Friday, November 27, 2009

Today I picked up the new Nikon AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens that I have been waiting for since July 2009. So far I'm pretty impressed.

This is a little vibration reduction comparison that I did tonight standing in my front yard.

Nikon D300, ISO500, Nikon AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, handheld standing

(all images straight-out-of-the-camera, with minor cropping / straightening in photoshop)


70mm, 1/15, VR on

70mm, 1/15, VR on, 100% crop of previous image

70mm, 1/15, VR off

70mm, 1/15, VR off, 100% crop of previous image

200mm, 1/15, VR on

200mm, 1/15, VR on, 100% crop of previous image

200mm, 1/15, VR off

200mm, 1/15, VR off, 100% crop of previous image

Monday, May 18, 2009

3 and 3 Studios Website went live today

After a lot of work, a lot of tweaking, and a lot of procrastinating -- 3 and 3 studios website went live today.

This is the commercial outlet for my photography.

Incidentally, there is also my artistic website,

Thanks for looking!


Friday, April 24, 2009

After reading strobist, I decided to purchase the MPEX Starving Student 2-light Kit. It came via UPS Wednesday. I've taken the next step towards doing portraiture photography in a studio setting.

I got it all set up in a vacant bedroom in my house.

After doing a -lot- of reading, I've come up with a nice little 4-light setup.

Now, each of the 4 lights has it's own purpose. In this configuration I have a main light, a fill light, a background light, and a kicker light.

Main Light : very close to the subject, camera left, using a shoot-thru umbrella.
Fill Light : away from subject, up and camer right (over my shoulder), using a bounce umbrella
Background light : on the floor pointed at the wall, undiffused, using a gobo (gate) to keep light spill off the subject
Kicker light : using a strip-softbox, behind the subject camera right

Main Light:

Fill Light :

Background Light :

Kicker Light :

All Lights :

just for comparison, on-camera TTL flash :

This setup is for a sort-of Rembrandt effect, with the triangle on the subject's cheek. This style of lighting is good for a female subject. I guess it's really closer to "Short lighting" where the main light illuminates the side of the face that is away from the camera.

Here's the setup :

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the MPEX kit. The main thing I wanted out of it was the 2 speedlights and the 2 stands / umbrellas / mounts. I got the Cactus V2 wireless transmitter / receivers as well, but these things are pretty cheap and not extremely reliable. I bought some little optical triggers that work just fine -- you just have to use the on-camera flash to fire everything. I set it way down to 1/128 so that it does not add to the exposure at all.

I was going to try to use the Nikon CLS, but the pre-flashes make my slave strobes go off prematurely so I had to come up with something else. The manual settings are good though because it forces you to learn all this stuff.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nikon CLS and Home-made softbox

First of all, you need to make a home made softbox. There are various ways to do this. This is the home-made softbox that I used for this article. Here are two other versions, both made from an old cardboard box and aluminum foil.

DIY Photography, Strip Light

DIY Photography, Cardboard softbox

Here is the one I made, (left) using the instructions from I have it mounted to a Nikon SB-800 and set it on an old tripod of mine. The softbox also works when the flash is mounted directly on the camera's hot-shoe.

The second thing to work on is setting up Nikon CLS (Creative Lighting System). This is a feature of Nikon DSLR cameras that allows the user to trigger an off-camera flash without any wires or cables. You have to enable it in the camera first. (On the D300) it's Menu--> Custom Setting Menu --> Bracketing/Flash --> Flash cntrl for built-in flash --> Commander mode. This allows the user to choose certain options that control the way CLS is implemented. There are many details surrounding this feature, consult the User's Guide for all the various options. The key thing to get right is the channel and group, as these setting must match the corresponding settings on the Speedlight (off-camera flash).

You can set it up so that TTL flash control is used, but this creates a slight delay right before the sutter is released. For still life this is acceptable, but for people or pets this is enough time to let the eyes blink. For this shot, I have everything set to manual, and I have the on-camera (built-in) flash set to -2 stops to act as a fill flash and lessen the harshness of the shadows. This is the resulting setup (right).

Another benefit of using the on-camera (built-in) flash in the shot is the catch light in the eyes. The small glint in the eyes makes the subject look more alive and aesthetically pleasing.

This is the resulting image -- Sasha and her toy in nice, soft light.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Windows XP Install

Today I finished re-formatting and re-installing Windows XP Home. This isn't the first time I've done this, but this time it was much much smoother. This is due to the process called "slipstreaming" that I had heard of before but never tried -- until today.

I read this page which showed me how to do it. You'll need some free software called nLite, about 1GB free disk space, and you'll need Microsoft XP Service Pack 3. Once you have these things assembled it's very easy. Refer to the link above for deailed instructions, but basically you will :

1) insert your XP install disk into your drive
2) start the nLite program
3) point it to the install disk
4) tell it where to write the new cd image
5) point it to the SP3 service pack you downloaded
6) tell it to make the new cd image
7) burn the new cd image
8) re-install with the new cd

The beauty of this is that it makes your new installation current from the get-go, and you won't have to wait while all the individual Microsoft updates happen. This will save hours.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

So, here I am

So I have a blog now.