Saturday, July 4, 2020

Night And Day.

We needed to have some pictures showing night scenes but logistics and model availability meant we could only shoot in the daytime. So what do I do?
This first image was shot by the beach, in the Caribbean, at noon on a very sunny day.

To achieve this look I changed the exposure setting on my camera away from what might be considered the complimentary setting for shooting in bright day light. I was going to have to do some retouching but wanted a good base image to work with.

Light during nighttime often displays a pronounced amount of blue so capturing an image with lots of blue already in so I decided it would be a good place for me to begin. So I set my camera light meter to read the light as if it was coming from a tungsten source. This would push the overall ambience a blue tone. However, I wanted to keep the skin tones warm and not blue. To make this happen, I shot with a speedlite and set the lighting to expose the foreground only. I also put an orange filter on the front of the light which would correct the foreground lighting back to something more natural to proper skin tones and colour ranges in the foreground of the composition.

You can see how the image looks straight out of the camera before any retouching. When I did get to the retouching, I included things such as adding diffused light to an around the candle and generally enhancing shadows and the highlights. Below is another example from the shoot using the same technique.





Sunday, June 28, 2020

There must be a way out of all of this

2020 just keeps on doling out more twists to each story. A lot of people now wonder if there is anyway out of the wormhole we all seem to be existing in.

This is a straight forward shot of the vehicle on one of the local dirt roads with marshland on the right side of the scene.

I stood on a ladder and took a selfie using the self timer function and cut out the image. Next I illustrated the ladder digitally and placed it into the main image. Once I was happy with the ladder position, I positioned the selfie cut-out onto the ladder and sized it down to a scale that I felt worked for the composition.

Once I was happy, I also added shadows and highlights to the ladder to help with the illusion. I did further work blending the ladder where it appears to enter the clouds. With all of this in place, I went ahead and digitally created the 'This Way Out' sign and blended it into the composition.

Finally I did some overall toning to the image.

Main Image
  • Location: Sittee, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/7.1
  • Focal length 17mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/500
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash: No flash used

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Everything has consequences

Individual ideas, theories, advice, solutions, and more are all heavily amplified with easy access to social media. Whether it's the perceived anonymity, or the buffer of non face-to-face confrontation, many people are able to speak as experts dismissing any arguments that counter their own viewpoints.

So who's wrong? Who's right? Who knows. But whatever the approach or proffered solution, there will be consequences.

The main image here is a self portrait as I balance on a stool.

I added some ants taken from an older photo and then drew the strings that would suspend me once the stool had been taken out of the picture.

After finding someone to model for me, I took a quick shot of a hand holding a pair of scissors. The hand and scissors are cut out and the retouched into the main image.

Adding shadows and toning complete the image.

Main Image
  • Location: Stann Creek, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/8
  • Focal length 27mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/160
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash: On-camera flash for catchlights on sunglasses

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Worthy?

...things to do while practising isolation.
During our state of emergency we are not allowed to make journeys unless they are deemed essential. With no active cases of the virus for 26 days now, some of the restrictions have been eased slightly. One of the changes mean that we can now travel to the nearest town for paying bills and shopping for items we can't find in the village. I've not been able to ride for over a month. Trips to the village are too short a distance to be kind to the battery, but now that we can go into the nearest town to pay bills, it is a great excuse to give the bike a run :)

If you are acquainted with the tales of King Arthur, the image will be immediately clear to you. It's made of two separate shots combined together.
The main shot is the motorcycle standing next to a puddle. it's a very shallow puddle, but with the very low camera angle it starts to look like a much larger body of water. And then the rising arm also adds a sense of depth to the water. The other thing that is clear to see here is that I shoot mostly in RAW format, so an unprocessed image straight out of the camera often looks very flat and not very colourful.
View of the same scene from a different angle.
Even though I shoot RAW, I still adjust my settings as if I will only have a JPEG to output. If I process the images using Nikon software, the settings are automatically transferred to my processed images. But since I processed this image in Photoshop® I had to manually adjust the settings until I was happy with how the scene displayed.

The second image is a shot of my arm holding the ignition key. I shot this at home and used lighting to match the outdoor lighting at the scene of the main image. After getting the shot, I cut it out and sized it so that I could position it in the space I had left for it in the main shot.

For the reflection I flipped the image vertically and then manipulated it on my computer to blend in with the water.

To help with the blending I've added a fading blur rising from the base of the arm to make it more consistent to the slight blurring of the water due to the depth of field that you see.

