Posts Tagged ‘Nikon’

Wanted to try something new today.  Went to HomeDepo and got a sheet of glass.  Came home, placed that glass about 2 feet off the ground and put some white poster board under the glass. Then took two lamps and shown them on the poster board.  Sliced some Oranges together and this was the best picture I got!  I’m pretty pleased with it.  It is not as sharp as I would like because I had to hand hold it due to the fact my tripod could not hold the weight of my cam facing straight down.

I plan to do this again with other fruit and play around with different exposures – Nonetheless, this is a great start with a good concept.

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Earlier this past summer I decided to go on an adventure.  With just a water bottle, backpack, Camera, & tripod with me I set out on a journey to capture some pictures of nature.  The problem is I live in a very city like community right outside of Washington D.C. in the United States.  (Starting to get readers from around the globe so trying to give locations to where I’m at).  I live in a suburb about 30 minutes from the White House, Capital building, Pentagon, etc.  All of these structures make great subjects to shoot – but I wanted to go somewhere a little less populated.

Therefore I pulled off on the side of the road where there was a tree line behind a 7-11 and just started walking deeper into these woods.  I certainly was not disappointed with what I found.  Maybe because for the first time, while walking through the woods, I began to take in the vastness of it all.  The dizzying height of the trees.  The deep greens of the grass.  The bright orange decomposing tree bark laying on the ground.  Everything just seemed to DSC_0111be worthy of a picture.

I don’t remember any of the settings I used while snapping these shots.  But I do remember being at peace while walking through these lost woods (Zelda Reference).  It just goes to show you what we might miss if we don’t pause to take a look at what is around us.


As I’ve mentioned before – Last February my daughter “Zelda” was born.  I love taking pictures of this girl!  It’s nice because its always so much fun taking pictures of kids, but it can be odd and creepy if they are not your kids, you know?  She is one of the main reasons I’ve progressively been improving in this hobby/skill.  Well Recently my wife has been saying we need to get some really nice portraits done of our little girl.  Knowing how much they could charge for such a session of pictures, I did what any red blooded American man would do.  I said, “Honey, just let me do it – I could do it better for cheaper!”

…She reluctantly accepted my challenge.

The Gear & Equipment
Here is a quick list of everything I used to take these pictures

  • Nikon d5100 with 18-55 zoom lens & 55 – 200 zoom lens, tripod
  • 4 standard house hold lamps with the shades off
  • 3 Yards Golden Drape.  1 Yard of Golden mesh.  1 Picture Frame.  All from Joe Ann’s Fabrics
  • Christmas Lights from our tree & ordainment – Rocking Horse

The Set Up

So I thought to myself, what would I need in order to do this?  I looked at some videos on youtube and pictures other people took and really you just need some good lighting, some sort of backdrop and a few props for the child to interact with.  So I went to Joe Ann’s Fabric to get the back drop.  That was what cost the most money (about 50 bucks for 3 yards of the drape).  I knew that Zelda was going to be dressed in a medium tone red and white, therefore I didn’t want to pick a dark color as the backdrop – because the red would blend with it to much. And I didn’t want to pick red or white, because it would take away from the beauty of her dress.  Gold is a nice accent color for red, so I picked the golden color.  I went with the drape fabric because it doesn’t wrinkle easily.  All the other fabrics were too thin and already had wrinkles in them.  That’s bad because it would create distracting shadows.  I also made sure the pattern wasn’t too busy.  Again, the back drop was going to be out of focus in most of the pictures – so I wanted a pattern to give some texture, but nothing to over powering.

After that I came home and moved all the furniture out of the way.  Pinned the drape on a wall with some push pins and let it flow onto the carpet.  Very important that you don’t create a hard edge where the wall and the floor meet.  Pull the material away from the wall and let it flow down so you can’t tell (visually in the picture) where the floor ends and the wall begins.  Helps to create the illusion that there is more space then is actually there.

By the time we started taking pictures it was already night time, so I took 4 lamps, took the Zelda_Happyshades off, and turned them all on to light up the room.  I knew working with a baby who could crawl I needed to be able to take the shots with as short of a shutter speed as possible.  That meant I needed A LOT of light to get a proper exposure.  Flash wasn’t an option for me, because I only have my camera mounted flash.

Once that was all in place I took about 45 minutes playing with a bunch of prep shots.  Making sure I knew all the shots and poses I wanted to try to capture.  I saw a good tip to make sure you know what shots you want to take in advance because you have a limited amount of time that children will corporate.  So I set up tripod and tested different exposures – lenses.  Made sure I got that blurring effect in the background that I wanted.  I think its called “Bokah”  NOW IM READY

Zelda_FrameLights Camera ACTION
Okay!  Got Zelda dressed and we were ready to go.  Word of warning.  Never try to do this by yourself.  I would not have been able to take the pictures without my wife constantly getting her attention, getting her to smile, bringing her back when she would crawl away every 30 seconds or so.  My wife was exhausted by the end, but it was great because then I just had to focus on capturing the moment without having to get up every 30 seconds.  I ended up taking about 300 pictures.  Adjusting often.  Playing with Manuel mode, complete auto mode, No flash mode, apature mode.  I just worked on the fly with whatever worked best.



