Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Redbubble Calendars!!

Redbubble now have calendars for sale! So why is that so exciting I hear you ask, well because it means that I now have calendars for sale!!

Last year Redbubble came up with a way that allowed us members to put together calendars and get them printed, for ourselves. Well almost a year on and we can now offer those calendars up for sale direct to the public. They have not yet been incorporated into "Bubblesites" but I hope they will be soon.

So anyway, if you ever wanted a calendar of my photos then step right up and order one. At the moment I haven't added any new designs but I hope to get to that soon. Oh and let me know if you have any special requests!

Will's Redbubble Site
Will's Calendars

Saturday, 27 September 2008

HSS hack update

I posted and article called Sync speed and flash duration earlier this year describing a hack to enable cameras with mechanical shutter to shoot using a flash at shutter speeds over the cameras max sync speed WITHOUT using a proprietary flash system. Since then a little more info has become available so I thought I'd write another article focusing on how to do it rather than just investigating what it is. If you want more info on mechanical shutter and why it works then have a reader of the other article here.

So what do you need?
  • Camera
  • a proprietary flash that can do HSS/FP
  • A flash with manual settings
  • An optical slave
  • Optional: Radio trigger and a way to attach the optical slave to radio trigger

If you are using a Nikon camera with PC port I believe you can do this without the optical slave and connect either the flash or a radio trigger directly to your cameras PC port.

Ok now to put it together . . .

  1. Put the proprietary flash on the camera and select HSS/FP mode (this is the trigger so reduce power and point away from subject if you don't want to use as a light source)

  2. Select full power on the manual flash

  3. Put the optical slave where the on camera flash will trigger it

  4. Then the manual flash can be connected by a number of different methods, either directly to the slave, with a PC cord or a radio trigger can fill this gap, i.e. the transmitter can be attached to the optical slave and the receiver to the flash.

And . . . Ta Daaaa, you have a system that should give you HSS using a camera with a mechanical or focal plane shutter. You still need to remember that we are now using the flash as a continuous light source rather than an instantaneous flash, therefore shutter speed will now affect the exposure of the flash. Because the "continuous light source is not on for long and varies in power you will also see some light drop off across the frame, particular as the shutter speed gets higher. This also means that you will not get the large relative "gain" in power you can when you have a camera with an electronic shutter but it is another technique to keep in the back of your mind that might be useful one day.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Will's new gallery

What's that I hear you say, bout bloody time?? Yeah I agree, my web site has been neglected for a long time, largely because it was very labour intensive to update the image gallery and I figured there was no point putting more effort into a lost cause. I've know for a long time that I've needed some sort of an automated site builder/image gallery/content management system but didn't really know how you went about setting it up and the one attempt I had was a bit of a mess.

So what changed?

B# Big Band at Swing Patrol 10th Birthday ballWell I had the opportunity to shoot an event (the event album) that I thought I'd be able to sell prints from and needed somewhere to sell them. So research ensued, I checked out all the Australian "smug mug" type web sites and found none of the suited, either out of date, too expensive, couldn't get info on them (even after email requests) so I decided to set-up my own shop front.

Will's attempt at creating an online store for photos using free PHP software = Fail.

What happened, well I managed to install two different pieces of free shop front software and found both of them lacking mainly because selling photos is a little unique, you have a very large number of "products" that will all have the same set of multiple prices depending print size. Now it may have been possible to fix this and or install a "photo sales" module but I couldn't see and easy way of adding the products and I'd yet to learn about modules. Besides it was after 2am, I needed sleep.

So I had in my head that I needed a bulk upload facility that I figured an image gallery would have, so the next day research started again and I came up with a list of free image gallery software (and a suggestion of using drupral). In the end I went with "Gallery" image gallery software coz it looked good, seemed pretty easy to use, had many modules to customise the look and function including a couple for shopping carts that use Paypal! YAY! So I eventually figured out how to install it and a few module and upload a couple of photos, double YAY! After 2am again, bed.

The following day I was researching way to further customise it, details of the checkout, changing themes and layouts, privileges and all the rest and it was starting to come together and actually looking functional. I decided to use the "checkout" module, it seemed streamline and it actually worked when I tried it (usually a good thing). So i continued improving things, getting down to the smaller and small details, the only problem is that the more I played, the more I wanted to play and improve and change and tweak and . . . and . . . and crap, 2am, need sleep again.

