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Friday, 19 March 2010

Busy busy busy

I've spent the last few evenings working on my website (

I'm pleased to say that it's now live, showcasing my latest photos. I've gone for a cleaner look this time with a new gallery interface courtesy of Simple Viewer.

I've also finally got round to setting up a facebook Fan Page, and a Twitter feed.

Now all I've got to do is fill it with content...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

"O-Flash" - first thoughts

I just received my O-Flash (which is a cheap e-bay knock-off, similar in design to the RayFlash adapter). I ran a few comparison tests, but they're not ideal (my O-flash is the 179 model, for SB-900 and D300s - which is what I want, but Mr Postman hasn't yet delivered my SB-900, so I had to run the tests with my SB-600 which is physically smaller, so the O-flash didn't fit correctly...)

First impressions are mixed. The black section is very robust feeling, as are the clear light-channelling moulds. However, the clear cover that sits over this is *very* flimsy - similar to the packaging plastic you often get moulded around small items like USB drives or SD cards... Not sure that this will stand up to much abuse, but even if this breaks it shouldn't actually effect the quality of light. Which is the next problem...

I made some test shots to see how much light was lost in the adapter, and the results are below - read it and weep...

First, a 'reference' shot. For ALL of these shots, the camera was in Manual, as was the flash for consistency of exposure. None of these shots have been edited - these are JPGs straight from the camera with no levels/curves or other exposure tweaks in post. I was about 3-feet from Bob The Builder for these shots

ƒ6.3 | 1/100s | ISO400 | Flash @ 1/64 - SB600 on bare on camera

Next, I took the same shot, but this time with the O-Flash adaptor added

ƒ6.3 | 1/100s | ISO400 | Flash @ 1/64 - O-Flash adaptor

Wow - the O-Flash is *really* eating the light! Just to be clear, these two shots (above) were taken with the *same* camera settings and the *same* manual flash settings.

So I adjusted the flash output, keeping the camera exposure consistent:

ƒ6.3 | 1/100s | ISO400 | Flash @ 1/8 - O-Flash adaptor

ƒ6.3 | 1/100s | ISO400 | Flash @ 1/2 - O-Flash adaptor (still under-exposed compared with the bare SB-600 @ 1.64!)

ƒ6.3 | 1/100s | ISO400 | Flash @ 1/1 - O-Flash adaptor (FULL POWER!)

So by my eyes (and nothing more scientific) the O-Flash exposure is slightly under the reference shot at 1/2 flash power, and slightly over the reference shot at 1/1 (full) flash power. Bear in mind that the reference was at 1/64 flash power, that means the O-Flash has lost about 5 1/2 stops of light. Wow. That's gonna cost me in batteries.

But, one thing I noticed when I dismantled the O-Flash (hey, I'm curious - gotta take things apart!) was that the 'reflector' to channel the light from the flash-gun around the ring was plain, matt, textured CARDBOARD! Which, according to my eyes, is NOT reflective. So I figured I'd replace it with my own cardboard copy, but I'd stick aluminium foil to the back to give the light a chance. The original cardboard is on the right, and my homemade copy is on the left.

DSC_5958 DSC_5959

Lets see if that improves the illumination

ƒ6.3 | 1/100s | ISO400 | Flash @ 1/4 - Modified O-Flash adaptor

ƒ6.3 | 1/100s | ISO400 | Flash @ 1/2 - Modified O-Flash adaptor

ƒ6.3 | 1/100s | ISO400 | Flash @ 1/1 - Modified O-Flash adaptor

This is *slightly* better with the foil added, but still losing a LOT of power...

I'll need to run some more comparison tests, but so far I'm slightly un-impressed...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

RIP Howard Goff

It's with great sadness that I just heard of the untimely passing of Howard Goff (

Howie was a great guy, and gave me lots of excellent advice when I started learning photography. He will be missed...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Tilt/Shift effect in Photoshop

I recently took a trip to London, and had the chance to take some shots from the iconic BT Tower. It struck me that some of these images were the ideal candidate for a fake Tilt/Shift effect – basically, a photoshop trip to make an image look like it was a close-up shot of a model, rather than a real life image.


So, this is the image I started with

It’s been opened in Adobe Camera Raw, and had the following settings applied:

- Contrast: +59

- Saturation: +37

This is the starting point – boosting the contrast and saturation adds to the ‘false’ effect, and makes the final image look more model-like.

Next, I duplicated the image into a second layer. (Layer –> duplicate layer –> As background copy). I then applied a strong Gaussian Blur to the new layer (Filter –> Blur –> Gaussian Blur –> 15). The resulting image is nicely blurred. You’ll need to tweak this value, based on the strength of effect you need and the original size of the image (larger image needs a larger value, a small image needs smaller value…)

Next, you need to add a layer mask – there is a button at the bottom of the layer palette called ‘Add layer mask’. You need to fill this layer mask with a ‘reflected gradient’ from the gradient tool. I find it works best if you don’t make the gradient perfectly horizontal, but instead angle it to one side slightly. Your layer palette will now look something like this:

The resulting image should, with some luck, look something like this:

You’ll be able to alter the strength of the effect by changing the opacity of the top (blurred) layer.



Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Windows 7 test

So, I finally gave in on my Ubuntu build – WiFi failures were just too much effort, so I’ve gone for Windows 7… this is a test post from the Live Writer app on Win7. Must say, so far I’m very impressed…

Friday, 24 April 2009

Aspire one

Test post from my new gadget - an Acer Aspire One netbook... had it for a few hours, and already I'm in love - it's great! ;-)

Monday, 23 February 2009

Air duct ringlight - the experiment continues

Inspired by this post in the Strobist discussion group by Moyen Format, I tried making my own ring flash from a piece of flexible ducting - Picked up the ducting from Screwfix (Item number 17297) and also picked up a connector that's meant to be used to link the tubular ducting to rectangular duct (Item number 12049). (click thru for bigger pics on Flickr)

Ringlight (No flash)

It's as simple (and ridiculous!) as it looks - length of ducting, with a flash stuck in the end. I've added a CD in the other end as a reflector to try to even the light out a little.

Ringlight with Flash (and -4stop exposure)

And here it is 'in action' - the bottom half of the frame is the same image, but with the exposure dropped -4 stops in ACR to show the hot spots a little better. You can see how uneven the light is, with 12 o clock to about 4 o clock being lit, but a lot of falloff after that

Ringlight with 2 Flashes (and -4stop exposure)

On this shot, I added a second (hand held) slave flash - you can see that this even things up a lot (same idea as above - bottom half is dropped 4 stops in ACR). This looked pretty good, so I thought I'd see out some willing 'models'... Cue Eeyore and Elmo:

Eeyore Ringlight

Eeyore looks OK - very 'flat' lighting, but he doesn't have any reflective eyes (aaw, poor Eeyore!) so you can't see the trademark ring catch light, and he's quite a big guy, and was a fair distance off the wall, so you can't really see the ring shadow/halo against the wall...

Day45 - Elmo Catchlight

Elmo, however, is lucky enough to have real (plastic) eyes, and looks a lot better with the ringlight - you can see in the catchlight that the light still isn't even, but it's a lot better. Still need to try to mask off some of the ring around the flashes to try and even things out, and maybe figure a way to mount the 2nd flash (or better, get the reflection working well enough that the 2nd flash isn't needed)

That's gonna be tomorrows problem... or next weeks. Sometime.