Main Image

  • Location: Stann Creek, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/6.3
  • Focal length 17mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/400
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash not fired



Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Taste Bomb

...things to do while practising isolation.
This was fairly simple to put together and is really just one shot with lighting. The pictures were taken in a darkened room and used 2 speedlites and a small red LED light.

One light is placed directly behind my head and set to half power pointing into the back of my head. The second speedlite is directly in front of me about one and a half meters away and set to half power. This second light also has a modifier attached so that it projects a spot light shaped beam which I angled slightly downward at the mango in my hand. Then just for a little interest and to focus attention, I held a small red LED light under my chin.

The ring of the grenade is the ring from a keyring and then I simply digitally illustrated the rest of the grenade detonator.

Here's the original photo below.

Main Image

  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/6.3
  • Focal length 17mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/125
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash fired: 2 speedlites and 1 LED light

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Note to self.

... things to do while practising isolation.

Under the current State of Emergency here in Belize, we are mandated to wear a mask or other covering over our mouths and noses whenever we are out in public. So whenever we are getting ready to go out for an essential reason, we need to remember our masks.

I began with a straight forward selfie using the light from a window and the on-camera flash.

Afterwards I took another selfie which would replace the original reflection in the mirror.

Since this would be seen as a reflection, I posed so that once the image was flipped everything would be facing in the right direction to complete the illusion. Once I had a shot i was happy with, it was a simple matter of making it into a cutout and then retouching it into the main image.

The final thing to do was to get a shot of a surgical looking mask and retouch that into the composition in a position I was happy with.

Main Image

  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/5.6
  • Focal length 17mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 0.8
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • On-camera Flash fired 1/4 power

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Reality Check And Choices.

...things to do while practising isolation.
Hoax or Real,
Pandemic or Conspiracy,
New Corona Virus or Flu,
Vaccine or Herd Immunity,
Mask or No Mask,
Stay At Home or Business As Usual,
Essential or Non Essential,
Life or Death.
The Red Pill or The Blue Pill...

Some of my friends from time to time have described situations as being "clear as mud." With the plethora of advice, voices, theories, and increasing angst, our 2020 vision seems to have become as clear as mud - which in turn makes good choices just a tiny bit harder at times.
The main image for this piece is an afternoon shot taken on our beach. To get the shadow contrast I wanted I spot metered the the areas of sand that were catching the sunlight. 

Next I cut a pair of flaps in the sky by manipulating the image on my computer and then painting in shadow and light to enhance the effect.

Back in the house I took a selfie and posed in a position that I thought would match the 'tear' I had created in the sky. The selfie is a simple shot using the on-camera flash to get some highlights. Once the selfie had been cut out from the background, I felt it worked better in the space when flipped horizontally.

To blend the image into the main scene, more shadows have been painted in, reflections painted in the water, and then the yellow pills have been repainted to be blue and red respectively.

Later on I added the flying pelicans from my library of shots that I have taken here in Belize.

To finish off I added one more selfie in a yellow shirt to complete the scene.


Main Image
  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/4
  • Focal length 17mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/1600
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • No Flash fired 


Saturday, May 2, 2020

Everybody wears a mask.

...things to do while practising isolation.
The Covid-19 driven State of Emergency continues here in Belize. It has now been mandated that any essential movement outside of our properties can only be done while wearing a face mask.

First I took a clear shot of the wall furniture I would use for the main background. My initial work was to place additional wooden panels onto the fascia of the unit to create a large enough area to hang all the 'masks'.

This was done digitally by sampling wooden areas from other parts of the unit.

The camera has been focussed and locked in place on a tripod and light readings, focus, and exposure have been locked in place with 2 speedlites included in the set up. There is one speedlight 40º right of camera and one speedlite 45º left of camera.

The next shot I needed was a selfie which I exposed with a remote shutter release. After taking a hand-full of shots I chose one that would work for the final image I had in mind.

Once the two images had been merged together and retouched, it was time to add the choice of 'masks' to the image.

Using the remote release, I sat in front of the camera and made differing faces, of which seven images were chosen to use for the final image.

Each 'mask' was made by cutting out the face and eyes from each headshot. Hooks were added to the wooden panels in the main image and each 'mask' was placed in position with a pair of hooks retouched into position.

There is some retouching and illustration work done to my face in the main picture and another face has been retouched being held in my hand. Shadows and final retouching were done and the image completed.




Main Image
  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/7.1
  • Focal length 20mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/125
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash fired - 2 speedlites.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Endangered Species

...things to do while practising isolation.
There is a local online news outlet named Breaking Belize News that I styled this image after as a spoof posting. The State Of Emergency and it's limitations to free movement means that in spite of being in what looks like paradise, we are not at liberty to go and enjoy it. Instead we are mandated to stay at home, and sometimes I can't help wondering if this is what it's like for some zoo animals.