Anyway after that there haven't been a lot of changes, I do try new themes occasional and I have a few things on the "improvements" list but I need to learn more about tweaking the actual code and style sheets (I did try it once and broke it for a while, good think I always keep the backup). On of the things that I have done is start to migrate my old "art" image gallery across to the new location so that it hopefully shows off my work a little better and I can keep it up to date much more easily.
Dusk at Lake St Clair, Tasmania
So where to now? Well it still needs to be properly integrated with my web site, not entirely how to do that right atm, if I move the site to gallery or gallery to the site or both to a new content management system the might include this blog a bit better too. We will see, only time will tell but for now I'm just happy to event photos up for sale (with ppl buying them!) and my 'art' photos are slowly coming up to date.

- View the Gallery -

Saturday, 3 May 2008

High ISO on Canon 30D

I just got back from Hullabaloo, an awesome swing dance exchange (big dance event over several days) in Perth where I had a great time dancing up a storm and even managed to snap a few photos.

My kit for the trip was:
  • Canon 30D

  • Sigma 17-70mm

  • Canon 50mm f/1.8

  • Canon 430EX
to give a versatile and light weight kit to shoot scenery, people/group snapshots, portraits and even some dance action shots. Anyway let me get onto what this is all about, pushing the camera to the limit.

At a few of the events I decided I couldn't be bothered using the flash despite it being very low light so I put on 50mm, set the camera to ISO 3200, f/1.8 and a shutter speed of around 1/40 to 1/60 and snapped away.

Here are some of the results (click on thumbnail for larger image):

Basically you are limited by the single focal length and shallow depth of field, particularly for group shots, and a steady hand & still subjects is required but it produces some nice shots. I did a little noise reduction using the photoshop filter and usually left them with a fairly warm colour balance that I think suits the mood a little better.

I haven't yet tried printing any of these shots but I think they will work ok as 6"x4", and, well, that's about it. Just a little case study.

When considering the quality it is worth nothing that even at these settings I was underexposing between 1/2 to 2 stops, the bottom one might have been even more. Now these shots may not be high enough quality for you or just not to your taste, but it shows what is possible and produces some different images that stand out from the crowd.

Thanks to (in order from top to bottom): Robbie, Kat Sherrard, the mask, Corinne Allen & Ben (who are glowing after dancing hard!), and Lexi for looking awesome and letting me post their photos.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Sync speed and flash duration

Many off-camera-flash users got excited when they found out they could use their flashes above the camera's normal sync speed if the camera had an electronic shutter. Well now there is a way to get high sync speed even if the camera has a mechanical shutter!

Now I can't claim credit for this, I read about it in the Strobist forum here and here.

First some background:
When a camera with a mechanical shutter is triggered the bottom of the shutter opens and when the exposure has been long enough the top of the shutter closes (it can also open from the bottom up). Up to a cameras top sync speed there is an instant where the entire shutter is open, when you go faster than this speed the shutter will be closing before it is full open, kind of giving a band of light that crossing the shutter plane.

So what does this mean for a flash? Well because a flash duration for most speed lights is approximately 1/1000 seconds long if it goes off when the shutter plane is only part way open it will look like this.

So how can we light the entire shutter plan with one flash when it is never fully open? Well while a flash is very quick, it still has a duration and through a little work around we can make use of this. Now I'm still not entirely sure how it works and don't have the equipment to do all the testing I want but I have my theories. The catch, you need a flash with High Speed Sync (HSS) to trick the camera into syncronising the flash and shutter as if the flash was operating on high speed sync (many little strobes to light the entire shutter plane).

So how did I make it work:
-Take camera - Canon 30D
-Attach flash - 430EX
-Put flash in HSS mode, manual, 1/64 power (so it doesn't contribute to the light much)
-Put Nikon sb-25 on an optical slave, manual, 1/1 power (longest flash duration)
-Start shooting


(click for larger image)

Nikon users have been attaching their flash via their camera's PC sync port, I don't have a cable so I can't try that however I did attach an eBay trigger to the PC sync port and it didn't work. I don't know if this is a difference with the port or just that the eBay triggers aren't great. Drop me a comment if you've had success with a canon.
Edit: Canon users can not use the PC sync port for this so they will have to be content using an optical slave (which actually doesn't trigger all that well from a flash in HSS mode).

Now why I think it works:
Well we are using the flash duration so that during the single "flash" the entire shutter plane is opened as some point, the flash suddenly becomes like a continuous light source. Why does it only work when the camera thinks it is doing HSS, well I think in HSS mode the flash triggers a little earlier and this allows it to overlap better with the shutter.

It isn't without its losses and it ain't perfect but I'm sure it'll come in handy at times. Anyway let me know what your experience with it is and if you have any other ideas on why it works.

UPDATE: I've added some further info in a blog post here.

