Saturday, April 23, 2005

How I shot the bluebells

This is the setup I used for shooting the macro shots of the bluebells and other flowers with a black velvet background. The umbrella diffuses the flash, the small mirror on the table reflects additional light up from below. It's a pretty simple setup, and note that I subsituted my Nikon F in place of the digital, since I had to use that to take the photo of the setup. I did use the F for some of the same shots, though.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Virginia bluebells - indoors

Virginia bluebells
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
Last night I was eager to do some shooting of our Mertensia - (Virginia Bluebells) in our garden. Our backyard is basically a woodland wildflower garden with an overstory of hickory and oak. By the time I was able to do some shooting it was nearly dark. In addition, we have the disappointing weather forecast of snow this weekend -- after 78° on Tuesday. I figured that I had better just cut one of the flower stalks and bring it inside and do some shooting studio-style.

I'm glad I did -- Mertensia is really a tough one to photograph well. It's fairly low to the ground - bright light washes it out, and if windy, you can't get great depth of field.

So, I set it up on a table with a black velvet backdrop, used a cheap vivitar strobe behind a white umbrella, and small mirror to reflect light from below to capture the details. Fuji Finepix S7000 with +4 diopter, 1/25 (or so) @ f8.

I like this setup so much, I think I'll do more flower portraits this way.

Monday, April 18, 2005

What Would Steiglitz Say?

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
I took this photo yesterday -- we finally had some clouds after about a week of pure blue skies. I used a Red 25A filter on the front of my Fuji Finepix S7000. To do this, you need to buy the tubular adapter (sold by a number of manufacturers) so that you can use screw-on filters in front of the lens. Actually, this is a good idea even if you don't use filters, because the tube gives you something to hold onto, and it protects the lenses. Mine has a 52mm filter thread, so a lot of my filters fit without any step-up/down rings. It also allows me to attach a diopter in front of the lens for better macro shots, too.

In this example, I used the camera in Black & White mode, which is what I always do when I take b&w photos with it. Since it is an EVF camera, the viewfinder is in b&w too, and that is helpful when evaluating tones in the photo. The red filter darkens the blue sky and makes the clouds stand out.

As for the title, What Would Steiglitz Say? -- it's a bit tongue in cheek. I never really thought much of Steiglitz's series of photos, The Equivalents, which are a bunch of 4x5 cloud photos. Not there there is anything technically wrong with them, I just think they received more adulation than they deserved. I saw the set of those photos last year at an exhibit at the UM Museum of Art. Perhaps at the time Steiglitz took them, nobody else thought of photographing clouds. Perhaps its just because they were done by Steiglitz. To me, they underscore that when Steiglitz took them, his most creative (photographically) years were behind him. But that is what happens when one is a legend. Everything you do becomes valuable, whether it was good or not in the first place. I still think Steiglitz was a true pioneer in his field, and he did much to advance the acceptance of photography as an art form, and of course, his introduction of modern art to the US is undeniably a huge accomplishment. But let's just say I am ambivalent about his Equivalents...

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Maple Flowers

Beauty close up
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
For the past several years, I have been meaning to cut a twig from a maple and photograph the flowers. Well, I never did get it done until today. I cut a twig from a red maple in County Farm Park, brought it home, and let it sit in water for a day. It really is amazing to see the stamens pop out and make these into very delicate beauties.
I used my Fuji Finepix S7000 with a +4 diopter, AC Strobe, and black velvet backround. Shot at f8 at 1/8000 sec.
I also shot a roll of Astia with my Nikon FA, using my 60mm micro nikkor and 3 PK extension tubes. Shooting at f22, I am sure I had greater depth of field than with the digi. I look forward to seeing the slides.

A Road Trip

nut bar
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
Marjorie and I like traveling around and shooting photos of a variety of subjects--they usually center around the abandoned, the old, the beautiful, and the tacky. Sometimes all can be in a single image. Wandering the back roads of Michigan and anywhere in America, one can find something that falls into those categories.
Marjorie suggested that we go and travel to the western part of Michigan where we really have not explored much. So, on March 31--a gloomy day that was blustery and raining at times, we set off in search of old movie houses and Americana. We stopped in Marshall, Battle Creek, ate lunch in Otsego, saw a beautiful downtown Allegan, a wonderful barn full of antiques north of South Haven, saw a decrepit cinema in Niles, right next to a wonderful city hall; then stopped in Edwardsburg Michigan; White Pigeon; Sturgis, Bronson, and then home. On the road for 12 hours, and we saw a lot that we did not photograph.
Because of the weather, I decided that it was going to be too gloomy for good black & white work, so I shot color via my Fuji Finepix S7000. Marjorie used her Nikon FM with slide and color negative film.
It will be interesting comparing our photos. She has a good eye, and we always end up with different interpretations of the same subject.