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Vortex

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I’m still not taking m/any photographs of late although the camera is in the car with me most days for the purposes of fantastic sunsets, when the clouds go south for the summer that is. Soon, hopefully.

I can’t remember what I was doing when I took this. The date on the photograph is July last year, and I’ve a sneaking suspicion it was a playing with the flash moment but beyond that, not sure. Anyway, it somehow missed its route onto the blog so 7 months late, here it is.

A few links for the day.

Two very different photographs from Richard.

Shadows as seen from the Eiffel Tower from Jennifer

Moonrise, Gates of the Valley from John

I’m coming to get you from Darren

Conference Call from Tommie

Art Wolfe has been out and about with an iPhone in Bangkok

Joe McNally is in Malaysia

I somehow missed this Robin from Danny along with Half Full

Frozen in Time from John Smyth

Shooting points of light.

So I have this vision inside my head of a piece of jewellery that flashes points of light, a black background, and multiple exposures.

The way I do this – on this occasion – is to use the multi-fire functionality of my flash. And also I wish I had a master unit to use the flash remotely. I don’t, and the ones for the Canon cost more money than I really wish to spend on photography gear in the present times. Improvisation is the name of the game.

In the absence of a ready supply of diamonds or cubic zirconia, I have an opal which has starred in photographs before. I also have a lack of black backround stuff. Improvisation continues to be the name of the game. Work skirt called into duty.

What I really wanted to do was use a very wide open aperture so mega shallow depth of field, swing the pendant over and back and have the flash fire 10 times or whatever. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that trying to keep a swinging pendant within the DOF on a 50mm lens open at 1.8 when you can’t see what you’re doing is a physical impossibility. I dropped that idea and rammed it up to 8 so that I’d more room to manoeuvre on the swinging of the shiny blue stuff front. I eventually took 23 photographs out of which I extracted 4 that I felt I could *something* with. Then I discovered that one of them was pretty much dead after I got it up loaded.

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This is a drag, really. In some shape or form, it’s not too far from what I was looking for but I really need a fabric that absorbs far, far more light. I just don’t know if I can get it; that’s the problem.

Nail varnish and perfume.

One of the things I was interested in giving a shot at was sort of product glossy magazine type photographs.

Most of the product photography that I see done through the various photography groups I am involved in tend to involve lightboxes. I don’t own one and I’m not hugely enthused about buying more gear to set up photographs that I might not do too much with. Also, I spend a lot of time in in the outdoors and am slightly more interested in decontextualising products and doing something different with them. This came out of a discussion I had with a marketing guy from Quiksilver at some stage when we were talking about kite photography. He had visions of me getting a kitesurfer into Blackrock Baths I think; something which is unworkable because of the DART lines. But I put the idea away and decided to use it some other time.

Because it’s dark in the evenings, and the weather is generally miserable when it’s not dark, most of the photographs I’ve been taking lately have been in doors, and occasionally in the dark. I’ve been playing with toys and tricks either via the iPhone or the camera itself. Last week I got an intervalometre – the Canon one – for my 40D and had visions of things involving stars, gel light off camera flash. So on Friday evening I packed all the gear up and went to Dun Laoghaire to do a little more exploring.

Dun Laoghaire is starting to be my favourite place to take photographs lately. I only went out a while ago to recce a left of centre photography shoot that’s being stymied by the weather and tide so I have a lot to learn before I’ve exhausted my options. It’s more, much more to me, than Howth is and I never thought I’d say that.

Friday evening, in addition to all the camera gear, I also packed a bottle of nail varnish and a small little ickle bottle of perfume. I used to have loads of these; wish I had more. They sell them in gift sets so I’m going to look at getting a few more for experiments of this nature. The nail polish I chose because of the strong colour and I also liked the shape of the bottle.

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One of the comments on this suggested that it wouldn’t look out of place on a glossy magazine. This was either shot with the 2.8 100mm macro or the 1.8mm 50. The interest in this type of shot was born out of the coffee and phone shot a few weeks ago (Modern Life is a Mobile Phone and Coffee on the Run). It’s not perfect – I can see one or two imperfections and also, if I had a choice again, I’d shoot it against a vertical array of lights rather than the single line. there was a little ickle bit of colour temperature work done on which had a negative impact on the shade in the traffic light which is the vaguely green light you can see left of centre.

I’ve other plans for this little bottle except every time I touch it I get covered in perfume. I finished that photography shoot smelling like downstairs in Brown Thomas. I need it to stop raining first however.

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This is the nail polish shot. For my money, it’s slightly better technically speaking than the perfume bottle. It’s got a slightly strong colour but also that reflective top which is a bags to shoot. The next time I do this, I’d try to use a bottle of nail polish with a black or white cap. It’d be easier.

I’m eying up all sorts of stuff around the house though, including the iron, bits of crockery and idling wondering what I could do to totally decontextualise them and do something to make them catch people’s attention.

Of ornaments and iPhones…and maglite torches.

So, okay, here’s the mermaid.

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She cost 6.99 in Atlantic Homecare, bought when I expected to use her as fodder for experimenting with the 50mm 1.8 that everyone apparently should have. She is a mass produced dust gatherer currently living on my mantlepiece because I haven’t found it in my heart to dump her or find a box for her in the so called hobby room. Today, I decided to take her out because I was playing with DSLR Remote Shooter on the iPhone. It apparently has an intervalometer. I had visions of also being able to tell it to leave the camera open for oh, 15 minutes at a time – star trails, don’t you know and the moon is pretty funky tonight.

