Archive for October, 2009

Adding Interest

I do come from a design background so it’s important to take the entire frame for all elements under consideration when looking at images or framing. A designer is going to account for type/text on the page, balance, white space or negative space, color… the list goes on. Elements interact with each other for “balance” within the boundaries of the medium whether it be a page edge on print material or a web page that exists only in the electronic media. No secret that this exists in photography. Color, tone, angle dynamics and the scenario are taken into account. Is there emotive content that you’d like to show?

A recent shoot had me looking to find the elements. It was a busy scenario shot live and without formal posing. It’s better to sight things through the lens or easy to miss the moment. Sometimes, there were 10 people in the scene with a flurry of activity.


As with an event, you’d want your image to tell a story but sometimes it’s just too busy and distracting. You sight the scene as an observer but are you really looking at a part that would suffice to tell the story? The scene above has 7 people in it. Yet, what happens if you had cropped it in your framing?

_crop4316-EditAsk yourself if you had would it tell the story in much simpler fashion? Or would it be telling one aspect of the story that you saw as the photographer? Is it more dynamic where less is more? Sometimes, the mere suggestion of a piece will be enough to get the message across. The best of all worlds is to shoot both. However, as the photographer you have a choice to simply be an observer or to tell the audience what you see and how you think when you press the shutter.


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I am and have been a member of nikonians.org since 2003. I know that not everyone in the world shoots Nikon, but some of the most knowledgeable people on Nikon frequent their forums and know the nuances of the gear. I think there is a free membership but then you go into a paid one. It wasn’t much to upgrade to Silver ($25.USD). They are a non-profit and not associated with Nikon Corporation in any way.


Fanboys aside (ok, I am female but it still applies), if you want Nikon branded stuff, have a visit to their shop. I have a Nikonians tee shirt and it’s very well made. Other items on sale too

Thanksgiving SALE is 40% off. There’s even a sell off older tee for a buck. You need to be a member.

Nikonians Shop

Listen to their podcasts (News Flashes). Very informative. News Flash #133, Oct. 26, 2009 is talking about a D800 release as a distinct possibility in lieu of a D700x(s). Woo! 1080p HD video, 24.5 MP sensor, 7 fps… maybe in the next 2 months. The D700 does not have video and is 12MP. The D800 may coexist with the D700 so this is a true upgrade and not minor. Potential lenses: 24mm f/1.4 lens, 85mm f/1.4 are mentioned. Since Nikonians is not a part of Nikon Corp. these are “rumors” and not official word from Nikon. I daresay though that some of the members are extremely well connected. 😉

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I was doing some homework on the Radiopopper Jr.X and stumbled onto info on the Strobist blog about them. Good info, btw. I thought that I recognized “Dasha” one of the models that came to pose for us at the Mid Atlantic meetup in early August.



Not too surprising considering that the shoot was in Maryland and that’s David Hobby’s stomping grounds. Dasha was a great model too. Very cooperative and willing to work hard.

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Bogged Down

From inside speedlight shooting to outdoor shooting this week. Despite an early morning start, it’s still a little bit on the dark side this time of year. I use fill flash a lot when shooting outdoors to lift shadow areas and bring out some detail in the darks.

I was fortunate enough to get in to shoot at the largest cranberry producer in NJ.  The weather was cooperative and I slogged though a lot of mud! NJ is 3rd in cranberry production in the U.S. behind Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Some of the bogs here go back 100 years. Technology and harvesting has been honed up to the present. Rutgers U. has been working closely with some of the growers to boost yield and produce the best fruit. Wet harvesting by flooding the bogs has been a standard for years.

looking out

thrashers work the bog

berries fly

on the truck

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I had the pleasure of shooting a 25th wedding anniversary party this past weekend. It was fun as always. I like being among people. I have been so busy that I wasn’t able to put the Radiopopper JrX units into use. No time like the present. As a backup, I did take my Nikon SU800 transmitter unit with me to control the speedlights wirelessly, but it got really cranky. I ended up using the Jr.X units anyway. I normally use Nikon’s CLS on Manual to control my remotes.

I used 3 SB800’s to do the job. Two on lightstands—no diffusion but bounced light. One handheld with a Lightsphere on it. Two of the SB800’s were set to Manual. The 3rd was set to SU Mode-Manual (optical) since I didn’t have a dedicated transmitter for that light.

You can’t yet control the Jr.X standard units (receivers and transmitter) wirelessly for power dialing remotely (Studio model differs). For that, you will need the RPcube and it’s not out yet! Grrrrr. I was fortunate enough to guess most of my settings and shot everything on full manual on both speedlights and camera body. One thing I will note, I had set the white balance to Auto on the body but it was bluish. Things warmed up more when I set it to Flash, albeit a little too warm in some cases. I’m still exploring my options and learning what they will do for me when I need them.

A few shots from the party.




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For those of you outside the U.S. and Canada, there’s some sad news… Paul C. Buff is no longer shipping their popular Alien Bee units and accessories outside the U.S. and Canada.

It’s posted as a notice on their website:


They will still service existing customers who bought their product but not take on any new ones. I guess their Swiss connection for distribution outside the U.S. didn’t work out. They are still looking for a reputable dealer in Australia. Cut off for international orders was Oct. 16, 2009.

Alien Bee units are a cost effective solution for those of you starting out on a budget. The build isn’t tank like, but they work. I picked up a set a couple of years ago after I had herniated some disks in my back. More so because they were very lightweight. Heavier build quality is found in the Paul C. Buff White Lightning units that are designed to hold up better under pro usage. Since under the same ownership of Paul C. Buff, those units won’t be shipping internationally either.

I’ve often suggested Elinchcrom D Lights for European friends looking to buy a starter system at reasonable cost. Calumet Genesis line is also another low cost alternative and widely distributed in Europe. Bowens makes a lot of the Calumet branded lighting products. I have their Travelite series of monoblock heads. The build on them is good.

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Just noticed there is a Nikonians Academy sponsored workshop on using Nikon Speedlights in Philadelphia. David Tejada is the trainer.

November 3 and 4, 2009. And there is still room. Register through Nikonians. I believe it is actually a two day workshop.

Professional Lighting on Location with Nikon CLS

Nikonians Academy Workshops listings. Might be one closer to you or another offering that interests you.

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