We are allowed to be out for exercise on foot in the mornings and we use this time to walk and run our dogs. As we arrived back at our home, I asked my wife to quickly pose for the image that had finally come together in my mind.

Working digitally, I turned my wife's shirt into a robe with a sort of belt and then re-illustrated her head to an alien shape with blue tones. I also recoloured her hand. Next I drew a metal sign attached to the gate with the words 'Endangered Species'.

Finally I drew an interactive display panel to place into the composition. A little glow is added to the buttons and then I added a support bar seemingly attaching the panel to the gate.

When shooting the base image, a speedlite was fired to give the foreground contrast and definition.



Main Image
  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/5.6
  • Focal length 17mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/60
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash fired - 1 speedlite.







Saturday, April 25, 2020

Out of this world — Earth Day 2020

This image was created for a motorcycle adventure tour business in Belize. It was used as marketing and awareness imagery on Earth Day 2020. 

This was also put together during a national quarantine period so working with models was not an option. Using my bike and myself as a model, I was able to work around the situation.
Without a telescope, and unable to travel into space to shoot planetary photos for myself, I made some royalty free image purchases from Shutterstock's online image library. Halos were added and a Belize flag placed onto the image of planet Earth.

For the two selfies I took, the camera was set up and locked down on a tripod. I also placed one speedlite at 45º left of the scene, and one speedlite at 25º to the right of the scene. I shot in the shade so that I could achieve good contrast with the lighting for punchy images. Exposures were fired with a remote trigger.

I changed jackets between the two shots to help create the illusion of separate riders in the final image. Both bike and rider shots were carefully cut out. the helmet colour on one shot is changed to red and the pants of the other shot have been changed to a red colour. To finish off there is some shadow and tone adjustments to both cut outs after they have been positioned into the composition.
Finally a holographic sign is included to tie the concept all together.

Rider Images
  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/7.1
  • Focal length 29mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/25
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash fired - 2 speedlites.










Friday, April 24, 2020

Drinking to your health.

...things to do while practising isolation.
Comments about possible explorations for cures for the Covid19 virus, made by the leader of a large country, got this image taking shape in my head as I went to bed. When I woke up in the morning I knew exactly what I was going to do to bring the image in my mind into fruition.

I opened the refrigerator to get some soda cans together to set up the shot. However, as we are currently in a state of emergency, I found we had already finished off all our cans of soda drinks except for one can of San Pellegrino. Not to worry — just need to do a little extra work.

Locking the camera down on a tripod allowed me to take eight exposures of the same can, while changing it's position in each exposure to simulate multiple cans positioned next to each other.

Once I had all eight shots, I transferred the files to my computer and merged the shots together to get the final cluster of cans that I wanted.

Next I made some text changes and slight modifications to a Dettol and Lysol label. Now it was just a process of warping my modified labels to the images of the cans in my composition. To finish off the image I added some shading and highlights to the new labels.

Main Image
  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/5.6
  • Focal length 38mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/4
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • No additional lighting used.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Joy, Pain, & Distressed

...things to do while practising isolation.

I haven't done any tabletop photography for a while. But while I was cleaning one of my model cars last night I thought, "why not do a quick set-up and shot with it?".

So I took over the dining table and detached my model F40 Ferrari from it's display stand.

 After deciding on the angle I wanted to use, I locked the camera in place on a tripod. Next I set up the lighting to get the mood I wanted for the final image. I knew I wanted the scene to be taking place at night in low lighting conditions, so I set the exposure on my camera to view the ambient light in the scene as almost completely black. Once the settings for this was achieved, I was now at liberty to completely control how the light would work for me using artificial lighting.

I worked with 2 speedlites set to low power and also used a small red LED light which I placed inside the model car. To prevent overspill of the light from the speedlites, I used spotlight modifiers to create a more direct and controllable beam of light.

The top of the raised engine compartment also has a glass panel which allowed me to direct some of the light through it to give illumination to the engine. 

The despondent figure sitting on the back of the car is myself. using the same camera settings, but repositioning the lights enabled me to keep the shot looking the same as the rest of the scene so that when I comped it into the final image, it looked as if it was part of the scene all along.

