The Invisible Black Background

So, I thought I’d try the technique described here to create an “invisible black background” with Nikki the “supermodel.” First we tried shooting inside, but the flash was lighting up the furniture and wall behind her. So, then we moved outside in a shady area in my backyard. I think it would have been better to try this in the evening rather than in the middle of the afternoon because in order to get the background completely black I needed to close the aperture down so far that not enough light from my flash was getting to my camera to light her up. And when I opened the aperture up more the bright spots coming through the trees were showing up in my background. So, most of my photos ended up with a very dark background, but not completely black. It took some trial and error to even get everything close to right, but I did end up with one image that I really liked after a little bit of editing (mostly of the background, not Nikki).

Nikki

Nikki

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Loudoun Business Connection Mixer

Tonight My BNI group will be having a mixer at Main Street Landscape in Haymarket from 5-7pm. It should be a fun time and a good way to meet some new people in the area. Thanks to Craig for organizing the event! If you’d like to come as my guest, let me know.

UPDATE: Here are some photos from the mixer tonight. It was a fun time and a beautiful place!

Jaime, Stacey, Dan and Debbie

Jaime, Stacey, Dan and Debbie

Craig

Craig

Debbie and Tad

Debbie and Tad

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Franciscan Monastery in HDR

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to join some friends to photograph the Franciscan Monastery in Washington DC. I used a technique called HDR (High Dynamic Range). Basically, I took multiple shots of the same scene at different exposures in order to capture both the bright highlights and the dark shadows and then I combined the images using software which results in one highly detailed image. Below are some of my favorite images from the shoot.

Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan Monastery

Jesus

Jesus

Crucifixion

Crucifixion

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Back Splashes

On Thursday, I did a shoot for Collins Tile & Stone featuring tile back splashes. It was some beautiful work in four bathrooms and a kitchen.

Kitchen Back Splash

Kitchen Back Splash

Bathroom Back Splash

Bathroom Back Splash

For the shot below, I had to lower the tripod down low enough to not be seen in the mirror and I hid behind the partially open door and used my wired remote to trigger the camera.

Bathroom Back Splash

Bathroom Back Splash

Bathroom Back Splash

Bathroom Back Splash

Bathroom Back Splash

Bathroom Back Splash

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Shooting Independence Day Fireworks

So, I made recent inquiries (to the Loudoun Photo Club and on Twitter) for tips on photographing fireworks since July 4th is quickly approaching. I thought I would consolidate the advice I received into this post, test it out, and then show the resulting photos from this weekend in a future post. Thank you to all who sent your suggestions! Feel free to add more to the comments.

  • Use a tripod to keep the camera steady.
  • Get to the display early to find the best vantage point.
  • Consider having foreground or background elements in the image as they make the scene more interesting and add scale.
  • Use manual focus and focus on an object close to where the fireworks will be set off from.
  • Plan to take lots of photos and delete about 75% of them.
  • Set shutter speed to “bulb” mode. This allows you to keep the shutter open while you press the button and the shutter won’t close until you release the button.
  • Use a remote or cable release instead of the on-camera button to prevent camera shake.
  • Open the shutter when the rocket starts it’s flight and close as the firework explodes so there is not a gaping black whole in the center of the firework. Should be about 2 seconds, but can range from 1/2 second to 5 seconds. Keep the shutter open longer to have multiple bursts in one image, but not too long or you’ll end up with “big blobs of light.”
  • Most recommended setting the aperture to f/8, but the suggested range was anywhere from f/8-f/11.
  • Set White Balance to Tungsten.
  • Set ISO to 200.

One person recommended this page and which seems to have some good information: http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-photograph-fireworks

Have a very happy and safe Independence Day!

UPDATE: Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to photograph any fireworks this year. So, I’ll have to wait until next year to try out these techniques.

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