Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 334 of 365

Day 334 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Busy doing some "glamourizing" of some of yesterdays shots so went with the easy shot tonight. A Christmas ornament (wooden oak leaf) lit by Christmas lights. We put up our trusty little artificial tree on may not feel like Christmas outside (mid 60's and sunny most days) but it does have that feeling in our house.

As mentioned yesterday and because at least one person mentioned that would like to hear of my first photo shoot experience goes.

My client and I left it open for either Saturday or Sunday for the shoot depending on the weather. We had a minor storm blow through here on Friday and it was a bit windy out on the coast on Saturday so we postponed to Sunday. I ended up going out there on Saturday anyway to scout the area a little better even though I've been there several times but really wanted to find a good area to park since the sun is setting quite a bit south along the coast this time of year and knew there were only a few good unobstructed vantage points. The entire strip along Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove was swamped with cars and RV's on Saturday. It was a good thing we postponed as we wouldn't have found a good place to park anyway. I ended up getting the silhouette shot of the golfers, which I really thought was cool, probably because it's not a typical shot for me.

So Sunday rolls around, I'm still nursing my cold, but was not about to cancel for a runny nose. We touch base and plan on meeting around 4pm. I head out early to first stop at an auto supply store to buy a cheap reflector, why pay $30+ dollars for a "photographers" reflector when you can buy a cheap car window screen for under $5? Don't answer...I'm sure there reasons for the more expensive version, like being able to clamp it onto a stand. As I'm driving out to the coast I notice that there is absolutely no wind. Not very often you don't have some kind of wind at dusk but this was one of those nights. I get out to the area I scouted earlier and find the perfect spot. I park between two cars taking up two spots, it's a dirt turnout so easy to do. I just hope that the cars don't leave and others pull in right next to me. I had about a hour wait and as luck would have it a space stayed open for my clients to pull their '61 Corvette in at a good angle so I could include the ocean and sunset without other cars and people in the shot.

This is my first real attempt at portrait. This is also my first time using flash outside, and on people. Since it wasn't windy I was able to use my stand and umbrella. My first tip...even if you think you have enough light because the sun is still pretty bright, use the flash for fill. I didn't pull out the flash until it started getting fairly dark. I have several shots with shadows that can't be removed that could have easily been taken care of with a small amount of fill. Another tip...advise against wearing dark clothes for sunset shots. The female was wearing a red shirt, which was fine, but a black coat and with several shots the black made her head seem like it was floating. The guy wore a white with colorful stripes and it worked great.

To determine my flash and camera settings I had recently watched a free flash training video hosted by NAPP done by Joe McNally, who I hear is a great guy and as I've learned a wonderful teacher and master photographer. In the video Mr. McNally set his camera to shutter speed 80 and f/5.6 for some sunset portrait shots and changed the flash power to suit his needs. This is what I've been practicing and used on my shoot. I didn't quite know what to expect but I was really impressed with how sharp my photos came out. I used my 50mm f/1.8 as it really is my sharpest and best lens. As mentioned previously there were some things I wish I had done different but I have these written down and will write down the rest of my tips to remember for myself.

- with cars...remove things hanging from the rear view mirror
- wear lighter colors for dusk shoots...unless you're going for the whole floating head thing
- use flash for fill even if you don't think you may need it, if anything to get rid of annoying shadows
- don't have them look into the sun...I knew this yet did it anyway...squinty eyes aren't very pretty
- expect that the client may not like the shots you think are good (I'm doing some glamour work as soon as I'm done here)...we are our own worst critic of ourselves. I hate how I look in photos so rarely allow myself to be photographed (yeah I know..selfish) it is easy for me to understand when the client my feel a bit of the same way.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 333 of 365

Day 333 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Today was my first photo shoot. It involved two people, a vintage car (a 1961 Corvette), the Pacific Ocean and the sunset. The hard part was finding the right place to park the car without a bunch of other cars finding their way into the shot.

I'll write more about my experience tomorrow. Want to get this posted before midnight and it's going to take longer than 10 minutes to write it all up.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 332 of 365

Day 332 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

My photo shoot was pushed to tomorrow so I went out to the same area to dial in some settings so I don't have to fiddle with them too much tomorrow. While walking along I noticed these golfers lined up nicely in a silhouette. The boundary marker to the right of the far right guy is a bit of a distraction but can easily be photoshopped out if for some reason I wanted to print this.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 331 of 365

Day 331 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I came down with a cold suddenly late yesterday so most of today was sitting in one spot on the couch wrapped up in a blanket watching reruns and drinking 7-Up. Finally at about 11:30pm I decided I probably should do my photograph...not my best effort. I hope I feel better tomorrow because I have a paid shoot in the late afternoon.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 330 of 365

Day 330 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Some mashed potatoes, peas and Tofurky. It could only mean Thanksgiving here in the United States.

