For those of you wondering where the header of this blog comes from, I can reveal that it’s taken from a photo of my sleeping daughter. That’s one of the dangers of having a wannabe photographer as your old man: you’re never safe from the camera, especially not in your sleep. The Mrs. is a bit more difficult, she wakes up way too easily if she hears the click of a shutter. Not only did my sleeping daughter provide me with a nice header for my new shiny blog, she also gave me an opportunity to get some much needed practice. More on that after the jump.
Note: Since the writing of this post, the image in question is no longer the header.
When time is a commodity you have to make the most of what you get. That means you have to take advantage of your family (it’s not as bad as it sounds, promise). So when I saw my beautiful, sleeping (finally non-screaming) daughter, I decided to have a go at a macro shot. Since I needed to squeeze some extra depth of field out of the camera and since the light was kind of crappy anyway, I of course let my flashes come out and play as well. It’s important not to get too hard light when you’re shooting macro so I needed a way to get the light in really close and still make it soft. An umbrella was obviously out of the question since it would put the light too far away. Again I found myself pining for a small softbox (really should look into that) but every problem has a solution. Enter Rosco’s tough white diffusion gel (that’s a mouthful). I simply held a sheet in place over the flash (lp160) while handholding it pretty close to my daughter’s face. There’s also some fill light in there from a second lp160. I’m actually considering trying to build my own softbox with the tough white as the front element. I just have to take a break from my other hobby, procrastination, in order to make it happen.
For this second shot of the adorably grumpy face we leave the macro world. Again I used two lights, one for main with tough white and one bare for rim. It was actually shot vertically since she was sitting in her chair while sleeping but that just looked weird, horizontally is more natural for a sleeping baby for some reason. Not a lot of time was spent on these shots but hopefully I learned something. I definitely found a good use for the tough white gel and I’ll be using that technique again – it’s one more trick in the bag.
Short practice sessions like these are usually the best I can manage. Sometimes I only have dismal failures but that also provides valuable experience – don’t do that again, stupid – so it’s all good (the experience, not the photos). I’m trying to put aside some time every week for a more involved photo shoot where I can push my ideas and technique further. The most difficult part with those sessions is usually to keep my two girls happy long enough for me to try everything I want to try (never happened so far). Between those rare moments when I actually do have time, I intend to keep squeezing a few shots in here and there. Sometimes, like with the shots of sleepyhead, I even walk away with some usable results. Other times all I can take with me is the knowledge that putting a flash under the sofa table – while certainly a neat idea – doesn’t really produce any interesting results. Or that focusing a macro shot of a flower in a box in a room only lit by a small lamp and the TV is rather (i.e. very) difficult – it helps when you actually see something other than grey shadows through the viewfinder.
Keep an eye out for the next post, where we’ll be looking a bit closer at one of these practice sessions.