Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas Cactus Shot

Christmas Cactus I had a photographer friend of mine ask me how I setup this shot.  This is a Christmas cactus that I brought in the house due to the weather.  While it was inside, it started to bloom.  This is the first bloom that I’ve had in two years.  I shot this with a 50mm lens on my Canon Digital Rebel.  The camera settings were ISO 400, f/22 at 1/400th of sec.  I used a Canon 580EX II on the hot shoe to control an off-camera 430EX flash.  The camera was at 6 o’clock of the flower and the 430EX was at 9 o’clock.  I used a medium-sized Rogue Flash Bender to modify the light on the flash.

The f/22 was used to give me adequate depth-of-field to get all parts of the flower in focus.  I used ISO 400 to get the shutter speed high enough to allow the flash to overpower all the ambient light in the room.  1/400th of a second did that.  Since I was using Canon flashes, I was able to set them to high sync mode to allow the 1/400th of a second shutter speed.  The Rogue Flash Bender served two purposes.  First it made the light source bigger and therefore made the light less harsh.  The second reason I used it was to keep the flash from spilling on the background.  This along with the 1/400th second shutter speed kept the background dark and all the clutter from showing up in the photo.
Here is an iPhone photo of the setup.Shot setup of the Christmas Cactus shot

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It’s Election Time Again

In the seven years that I’ve been divorced, I have lived in three apartments.  And all three of those apartments have been right next to my polling place.  My latest isn’t any different.  The only difference that I see is that there are more signs.  Look at all the signs that I get to look at for the next two weeks.  I came home for lunch today and the cars were lined up and down the street with people going to the library to vote.  At least they are voting.  I’m early voting this year.  If turn out is like this only two days after early voting opens, there’s no telling what the wait will be on election day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Mother’s First Gift

A Mother's First Gift
I know. This is just a little cardinal figurine.  The story of the this little fellow is what makes it special, at least to my mother.

I don’t remember the exact age.  It was purchased while we lived at my parent’s first house in Wickliffe, KY.  We moved there when I was four and lived there until we moved to Granbury, TX when I was nine. 

One day during the summer, I was riding my bike around the neighborhood.  One of our neighbors having a garage sale.  I saw this little fellow and decided that I had to get it for my mother.  So, I asked how much it was.  The neighbor told me that it was 5 cents.  I went straight home and got my nickel.  I was very proud of my purchase but still wanted to surprise my mother with the gift.  Apparently I didn’t do a good job of hiding my enthusiasm of the day.  My mother asked me what I was hiding.  I showed the figurine to her and told her that I purchased it for her.  At this point, mother thought that I had taken the figurine and then lied to her about it.  There was some serious trouble headed my way. 

Fortunately for me, she decided to call the neighbor and apologize before she dealt with me.  Our neighbor told her the story about how I purchased it.  I went from the dog house to being the star in a blink of an eye.  This was the first time I had ever picked out and purchased a present for her. 
To this day the little guy has its own little shelve in her breakfast nook. 

So this year for Mother’s Day, I photographed the little cardinal and had it printed.  The photography was simple.  The lighting was a Canon 430ex flash set to ETTL and high-speed sync with a 1/2 CTO to camera left.  The camera was daylight-balanced set at ISO 200, f/11 at 1/400sec.  I used f/11 to give me enough depth of field to have figurine focus and maintain the some of the detail in the wood grain in the foreground.  I used the ISO 200 so I could get the shutter speed fast enough to over-power of the ambient light and reduce the background to near black. 

Who would have ever thought a 5 cent purchase would last so long.