We have her play with a few props.  The picture frame I bought, I took the glass and everything out of it so it was just the empty frame and I ended up getting a lot of great shots with that.  We even got this one shot where she is making this monster face while emerging through the frame!  I love this shot!  The main thing that bugs me is that is it fairly blurred because she was moving, and I hadn’t had a chance to adjust the exposure and shutter speed to her moving around.  By the time I was ready for it she was done playing with the frame and I couldn’t get her to do it again.  None the less I loved the shot so much I just retouched it a little to make it a bit sharper and some people might look at it and just think its an effect I was going for lol.

Zelda_HorseOver all my wife and I had a BLAST doing it.  It was a lot of hard work.  Cost some money.  But the experience of doing this as a family was priceless. Could a professional photographer do it better?  Absolutely.  But it wasn’t about that.  It was about using one of my hobbies to engage my family in a fun activity together.  And it yielded some memorable results.

Tips for next time?
The main issue I ran into was the lighting.  Even though I had 4 lamps, and it felt pretty bright, with my basic lenses, my aperture isn’t wide enough to capture enough light for me to be able to freeze the action.  Her movements were a challenge because of the lighting.  Therefore I’m looking into getting a prime lens with a wider aperture. Specifically a Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens.  That will give me a much wider apature than I currently have and allow me to capture a lot more light – which gives the ability to freeze the shot more effectively in low light settings.  The great thing about this lens is it runs for only about 120 bucks these days!  wow!  I can’t afford a 300 dollar lens right now, so this makes sense for me.

The only other tips for myself next time is also trying to utilize the daylight.  I purposefully didn’t intend to use daylight because I was thinking more of a clocked box studio where you can control the light completely.  Next time however I want to take full advantage of the huge patio window in our living room and shoot during the day or during the “Golden Hour” for some get contrasting shadows – or simply a warmer color.

Well that was my experience!  Please leave your comments below – I would love your feed back.  Isn’t my daughter ADORABLE?!

Welcome again to my hobby blog.  This post is about hobby #4, photography.  And what would have happened if I gave up.  Let me explain:

I’m new to photography.  Just got a Nikon D3100 which is like an intro level pro camera.  I didn’t know much about photography, I just knew I liked taking pictures.  Some day I’m going to take a class to get better.  But here was my dream, to head into Washington DC just before Sunrise and take some amazingly sunning shots of the monuments as the sky was brilliant with color.  I did ton’s of research for which shots I wanted to take so I didn’t wast my time walking around downtown.  But then I ran into a problem.  It is illegal to park ANYWHERE in downtown DC before 8 o’clock.  I got there around 5:30 to be ready for the 6:20.

Before I knew it the sun was starting to come up and I missed a wonderful sunrise on this particular Saturday morning.  So out of pure frustration (didn’t want to leave empty handed) I took a quick (and poor) snapshot of the Washington Monument from my car.  I was bummed BEYOND belief.  So I began the long drive home.  By the time I got back to Gaithersburg (suburb 40 minutes outside of Washington.)  I thought to myself, “You know what, yes you could go home and pout.  Or you could make the best use of the time you have and just take pictures of something else.”  And that exactly what I did.  I pulled off to a lake not far from my house and began to walk around and set up some pictures.

Just look at what I would have missed out on!  I really love this picture because it took me so long to set up this shot with my tripod.  To find a spot where it looked like you were emerging from the forest with a pretty clean view of this dock as the sun was rising.  I used some filter to up bring out the color.  This was a really fun shot to set up.  Or check out this next picture.  This is while I was on the dock starring toward the sun.

I took probably 30 different pictures of this shot right here before I got one I really liked.  This looks good in color, but simply stunning in Black and White.  Notice how clear the rays of the sun are shining down on the misty lake.  See that water on the dock?  I added that lol.  I thought it would help break up the textures a little bit.  This was a very fun shot to create.  A lot of people feel a lot of different emotions from this particular shot.  For me it reminds me of summer camp, just before a stampede of kids would be able to to disturb the peace of the water.


I took many shots, but these are my two favorites.  See what I would have missed out on if I gave up after my “Plan” didn’t work out?  But isn’t that life anyway?  We make our plans but ultimately we have to go where the road takes us?  So next time life gives you a detour, why fight it kicking and screaming?  Just go with it, because you never know what’s right around the corner, or in my case, in your own backyard!

What detours has life given you that resulted in an unexpected surprise?  LEAVE A COMMENT!  I’d love to hear!