Friday, May 30, 2008

Portrait of MJ

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This is a portrait of Mary Jane taken using a flashlight and the 4X5 camera with a sheet of Tri-X Pan film. The neighbor’s cat had followed MJ in and snoozed out on her lap.

The flashlight/time exposure technique was used. The room is almost dark and the shutter is opened. A flashlight is used to carefully add light to the areas desired. The flashlight is completely covered with black tape. As long as it’s kept moving, it won’t show even when within the frame area of the image.
Being able to use the light on an oblique angle showed the folds and details of her coat, and set a highlight on the brim of her hat. On the other hand, her face is fully lit without the shadows that would have been formed by side lighting. It is not a “soft” light, and won’t create the soft shadows that wrap around an object’s edges as a soft box does. The end result looks more like the 1940’s era photos of film stars, which was typically lit with film style lights. MJ’s pose was her own addition to the mix, and fits the style. A 25 year old refrigerator is lurking behind her, but thankfully it caught no light.

All it takes is a tripod, flashlight and camera.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shack One Still Life

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I’ve spoken before about photographs taken in a few rentals that I’ve called Shack One and Shack Two. Shack One was located on Route 29 South of Charlottesville. These other Shack Photos include the Marimba, the Chair in the Woods, Gibson J-50 (which is the dense woods around Shack One), and Mary Jane’s Living Room, which would actually be a version 2.2 of Shack Two.

To these I will add the still life above. This was John’s lamp in the living room, and possibly his beer. I came down the stairs and just saw how rich the light was on the flower, and then got the old 4X5 and tripod out.

John was on orderly person while I tended to exude chaos and dark matter uncontrollably. He also had his own style sense which Shack One benefited from. MJ was often the person who dropped off antique store bargains, although I’m not sure where the lamp came from. It’s a classic.

I shot this on the usual Tri-x and I don’t seem to have a record of the exposure, although it was surely shot at the aperture of F-16. That was the sweet spot with that lens.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Appalachian Trail Marker

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The National Park Service had a photography contest a few years ago. I decided to enter using a black and white image that was taken at night. I thought of the traditional Appalachian Trail “blaze” as a universally understood symbol for the Trail. It is also standardized and the specifications published by the Park System. Here’s a fairly complete explanation; . I figured I could take something like a still life and include some of the characteristic “Flora,” in this case ferns. Carting the Crown Graphic and tripod up to the marker was good exercise, and I made sure to feed some of the mosquitoes on the way through.

There being almost no ambient light, I just opened the shutter and took my time painting light with a small, two cell flashlight with the lens taped down to about a 1/8 inch slit. You can create light coming from various directions. You do need to be careful to keep the light out of the image area.