Thursday, May 27, 2010

The new flash

So, the Speedlite 580 EX II arrived yesterday. Got a chance to mess with it today.

I'm amazed, intimidated, confused, and intrigued by it. WTF, flash photography?!

The screen at the back with all the buttons and icons --- no idea what anything does. I read here and there to set it to ETTL (no idea what that means), and I read here to use a shutter speed of 1/200 or 1/250 when in a small room so that the flash will be the main source of light, and it won't be overexposed due to ambient light. Plus, if there are more than two types of main light with such different color temperatures (tungsten = warm; flash = daylight), the shot won't look that great.

...actually, I'm just talking about out of my you-know-what, here; I have no idea what I'm doing! Trial and error, baby...

Here are my five experimental shots, with absolutely ZERO editing whatsoever, SOOC:

No flash, Av:

M, 1/250, Flash, aimed straight at subject:

M, 1/250, Flash, aimed straight up:

M, 1/250, Flash, aimed straight up with built-in bounce card out:

No flash, M, with the exact settings that I used for the flash:

Obviously, the shot with flash straight up and bounce card out is the most appealing one. Now I just have to learn the intricacies of it all. Shooting outside in daylight and using flash for fill will be a whoooole different animal.

(P.S. -- All shots here were at ISO 200, f/3.2. All but the first were with a shutter speed of 1/250. The first one (in Av) was at 1/8 of a second.)

I wanted to try also just taping a white index card to the back to use as a larger bounce card -- just to see how much of a difference the size makes. Next time.

Wow, flash. Never thought I'd be here! I'll get it eventually...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Flash after all

Well, I've been doing a lot of reading, and I've decided that I need to have a good external flash in my bag if I want to shoot people. It's critical to have light on at least part of the face, and especially the eyes, and if Mother Nature won't do it, I'll have to.

Canon has some rebates going on through the beginning of July, and the Speedlite 580EX II is on there, so I ordered one yesterday. Then I'll just have to learn to use it!

Actually, a friend sent over a site that she reads that has some really awesome flash tutorials on it. I've already read a bunch of them, but I feel like the real learning will come when I have the flash on my camera and am experimenting with it. Trial and error is pretty much how I've done things so far -- flash will likely be no different.

I've avoided flash thus far because I was kind of afraid of it, and I thought it would be really difficult to learn. Well, it probably will be difficult, but I'm not as afraid of it anymore; I think it will open up some new possibilities that I'll be thankful for.

ad infinitum

Well, folks, good news: The new blog is almost ready.

Before I quit this site, I'm going to post a sort of "What I've Learned" blog post, since it's been exactly one year since I started this blog, and since I've really started trying to understand photography.

Until then, allow this little guy to hold you over:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The photography snob factor that I buy into

In learning photography, I have not managed to escape succumbing to a few of the snob factors that come along with it. There is a culture surrounding photography that can be alienating at times. Often, people focus on what lenses you have, if you have the latest & greatest body, or even what your strap says instead of on the photos you produce.

Generally, I have let these obsessions pass me by. If I own a lens with a "red ring," it's because I need (or want!) what that lens can do, not because I like what it looks like on the outside. (If anything, you will become more of a target to thieves with such blatantly expensive equip. -- no thank you!)

However, there is one snob factor that I have totally bought into without realizing it. What is it?

I never call them "pics," or even "pictures," really, preferring instead the more graceful-sounding "photos" or "images."

Yup, that's my sensitive spot: Terminology. Who would've guessed? It's seemingly the least important thing about photography altogether! Leave it to me to pick something random to be OCD about. I guess my love of words shines through in everything I do.

So there you have it. Wrap my L lens in newspaper and give me a Spongebob Squarepants camera strap -- I do not care. But call my photos "pics" and I will eat you for breakfast ;)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New site coming soon

I've decided to buy a domain and move most of my photography-related doings over to the new URL (tbd).

The site will have lots of photos, but it will also link to a blog where I'll post along the same lines as I do here. I enjoy this process of documenting my learning. It is a little painful to look back on, though, as I realize everything that I was doing wrong as short as a couple of months ago!

Here's a little doggy for you to look at while you wait. (Don't worry, I'll continue to post here until the new site is up and running.) (Like anyone was worried. :))

Monday, May 3, 2010

LR presets, 135L

Played with the 135L some more over the weekend. Also tried out a few Lightroom presets while processing -- which I've recently learned about. Presets could be dangerous for me; I am still learning a lot about post processing... the last thing I need is a way for someone else to do it for me, and to do it better! But I'm hoping I'll be diligent enough to use them as learning tools. They are fun for now.

I mean, no one can deny that this lens has some delicious bokeh. The rest of this garden has blurred into a Creamy Green Backdrop of Heaven:

I am trying to get better at close-ups / "mini-scenes"... I find it difficult to make them interesting and captivating:

Here's a black & white of the graveyard at my friend's grandparents' property. It is a gorgeous place, very pastoral:

And here's an attempt at using one of my newly-acquired presets. This one was taken with the 50mm by my husband:

So, the presets are fun; I downloaded a bunch from Presets Heaven. When I have time, I'd love to work backwards from one of them and see how the effect was achieved so that I can recreate it myself! I want so badly to get better at processing. It's so important.

Conclusions: 135L is tastier than ever, but I am dyyying for a willing model to pose for me and stare deep into the glass so I can practice getting sharp headshots. Pretty please...