Well most people are probably having turkey but us vegetarians are enjoying something much different but just as tasty...Tofurky. :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 329 of 365

Day 329 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Figured I would take as many food related shots during Thanksgiving as I can. My wife is making dressing from scratch so after I cut up a whole loaf of sprouted grain bread and laid it out on the table to stale up a bit I took a few shots. I wanted to work with the natural light I had and angles. I notice that a lot of food photography is done straight down or at odd angles.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 328 of 365

My wife needed to bring something for a potluck her astronomy class is having tomorrow. The item needs to be inspired by something astronomical so the rocky outer ring of Saturn inspired Monkey Bread.

It was also great practice with my off camera flash and umbrella and probably my first and only time where I don't have a specific photo as my daily shot but rather a series of shots. If I had to choose one photo as my favorite it would be the dough and knife, the second image down.

monkey bread ingredients, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Cut the dough into quarters

coat with sugar & cinnamon

put into bundt pan

pour some butter over it

Are your arteries hardened yet?

Out of the oven

Out of the pan

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 327 of 365

Day 327 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.
Only 38 more days where I have to come up with something to photograph. While I'm sure I'll be a little sad that the project is over I'm looking forward to a little freedom.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 326 of 365

Day 326 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I found the contrast between the rusty chain from the swing set and the blue sky appealing.

I have tried photographing this, abandoned out in the middle of nowhere, swing set before but just can't figure out a way to do so. Either there isn't an appealing way to photograph it or I just haven't found it if there is one.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 323 of 365

Day 323 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

So I ran across my first problem with using my new flash. See that white reflection? That is my flash umbrella and I can see parts of the tripod legs as well. My task now is to try and figure out how to use this setup with reflective surfaces without it becoming part of the image. I'm sure there is an easy fix but I couldn't come up with one this evening.

One thing I did discover that will be useful is my new flash has a very fast recycle time. Like fast enough to keep up with my shutter release on burst. I did not expect that as my only experience with flashes in my attempts at film photography has been a good 2 or 3 seconds recycle time. I see some water drop and other movement type shots here in the very near future.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 322 of 365

Day 322 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

More fun with my new strobist kit. I put a piece of black fabric down on the floor and some pears we got in our CSA box today and photographed them at a few different angles. What would have taken 20 minutes of tinkering with my work lights to get the light and camera settings right took me 2 minutes with this new setup. Not to mention being able to photograph in my living room instead of the cold garage because of being wireless and battery operated now.

I also posted a few other versions and a black and white as I thought it looked more like a classic still life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 321 of 365

Day 321 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Today I received my strobist kit so I practiced small to get comfortable with shooting off camera. I got the Strobist Starving Student (not really) SC1 Lighting Kit from Midwest Photo Exchange (,12314.html).

It comes with a Cactus Radio Slave set for shooting wireless and lots of other accessories. It was cheap and I figured it would work for getting my feet wet with flash photography. First off I discovered the Cactus Radio Slave kit is cheap for a reason as it doesn't fire 100% of the time...more like 50-60% of the time. At least out in my garage this was true. I've posted my setup shot as well. I put a small piece of cardboard with reflective tape on the opposite side of the little mannequin for some light bounce.

My camera settings were 50mm, ISO 100, 1/60 sec, f/5.6 with the flash at 1/8 power through umbrella.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 320 of 365

Day 320 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

This may be my last time using my crappy jury rigged lighting setup I've been using since the start of this project. I finally bought a flash and accessories like an umbrella and stand and a remote flash trigger. It isn't a top of the line expensive setup but it's a step up from $8 shop lights from Home Depot. Should have the new toys this week....time to learn something new.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 319 of 365

Day 319 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I went out this evening for the sole purpose of photographing the sunset. I decided to head down to Asilomar beach in Pacific Grove as it has the best unobstructed view locally. One of these weekends I need to head down the Big Sur coast and try for a sunset but this was more of a, "let me get the settings down" event.

This shot was about 30 minutes after the sun set and I was pretty happy that I was able to get the blue streaks to show in my photograph. Maybe I don't watch enough sunsets because I hadn't seen that before.

While I like the colors I'm really getting irritated with the softness of my photos, the level of noise (banding) and my dirty sensor. The sensor is my own fault because I just haven't taken it in to get cleaned or bought a kit to clean it myself. Most of the time I don't notice it but I sure do when doing landscapes. The softness and noise is most likely from cheap lenses. That I'll just have to live with until I can save up for a good lens or two. I just need to decide what I want, that will get used regularly. I'm not one of those that needs to buy one of everything and never use them all. He/she with the most toys doesn't make them a better photographer in my opinion.

If you enjoy landscape and/or sunset photos I'd recommend checking out these two photographers.

Fort Photo on Flickr - Michael has helped me tremendously along my photography journey by giving advice and encouragement along the way. His wildlife, nightscapes and landscapes are up there with the big named pros in my opinion.

