Words belong on a word blog. Photos belong on a photo blog. Words therefore go here. www.bonnerphotographic.com

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Durable Plastic Backgrounds

As many of you know I have become a big believer in the Strobist mindset of using small strobes for big results. My budget simply does not allow for me to have full sized studio lights, but what I do have is a collection of Nikon flashes that would love to be used. What I needed to shoot this little ball of energy is a sturdy background that would stand up to being puppy abused. Hardware store to the rescue.

Subject 1 is a 6 month old, fearless puppy. I had purchased a sheet of flexible plastic from the hardware store a while back in the hopes of using it as a background. This is sheeting that normally would be used for, ummm, I have no idea since I only seem to hurt myself with power tools. It is most often used to as a wall covering in bathrooms. But it is ideal when you need a sturdy background for small subjects. I had originally purchased it as a background for taking eBay product shots. If for only the reason that it felt more durable than using paper.

At any rate, this material makes a great background for animals because it is heavy enough that they won't destroy it when they dig on it and it would be easy clean up for accident. By making a bit of a fold in the background a slight shadow forms giving the background a bit of separation.

By putting the background down and letting the dog sniff, paw and otherwise abuse my background I was able to get it to trust this foreign surface. You have to earn the trust of any animal before you can photograph it. In order to earn its trust you have to know how the animal thinks and reacts to different stimuli. I have found that just letting the animal have time to walk around is the most important aspect of getting a good picture. Second on the list is being at the animals eye level.

To get down to an 11lb dog's eye level, it means you are going to be sitting, if not lying on the floor. While not every image has to be from this angle, it is a good starting point to get the animal the eyes of the animal as the focus.

The lighting was very simple. It was all bounced off the white ceiling. I have two Nikon flashes set to manual and triggered by eBay wireless cactus triggers. The SB-80DX is camera left and slightly behind the subject at 1/2 power. The SB-600 has a Gary Fong diffuser and is camera right in line with the subject.

Because of the small size of the background there is not a lot of room for the animal to walk around and still be in the frame. I did have to recreate the front of the image in photoshop and take out the front edge.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Total Internet Crash

So here is a humorous look at why one should not rely on web applications for storing all one's data. I have a shady, dicey and completely manual form of backing up all my images I have amassed over the years. It's call me remembering to upload images to a number of online sources as well as onto my external hard drives. I need to do better.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hazards of Photography

Yesterday, walking home from work I came up with my daily 1/365 contribution towards my photo goal. I wanted to stand in the middle of the street and capture a feeling of depth, while at the same time shooting capturing the texture of road. The same idea has struck me to accomplish while on the motorcycle, but I think this will take more planning. So for now, I decide just walking into the middle of the street would be sufficient. What I was not anticipating was being yelled at by a bunch of drunk or merely extra loud and vocal individuals who were 'requesting' I come take their picture. Boy was I sure motivated. Perhaps they haven't seen this blog and realized that 96.78% of my photos are not of people. So what I learned from this, is if I expect to take photos while crouching down in the middle of a major, but not busy street taking pictures I should just accept that someone, might expect a spontaneous photo shoot.

Concerning the photo. There is nothing terribly special about the image, though I don't think I would call it bad. I haven't figured out what to do with the concrete in the corners. If its distracting it needs to be cropped out. If it adds something I suppose I will leave it. This photo did remind me that I really enjoy my straight 50mm lens. Sharp, fast, cheap, light, ummmmmm, good.

Why the photo works: It has a very strong leading line that will draw the viewers eye in and carry it through the image. What could have made this a stronger image is having somewhere for the eye to go and fix. If I was going to shoot the image again I would need a subject to stand in the right land. Keeping this subject out of focus with a small f-stop would be ideal as my intent is to focus on the surface of the road. Though the more I think about it, the more I like the image the way it is. It accomplishes both the goals I had: 1) to use the center line to provide a strong leading line and 2) To use contract to heighten the texture of the road.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July 18, 2007

The set-up

So here's a little insight as to the progress of my photography. I have started reading and following the great advice of the Strobist Blog. The key to that site is to use small strobes, off camera for better results that you could get with on camera flash. I bought a set of cheap Cactus wireless triggers and attached them to my SB-80DX, at 1/8th power with a Gary Fong difuser, and my Promaster strobe set at 1/16 and diffused by a folded piece of paper. For the background I used a single sheet of plain paper. Nothing too fancy here.

The shot is not exceptionally clever, other than it is too hot outside for Penguins today, but Deeds aside, this is what I consider a Quantum leap towards me figuring out what to do with strobes. Natural light has always been my friend. I can see it. I know how to manipulate it. I like it. Its when I get into making my own light that I get myself in trouble. All in all Im pretty impressed with myself and my progress. As with everything, practice makes perfect. If nothing else you can see my half-messy desk and a red wire of why I need to get the laptop wireless.

Enjoy life. Live grateful.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Phylis IS extra nice" - Thank you Phylis.

Phylis - I couldn't say it any better than your son. Thanks for the first donation towards the new lens. With that donation you are entitled not only to me thinking positive thoughts about you, but also if you would like a print of anything off the site just let me know which one and how big and it shall be yours.

Thanks again. I really appreciate it. Looking forward to meeting you again in CR. Maybe Ryan will make a shirt again.

Ryan, listen to and be more like your mother. Oh, and yeah, eat your fruit. We all know what happens if you don't.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Memory Card Deals - Expire 5/25/2007

As many of your know I am the king of finding deals. I will admit this is not a crazy deal, but it is a decent deal.

Adorama has the following memory cards on sale. I bought my first 2GB card for $99 just over two years ago. Its amazing how prices drop. You do have to play the rebate game. Search for them by SKU.

