Saturday, March 31, 2012

Basketball Day!!


If you're local, chances are, even if you're not a basketball fan, you probably know what today is.  If you're not local, chances are you still probably realize that there are a few basketball games going on.  However, for those of us who are from Kentucky and are basketball fans, today is our Super Bowl!!

The NCAA College basketball tournament has been going on for a few weeks now, and if you've been following along, today is the semi final games for who will be decided to be in the big show down, the final championship game.  The big match up for us local folks is the University of Kentucky Wildcats versus the University of Louisville Cardinals and it is probably one of the most hotly contested rivalries in all of college basketball!  Both teams have equally shined this year and have played their hearts out.  At times, both of these teams have played like NBA teams with today's hottest up-and-coming stars delivering a menagerie of shots from slam dunks to 3 point miracles.

While I will be the first to admit, that I am not a huge sports junky, I do have a considerable amount of pride in the fact that the state I live in has sent TWO college teams to the final four!  Not only is this an amazing feat for both colleges represented in this game, but it is also a huge bonus for the entire state of Kentucky regardless of which team wins.

That being said, I have to say that I am fiercely rooting for my favorite team, the University of Kentucky Wildcats, the all time winning-est team in the NCAA!!  However, should my team not come through today, I can definitely say that while I will be upset, I will still be rooting for the Cardinals in the final game.  Why?  Because its good for my state and I would much rather support a local team than any other team in the country.

A lot of true, die hard fans probably disagree with me saying that you can't be a true fan while rooting for its arch nemesis, but I just don't see it that way.  I definitely want UK to win, and I'm even wearing my Kentucky blue today, but if they lose, I will whole heartedly be rooting for the Cards to deliver the championship because I have pride in that my state has consistently proved itself as a leader in college basketball.

Ok, off the soap box, time to fire up the grill and settle in for the Battle of the Bluegrass 2012!!!

Go CATS!!!!

...oh, and if you're curious as to how the photo above was lit, just click on it :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Snow Angel!

Snow Angel

Winter in my neck of the woods this year was a little less than ordinary.  We really only had one or two days with snow, and even then it was just a light dusting... which is highly unusual for this area.  So, since Spring is officially right around the corner for us, I thought I'd share the only 'snow portrait' I took this season.

I absolutely love shooting flash lit portraits balanced with ambient light, so when I saw how nice our backyard looked with the first real snow, I decided to take a quick portrait of our resident snow angel Lexi (well, she can be an angel at least some of the time. ;)

The first thing I did to get this portrait was to find a background that wasn't too distracting but still showed some of the new snow.  So fortunately, a view from our back deck did the trick.  Then I simply set my shutter speed to its fastest flash sync speed (1/250 sec) then dialed in my aperture til the scene looked the way I wanted.  (FYI, I had my ISO set to L 1.0 which is my camera's lowest ISO) Typically, I will "zero" out the scene first using my D300's built-in light meter, then I usually drop that exposure by another stop or two, simply by closing my aperture down ....its totally a preference thing.  In this particular portrait, I think I only dropped the exposure by one stop to just create a little more contrast in the sky.

Once I had my ambient exposure locked in where I wanted it, it was time to bring in my light.  I used one of the new Westcott Apollo strip boxes with a Nikon SB-800 to light this portrait.  So why did I decide on using a strip box?  Because I already had it set up with a flash in it :), but also, because I knew that this strip box, relative to my subject, would create a nice soft and somewhat wrapping light.  Lexi is still quite petite so this softbox in relation to her appeared to be a slightly large light source.

I triggered my flash with a set of radio triggers (I use Cybersyncs) because since the flash is enclosed in the softbox and we were outdoors, I had the feeling that my trusty, built-in, Nikon CLS system would not work in this instance because it requires line of sight from the triggering flash to the receiving flash.  So I dialed in my flash at (I think) 1/4 power and took a test shot of my trusty stand-in model... (see below)

This gave me a good enough guess on how my light was going to look on my subject, so all I had to do was bring her out, and snap a quick portrait.  I rely on my hand a lot when I'm shooting wide because the exposure on it, will be very similar to the exposure on just about any person I throw in front of the lens, although sometimes I still may have to make a minor adjustment.  The whole point of doing this, is to have everything set up and ready to go, so that I only need my model to stand in for just a few minutes to get the shot.

So you can see this is a pretty quick and easy method for creating flash and ambient balanced portraits with not a lot of work to get you there.  Taking this portrait took about 10 minutes from setup to snapping the last portrait.  I hope this seems like a pretty straight forward process, but if anyone has any questions, just sound off in the comments!

See you next time!