A Nurse with a Gun

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rainy Day Shooting

D-200 85mm, ƒ1.8 Click to enlargeIt was a rainy day, so we were looking for a dry place to shoot a few photographs. My son was in town, and I was wanting to get some shots of him. He would be my primary model. He had his Canon digital camera along for the ride too.

After a bit of discussion, we decided to go to an old parking garage to shoot. The neutral tones of the concrete would be great for reflecting available light, and the hard geometric structure would form a distinctive background for a strong male portrait. The parking garage we chose had huge open air areas with diffused directional sunlight streaming in.

The upper decks of the parking garage were empty, so we had a huge studio with natural light in which to work. What I was not expecting was the color available. D-200 85mm, ƒ1.8 Click to enlargeBecause the skies were so dark, the incandescent lights of the parking garage been triggered. When I white balanced the camera for the incandescent lights, the exterior became a deep glowing aquamarine color.

The effect was an illumination that reminds me of television screens and high powered, high tech executives. The pinks, lavenders and oranges were as unpredictable as they were stunning. Thankfully, I was shooting digital images. I ran through a lot of bytes. Luck played as big a roles as knowledge in my experimentation. Had I been shooting film, I would have floundered, or not had the quantity of shots necessary to cherry pick the good ones.

Probably my favorite photo of my son from the day's shooting is the one on the right. My son was still wearing a coat and tie from the Easter service at church. It was nice to have him dressed up for a photo. The lighting on his face is good, the bokeh is interesting, but not distracting, and the little serendipitous red blob on the margin holds the entire photo in balance.

Little Darling got into the act as well, using my son's Canon EOS. D-200 85mm, ƒ1.8 Click to enlargeShe had such a good time on the other side of the lens that I am considering upgrading her to a DSLR camera. If nothing else, having her shoot as well educates her as a model. While its difficult to take a bad photograph of her, having her know what the photographer is trying to capture through the lens can only make her better.

I took most of my shots with my 85mm prime auto focus lens with the 1.8 aperture cranked wide open. This lens has become a favorite of mine. On a DX camera it translates to a 105mm lens, but the real bonus is the backgrounds it gives. The 85 mm lens allows me to keep some distance, and since it has a large aperture, the depth of field is narrow enough to throw most backgrounds out of focus, while the auto focus keeps the subject sharp.

As the afternoon continued, I found that the interaction between my models produced some of the most interesting results. D-200 18-70mm zoom, ƒ3.5 Click to enlargeI swapped over to an 18-70mm zoom and opened the glass up to ƒ3.5, again wide open. I keep the ISO of the D-200 set to +1. The environmental studies that resulted surprised me.

I had not realized just how blue the light pouring into the garage was, nor did I realize how orange the artificial lights were. The complimentary combination of the two light sources led me to play with composition even more, integrating the light sources themselves into the balance.

For all of the intriguing nuances of the light though, adjustments had to be made and otherwise good photographs were discarded because of horrible lighting.D-200 85mm, ƒ1.8 Click to enlarge A superb portrait of my son was in the folder to be culled because his face was a glowing red orange. I decided to convert the image to black and white, and then I rebalanced the tonality to allow the grey sky to become white. Voila! The orange light had the effect of a orange filter on black and white film.

I am looking forward to using the parking garage for portraiture again. I want to see how morning light, as well as afternoon light and a sunset illuminate subjects in it's dark recesses. I think I may have found one of my favorite locations to shoot photographs of people.

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Anonymous anyheck said...

White Balance issues: SHOOT RAW.

Your camera can do it, and then you can re-white balance at-will 'in post'. It's the digital camera

Adobe Lightroom is a top-notch program for RAW manipulation and conversion.

Photoshop can do the conversions too, but lightroom has a metadata system for organizing.

Nikon sells a program that's specific to their cameras but I have no experience. It may be less expensive.

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Beth said...

Wow! Just wow!

You have an eye.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I usually photograph places more than people I have been learning a great deal form your rediscovery. I may have to start haunting pawn shops looking for a DSLR.
Rey B

9:59 AM  
Anonymous 2yellowdogs said...

The first photo is absolutely wonderful. The best of any you've posted with the D200 so far.

The others have some issues, but whatever you do, keep shooting. Pic #2 of your son does have white balance issues and while I endorse shooting RAW for portrait work, it wouldn't help here. You've got a bad case of mixed light with the natural available light and the overhead sodium or fluorescent. The downward angle of the overhead light doesn't help either.

Keep posting more.

10:58 AM  
Blogger DouginSalcha said...

Both are "good subjects" and I agree, putting a camera in their hands should make then better "models" in the long-run.

I've not seen your son before but your daughter appears almost oblivious to the camera at times. I think she's "a natural". I think I'd like to see more of the "work" of each (from behind the camera).


11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier, congratulations on your discovery of the "Mother Lode of All Locations"!

Speaking from fashion experience, these types of open-sided parking garages present the most convenient, most easily accessible and most desirable urban photo locations available – without the need to run all over town.

As you begin to explore the possibilities here, a couple of things to think about:

1. Find a place in the structure that allows the low-level "golden hour" light to enter the structure from the side. You will be blown away by what you see.

2. Shoot "up" from the very bottom of the final ramp that leads up to the roof. Start back in the shadows and work from side to side to capture any guard rails, hand rails and/or cables on the sides of the ramp. Foreshortened through your lens, their texture is amazing.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Travlin said...

Your posts on photography are very interesting. My son has recently turned pro and I have found I have much to learn. The shot of Little Darling is terrific.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a shutterbug,, nor have a any particular knowledge of lighting and composing,, but the picture with the unmbrella,, wonderfull,, you captured the perfect look in the eyes,, thanks for your insights


2:13 PM  
OpenID reflectoscope said...

Again, well done. The neutral background works well with LD's complexion, and your son wears that suit well. He reminds me a bit of Oleg Volk, which isn't a bad thing either; I wonder what a conversation between them would sound like.


5:04 PM  
Anonymous HGT said...

That is really cool stuff!

4:55 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Your son reminds me of Dr. Daniel Jackson on Stargate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Jackson_(Stargate)

9:51 AM  

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