If it does that, I haven’t figured out out yet. I could use it as an intervalometre to do a timelapse but as I need a computer nearby, that rules out some of the time lapses I have in mind. Anyway, tonight, I took down the mermaid and her sister the fairy to play with my flash, my remote wireless shooter thing (the iPhone that requires the computer and the camera to be connected so the next thing I want is some sort of a wireless connection between the computer and the camera – dang it this is expensive), and got the 580 Speedlite and the box of gels.

That turned out to be a fiasco so after half an hour, I was playing with a maglite torch instead. The picture above was lit using the Maglite torch and it probably had a green gel on it at the time.

Here is the fairy – lit with the maglite -

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and lit with the Speedlite.

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Oh yeah, that probably had a pink gel on it.

From this experiment I have learned things. Namely, the fairy sucks as a model. Her face is really at the wrong angle to get anywhere near an adequate bit of light on it. As 6.99 goes, it was not, I fear well spent.

Also, when I am doing these things, I need to wear black clothes. I destroyed something like 60 photographs by appearing in them – very blurry – myself.

The intervalometer doesn’t quite work as I expect it. Having coughed up 19.99 for it out of my birthday iTunes vouchers, this is a touch disappointing. You can control the whole camera with it, however, so at some point in the future when I feel like experimenting with self portraits again, I might feel it’s more worth the money. It managed to convince itself the camera was on burst mode so typically took about 5 photographs without my input either. That added to the wastage.

Sometimes twenty euro worth of torch is a better lighting tool than 500E worth of Canon Speedlite.

There are elements of the flash lit Fairy that I like. I hate the fact that the angle of her face screwed it up big time. For that…hmmm. I could never quite get the light from behind her head to work properly without the thing looking into a giant Fail at lightpainting. But my favourite of the three shots is the Maglite lit mermaid.

Would I do this again? Well, it’s hard to say. My living room sucks as a studio and I had to block off all the standby lights using remote controls.

All told, I’m sorry I didn’t take one of the tiny lighthouses and go to Poolbeg to do some forced perspective on lighthouses instead. The fact that it’s freezing cold may have something to do with it though.

Night kitesurfing

Sometime last year, Eamon Armstrong and I did a night kite shoot.

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It was the first time I was out at night with a flash – usually I rely on ambient light to shoot stuff – but I’d seen some really hot post dusk wakeboarding shots and wanted to have a go at something similar. Albeit, without 15 off camera flashes.

This is what we came up with. The photographs were taken with the last 40D (ie the now dead 40D), a 580EXII and the lens was the 50mm 1.8 prime chosen to remove options from my mind.

The bad part is the flash range is about 10 metres. This means I’m standing in water – barely visible – for a kitesurfer to come flying past me closer than he’d normally be anyway to try and make these shots.

This shot was november on the 2009 Pure Magic calendar all of which I shot so currently I see it every day and I still love it. It was the best shot we got that evening and was worth the being freezing cold. I was also reminded of this because on Saturday, while I was in Sligo, shooting these, we did talk about night sessions afterwards. So want to do that again. Can’t quite face the cold right now.

Have to flag this fantastic time lapse of the Mardi Gras. It’s a bit slow to download but is well worth waiting for.

Also want to flag this from Bryan Elkus – Cape Hatteras Sunrise

Richard was lightpainting last night.

James Jordan has this Under the Stars which I think is just gorgeous.

As the long winter evenings are in, I am having thoughts about things I want to do with a little lack of light.

Modern Life is a mobile phone and coffee on the run…

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This is one of the last afterdark shots from South County Dublin this evening. I haven’t really done anything like this before. I don’t think I’ve even tried. I’d given some of my filter gear to one of my friends so was looking around for stuff to play with. All I really had was his coffee and my mobile phone, plus the flash and the ledge we left everything on. Initially I did the phone on its own, and then I did the coffee and then I decided to see if they went together. I wound up getting all sorts of things wrong, like, you know, if the phone is black, make sure some light falls on it if you can’t get a flash around to one side (there was a sheer drop…). I guess all that’s missing is a magazine

Mostly when I think of people doing product type photography, it seems to involve light boxes. I keep meaning to do something about it but I can never think of what to actually photograph…I’m done with jewellery for a while, and other stuff…it never really seems to talk to me. I could, I suppose, take a jar of jam and throw it in the lightbox but it’d never tell a story…I think this does in a way.

Glass I

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And, this is not a slow exposure. This is a flash-over exposed Guinness glass, and I guess enough is said by this.

Docker I and Docker II

This is from Kyle Tunney’s Evening photowalk a few weeks ago.

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In fact, I’d done a photo walk there myself a few days earlier, and had shot it slightly differently on that occasion.

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This is actually a piece of public art which I was not aware of until that first photowalk. I do not do a lot of flash photography although strangely enough I do own more than one flash, so most of these things tend to be somewhat experimental.

Anyway, Kyle has some photographs from some of the other participants there on this page here if you’re interested in having a look.

Also, if you’re interested, occasionally I organise photowalks via twitter and via the Photobuddies thread on boards.ie/photography.