I recently bought a couple of new lights and they were pretty cheap too – which is actually unheard of in the photography world.  So I thought I’d check them out and see how they perform.  So I set up the lights out on the deck and convinced Abi to let me shoot her – and being the good sport she is we took some pics.

I should state that it was REALLY cold outside so we didn’t do this for long, I think we were only out there for around 20 minutes.

Anyway, one of the lights was behind Abi and I put a small grid on it to focus the light at her hair, this hair light provided some separation for her hair, as the trees behind were pretty dark.  The other light was in front of her and that had a small soft box on it also with a grid.  Both lights were on almost no power and just added that little kick of light to brighten Abi’s face and hair.

We took quite a few shots, some of them with Abi pulling the most bizarre funny faces (none of those are posted – if I did that she’d never let me take her picture again), the ones here are “sensible” except perhaps the last one which I had to post as I think she looks super cute.

At one point the light behind Abi fell down the stairs (not sure how that happened – but it did), the light hit the floor and came off the stand.  Amazingly, the light was fine, only a small $8 cold shoe broke – so I was super lucky there.

I think the images came out really well and am really pleased with the lights (at $70 each – which is 3 times less than I usually spend – don’t tell Lisa – I’ll be getting some more.)

This morning I decided to get up nice and early (5:30) and drive over to west Seattle to capture a Seattle cityscape shot as the sun was coming up.

Now people joke all the time about Seattle weather, claiming it’s always raining and cold but that’s just not true.  In fact we get less rainfall in Seattle than New York and we usually get four great summer months of 80 plus degrees.  The difference with rain is that we get drizzle while New York get’s a downpour.  The rain here is usually so light that it’s rare to see someone from Seattle with an umbrella.

Having said that of course, when I woke up this morning it was chucking it down!  The rain was pretty heavy and for one fleeting moment I considered turning over and going back to sleep.  What changed my mind was that the weather changes really quickly and just because it was raining in Redmond didn’t mean it was in Seattle too, so I got up anyway.

There were no cars on the road and I got into Seattle in 20 minutes, it took another 20 to cross the West Seattle Bridge and pretty soon I was in Alki West Seattle.  By the time I parked up it was a little after 6am and still raining, so I sat in the car for another 20 minutes wondering why I wasn’t still in bed.

Eventually it started to ease up leaving me with our usually drizzle, so I grabbed my gear and headed over to one of the fishermen’s piers.  There were a few people there already all with rods over the side but I was the only idiot there with a camera.

What was good was that while I had drizzle over me, Seattle looked pretty clear.  Even better there was some great cloud cover over the city.

So I found a good spot and set up the tripod and stated shooting.  After about an hour the sun was starting to come up and the cloud and rain had reached the city.  The light turned pretty flat with no sunrise colors, just grey everywhere.  So it was time to go.

I thought I’d hang out in Alki for a while, grab some breakfast and see if things improved, but after a good hour and a half it was still horrid.  The rain was now heavier over Alki and the city and there was nothing in the sky except grey cloud.  So after an excellent breakfast at Alki’s cafe (I can definitely recommend the Crab Egg Benedict), I headed home.

In all I took around 100 pictures and only ended up with a few I liked.

My favorite was a small panorama of the city (two shots wide) with this great cloud over the taller buildings.  The cloud was pretty low and I think it created a good image – well worth the trip.  So that’s my first image below.

The next two where shots of the harbor port with all the cranes that are used to unload ships.  I liked the lights across the water on these ones.  The last image was ironically the first one I shot.  It shows the fisherman’s pier where I took the pano (no fishermen included – they were at the other end).

So not a load of keepers, but that’s what it’s like sometimes.  I’m really pleased with the pano and may print that one out (if Lisa lets me).

Ironically as I write this at 2pm, it’s completely dry outside – typical!  The sky’s still boring so I think I was lucky for the hour in the morning.

Hope you like the pics.

I haven’t been out with the camera yet this year and was starting to feel the call, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to shoot.

The other night I was checking out 500px.com (a really good site to visit if you are looking for photography inspiration) and I found a street photographer (Marco Larousse) that shot pretty much exclusively in black and white.  His images are amazing and there’s something very special about the black and white look he’s perfected (you can see for yourself here).

Now I have nothing against black and white, but usually shoot and process my images in color.  Sure I’ll process the odd image when I get home in black and white but I don’t think I’ve ever gone out with the express desire to just capture just black and white images.  Until that is today.

So this was my goal, go out for an hour and just shoot in black and white.  I wanted to keep this light and easy so I just grabbed my X100T which is a camera with a fixed lens, so no zooming.  What’s nice about the fuji gear is that you can set a film simulation mode and shoot all your images in that mode.  So I set it up to just shoot black and white and headed out.

