Sunday, October 23, 2011

Back to Nature for a Change of Pace

I've been doing tons of people photography lately. So, Friday morning, I managed to free some time to slip away to the Eno River State Park in Durham, North Carolina, to spend the hours around dawn shooting photos with no people in them.

Mist and Reflection

During my hours along the peacefully gurgling river, I encountered a beaver along the river bank at close range. It freaked and barreled towards me. I stepped out of the way, hoping it was just panicked, not rabid.
It charged right past me and into the water. A few minutes later it started slapping the water with its tail, making a loud splashy boom.
I also saw a group of deer crossing the river in the mist. It was magical. And naturally, I was in absolutely the wrong place to take pictures of it. I was standing in a bunch of trees as feeling returned to my feet after having overtopped my water proof boots getting these photos:

Dawn on the Eno

I spent a little more time, getting some shots of the river bank scenery, and then headed for home.

As I headed for home, a nap, and then work, I had my final wildlife sighting of the day. A kingfisher came flying down the river, turned towards me for a second or two, then veered away violently to the far side of the river. Guess it realized I was there.

Not a single person did I see while I was in the park. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Light Modifier Review: Rusty Oil Drum

I figured I'd start my Light Modifier Review series off with a rarely utilized modifier: a rusty oil drum.

I was hunting outdoor locations at a photography meetup, when I found this rusting oil drum in a raised alcove under a bridge. Looking at it's lovely orange interior, I theorized that if put a speedlight with a full CTO gel down there, aimed, not up, but at the side of the drum, I would get a really soft, almost glowing, amazingly orange light coming out of the top of the drum.

Since it was near Halloween, and the meetup theme was costumes, I decided to put the oil drum to the test. I matched it with a couple of snooted speedlights to fill in the top of the face and to provide a hair/separation light. The hair/separation light got a deep blue gel, to emphasize the other-worldiness of the situation. The tight face fill started with a 1/4 CTO gel, but I quickly replaced that with a full CTO gel to better match the underlighting.

So, how'd it do? Pretty well, actually. It produced about f/4 @ ISO 400 with the speedlight on (if my recollection is correct) half power. The light did indeed pick up some lovely red and orange tones from the rusty. The drum produced a multiply bounced, soft, radiant light. I think the light was great, but you can make up your own mind based on the photos in this post, all taken using the rusty oil drum light.

Good Points:

  • Cheap - it was just sitting there, free for the using.
  • It produced great soft light with unique color.
Weak Points:
  • Not portable. I guess you could schlep one around if you had an SUV or pickup truck, but damn, it's heavy and unwieldy.
  • Not manueverable. It's a steel drum. A big steel drum. Your light stand or boom won't hold it, and neither will your assistant, so good luck changing the placement or even the orientation of the light.