Finally, I 'distressed' the image by using some texture images I have, blending the texture into the image until I was happy with what I was seeing.
Main Image
  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/3.5
  • Focal length 50mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/80
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash fired (3 light set-up)











Sunday, April 19, 2020

Blowing In The Wind

...things to do while practising isolation.
First I took a selfie outdoors. The sunlight was quite strong and harsh so since I had chosen to use just one light, I aimed it at the shadow area under the tree to the right. I did this to lighten up the shadow a little so that I wouldn't end up with a large solid black area that might detract from the focus of the composition. I didn't want the area too light either otherwise the leaves wouldn't show up against it.
The cross size bears no relation to the subject :)
You can see from the original selfie, I had also raked up most of the leaves from the grass so that I could use them to complete the final image.

I had collected all the leaves I raked up into a garden basket. It was fairly windy and the direction of the wind would dictate the direction the leaves would be travelling in the final image.

Using the self timer on the camera, I gathered up an armful of leaves and then tossed them across the area where I wanted to get shots of the leaves being blown in the wind.
I did this three or four times to make sure I had a good spread of leaves for the final look. Then it was just a straightforward job of cutting and comping until I got the end result for this piece.


Main Image:
  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/5
  • Focal length 50mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/800
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash fired (1 light set-up)

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Dawg Fight

... things to do while practising isolation.

Because of the quarantine restrictions I have no-one to spar with during my boxing sessions. During a normal session, sometimes the dogs come and play along with us while we are training. Especially Jazz who likes to join in when we are trading punches sometimes. So I had this idea for an image.


As most of these are, it's another selfie. I got Jazz to stand on his hind legs and then helped him to position his paws the way I wanted them.

Once I had that shot, I was able to look at it so that I could position myself to compliment the position and pose that Jazz was in. The exposures were all made with a remote trigger so that I didn't need to move out of the correct position once I had found it.

It was a little tricky operating the trigger with boxing gloves but I managed to find a way of holding and operating it that worked out.


In the frame that I finally chose, Pepper was fortunately also in the right position for what I ha in mind. To finish off, I added some more shadowing and took a picture of a pair of children's boxing gloves which I then comped onto Jazz' paws.


























Main Image:
  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/4.5
  • Focal length 17mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/320
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash fired (1 light set-up)

Cake Raid

... things to do while practising isolation

My wife had just baked some banana bread and it was cooling in the kitchen as the late evening sunlight streamed through the window. The light reminded me of an Indiana Jones type of scene.

The main background shot which, I will likely be also making available as a stock image through some of the online collections I subscribe to, is shot using a tripod at just a little above eye level. Focus and exposure has also been set and locked down. To get the strong contrasting light, I spot metered the light to get the exposure I wanted.

This is another selfie and to achieve the body position I needed, I hung from a ladder set up in the living room. There is a single speedlight positioned to the right of the camera and the exposure was made using the self timer on the camera.

I made a cut-out of myself and comped it into the main image, adjusting the tone and shading as needed, then I painted in the reflections and shadow below me and on the side of the plastic surface to the right of me.

And finally I added the type.

Main Image:
  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/7.1
  • Focal length 19mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/8
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash fired (1 light set-up)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A little Spring-cleaning























This selfie is comprised of 3 shots. The camera is set up on a tripod with the focus, exposure and flash information all locked down.

The base image was taken with a sheet in my hands to make my pose more realistic to the finished position I had in mind. In the 3rd image I simply tossed a bucket of leaves into the breeze. The images are all exposed with the camera's timer, and one speedlight is used for fill, positioned to the left of camera. All 3 images were then combined digitally in Photoshop.

I illustrated the surface underneath the lawn on my computer and added texture and shading.

  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/7.1
  • Focal length 20mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/250
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash fired (1 light set-up)

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Essential work for the Easter Bunny

This Easter shoot had been planned before the country went into Corona Lockdown. Originally there was to be a model available for this shoot. But now we're on lockdown so unable to mix with people outside of our immediate households except for essential needs or services.
The client still wanted the shoot done so that they had marketing pieces for the Easter weekend. This meant that I ended up shooting this as a selfie while dressed in a rabbit suit and used one of my own bikes. It's shot on my property and I set up the lighting and camera so that I could use remote triggers to get the shots.

To get the idea across for the main image (above) I produced a quick cartoon visual for approval.




While shooting, the local police drove by on a golf cart. Seeing the bike and lighting equipment they slowed down. They looked in my direction and could only see someone in a rabbit suit. I waved to them and one of them waved back. The other officer quickly drove the golf cart away. 

So who knows. Maybe they now believe there is an Eater Bunny for real, or, just that there's some crazy person living at my house ;-)

  • Location: Sittee Point, Belize.
  • Camera: Nikon DSLR, crop frame.
  • F number: f/5
  • Focal length 19mm APS lens
  • Exposure: 1/640
  • ISO: 100
  • Manual
  • Flash fired (2 light set-up)