Monday, March 29, 2010

Part 2: Photography with Imre Episode 17 - Flashes Part 5: Fill Flash

Using fill flash may seem like a fairly simple thing to do, but creating this video reminded me of some of its challenges. Like I pointed out in the episode, there's not much to getting your flash to fire every time you take a photo; it's getting your shot to look the way you want it to that can sometimes be trivial, other times a bit huff and puff.

Nonetheless, once you start getting the hang of how your camera and flash behave together, the benefits and rewards start pulling through. And one behavior to note is how your camera exposes. In the video, I took some photos of myself, first with the flash off and then with the flash on at low, medium and maximum power levels. Now if you're not very familiar with the way most modern digital SLR cameras expose and meter, then I suggest you watch Episode 6 of my photo series to enlighten you. This may help you understand what I'm about to get into a little better.

Generally, most cameras tend to meter and expose in favor of the light areas of an image. In the first picture where I turned off the flash, I stood in front of bright white siding on a wall, which took up most of the frame. So, with me standing with my back to the sun and my face and chest in dark shadow, when the camera metered (remember the 18% grey) the result ended up being being quite drab; both the wall and me are under-exposed somewhat. These type of shots almost always remind me of snowy scenes; without exposure compensation, the snow generally turns out grey-ish versus being bright and almost pure white.

Now I could compensate for this effect by forcing the camera to over-expose the image via the handy exposure value (EV) adjustment feature (that little button with the +/- sign), but doing so would almost make things worse. Let's say to get a proper exposure on my face we need to push the EV up a stop (+1.0). Great, I'd look good, but the siding behind me would likely be blown out (or close to it). :^(

Well this is where using fill flash can save such photos. During my shoot, my camera was in aperture priority mode, lens at f4.0 and my shutter speed for all images ended up the same at 1/800 of a sec. My flash was of course set to manual so I could play with the power settings (don't we all love to play with power!), and as you can see the white siding is about the same in each shot, but I'm no longer veiled in darkness. The image is indeed more balanced and the lighting still looks fairly natural...  although I gotta tell you, in the direction I was looking (toward the camera of course), there's a fence painted white, so yes, I am terribly squinting in each shot... Why I didn't put sun glasses on? I would've looked oh so much more cooler too! :P

Anywho... please do subscribe and check me out on Facebook and Twitter. I finally added some widgets to my blog, so you can easily access my other digital worlds on the Web. And as mentioned, RAW vs. JPEG shall be the topic for the next episode, so I hope you'll join me for that! L8r!

Web Resources
http://www.shutterbug.com/techniques/lighting/1100sb_using/
http://digital-photography-school.com/using-fill-flash

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Photography with Imre Episode 17 - Flashes Part 5: Fill Flash

And the flash mini-series comes to an end... but not the end of the photography series! Lots and lots more episodes to come! As usual, it's already 10pm so my brain is shutting down for the night. Tomorrow I'll scribble up the supplemental post to Episode 17, which should enlighten you on a few points not heavily covered in the video. L8r!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Part 2: Photography with Imre Episode 16 - Flashes Part 4: Slow Sync Flash Mode

I certainly hope you enjoyed Episode 16! I've received some great comments and they're certainly appreciated.

The slow sync flash modes can be a very creative and fun option to use. For the practical, it can enhance your night / low-light shots, and for the exuberant, well... the outcomes are pretty much limitless. To get a vivid idea of what slow sync can do, check out the links I have in my Web Resources section below.

To add a little something, something to my video, keep in mind that your camera will behave differently depending on the mode you're in (i.e. aperture or shutter priority, manual mode). For example, if I set my E-3 to aperture priority and aim it around a dark room, I can see the shutter speed vary anywhere from 1/10 of a second to 10 seconds (and even higher in really dark areas), regardless of whether I'm using first or second curtain slow sync. However, in shutter priority or manual mode, the camera will use whatever shutter speed you set as one would expect.

The question may come to mind as to which mode should be used and to put it simply, there's really no right answer as it depends on exactly what you're shooting, what outcome you'd like to get, or how funky and creative you're feeling. But I do have a few guidelines to offer. If you're not very concerned about special effects and simply wish to get a nicely exposed subject and background, then stick to something like aperture priority and keep your flash in auto mode. You will likely see a pre-flash, but your shot should look fine. Now it gets a little more complicated if you like to mess around with the settings... but then again that's half the fun.

For a little more control, use shutter priority or even manual mode and vary your shutter speed; let's say start at 1/10 of a second and work your way through to a lengthy 30 second exposure. As for the flash, if you would still like to get a good exposure on your subject, then stick to auto mode, but for a something a little more experimental, switch the flash to manual and vary the power output.

