Today felt unproductive even though I got some things done. Perhaps because I was doing things I didn’t really want to do?
I have probably had these two matchbox sizes light meters for over 30 years. They were a common find in second hand and antique shops and fairly cheap back in the 80’s. My guess is the design dates back to the 60’s.
The one on the right looks far more complicated but it is displays the same information as the one on the left. I used to use them but they require a little more thought and time than an in camera meter.
Out of respect I used my Calcuflash incident light meter to set the exposure for this image. I bought it back in the 80’s too and you can still buy them today.
It’s just seed cone I picked up walking the dog but it became an exercise in creativity and problem solving.
To start with I just wanted a clean simple image with limited sharpness, I used an A4 sketchpad as a background and an improvised light source using a big window with a diffuser blind plus an iPhone box that was laying around as a reflector to fill the shadows. My 30 year old Calcuflash incident meter read f4 at 1/60, 400 ISO so I went with that. It’s not too shabby.
All up that was ten minutes effort but then I reworked the setup to get a sharper image. I could have gone with a longer exposure and smaller aperture but did not want to dig the tripod out so instead I went for flash. Using a ring flash diffuser I was able to use f11 at 1/160 sec, 400 ISO to get this;
The sharpness is there but working so closely (within a hand width of the subject) the light is not getting to the top of the subject and a lot of detail is getting lost. The paper is also over exposed in the top left corner.
The ring flash diffuser is a recent eBay purchase best described as a cross between a donut, a folding soft-box light modifier and a small drum. It cost somewhere between 20-30 dollars and for that you get a small soft-box that is really portable.
Solving this required a simple compromise using both the daylight and flash. Here is the result using f11 1/125 sec, 400 ISO. I also got a little further back to allow the ring flash to do it’s job better. The result is sharper and more evenly exposed. The only catch is the colour balance, which will always be an issue as the colour temp of daylight changes through the day.
Finally, for completeness I got the tripod out of hiding and did this at f20 1/4 sec, 400 ISO
Here is the set used.
Just a bunch of pencils right?
There is more to it because this is practice, not just getting the lighting, exposure and focus right but starting with a pile of pencils and just looking at them, playing with compositions and placing them in different colour combinations.
If your eye is drawn to the yellow pencil, that’s no coincidence, it’s practice. It’s all about repeatedly trying , failing and learning.
If only I had a sitter as patient as these pencils…
At some point recently, I passed a milestone of working 35 years and while I have occasionally thought about what retirement could be like I realised that it’s a lot closer now, even if I have to work until I’m 70 to afford it.
This recent New York Times article on Annie Leibovitz caught my attention. I don’t think Annie is planning her retirement anytime soon but why would she?
Listening to some electronica curtesy of Scottish band CHVRCHES (not misspelt!) I always had a soft spot for this genre ever since The Art of Noise released Close to the edit back in 1984. Lauren Mayberry has this delicate child like quality to her voice that isn’t forced and group shows how much a three piece band is capable of.