June 12, 2010

Strobe Tips

If you happen to have a fancy flash unit laying around, such as a Nikon SB-800 or SB-900, you can get some cool looking shots with the strobe mode. If you don't have one of these flashes you'll have to use a strobe light from amazon or whatever else you can get to work. The end result will look something like a stop motion video all on one frame. A well done shot may come out like this:

To do this shot I had the flash just to the right of the frame firing 8 low power shots at 100Hz. The shutter was open for 1/13 of a second so I had to close the aperture to f/25 so that the rest of the room would stay black (I took this in the middle of the day). If I hadn't closed the aperture it would looks like this:

It is easy enough to solve for this problem if you can get the flash off of the camera. If you can't do that you just have to make sure the background is completely black and/or far enough away where it wont be illuminated. Even something that looks black can be reflective enough to show up with enough flashes as can be seen by this picture:

As you can see, some the of the paper to the left was not in a shadow and definitely isn't black any more. This picture also brings up another thing you can do with a good flash unit. Since I knew what frequency the flash was strobing at and the projectile was being shot in front of a ruler the speed could be determined. This particular shot was going about 75 feet per second. If you want more details about how this picture was used go to The blog entry it was used in from Room 203 Technology. I helped out with this project a little bit (mostly just took pictures) and if you have even a little bit of nerd in you you'll find it pretty cool. Another thing to remember is that even though you are using flash it's still a long exposure so it's best to use a tripod unless you want your picture to turn out like this:

June 9, 2010

Inside of a Hard Drive

About a month ago an old xbox hard drive came into my possession. Since it was dead I decided to take the cover off and run it. Here's the video that a friend took of me doing that.

June 6, 2010

This is the Title

The time has come again where I feel compelled to talk about how awesome of a photographer I am. Just kidding, I'm actually not that great/experienced. It just so happens that the picture I'm going to talk about is another self-portrait. I actually don't take that many pictures of myself and I usually don't enjoy looking at myself. What happens is that the only time I have time or feel like experimenting is by myself, so that's when I get all the creative/awesome pictures. Also, the reason I took this picture was for the Gizmodo shooting challenge of the week with the challenge being a self portrait, see the results here.
Anyways... to the subject at hand. Here it is:

As you can see, it's pretty awesome looking with the full moon and half of a semi-transparent me. The background of the picture was pretty straight forward. The me part took a few tries to get right. The original idea was to end up with a spookyish looking tree lit up by the moon and an awesome looking me in the foreground somewhere not looking like too much of an idiot. Here's one of my first attempts:
As you might be able to notice, I look like the skinny weakling that I actually am. I also am not lit up enough and there are some lights shining through my head. To fix the exposure problem I move a little closer. This also makes me look a little bit bigger but it still doesn't look that great as can be seen here:
Now that I'm properly exposed I have to deal with the fact that I still look like myself. Up to this point I had my camera on the tripod about as high as it would go. To make myself look a little bigger/intimidating I put the tripod about as low as it would go. BTW, my flash was about 5 feet to the left of the camera for all these pictures. For the next few pictures I tried moving around the frame to get me in a good place in relation to the moon and tree with these results:

I now have a decent looking me with the cool background. The problem is that since I'm only about 6 feet away from the camera with the focus set to infinity I'm a little blurry. To fix this I closed the aperture to f/8. I would have closed it all the way to f/22 but I could only keep the shutter open for 30 seconds since my rubber band that I use for bulb mode had broken. Also, my flash would have had trouble lighting me up with the aperture any smaller. Now that I got myself into as much focus as was going to happen I played around with standing in the picture for different amounts of time. All the previous pictures, once the flash went off I was out of the picture. I tried standing there for only 10 seconds of the exposure and for the whole exposure but got the winner at 15 seconds. At 10 you could barely see the unlit side of me, but if I stood there for the whole 30 seconds there wasn't any cool see through effect. At 15 seconds you could see that the unlit side of me was there, but it was still transparent enough to be cool. The different tries can be seen here:

As far as exposure goes, I just had to balance the flash with the sky. Everything else was skill trial and error.