ is a clever plastic mount to take your hot shoe flash and attach it to anything with a standard 1/4" Whitworth (20 threads per inch) screw, the film and photo industry standard. The Frio Cold Shoe™ is a vast improvement on the camera manufacturers supplied plastic shoe as it has a metal threaded insert which is much stronger than plastic, so no more stripped threads. There is also a spring clip to stop your precious flash sliding out of the Frio Cold Shoe™ and a moulded loop for attaching a bungee of other form of securing strap. For Nikon users (not me) the Frio Cold Shoe™ will take the oversize foot of a SB-900!

Enlight Photo have put a teaser website online, but we'll have to wait until October to get our hands on them. I know for a fact that I will be ordering a few of these babies!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Shoreham Air Show 2011

You will be pleased to hear that the dates for Shoreham Air Show 2011 have been announced - Saturday & Sunday 20 and 21 August 2011, which incidentally clashes with the Rutland Bird Fair. Needless to say I know where I'll be and the birds will not be feathered!

I suggest that you bookmark the Shoreham Air Show website and also keep an eye on Park Cameras website, as there is a rumour that they will again be running a photography workshop over the two days of the show.

Friday, 17 September 2010

A Glimpse of the Future - 10 Innovative Concept Phones

A Glimpse of the Future - 10 Innovative Concept Phones

This guest post was contributed by Phone Shield

A quantum leap in the number of seemingly mind-blowing and fascinating cell phones had direct bearing on everyone's personal and professional lifestyles in the past few years. It won't be a surprise if there is an explosive growth in this field as many companies have emerged with idea of creating innovative phone devices to shape the future in phone business and usage. Following are 10 such devices that appear to be especially promising.

The Most Future-Ready "Google Chrome Tablet"

Image Source

This is perhaps the most interesting and resilient alternative to iPad based on the degree of features, dedication and simplicity put forth in designing it. With interactive touch screen keyboard that has split, anchor facilities, multitask and multi-touch capabilities, the "Googlet", as it is called, is no less competent than any other gadgets in the market.

Recombu's Revolutionary "Ovi Orion"

Image Source

A new gizmo with features that makes sense in every way, targeting enthusiastic hardcore mobile gamers in real world. The design seems to rid itself of the previous complications with the inclusion of user friendly interface, 4.3-inch touch screen and multiple gaming buttons on each side. With Nokia's name on the phone, this will be winning the heart and minds of gamers, according to the creator.

The LTE device

Image Source

The company in collaboration with NEC, Fujitsu and Panasonic is keeping its mind open to the release of LTE chip technology device that is all set to hit the headlines before the end of 2010. Reports suggest that the design of this device was being concentrated on substantially increasing data transmit rate using 3G technology.

When the "Shape Shifter" Wakes Up

Image Source

Just as Fabian Hemmert and his team of brilliant minds signalled the emergence of a new type of phone that would change its shape during certain circumstances, the idea indicated that the mobile phone world is a reality soup of infinite possibilities. Depending on the type of space the device occupies, it can adjust itself either by expanding across the axis or contract accordingly.

Living Off-world with Synaptics’ "Fuse"

Image Source

The "Fuse" will be featuring new enhancement in touch screen technology with its entire set of sensors by adapting single-handed touch screen navigation through touch, pressure and feedback mechanism.

Power Saving "Mobile Script"

Image Source

The trend used in Mobile Script phone will unlock the lingering rulebook of how to effectively use solar power in gadgets. By having two touch screens, a regular and a OLED screen that scrolls inside, the unique feature provide new visions of reality beyond expectation.

Hungarian Designed "Asus Aura"

Image Source

The convergence of Mobile Script phone and retractable Qwerty keyboard is the plot behind "Asus Aura".
The phone is 6mm thick, has a 2.0 megapixel camera and a 3.9-inch screen along with navigation bar and keys to adjust across the screen as required.

Tiny "Qualcomm Teleepoch"

Image Source

The making of this entity that tries to emulate the size of the chip it is designed with is surely going to be a hoped-for breakthrough in phone technology. The implementation of accelerometers and voice recognition technology in place of buttons represents complexity and opportunity all at the same time.

High-Tech, High-Quality "Nokia Morph"

Image Source

To keep pace with the growing demand for gadgets from a huge audience of global customers, Nokia Research Centre will be offering the Morph phones utilizing nano-science. Imitating the Mobile Scroll that absorbs sun light to transform into power for the battery coupled with self-cleaning and self-preserving capability, the phone would react to environment condition through nano-sensors.

Ultra user-friendly "Synaptics Onyx"

Image Source

Another phone device from Synaptics that was revealed in 2000 having many features such as multitasking, integration of applications and many other newly synthesized ideas has the potential to grab attention of the gadget lovers and persuade into buying one.