Light Writing

light write

Discovering something new is exhilarating, even if it is only new to you. It was my experimentation with the slow sync flash mode that led to a recent exhilaration. The slow sync flash mode allows a longer shutter speed to be used with flash. This creates the opportunity to gather more ambient light and also have the subject be in focus. This also makes it possible to see light trails.  I grabbed my most willing subject, a couple of flashlights, my camera and a tripod, and headed to the backyard one recent night. I envisioned the backyard daughter with some lines created next to her by her moving the lights around. We did that and realized there was enough time to try to write a word.

light write3The first attempt time ran out and the shutter closed before she was able to complete the word. But after readjusting the settings – making the aperture smaller therefore creating the need for a longer shutter speed, there was plenty of time.

light write2The first few times she wrote the word so that she would be able to read it (from her left to right or backwards for me) and I flipped the photo in Photoshop in order to be able to read it correctly. Then, she wrote backwards when we realized there was an abundance of time for writing. This very same daughter used to write messages in the steam on the shower door, backwards! We had such fun playing around with the lights and were delighted by how well it came out. Most cameras have a slow sync setting for the flash. I highly recommend checking your camera for it and getting shooting, signing off with a flourish. . .

light write1

~ Susan

The Two Generation Piano in a Flash

A consequence of living in the same house for many years is that some things become fixtures without you noticing it. Until one day, for an unknown reason, you look around, really look around, and realize there are some remnants of childhoods long gone sitting abandoned in a long forgotten corner of a room. Then comes the tough decision of whether to save, donate or sell. A recently implemented policy of mine to donate or sell items not being used has prompted another recently implemented policy of photographing the items before giving them away – for memory’s sake. The toy piano which has provided countless hours of musical enjoyment and delight to me and my sisters and then our children is the subject of this realization. It made the first cut because it’s just so “cute” but there is that new policy I must adhere to if I am going to keep “stuff” to a minimum.  As I begin photographing, I decide to experiment with diffusing the on-camera flash (since flash is our theme this month). My intention is to add light to capture details without obtaining the harsh look and glare which often accompanies this type of flash. First, I took one photo without any flash, simply using the available window light.

kid piano no flash1 Next, I turned on the flash using the same settings,

kid piano w- flashthere is quite a difference. The details are now visible maybe a little too visible. Lastly, I put a piece of white paper in front of the flash to spread out the light (the same principle behind umbrellas and soft boxes in studios). A small diffuser which will affix to your camera can be purchased for this purpose but I chose to go the homemade route, which requires a tripod for freeing a hand to press the shutter.

kid piano diffused flashI like it and think it is a happy medium between the two previous pictures. I tried the sequence once more with a close up.

No flash,

no flash kid piano 1flash,

flash kid pianoand diffused flash.

diffused flash kid pianoI like the softer look of the diffused flash and think it can be especially beneficial when shooting portraits. Sometimes, the direct on-camera flash gives a harsh and not terribly flattering look to people. When indoors, it is often necessary to find ways to increase the light for proper exposure  of a subject and diffusing the on-camera flash is a pleasing method of accomplishing this.

As for the little toy piano, it will hopefully find a new home where it will provide more hours of delight, fascination and enjoyment to yet another generation.

Play on,

~ Susan

News “Flash”

Here we are in May all ready, a new month, and therefore a new photographic term to explore here at backyard sisters. This month we will be investigating flash. It may seem like an odd choice for me since I don’t have flash capability with my current camera set-up. However, I have in the past and am going to examine some of the the benefits and drawbacks of the use of flash. At this point, in my photography, I prefer to use the available light but, especially in the house at night, I find limitations to my ability to capture what I want. For the photos this month, I am borrowing my daughter’s Nikon D3000 which has a built-in flash.

The first scenario I want to consider is when your subject is in a darker area in front of a brightly lit area, such as a person in the shade of a tree with a sunny area behind them or inside the house in front of a window. In these cases, if you would like to have your subject and background in focus and visible it is necessary to use a flash.

monkey in windowLet me introduce today’s subjects – they are two well-loved monkeys which have been members of our family for twenty plus years. Chester and Sam, as we call them, were a gift to our sons from their great-grandparents. Through the years, they have turned up in various locations and poses throughout the house. Just recently, I found Sam resting in the window. In this first photo, I didn’t use a flash and in order to achieve the correct exposure of Sam, the background is blown out and unrecognizable.

monkey in window2You can have your subject slightly under-exposed and the background will come into focus a bit more but some times that is not the look one wants. So, the solution is to turn on your cameras flash.

monkey in window3This allows the subject to be well lit. A word of warning here though, when using a flash in front of a window you need to be careful to avoid the flash reflection from the window in your photo. The way to do this is to stand to the side of your subject or take the picture from a lower angle.

Not wanting to be left out, Chester joined the photo shoot.

2monkeys no flashThe first one without flash and then with.

2 monkeys in windowAs you can see, the yard is much more visible in the second.  Perhaps, they are taking a break after mowing the lawn with that mower out there. . .


~ Susan