Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Week 2 (January 8th - 14th) | Picture 3

The first several days of this week, I was waiting for the snow. And the first 13 hours of my day yesterday, I was waiting for the snow. I knew the snow was coming, and I was so excited to try to photograph a snowflake macro for this week's picture. Daylight came and went yesterday and still no snow. That was disappointing, but I figured I could make something work on our deck with some creative lighting after dark.

At 7:00pm the snow started falling fast, and I managed to get a good setup on our deck. Only to try to take pictures of wet, clumpy, icy "snow." I wanted a snowflake, not a large conglomeration of icy mess. I was really disappointed! And I didn't have any idea what I was going to photograph for this week's picture.

Off camera flash is something that I've really been wanting to explore more, so I popped onto the Strobist website last night and started poking around. Do you know the Strobist website? If you have any interest at all in creative lighting - run, do not walk, to that website.

I came across this particular post - and it's always been something I've wanted to try. I have naively tried this in the kitchen sink before and it's always failed. (Bad light, bad perspective, missed focus, should I go on?) But the Strobist post gave me inspiration to try again. So I rigged up a ziploc bag attached to a cabinet knob with a rubber band, used an aluminum baking pan for my water, propped up my white flash bounce sheet (a piece of printer paper) with a wine bottle, and rested my off camera flash on a container of baby formula. Yes, seriously. The result?

Camera: Nikon D300
Lens: 105mm f/2.8 macro
Aperture: f/8.0
Shutter Speed: 1/250
ISO: 800
Flash: SB-800 off camera, manual, 1/128th power
Exposure: manual

Unlike my macro picture from last week where I took hundreds and had next to nothing to show for it, I did get several very cool pictures last night and it was hard to pick just one to share. I chose this one because of the razor sharp focus on the droplet and the way it picked up the light.

A couple points to note:

1) There was limited working space on my counter to set this all up, so my flash was set extremely close to the white paper. It took me a couple tries to figure out the right flash power for proper lighting. Next time, I would probably lower ISO some and up the flash power just a hair (only because I prefer lower ISO whenever I can get it), but overall I'm really happy for my first attempt.

2) I told you I took the picture in an aluminum pan with a white piece of paper for flash bounce, yet the image is remarkably blue. Is this fancy Photoshop voodoo?

NOPE! In fact, my goal for this 52 week project is to not do any post processing edits in Photoshop. (Now if you pull my EXIF data, they will all say Photoshop, but that's because I pull them over to apply my watermark. I know, I know, LR can do that. But you'll just have to take my word that I'm not doing any editing in PS for this 52 week challenge. And that is a HUGE challenge for me. I love PS, and it's been really hard not to run a quick defog on these images before I save them.)

Sorry for that digression.

So how did I take a gray image and turn it blue? White balance! I could have done it in camera (in fact I did do that on a couple), but since I shoot RAW, it doesn't really matter how I do it in camera since I can always change it after the fact. This went from boring gray to vibrant blue with one swift shift of my WB slider in LR.


  1. That's totally cool and very creative! :)

  2. Gorgeous!!! I wondered how you got the blue color, I had assumed it was a blue dish. =D I have a blog post coming w/ my pathetic attempt at water droplet shots, and I'm linking yours to show me up. =D


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