I should say here that I’m no a street photographer.  A good street photog can capture real emotion in passers by, usually without them interacting with the camera, trust me it’s a real skill.  You can look at some of the good images and really understand the feeling or emotion of the subject – it’s amazing.  Also it requires you to be a little sneaky and shoot people without them knowing – and I have a bit of a problem with this.  I have no issue going up to someone and asking can I shoot you, but I feel embarrassed shooting people and then getting caught, silly I know but that’s me.

So I figured I’d just go out and take some black and white shots and see how they came out.  As Lisa and Abi wanted to go to Kirkland, I went along too and went off on my own for an hour while they did their own thing.  I took around 100 shots and after processing them when I got home, picked 16 I kind’a liked.  These aren’t great but it was fun setting myself a challenge so I thought I’d share

There are some of the town center and some of the harbor, there’s even a silly one of me taking a “sort-of” self portrait through a reflection in a Starbucks window.

I did enjoy doing this though so I’ll definately try this again, I’d love to try and capture some good street pictures so maybe I’ll work on that, and for some reason they do work well in black and white.

One image I took below that was interesting (6th one down), was where I found the place where Kirkland had temporarily stored the big Christmas wreaths the’ve just taken down.  When Lisa saw the picture she said “Oh – that’s so sad”.  I showed her a version of the same image in color and it didn’t have the same effect – and we decided it was MUCH better in black and white.  So there is something you get from black and white that color just doesn’t provide.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to get the camera out so I jumped at the oportunity to take some pictures when Lisa came to me with a request.

Lisa wanted some pictures for our bedroom and she liked some food coloring images I took a couple of years ago. The idea is you get a fish tank, fill it with water put a white screen behind the tank and light that with a couple of speed lights. After positioning the camera in front of the tank you drip a couple of drops of food coloring into the tank and shoot what happens. Pretty easy really. The nice thing is every shot is different, unique.

The trouble is I no longer have the fish tank, I threw it away when we moved house. Lisa really wanted the shots so the other day she went out and came home with a couple of fish tanks, one the same size as the one I threw away (2 foot by 1 foot) and one tiny one (8 inches by 4 inches) used for a single fish. She didn’t know what size tank I needed so bought two.

So today we decided to take the shots and see what we could get. Lisa’s idea was to have three landscape orientated pictures in the room, all printed on canvas. So she got some food coloring and the fun began.

I decided to try the really small tank as after every attempt you need to change the water in the tank (you only get one go each time), and a smaller tank would allow us to move much faster. Fortunately the little tank worked fine.

In the end we had a cool little production line going.  I took the shots then Lisa changed the water.  She then wiped the tank while Abi removed any bubbles on the inside using an old credit card (funny I know but it really worked).  Then Lisa and Abi squeezed the food coloring into the tank and off we went again.

Lisa LOVED the results and decided to have a fourth image that was wider that could go above the bed.

Anyway, after 160 pictures (yes that’s how many times we had to change the water) we ended up with around 10 images we liked and picked four for the bedroom, you can see those below.

If you ever want to try this you should really give this ago, it’s surprisingly easy to do and actually a lot of fun.

So here we are super close to the Holiday’s (that’s Christmas for those of you in England), and we needed some new pics to put on our cards.

In the past this has been a pretty painful experience for everyone. I wanted to create some nice pics for Lisa (so the pressure was one) and James and Abi were made to clean up and pose for pictures (which they hated).

However, over the last few years I’be got a lot faster at capturing these types of images and this year I wanted to be especially quick as we were planning on taking the pictures outside in the rain! Redmond town center has a nice Christmas tree and we thought it would be nice to shoot the kids in front of that. As you would expect the weather was crappy with a light rain coming down the whole time.

To make this super fast I grabbed my Fuji X100T camera which is a fixed focal length (35mm) camera so I couldn’t zoom in or out with he camera. This made me “zoom with my feet” and enabled me to quickly position the kids in front of the tree and grab the shot.

Obviously it was dark out (these shots were taken around 6pm), so I needed some light on their faces. Now I could have gone nuts and got out any number of lights and light modifiers but I again chose to go really simple. I grabbed a single Nissan i40 speed light that I triggered off camera using an infrared trigger. The camera, light and trigger all fitted in my coat pocket and were super easy to set up and use.

I just held the light at arms length off to my left pointing in the general direction of James and Abi and took the shot.

Each image took around 15 seconds and we captured the shots we wanted super fast. James’ girlfriend Bale was with us and he wanted a couple of shots with him and her and we captured those really quickly too!

Lisa was pleased with the images and James and Abi were happy as they didn’t have to stand in the rain for a long time (something that would have been the case a couple of years ago). I’ve clearly come a long way.

Anyway here are the three images that are going on the cards.