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The little island of Dominica in December was just what the doctor ordered.

I was tasked with shooting the studio where our daily yoga was held and of course it turned out to be a much more difficult task to do than to ask to do. The problem was balancing the extremely bright ambient outside the windows with the very dark environment of the room.

Although the window ambient is still a bit brighter than I'd like, this was the best I could do with the tools at hand. You're looking at room lighting from the overhead lights, windows and two off-camera flashes to fill in some of the shadows. There's one flash at camera-left aimed at the alter and there's another flash at camera-right aimed at the yoga mat. As usual, you can tell where the flashes are located by the shadow directions.
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Recently, I received flickr mail from another flickr member, Jim Goldstein who was requesting to use one of my images in an ebook he was writing about photographing "time".

I would imagine that he'd been working on this ebook for a long time, but a few weeks after I sent him the image, he sent me a link to download a copy of the finished book.

It's a good read, touching on photography basics, and then later getting into more sophisticated and complicated techniques such as light painting and star trails.

I think Jim has done an excellent job of concisely covering a variety of photographic basics, while still managing to progress through more complex techniques in a fairly short book. Being an ebook, it was nice to see a blend of traditional print layouts and photos as well as multimedia video clips.

Check out his ebook "Photographing The 4th Dimension: Time".

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A few weeks back, we went to Canvas Jam. It's a business and studio run by Cindy Leech that specializes in toddlers or young children painting on canvas without much guidance or inhibition.

There's a bit of guidance in terms of where to paint, and certain techniques such as using a spoon, but otherwise, the children just let loose with paint.

Cindy came out to our house before the studio session to identify where the painting was going to go, and to select a few colours that would match the decor and wall colours.

The shot at left is the final product hanging above our fireplace.

I wanted to take a picture of the final painting that captured the colours and the texture of both the paint and the canvas itself. I also wanted to tie in some of the room, but couldn't decide on a perspective that drew the viewer's eye to the canvas and away from all of the other distractions in the room. Plus, the room was a mess when the photo was taken

For lighting, I knew I wanted to light it from a shallow angle to capture the texture. I also knew that being four feet wide, I'd probably need to light it with two strobes, one on each side for consistency. Then I thought I'd use a softbox straight on to fill in some of the shadows above and below the canvas.

Initially, because of the softbox and gloss of the paint on the canvas, the shot had a lot of direct reflection and glare. Some of the lighter tones were also getting blown out because of the direct reflection. I eventually did away with the softbox, and just left the two strobes, however, ended up with this shot, which had nice texture, specular highlights on the wall from the strobes, but also prominent shadows above and below the canvas because of the position of the strobes.

The fireplace was also a little dark.

I thought about removing the shadows from the photo using photoshop, but found it too difficult to do properly.

To get rid of the shadows above the canvas, I positioned the strobes higher than the canvas. This left the shadow underneath, but removed the shadow on top. I thought about using a reflector for the shadows underneath, but from the perspective I was shooting from would have had a hard time keeping it concealed.

For the last iteration, I decided to live with the shadow underneath, but light the fireplace a bit more. So I used the softbox and pointed it slightly downwards to brighten up the fireplace.

The final shot was this one (setup shot included):

My brother suggested that I gobo or barndoor the strobes to cut down on the specular on the wall, and also use a ringflash or large light source from the front to eliminate the shadows, but the glossy paint makes that difficult.

We both came to the conclusion that polarizing the light source and using a polarizer on the lens might cut out the direct reflection, but only testing would confirm; he also suggested testing using a flashlight a two circular polarizers. I never got around to this.

So for the final shot, I just used the last shot, and the clone tool in photoshop to get rid of the highlights. I also ran the shot through PT Lens to correct for perspective distortion, and then the tonal contrast preset in Color Efex Pro to bring out the detail in the marble and fireplace as well as the canvas.

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A while back, while digging through the endless photos on flickr, I came across some amazing wedding photos by New York photographer Ryan Brenizer. This image of a couple on a park bench caught my eye, but I couldn't tell why.

The caption below the photo said it was a composite of 20+ images.

It wasn't until examining more of his images that I then realized that the image was made using a technique dubbed "the brenizer method". In short, you use a telephoto lens that has a short depth of field and small field of view, shoot multiple frames, and then stitch them together to make an image covering a much wider field of view, but with the relative depth of field of a very fast lens or wide aperture.

He's got a video tutorial here. There are now a bunch of flickr groups showcasing images assembled in this manner, and there's also a bit of twittering over #Brenizer.

My brother and I went out for a walkabout shoot this weekend, and I snapped about 65 images which were stitched together to form this image.

We both actually took a few other sets as well, but none of them turned out; it seems that Photoshop has problems auto stitching images when there's a lot of background blur and similarity between frames.


All of the images I've taken so far and stitched can be found here on flickr.

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