Wednesday, September 29, 2010
For this photo, I had my camera, trusty 28mm, and an SB-800 on a TTL cable in my off-hand. Using a flash like this is tricky. Despite a fair amount of monkey-ing around with flashes, I never feel like I have an instant intuition for what a picture with a flash in it will look like. Something I can plan for to predict, but not something that I have instinctively.
What this meant in practice was that I was not yet ready to be a complete bad-ass, walking around with my flash in full manual, getting the look I wanted by whipping the flash around to just the right spot for the right amount of brightness...
Well, maybe one day.
One I did instead was to rely on the balanced i-ttl mode, which works pretty well. I set the camera to meter off the background, and the flash pops a little pre-fire, then computes what it would take to fill in the parts of the scene that *aren't* background. Great way to reliably make a sunny scene less harsh. When I got a little daring (like I did here), I'd drop the camera exposure about 2/3rds of a stop to get a more darker (and generally more dramatic) background, and kept the flash so that it would 'normally' expose the subjects.
The result is what you see here: These guys are lit up in a pool of flash, with an underexposed sky and dark mid-ground. I liked the effect, and the folks here helped out by being arranged just-so.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I've lived in the Bay Area for ten years, and I've never been to the Folsom Street Fair. So, this year I resolved to go, and (of course) bring along my camera. Looking at the weather report earlier last week, and then again on Saturday, I realized that after a summer of glorious cloudy, partial-directional light, I was going to have nothing but the worst shitty straight-over-head-beat-me-like-a-Folsom-Street-booth-babe light there was. I'd been thinking about this Bruce Gilden video I've seen, and about how people like Diane Arbus used flash in daylight, so I had a notion. I went out and picked up a TTL cable for my flash yesterday, and thought I could put it to some good use as strategic fill, or (more interesting for my purposes) a tool to inject some drama into a poorly lit scene.
I learned a lot in just a few hours of using the flash-on-a-rope, and I'll probably write more about it here. In the interim, please enjoy this lovely young lady, who saw my flash an immediately offered to pose.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
As the Mountain View Art & Wine festival was wrapping up, I saw this guy strolling down the street, with a little pink compact camera in hand. The way he moved, I thought he might be another street photographer -- kind of that hungry look as he glanced into stalls. Didn't take any pictures though, and so I guessed he was just curious.
With character like this, I busted out my 85 and fired off four frames, and this is the one as he really turned to look at me. Liked it best of all, and you can see why I thought of him as the Count. :)
There was even a convenient Renfield nearby -- check this one out too.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
About a month and a half ago, my friend Damien was in town, and I suggested we take Caltrain up to the city to do some shooting. Unfortunately, we ended up running late owing to my dry cleaning being a few hours late, so we didn't get much time up in the city to do anything other than eat. Managed to snap this at the Caltrain station, and I was amazed at how well it stands out.
My friend Rob and his wife Renee saw an early crop of this, and suggested a better cut, for which I am most grateful for. It really works for me, and I was happy to hear Rob say that it 'really sings'.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
This weekend in Mountain View, they held their annual Art & Wine festival. You know the drill: Those places in California where you can buy a toe ring, get a henna tattoo, munch on some kettle corn and/or garlic fries, and generally gawk at humanity as you sip wine you bought by trading in carnival tickets.
I went to the festival just before noon or so with B, and we wandered all the booths. She loved the weather and sipped white wine -- while I bitched & moaned about the bad direct light over sangria, and generally sweltered. Took a few frames, nothing was happening. Lots of people meandering, no action.
Came back closer to the evening, and things had come alive. Wasn't sure if it was because it had cooled off, or because people had had their requisite 3-4 glasses of wine, but stuff was really moving.
Saw this guy in a toy booth, showing off his puppet rig to a kid. Love the crossed motif, and the contrast didn't hurt either.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Went a bbq at my friend Julien's in the city today. A bunch of us opted to ride up on Caltrain (they need our support!), and I snapped this shot while my friends and I were roaming up and down the train trying to get a seat.
Looking at the Caltrain group on Flickr, I don't see very many people taking my kind of pictures. Maybe worthwhile to compile all my pictures from, on, or towards Caltrain in a collection some day. Suggested title: "Caltrain Connections"?
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Well, Vegas was unexpectedly eventful: food poisoning, anaphylactic shock, a pulled muscle, monster head cold, and forgetting the power supply to my apnea machine -- it's kind of a wonder we made it out of the hotel room at all.
I spent an hour or two on Fremont Street around midnight Sunday, walking around downtown Vegas and taking in the sights. I love that place -- lots of motion, lots of people doing their stuff-white-people-like jamming out to cover bands on the street, and even a wedding or two. This shot is all about the advice to "get closer". Feels like I put myself on the scene and in the middle of the flow, and I'm happy with how it worked out.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Shot this one on my last trip to Vegas. Was leaving a party for my conference, and then noticed this couple over by a very dark bar on the way out. No way I could shoot them directly without being noticed, so I set the ISO to 6400, said a little prayer, and shot this from the hip. Very challenging environment -- one of those times I found myself greedily wishing for a d3s and that extra stop of low light performance.
Apropos of Vegas, I'm headed back there this weekend. Was going to Sonoma, but it turns out that according to Yelp, I could either pay $500/night for a room, or sleep with bedbugs. My girlfriend pointed out that last minute plane tickets to Vegas were cheap, so off we go. Next stop: The Wynn, and smoky casinos full of people who desperately need to be photographed. ;)
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
This one is from my trip to Austin earlier this summer. Way more processing than is usual for my taste, but somehow the bronze-y/dream-like look sort of worked for me here. Still not sure if I'm satisfied with this crop, but I love the motion.
If it helps to set the stage, I was sobering up at a Starbucks at the time, and shot this through a window. ;)