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Italy comes to Bristol

Italy comes to Bristol

Every April, hoards of Italian cars and bikes descend on Bristol’s Old city, centred around Corn Street. You’ll find everything from Fiat to Ferrari and Moto Guzzi to Aprilia.

This year I decided to try something a little different. Instead of using just the available light and adding a wink of fill with an on-camera ETTL flash, I got the light a bit higher. A lot higher in fact – about 10 feet up at the end of a monopod positioned by Helen, my able assistant for the day.

It was too sunny for Canon’s own infra red system and I don’t have a set of radio ETTL triggers like the latest Pocket Wizards or Radio Poppers so I stuck to manual and a simple RF-602 trigger.

Half power on one of my old Nikon SB-28’s was the sweet spot with the camera set at its max sync speed of 1/200th and the aperture ranging between f5.6 and f9 depending on whether the subject was in or out of the shade. The flash was also physically moved closer or further out to match the aperture (closer as the aperture was stopped down) to save adjusting it between shots.

Here are the results:

The Sextons Grid Girls do ISTS

The Sextons Grid Girls do ISTS

Last weekend the International Styling & Tuning Show hit Silverstone. The weather was fantastic (at least on the Saturday) so I had plenty chances to shoot with Emma, Gemma, Jen, Lucy and Michelle – The Sextons Direct Grid Girls.

There’s a mix of available light and flash shots here from Saturday and Sunday so thanks to the girls for putting up with me and my two Voice Activated Light stands, Chris and Darren. See you all at Modified Nationals

Painting With Light

Painting With Light

The word photography comes form the Latin ‘photo’ and ‘graphico’ and translates literally to “writing with light”.  I took that literally this weekend and did some light painting. It was a full moon on a clear, frosty night and I happened to be staying in Wales, just a few miles from a small wind farm so the opportunity was too good to pass up.

Light painting is a simple idea and it doesn’t take much trial and error before you start getting good results. You will need your camera locked down for this as you are taking long exposure shots – in this case 30 seconds. A tripod is best but a bean bag on a car roof/gate post/sleeping cow would suffice.

Use your camera’s built-in meter and juggle your aperture and shutter speed until you get a good exposure. By “good” I don’t mean zeroed out on the scale in your viewfinder however. We are shooting at night here so obviously the shot is going to be dark and we will be painting in some extra light in the foreground so we need to stop the camera trying to make everything look like a mid grey. Minus 2 stops should be about right, but take full advantage of shooting digital and fire off a few test shots. You can shoot in Aperture Priority mode for this and use the +/- EV control or you can go Manual for more control or if you need an exposure longer than 30 seconds.

Once you are happy with the overall exposure, you can start adding light. This is where the trial and error comes in as this is no exact science and there’s no TTL  – you are simply shining a torch on your subject. Obviously the bigger the subject and the further away it is, the more powerful torch, or longer exposure you’ll need.

For this example I was about 30m away from the wind turbine using a small, yet powerful and tightly focused LED torch.

About 5 seconds tracing the beam up and down the tower with the remaining 25 seconds spent highlighting the rotating blades seemed to yield the best results. As you can see from the image on the right, there is quite a marked difference when adding the light to the image. 

Once I had this dialled in, I shifted my composition, gave things a little tweak in Lightroom  and came up with the result below.