A random thought about lighting
In response to a question on Facebook, I used Yousuf Karsh as an example of who I'd like to emulate when I grow up. So I leafed through some of his famous portraits and came across one of my favourites, his shot of Albert Einstein (someone else I'd like to be like, and of course never will!).
Because it's someone else's picture, I won't reproduce it here. But please click this link to see the photo I'm talking about.
Photographers spend a lot of money on studio lighting. I get it, if you want to have predictable results all the time but, and I've said this before, all they're doing is trying to emulate natural lighting. For me, the best light is "north facing window light". The window doesn't actually have to face North, it just means that there's no direct sunlight and the window serves as a source of soft light, like the huge reflectors and softboxes most studios prefer.
I remembered this picture I made a few years ago of my ex-girlfriend Rosa's friend Valeria, sitting at her kitchen table. It was placed in a kind of bay window alcove so light came from the huge windows to her left. It was a freezing cold winter day (I remember it was one of the few days that actually reached 40°C below) in Bancroft, there had been a fresh fall of snow so the world was bright white and all the light came through the window.
The only thing I did in terms of light setup was to spread a newspaper on the table in front of her to reflect some of that beautiful light upwards to fill in under her chin.
As I look back in my archives I realize that I love using natural window lighting for portraits. The best example is this one:
My neighbour, Vic, in the living room of his house on 12-Mile Lake, illuminated by, you guessed it, North-Facing Window Light. In hindsight, this one emulates the Karsh lighting best, don't you think?
Topaz Labs Spring sale!
Topaz Labs has announced a huge spring sale: 40% off everything in their stores from now until May 7th! That's 40% off their already discounted prices, best prices ever!
Note: if you already own some of the Topaz products, their smart website will calculate a top-up price once you log in. This is an opportunity to get these amazing tools at a huge savings.
If you're not familiar with Topaz, they started with some great plug-in tools for most photoediting apps (my favourite is "Impression" which turns your images into painterly art. Second favourite is DeNoise which quietly does exactly what you think it does!).
Then they introduced "Studio" which is a FREE standalone photoediting platform on its own (although it can be run out of other apps too: my usual workflow is to call it out of Lightroom). It comes with a number of totally free adjustment tools but they have some premium ones where you can play with them for free but to get full access, you need to buy them. They have a bundle called the "Pro Pack" which gives you everything all in one shot.
You can also get a 30-day free trial of anything through the links below.
Here's the link to Topaz Lab's new FREE "Studio" platform.You can also use this link to access any of the "Pro"-adjustments, plug-ins and special discounts currently in effect.
Steel Wool fun
The other night, the camera club went out to shoot steel wool again. We've done it a few times before, and I ran a session up in Wawa as well— something to do at night if the weatherman wasn't going to cooperate and give us stars to shoot.
What you do is take a bit of steel wool (half a clump?), stick it in a household whisk (the thing you use to beat eggs into submission), tether it with some kind of rope like a dog leash, set it on fire (easy to do with a lighter or even the spark from a 9v battery) and swing it around to paint with light, being really careful not to hit yourself with it or to set the forest on fire. Leave your shutter open for a while. You'll get pictures like this:
This was a 12 second exposure at f/11, ISO 100.
If you work at it, you can get pictures like this one:
This was about 4 seconds. I zoomed the lens while the shutter was open and I added texture using Topaz Studio.
or this one:
Now for those of you who don't understand why you need to shoot in RAW...
... here's the "before" shot, straight out of the camera.
If you expose for the burning steel wool, the rest of the image is going to be dark.
In this case, I increased the exposure by 2½ stops for the overall image. But I wanted the stone fountain to be even more visible so I painted it with the adjustment brush in LR and added another 4 full stops. That's a total of 6½ stops! Try that with a Jpeg.
House still for sale!
Hurry before someone grabs it up! I'm still waiting for those multiple offers they promised me! LOL
Almost time to put on a bathing suit, your boat in the water, or relax in the gazebo with good company and a good book!
Here's the link to the MLS listing
Carden Plain: too early
With the weird spring (I'm still looking out on remnants of snow from last week!) it was too early to visit Carden Plain and see a wide variety of birds. But it was a nice day yesterday and I made the trek. Nothing exotic but always interesting... I had also intended to head down to the Lindsay area where, I heard, there were meadowlarks in the fields off highway 35. Never made it. I got to Carden a little before noon, and didn't leave there until well after 5, headed to Fenelon Falls for some groceries (I figured there'd be a bigger variety there in the Sobey's — yes but their prices are even higher than here!), then made it home a little before 8. A nice day.
Here are some pix:
I started in Minden and found one of the ubiquitous RWBB's coming in for a one-point landing. Can't resist shooting these guys (until later when there are thousands around!).
Ruffed Grouse crossing Deep Bay Road
He headed for the base of a tree where he figured I couldn't see him. Almost...
The bluebirds are back! Only a few of them and they stayed well away, this guy was sitting in a Hawthorne quite some distance away (cropped!)
A pair of Northern Flickers showed up for a quick look. As did this European Starling.
I ran into a couple of people: first, a team of Conservation Officers out making sure that turkey hunters (season opened the day before) were following the rules... nice folks out of Minden. By the way, unless you have a good AWD vehicle and know how to use it, don't go into the wetland portion of Wylie Road beyond the bridge. Them thar puddles are deep, y'hea?
On the way out, I met a couple of birders who told me they had seen some Loggerhead Shrikes at the Cameron Ranch. And meadowlarks. So guess where I went? Nope. Not around. There were a couple of small sparrows at a distant Hawthorne, and I heard the meadowlarks, but no joy.
However I managed to convince a couple of Wilson's Snipes to pay me a visit, investigating the sounds my iPhone was making! They posed for a couple of pictures!
One of my favourite birds.
And so it begins! Next time...
— 30 —