Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Make Sure It's Right In The Camera

About ninety percent of the entries on this blog have been about how to do things in Photoshop. You might think that the photography is a minor part of what goes on in the gallery. Actually, getting things right in the camera and then playing is about one hundred percent of what we try to do. To take a poor shot and fight with it to make it into an acceptable image is way too much like work for work's sake. Today's image is a case of getting it right and then finishing it using Adobe ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop itself. The unique angle of the shot appears to be a natural light shot. Just point the camera and snap the shutter. A couple of things were going on when the shutter was clicked. An SB 600 Nikon Speedlite was fired through a shoot through umbrella, camera left, held high on a stick. If you look, you'll see the modeling on the face of the man at the desk. There's detail throughout the image, even under the desk. All this with an SB 600. Nikon's lowliest flash capable of general use with Nikon's CLS (Creative Lighting System). (The lights that go with Nikon's R1C1 close up rig are specialized and not counted in this discussion. I have the R1 set up and am familiar with its use.) If you'd like to know more about "why" SB600s and "how" the extension stick was made, hit the "read more".

You may have read about a few different extension sticks to use with flashes. This is just another take on the genre of DYI poles. The ones I've looked at have tended to be fairly heavy once they're assembled. One popular stick uses a paint roller extension handle that can be found at your local home improvement center. They can expand to as much as ten feet. Problem is the weight. You have to remember that someone will be carrying the rig around for as much as several hours. The shoot that today's image comes from was four hours of running around a corporate campus. Weight matters in that case. A typical wedding can be anywhere from four to eight hours. The extension arm used was made from the handle of a "Swiffer" duster. It's very light, extends to about six feet, and has a hollow screw tip. A double spigot stud with a 3/8" screw thread was screwed into the hollow tip. It took very little modification and was rock solid once it was in place. A normal flash support knuckle with a shoe mount umbrella adaptor was slipped over the stud.

The "why" of using a Nikon SB600 rather than an SB800 or SB900 is based on two factors. One is economics. I can buy two plus SB600s for every SB800/900. The other point is what happens when the flash fires. Using Nikon's CLS you would very rarely fire a flash of any stripe at 100%. If an SB900 is going to fire at 1/16th or 1/8th power to get the proper light on a subject, the SB600 is probably going to fire at 1/4 or 1/2 power to produce the light. I understand that I can't throw a beam from an SB600 50' from outside in a parking lot through a window, but I really don't find that I do that very often (in fact I've never done it). So, if I can get the same amount of light (yes, I know, greater battery usage and longer recycle times) using a flash that cost less than half the alternative, the ROI (Return on Investment) becomes very clear. If I "need" the power of an SB900, I'll buy one, but the job I'll be doing will pay for that flash.