2 GB, 50x Elite Pro Compact Flash $19.95 (after rebate) SKU: KGCF2GE.
2 GB, 133x Elite Pro Compact Flash $21.95 (after rebate) SKU: KGCF2GU
4 GB, 45x Elite Pro Compact Flash $24.95 (after rebate) SKU: KGCF4GE
4 GB, 133x Elite Pro Compact Flash $29.95 (after rebate) SKU: KGCF4GU
8 GB, 45x Elite Pro Compact Flash $54.95 (after rebate) SKU: KGCF8GE
8 GB, 133x Elite Pro Compact Flash $64.95 (after rebate) SKU: KGCF8GBU

1 GB, 50x Elite Pro Secure Digital $9.50 (after rebate) SKU: KGSD1GE
2 GB, 50x Elite Pro Secure Digital $12.95 (after rebate) SKU: KGSD2GE

Prices are good until 05/25/2007.

I think I need another 4GB card. That would bring me up to 10GB. That should hold me over for a week in Ireland right?

So why did I post mostly CF cards? Because that's what I use. If you need SD or xD (blah!) by all means head over to Adorama and search away.

When you are buying memory cards there are two considerations: 1) Speed of the card; 2) Size.
The latter first.

Size. Bigger is better right? Right. Wrong. Whatever. What is nice about having an 8GB card is that I can shoot about 1000 images on my D70s. That's over 1000 shots without opening the camera up. That can be a very handy feature if say, I was underwater. I could shoot a couple days before I would have to open the underwater housing. That would be very sexy. The downside of course is that if something happens to that card, lost, stolen, flood, fire, corruption, etc. I have just lost over 1000 NEF files. That would be something to cry about. I have a bunch of 2GB cards and 1 4GB card. My 4GB card is in the camera all the time since I bought it. I get something like 712 NEF exposures. Last weekend at the branding I shot 524 exposures. Nebraska is a dusty state anyway, but add a bunch of calves that really don't want to mark up their pretty skin, and you have a really dusty mess. I am glad that I didn't have to open the back ever. So for me, Im thinking another 4GB would serve nicely. That is my comfort zone - double that and I get nervous. I have never had a card corrupt on me - so maybe I am just being paranoid. Having eight 512MB cards to equal to equal a 4GB card is just silly though. You will have a pile of cards. It would be fun to try and keep those organized. Hence, my advice is to never buy a card under 1GB, and anymore, don't buy anything smaller than 2GB. When you are using SD memory, make sure you camera can handle these larger cards.

Speed. So cards come in a variety of speeds. Speed being how fast they can read or write to the card. This effects how many pictures you can take before you get ahead of your camera writing the data on the card. This somewhat depends on your camera and how big the buffer is. Bigger buffer more images can be held in the camera's short term memory before the camera locks you out of taking another picture. When I am shooting NEF files I can get 4 -5 before my camera starts yelling at me to knock it off reminding me that I shoot things that don't move. The write speed becomes important when you have a subject that is moving and you want to capture many images to ensure you have the precious moment when everything just comes together. As I said, my typical subject isn't going anywhere that I need to do this. If I am shooting a flower, its means of escape are pretty nil, so I can take my time between exposures. Go to a football game and try to capture a receiver catching the ball and you will appreciate the added speed of your card. I can count the number of times I have maxed out the buffer of my camera on one hand - morale of the story: unless you are shooting a lot of fast action I would stick with the slower cards. Save your money. Anymore, since cards are getting so cheap if a card isn't working out for you you can always get a faster card and keep your slower one as a backup.


A Change of Philsophy

Yesterday I posted a message about me not liking a lens I have. While nothing has changed in this regard I have changed my mind (my right) about asking for support of my work. So I have changed my message and put it below. I think this is more consistent with my goals and mindset for my work. - Bb

About purchasing prints: I have made this blog as an easy way for you to enjoy my images. I hope you come back to it often and browse what I have been able to capture so far in my 365 Project.

If you like what you have been seeing on this site and would like to purchase a print I would encourage you to do so. For two reasons, One it helps me financially keep doing what I am doing, and 2) I believe my work is meant to be enjoyed and made part of your lives. To buy a print and hang it on your wall is to invite me into your life. I have come to the realization that people either enjoy my work, they appreciate my work or they are indifferent. Those who don't like my work are critics and I don't worry about them too much. If you enjoy looking at it online I am pleased I could bring you a bit of art to your life. If you keep coming back to an image you enjoy I would encourage you to get a print.

Because photographs in and of them selves are meant to be an easy way to reproduce an exposure, I am going to follow the lead of Brooks Jensen and offer my images at prices reachable by everyone. I don't have a fancy cart system, yet, so for now if there is an image you like just send me an email and tell me what you like. I am working on getting my older work up on the web- I have a lot of images from over the years, but I am in the process of selecting only the best to be displayed in my portfolio.


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A Sub-Title Change

Today I made a decision, an evolution of sorts, concerning this project. I started this project on January 1, 2007 as a photographic challenge. I faultered in the beginning, but since January 23, 2007 I have not missed a single day's image. The project was a way for me to get back a part of myself that I had lost for several years. In doing so I have come to the realization that this is more than proving that I can take an image a day, that I have no doubt I can do, but what I have decided is that this project is more about capturing my milieu. I shall focus on true environmental photography. I use the word environmental in its truest sense - to mean the world in which I live.

Mr. Webster seems to think there are two meanings to the word Environment:
1 : the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival
2 : the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community

I would have to agree with both. I would guess 90% of the images within this project up to this point are shot within 8 blocks of my front door. There are all sorts of interesting life tid-bits around us. I'm grateful that I can see them.