Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

How'd You Do That?

After sharing some of my photos from last week's workshop, a couple people asked how we got those results. If you are interested, read on — if not, jump to the last paragraph for a final treat.

To start, I took a photo of a koa wood airplane in my studio using only ambient light (morning light from north- and west-facing windows). I metered the light with the light meter in my camera and set the aperture to f/5.6 and the speed to 1/4 second. Not a bad image, I thought, especially considering the low light level.

Naturally, I had to mount the camera on a tripod since I cannot hold a camera steady for 1/4 second (1/30 second is tough enough). I used the same setting for each photo below.

I then mounted my flash on a light stand and directed the light directly on the airplane. And here is one problem that you encounter with a flash — if the subject is too close to a wall, you get a shadow.

If you cannot move the subject away from the wall, you have to diffuse the light. Here I used an Omnibounce diffuser over the business end of the flash. If you compare this photo to the one above, you should be able to see that the shadow is still there but is softer with the Omnibounce. So this is better but still not as good as we can do.

The next possibility is to bounce the flash (either directly or with a diffuser) off a wall or ceiling — I used the Omnibounce off the ceiling. The light is a little softer but look, there is still a shadow behind the airplane. The Omnibounce was producing a small amount of light directly on the subject — resulting in the slight shadow.

Okay, so the solution is to block the direct light from the flash in the direction of the airplane and just use the light bouncing off the ceiling. So I just held a card between the flash and the airplane and got this result. Voilà, no background shadow and the overall lighting is soft.

Note that all the photos above had no modifications done in Photoshop other than to crop to a reasonable size. But of course, my thing is Photoshop so I could not resist using the last shot above and doing just my customary quick enhancement in Photoshop.

Now scroll back to the original photo and compare to this final version. Each step was a tiny improvement but the overall effect is quite dramatic. Thank you Julia.

At the end of each week, the Santa Fe Workshops holds a dinner for the students — after which a slide show is presented with the work from each class. I have uploaded the slide show so you can view it if you are interested in seeing the work from my fellow student photographers. The file is in .MOV format and can be viewed with QuickTime from Apple. Note that the file is rather large and should only be viewed if you have a broadband connection. To see the slide show, click here.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com