John Barbs on Flickr - This young man from Guam has a bright future ahead of him. His seascapes inspired me to give them a try. I have a long ways to go compared to him.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 317 of 365

Day 317 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I've been meaning to incorporate this glass wall into a shot for sometime now but wasn't exactly sure how to do it creatively. I've walked by it everyday on my way into my office since June and everyday look at it telling myself I need to photograph it somehow. It's not unusual in any sense other than it's a glass tile wall built in three levels in a wave pattern. So if you looked at it from straight down it would look like kind of like a S. Since I typically only pass by it while entering the building and leave by a back door that is locked from the outside I decided to see what it would look like with the sunset in the background. It's not particularly interesting but I can now say I incorporated the glass wall into a shot and check it off my list.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 315 of 365

Day 315 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

The clouds over the bay were really interesting so I went out near sunset to photograph them. To get the tones I wanted I used a circular polarizer and ND filter stacked.

I also want to take this time to salute my fellow brothers and sisters of the military. I served 8 years in the US Army as a 19D - Cavalry Scout and have been out of the service for over 15 years. There isn't a day that doesn't go by that I don't think of my old friends at least once. That is how strong the bond is even all these years later.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 313 of 365

Day 313 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I thought the clouds were kind of neat looking tonight so I snapped a few shots from my backyard. I didn't really do much to try and make an "artful" photograph as I was more interested in seeing what I could do with the images creatively. I took a few moments to see what I could come up with in Photoshop. I tend to be pretty quick in Photoshop when it comes to playing with my images. I have a few things I try and if they don't give me a feeling of "hmm...maybe I'll run with this concept" I tend to abort and move on. I figure if I can't come up with something fairly appealing in a few minutes, no amount of tinkering is going too.

So here are a few extra images to show you what I think a fairly normal image can look like with a few simple Photoshop adjustments.

The orange version is a color negative curves selection with a hard light layer adjustment on the curves layer.

This darker more abstract version is a duplicate background layer that I ran a sumi-e filter on. Next I applied a linear burn layer adjustment on the duplicate and lowered the opacity to 45%.

Two completely different images from the same base image. Two different feels for me. The orange is bright and cheery...something I might see printed rather large on the wall some place where you might want to invite a sense of calm. The opposite is true with my dark abstract. For me it reminds me of growing up in Washington State. A storm is brewing, the rains are coming, the floodgates are about the open. Doesn't mean I don't like the photo...I actually like it a little more than the bright and cheery version.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 311 of 365

Day 311 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Any guesses?

If I get a chance to reshoot this I think I want to try and get more light. It would be difficult to use a tripod so may have to bump up the ISO more. Ah...ISO. I've gone almost this entire year long project without learning how to use my ISO effectively. I've only recently realized I probably should increase it from 100 on occasion.

This photo was shot at 50mm f/1.8, 1/20 sec, ISO 400.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 310 of 365

Day 310 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

With the sun going down so early now I decided to head out and try for some photos near sunset. While it started out that way I ended up searching for reflections. I've spent so much time trying to reproduce reflections in my garage using various things that I thought maybe I should look for some natural ones. I was more interested in the lights on the water and wasn't sure if I would like the buildings on the pier but after looking at the shot on my computer screen I ended up liking it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 309 of 365

Day 309 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

When I can't come up with any normal ideas I tend to experiment. Tonight I used the sheet of reflective paper and some strips of colored paper and my hand for no other reason than I wanted to see how it would look. The nice thing about the paper is it is rigid enough that it will stand on it's own while being a bit warped so it has a funhouse mirror thing going. I will be playing with this more with different objects to see what I can come up with.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 308 of 365

Day 308 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I took part in a Flickr event titled "A day in the Life of November 4, 2009" today. Nothing special about the date...the guy who started it just wanted to see how many people he could get around the world to chronicle their day with photographs.

I started with the first thing I saw this morning (yes I had my camera sitting on my nightstand ready to take this very photo as I lay there) and ended with my drive home from work. I didn't spend a lot of time being creative...just took shots to tell a short story of my day and to do something a little different today.

You can find the rest of my day in photographs here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 307 of 365

Day 307 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Lit from below with a piece of white poster board above for light bounce. Could have used a bit more light on the little pumpkin to the far left. It also looked in focus in camera but it appears to be a touch out of focus when viewed larger.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 306 of 365

Day 306 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

On my short drive home from work tonight I noticed the full moon was just high enough over the hills to the east of us to make for a cool shot. So I grabbed my tripod and camera and walked out to an open spot near the main road but by the time I got there the moment was gone. Yes...I didn't have my camera with me again but I wouldn't have had my tripod and cable release so it wouldn't have mattered. Since I missed the shot I was going for I finally got around to taking a shot I've been meaning to take for a just happens that a very nice and orange sunset was in the background. I want to do this same shot when it's really foggy so all you can see is the fog and street if it will only get foggy again.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 305 of 365

Day 305 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Was cutting some onions and found myself paying more attention to the rings than the knife...thankfully didn't cut myself.