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Playing with flash controls

Recently, I've been playing with 2nd shutter sync. This simply means the camera flashes at the end of an exposure instead of at the beginning. This lends itself perfectly for capturing motion on longer exposures then effectively freezing the subject at its last position.

A few weeks ago I entered an ICAEW student photo competition:

Contest Instructions
Unleash your creativity. Is accountancy just something you do for a job or does it mean more than that? What images, objects, places or people does accountancy evoke?

I decided to use this technique to make it look like I was writing quickly while working on a set of accounts. Unfortunately I didn't win, I lost to a (admittedly well shot) picture of three meerkats titled Safety in Numbers. Regardless, I'm pleased with my entry:

While out of the country, relaxing in Spain, I continued my experimentation with 2nd shutter sync. This time instead of capturing the final position of a movement as above I tried something a little different...

Playing in Spain

I've seen loads of photos taken where people use a light and a long exposure to create patterns or words in the image. I've even done it myself:

Photo taken as part of the marketing for The Queen's College (Oxford) Commemoration Ball 2010

Another marketing photo for Queens 2010, awarded "highly commended" at an OUPS Photo competition

The problem with these photos is you don't see who is behind the pattern or the text. In Spain, I combined this interesting type of photo with the 2nd shutter sync to capture the people behind the photo, in the same exposure. Obviously this can be done with photoshop and I have compared the final result for the two methods below.

 

All of the following are single exposure images.

Due the limited creativity of those involved (myself included) there were no interesting pictures, only names and usernames to be seen, but at least everyone could introduce them in their own way! Apart from the Bez image (which has had the light colour altered) they have only had very basic adjustments made, such as brightness and colour balance etc

 

These look like they could have been made using composite imagery. As promised, I tried that too:

4 piece composite image

This is made up of 4 images. Due to the significantly shorter exposure times the body is more clearly visible in the four sections, "person", "Jake", "#" and "11". While there are benefits to creating the image in this way (such as easy retakes of particular sections), the finished product feels less authentic.

 

IR and Faux HDR Panorama

Another bank holiday, another excuse to break out the geeky camera equipment. This time it's the panoramic tripod head and the new IR filter.

Navigate the three panoramic images above using the highlighted hotspots. There is a faux colour IR shot of the garden, a night edit version of the same photo and a faux HDR (single raw image) of a kitchen.

Find the actual photos over at Flickr, here.

Playing with IR photography

I recently bought an IR filter in order to experiment with IR photography. The Green.L 760nm IR filter from amazon marketplace. Today with the sun out, I decided to give it a go.

What makes IR photography different?

By blocking visible light with the lens filter, you allow the camera to pick up normally invisible Infra-red light. This 'new' light makes grass and leaves show up bright white explaining the snowy appearance of the photos. As a result of blocking all the blue, green and almost all of the red light, the photos are technically monochromatic (one hue). The images appear red and white directly from the camera.

With channel mixing you can swap the red and blue making the images look a little more natural. Alternatively you can go down the faux colour route, making up your own colours for everything!

Gallery

I created some Adobe Lightroom presets for the two faux colour shots, Lightroom IR Presets.

Gallery also viewable on Flickr.

Playing With Light 2

Following on from Playing With Light 1, I decided to take more pictures to highlight the difference playing with part 2 and 3 makes to your photos.

Changing the background of the picture

The addition of pink paper behind the subject cleans up the background

The background to this photo wasn't particularly messy to begin with, a range of greys and blacks. The addition of the pink paper makes the scene feel more isolated.

 
Lighting Comparison badgers

Badger Scene

The badger scene is a good example of how different types of flash effect the final photo. In natural light, the photo feels a little washed out as the camera increased exposure to reveal the darker areas (this clearly could be corrected by flicking onto manual). The shadows help to show the shapes of the badgers.

With the camera flash you lose a lot of the natural shadows that helped show the shapes and sizes of the objects. At the same time you are gaining dark shadows directly behind the objects which I find reduces the contrast with the background.

Finally, the off camera flash also removes the natural shadows but creates equally helpful new ones which help show the sizes/shapes of objects. The flash throws enough new light on the scene that the camera exposure is reduced allowing for easier handheld shots and more vivid colours.

 
Lighting Comparison flies

Dead Fly

This fly example simply reinforces the points I've just made. Natural light has good shadows but lacks pop. The camera flash has plenty of contrast and good colours but the new shadows on the background make the edges harder to see. The external flash is clear and has the benefit of a new dramatic shadow thanks to the light coming from a low angle.

 

Below are a few of the final images from my mini, playing with light, photo sessions (on Flickr):

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