At this point it's all up to you to find an interesting place (streets at night tend to be popular locales) and have at it. Oh, one last tidbit. Try motion. Dance with your camera or swing it around (just do try to be careful)! Often it's a little movement that can turn a ho-hum slow sync photo into a holy mammoth dude shot!

Anywho, have a blast! Do subscribe, follow me @BinaryGraphite, become a Fan and I'll see ya l8r!

Web Resources

http://digital-photography-school.com/slow-sync-flash
http://digital-photography-school.com/13-great-slow-sync-flash-images
Search for "slow sync" on Flickr; some very cool shots by photogs there

Monday, March 22, 2010

Photography with Imre Episode 16 - Flashes Part 4: Slow Sync Flash Mode

Woot! Episode 16 of my photography series is done and live on YouTube. This time the show features the slow sync flash modes, aka first and second curtain (and sometimes front and rear curtains). Keep your eyes peeled on my blog as the supplemental post will cometh tomorrow and I've got some great links to share with you!

And I am on Twitter @BinaryGraphite Do follow me to stay up-to-date with my goodies; I also post other interesting things I happen upon when I surf the WWW, so you might very well find those do-dads fun too. L8r!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Part 2: Photography with Imre Episode 15 - Flashes Part 3: Red-Eye

I must say that I was quite surprised during my script writing for this episode to discover how much a seemingly simple topic such as red-eye could envelop. There's a wee bit of biology involved and numerous techniques available to either lessen the impact of or eliminate red-eye.

The tough part almost always seems to come down to under what circumstances do you use a particular method and frankly there's hardly an easy answer to that. But what I can add in addition to the video is that if you are using a digital SLR with a hot-shoe mounted flash, chances are that for most shoots involving people you won't have to worry about red-eye occurring; the flash is far enough away from the lens (large parallax) that its bright light won't reflect back into the lens from the retinas glaring back at you.

For more info on red-eye, check out the links below.

Next week (well hopefully next week) should conclude my flash mini-series, and by should I mean that in the future I'll likely still cover flash related topics that are more geared to some niche aspects (e.g. lighting small subjects for macro photography). The topics for part four include the two popular slow-sync modes, first and second curtain, as well as using fill flash.

So please subscribe if you haven't already and you can also become of a Fan of yours truly on Facebook. Also, feel free to send in questions to me about photography, and if appropriate I may even create a video in your honor! Just click on my profile here or on YouTube and send me a message. How cool is that!? L8r!

Web Resources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_axis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallax
http://www.howstuffworks.com/question51.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-eye_effect
http://markhancock.blogspot.com/2004/12/eliminate-red-eye.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapetum_lucidum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choroid

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Part 2: Ukulele and Four Hats (ok, three hats and a helmet)

Alright, as promised here's the supplemental post to my video demonstrating how to tune a ukulele and play some easy chords on it.

I would like to add that ukulele's tend to go out of tune fairly quickly, so if you play them for longer than about 45 minutes, you'll need to tune up (perhaps sooner, depending on how hard you play it). And it should go without saying, but you should always tune your instrument before playing it anyway.

Tisk, tisk. Some errata to report too... well kind of. When I'm showing how to do an E chord, I didn't mention that you also fret the first string on the second fret with your index finger. I've added an annotation to the video, so hopefully viewers won't miss it, even though you can see fairly clearly that I do press down on that string. *sigh* I must've been distracted by my hats and accents.

Below I've posted a few links to some ukulele related websites. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is fantastic and a must see (I have some of their videos in my favorites list on my channel), and you'll be blown away by the last link where Jake Shimabukuro plays a spectacular rendition of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".

Do have fun with your ukulele... and if you don't have one, well then I hope you enjoy the videos! And as usual, please subscribe so you can stay up-to-date with my videos and you can also check me out on Facebook (become a Fan! Fans are awesome)!

Web Resources
http://www.ukuleleorchestra.com/main/home.aspx - The Learn / Play menu item has links to sites with ukulele lessons and chord charts
http://www.youtube.com/user/UkuleleOrchestra
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puSkP3uym5k - Jake Shimabukuro plays "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ukulele and Four Hats

Well there's certainly going to be a part two to this post as my usual pattern kicked in; once again t'is a little late! None-the-less, do enjoy the new video on tuning the ukulele and an introduction to a few chords on the cute little instrument. Plus, I wear four different hats in the vid! Ya can't miss that!

And if you haven't already, please do subscribe and check me out on Facebook (become a Fan!) so you can stay up-to-date with my goodies! L8r.