Monday, 31 March 2008

The Umbrella Softbox

Thought I'd give you a quick "preview" of a product - The Umbrella Softbox - that might be of interest to Strobist readers after a recent post on rethinking umbrellas. So first the background:

The Strobist post was comparing reflective umbrellas to shoot through umbrellas and then after a while softboxes got brought into the debate through the comments. So what tools of the trade work best, particularly for speedlight applications (small light source)?

The consensus seems to be that for most applications shoot through umbrellas work best unless you have a large group and need the added efficiency of a reflective umbrella where you can't just bring it closer to the subject. Anyway more info on the reasons for that in the post I liked to above.

Now we come to softboxes, I haven't ever used them so forgive my ignorance and correct me if I'm wrong, but they seem to be about having more control over your light. They can give you a more directed light source and less spill out the back which allows you to isolate where you put your light. In contrast to using a shoot through umbrella where you almost create a bare bulb type light source. So this begs the question, why use umbrellas?

Umbrellas are quick to set up, pack down small and are cheap! So basically it is a cost and convenience thing, they work pretty well for most circumstances, plus if you know their limitations you can work around them. But is there a better way?

I saw this "Umbrella Softbox" at the Envisage IT and Photo eBay store a while ago when looking for another umbrella and very nearly bought it. At the time I was a bit strapped for cash so I just bought a standard umbrella but I'm thinking it could be a great balance between an umbrella and a softbox. It will still act as a shoot through umbrella for the forward 180ยบ but the black cover will greatly reduce the spill out the back and may prevent some lens flare if you have it position between your camera and the subject. On the downside it looks like the flash would have to be choked up the shaft quite a bit more so some form of wide angle adaptor may be required if you want an even spread of light.

I've seen them for sale a few place but drop a comment if you know anywhere else that sells them or what your experience is with them.


Disclaimer: I don't have any association with these stores nor do I specifically endorse any of them, this is simply listed stores that appear to stock this item.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

In all its glory

My mother rang me up recently to see if I could take some photos of an orchid (actually technically a Gloriosa Superba or Glory/Flame Lilly) that was flowering so I thoughtI'd give you a quick post about some photos I took recently and a bit of the story behind them.

Ok technically it was pretty simply, I thought I'd have a go shooting in direct sun with a reflector, it didn't work great, but I got the one below. Basically the light was just too hard and there were harsh shadows that couldn't be filled due to the shape of the flower.

So I moved inside with a black back drop, I put a shoot through umbrella with sb-25 on the left slightly above and angled down a little, a reflector on the other side, a bit below and angled up (white roof also provided some fill from the spill) and ended up with the shot up top and the one below. I also shot a bunch of other angles and individual part of the flower and was able to keep the lighting pretty much the same for all of them.

Background story:
Basically this was my grandmothers and as the story goes after she passed away my mother was cleaning up and came across this "empty" pot with nothing but dirt in and very nearly threw it out! But because my grandmother was into gardening particularly spectacular (and often rare) flowers so she held on to the pot for a while and look what grew! So more that just being a spectacular flower it will always be a reminder of my wonderful grandmother.

Friday, 22 February 2008

The business of photography

While photography isn't actually my job I would kinda like it to be one day, anyway I though today's What The Duck post was kinda cool:

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Do you CLS or ETTL??

I've been following "RadioPopper" development for a few months now and I reckon they look pretty spiffy! They have just release more details and photos of their "P1" (One channel ETTL/CSL) units.

The basic idea is that they take the optical IR signal from an ETTL/CLS master unit and transmits it to the slave flash using a radio signal, thus greatly extending the range and improving line of site issues typical with IR communication.

Unfortunately I don't have much use for the "P1" units as I don't have an ETTL master (and only the one slave) but I am definitely looking forward to the release of the RadioPopper Jnr units. They will be a simple radio trigger using a similar design (without the optical stuff) that will hopefully be more reliable and have greater range than the GI triggers for a similar price.

To stay up to date on the detail have a look at the RadioPopper Blog.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Cactus/GI/Ebay triggers - Modifications

I may have mentioned something in my first post about being a little busy, well recently that's a been mild understatement.
One of the first things I wanted to write about is my experience with the "eBay" flash triggers but since I haven't had time to do any writing - let alone proper testing I thought I'd start with a link to Jeremy Kuster's blog that gives a detailed write-up of some modifications you can make to these units.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Not another project!

Yes, I think this means that I just started another project, some would say I am crazy and I would tend to agree, but what's life without a little craziness?

Anyway I'm not entirely sure what form this blog will take just yet, but I hope to share a little photo news and reviews with you, assuming I actually have the time to take some photos and write about them. For now I'll simply leave you with a few links to where you can find my work: