Tuesday, January 17, 2012

OCA Art of Photography - Part 2 - Exercise

Please don't laugh, but I'm trying to be a better photographer. To that end, I'm [slowly] taking a course called the Art of Photography.  Here's an exercise on multiple points, the purpose of which is to make a still-life arrangement with specific points/objects of interest, let it show a pattern without being obvious.  I am to take multiple photos, adding additional objects/points as I go.

I tried a few different setups over the course of the afternoon, but wasn't feeling it.  Then I thought about my tax return, which prompted me to use a glove as a prop, placing coins in the hand.  This represents our Benevolent Gov't.  :-D

Okay, I did this on a chair in my living room as shown here:

The setup was as follows for all 12 photos:
  • Canon 7D - set to full manual
  • Canon 17-55 f2.8 lens, manual focus
  • focal length 55mm, ISO 640, f3.5, 1/60, WB to "flash"
  • I used two Yongnuo 560 flashes at 1/32 power, triggered by Cactus V5 remote, with Oikos yogurt containers on them to diffuse the light [idea stolen from Improve Photography], one bounced off the ceiling, the other pointed at the subject as key light [I used two because test shots looked weird with just the key light]
  • Ambient light was from a large window behind me, but was so dim that the flashes completely overwhelmed it

Disclaimer: I have a love affair with shallow depth of field.

Here we go:

I used the same Lightroom settings on all 6 shots: cropping the top 20% of each image to get the "disembodied hand" thing going a bit more, jack the Clarity to 100%, increase orange saturation to make the  dull gold pop a bit more against the black leather.  I like this.  It looks odd.  However, the glove is a bit overwhelming.  I ran through the whole thing again, but this time without the glove, and with a slightly different configuration:

I'm not as pleased with this one, so it gets second billing.  Color/tone settings are the same as for the glove shots, but the cropping is about 20% off the top and 15% off the left side.  The shape it makes [as shot from above] is a star:

Or maybe it's a body.  Personification of monetization?

What I learned from this exercise is that off-camera flash is good.  Also, I really like regular shapes - every time I put the coins down, I made a regular polygon or parallel lines or a stack/layer of some kind.  It took effort to make a non-shape.  In retrospect, I'm surprised I didn't make a bike or something...


Scott said...

Nice work! A blog I like to read with respect to lighting is David Hobby @ http://strobist.blogspot.com/?m=1. If you are looking for some local inspiration check out my brothers work as well. He plays a lot with different studio type lighting @ http://ambientdark.blogspot.com/

David Mills said...

Hey man! I'm a daily Strobist reader - his stuff is very inspiring. I'll definitely check ambientdark...