Sunday, October 11, 2015

The year in review: photography

As I mentioned in my end-of-the-year review for sewing, my sense of time tracks the academic calendar, so that's why I'm doing my year-end reviews in September.  This one was a little late-- blame that on getting new projects up and running.

I thought I would do an end-of-the-year review for photography as well as for sewing.  Starting my blog was an excuse for me to start learning portrait photography, and so now I can look back and see how far I've come.  For instance, this was one of my first photos of myself for the blog:
It's fine.  It does what it needs to do-- you can see the dress, and I don't look too dumb.  On the other hand, it's nothing special.  I had this awesome dress and there are so many cool directions I could have taken with this photoshoot!  But I didn't!  Aaargh!

But, I got a lot better.  What follows are my ten favorite shots and how I set them up.

(10)  Vogue 8488
Pentax K-3, 40mm Limited, f/5.6, 1/2000th sec., ISO 100, natural light around noon.
I love this action shot of my hair.  The fact that I captured this shot was a happy accident.  I set the camera up on a tripod and set the intervalometer to take pictures every X seconds as I walked forward and back in front of the camera.  The camera just happened to catch this moment as I was playing with my hair.

(9)  Self-Drafted Tube Dress
Pentax K-3, 31mm Limited, f/7.1, 1/160 sec., ISO 100, one flash at head height maybe 45 to 60 degrees to the left.
I love the framing in this shot, and how the orientation of the flash casts long shadows on the wall.  This was one of my early adventures with flash.  At that point, I didn't have a flash stand or any hardware to attach a flash to a tripod.  So, my dad and I put the flash in the hotshoe of an old film camera and mounted the film camera onto a tripod.

(8)  Eva Dress U30-7202
Pentax K-3, 40mm Limited, f/4.0, 1/100th sec., ISO 100, natural light with the wall in shadow.
I love how the dress and the location came together so well.  I had tried using the side of my apartment building for the photoshoot, but it didn't work out, so I went down to the elementary school near my house because it was convenient.  I didn't have any preconceived ideas about where I should shoot or what background I should use, so I was delighted that the chalk on the wall coordinated with the colors of the dress so well.  The colors of the dress glow against this background.

(7)  Vogue 2636
Pentax K-3, 31mm Limited, f/7.1, 1/160, ISO 100, single flash maybe 45 degrees to the left..
Sunset at the beach!  I've really come to appreciate windy days for adding visual interest to my hair.  This was my first go at adjusting the flash power to light myself while using the shutter speed to get the exposure of the sunset right.  I think it went very well.  I set up the technical aspects of the shot, but my fiance took the picture, so the framing is all his. 

(6)  Super Hexagon Dress
Pentax K-3, 31mm Limited, f/4, 1/800, ISO 100, natural light, late afternoon.
Another example where the location and the dress came together really well.  Someone had set up these giant red Z-shaped benches/artworks in a courtyard along my walk to and from my office.  I love the contrast between the green dress and the red of the Z, and how my boots and belt also pick up the red.  I also like how the zigzags are echoed by the shadows in my skirt and the building in the background.

 (5)  Self-Drafted Tube Dress
Pentax K-3, 31mm Limited, f/11, 4, ISO 100, artificial light and flash about 45 degrees to the left.
This was a difficult shot to pull off, as the model.  I wanted the streetlights to be starbursts, so I stopped the lens down to f/11.  With such a small aperture, I had to use a long exposure (four seconds!) to gather enough light from the background.  I had to stand very still for the long exposure.  Most of the light on me came from the flash, but even so, the exposure was so long that the background would start to show through me like a ghostly apparition if I moved too much. It was also difficult to time the shot with the traffic lights so that there weren't cars driving down the street behind me.

(4)  Advance 9441
Pentax K-3, 31mm Limited, f/11, 1/50, ISO 100, natural light around midday.
I had always wanted to do one of those lying-in-the-flowers shots.  What better time than bluebonnet season, and what better place than Wildseed Farms?  On the other hand, this shot presented unanticipated technical difficulties.  I couldn't use the tripod because there was no way to position the camera directly over me.  So, my dad had to take the picture.  However, my dad wasn't able to just stand over me to take the picture-- the field of view of my 31mm lens wasn't wide enough to fit my entire body, and a wider lens would have introduced too much perspective distortion.  Plus, with the sun almost directly overhead, his body would have cast a shadow on me.  We solved these problems by having him climb up onto the big concrete cylinder at the base of a light pole.  To top off the problems, I hadn't been paying attention to the camera settings, and this photo came out very overexposed.  I had to do a ton of postprocessing to make it presentable. 

(3)  1935 Vionnet Dress
Pentax K-3, 31mm Limited, f/1.8, 1/4, ISO 100, flash to the left, don't remember what angle.
A fantastic evening dress, a rooftop pool in Hollywood with a view of the LA skyline, and a flash.  Not much more to say about this one.  I shot at f/1.8, and there were quite a few focus misses.  I wonder if in the future it might be a better idea to shoot at f/2.8 or f/4.0 instead-- with a greater depth of field, it's less disastrous if the camera focuses on the railing instead of my face. 

(2)  Sweetheart Overalls
Pentax K-3, 15mm Limited, 1/50, ISO 200, diffuse natural light in the evening
Overalls and cows!  MOO!  Rarely do I get to use an ultra wide angle lens for fashion photography, but it worked out well here. 

(1)  Self-Drafted Polka Dot Skirt
Pentax K-3, 31mm Limited, f/1.8, 1/180, ISO 100, single flash behind my head.
This was tons of fun to shoot.  I love the rim light from the single flash behind my head.  I set the lights and the camera settings, but I had my dad take the pictures to get the timing of the twirl just right-- burst shooting would not have worked in this situation due to the recycle time of the flash.

In conclusion, I think the past year's photography went very well given that I was just starting out.  In the future, I'd like to do more interesting location shoots, and I'd also like try using lighting modifiers.  I've had my eye on this one gridded softbox for a while...

No comments:

Post a Comment