Light the little ones

I don’t know what the weather is like in the rest of the world but here in Belgium we have what appears to be one of the crappiest summers in years. Up until now we had some rain, more rain, … and then it rained some more. Okay, I must admit we had an occasional nice-weather day or even couple of days too, but these tend to end up in thunderstorms apparently (one of which, just last week, caused the dramatic events of Pukkelpop 2011 where 5 people died and many more were injured).

Having weather like this isn’t exactly inviting to head outside hunting for pictures. But that doesn’t mean your camera should be just lying there gathering dust. When I feel the urge to shoot on a rainy day (and unfortunately I do not have a studio + model readily available) I often end up experimenting with smaller objects to shoot.

The pictures in this post are the result of such an afternoon of experimenting. I challenged myself to make a variety of shots from the same object which I carefully selected from what is readily available in our home (not to say that we must be careful not to trip over this stuff sometimes :-)). I was curious what I could do with one object, but lighting it in different ways. The first shot is very straight forward: little guy on a glossy white tabletop, speedlight with shoot-through umbrella 45° camera-left, and for the background I set up a diffuser scrim against the tabletop which I lighted from behind with another speedlight. Although I shoot nikon, my D60 lacks the commander-mode that most other nikons have, so I had to fire my SB-600 and SB-900 David Hobby-style (with radiotriggers, all manual).

For the next one I gelled the background flash green and turned it’s power way down. The challenge though was controlling the front light so that it didn’t light my background (just 15 inches away) as that would turn it to white again. I ended up putting my speedlight as close as I could, just outside the frame on minimal power, softening the light by shooting it through a tupperware container lit (hoping for sponsoring-funds here ;-)).

Then I wanted to try out if I could get some kind of night-feeling. The skyline was cut out of black paper cardstock. The lighting pattern is similar to the previous picture, but I ungelled the backlight again and dialed the power down even more. To get the blueish tint I gelled my front light orange (CTO, tungsten) and adjusted the white-balance setting on my camera accordingly so the backlight appears blue. The front flash was controlled using a snoot. This shot is also the only one that went through some post-processing (rest is nearly straight out-of-camera, maybe a little levels-adjustment here and there). Two layers and some masking were done to blend the two lightsources somewhat more naturally, plus I desaturated the whole image slightly.

For the last one I just let my model sit down on what was the skyline in the previous shot. Next I fried the poor guy with two bare speedlights on either side just outside the frame (90° left and right, minimal power). Even at minimal power I had to stop down my aperture somewhat to compensate. As a result, the background turned into pure black (I removed the diffuser scrim, so there was nothing within a distance of 5ft or so) as the ambient light could not add to the exposure.

I find sessions like these where you can just experiment freely very rewarding and fun to do. You can learn so much from them because lighting small things is basically the same as lighting a model for instance. It’s just a difference in scale. Experiments like these help me anyway to learn and understand light. Hope you enjoyed!




Toilets a go-go

Another one of those fine assignments we get on our plate at the photography course: go out and shoot ‘public toilets’!!

I must admit that at first I wasn’t really shure that this was going to be my cup of tea. As expected it turned out to be quite a challenge. First of all it is not that easy to make an interesting shot of, …, well, … a toilet, but also in most cities they nearly all look the same.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this assignment and I’m happy with the shots that came out. Point of the story: get out of your comfort zone, shoot unusual things, … Some great pictures might come out of it. And if nothing comes out at all, you’ll probably have  learned a lesson or two. I know I did.




During the photography course that I’m attending we had to go out and search for monochromatic scenery to shoot. It’s probably one of those ‘standard’ assignments and I believe there’s a very good reason for that. It is just a hell of a good exercise to train your eye and learn to watch beyond the obvious subject in front of you.

These two images already date from last year, but I still like them a lot so why not share them here. They were both taken at totally different places, but share the same kind of gradient that I particularly like. The first was taken in what remains of an old and abandoned factoryhall in my hometown (of which you see a wider view in my blog-header).

The second one was actually taken at my former high-school. A lot has changed since my time there, and I hold a lot of memories of the scene above. But, as you can see, that part of the school isn’t used anymore. Usually the place is locked for safety-reasons, but as I was walking by I saw that there was an open gate, so I slipped in and framed a couple of shots. As you can imagine it was quite a trip down Memory Lane.



Pieces of me

After some thinking about what would be my first proper post on this brand new blog I figured that people who venture out on the world-wide-web searching for the holy grail of photography might be more into visuals than into text (duh!!). While you can read a bit of background info about me on the about-page, here’s the visual introduction by means of a self-portrait (well, kind of …).

This picture was taken at the photography museum in Charleroi ( Musée de la Photographie). It kinda reflects who I am in a way, being into all kinds of stuff which is cool. But it comes with a downside too. Being unable to choose means being unable to focus for 100% on one thing, at least not for a longer period of time. But hey, I’m still okay with it.



Finally starting a blog

Hi all,

I’ve finally made the jump to sign up for a blog!! From now on I will try to keep you all posted about the photography side of me.

At the moment I am still setting this thing up, so nothing to see yet, but I will have the blog up and running as fast as I can.