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Jan 24, 2013

Dragon Fruit

Much has been going on behind the scenes lately. Some things trying and stressful, mainly with people we care about, but not with us immediately, and some things good. I have made regular strides with my personal project which goes to show the benefit routine has on me. The significantly cold weather has slowed me down only a little and when I did feel it best to stay home it hasn't resulted in me feeling cabin feverish in the least.

What has made me laugh, even with a bit of irritation in that laugh, has been the numerous amounts of content of those severely suffering from the brutal cold in places much colder than here like Los Angeles, London, England and New York City. How could we feel sorry for ourselves at a mere -40°C with the windchill while they are suffering at anywhere from 3° to 10°C before the wind, yet. Sorry for the sarcasm but I really think that they need to spend two weeks in Saskatchewan in January.

How I know about the weather in London, beyond the news, has been photos from friends and photos on a Facebook page for disabled photographers that I recently joined. It is based in London and I am still shocked at how three quarters of an inch of snow has turned most Londoners, disabled or not, into turtles. I'm driving with all season tires, not winter tires and getting around just fine. I'm sure they have proper winter clothing there, or enough layers that they could make do, but it still surprises me. I guess we are just tougher here. I am just poking a little bit of fun. It could be more about Saskatchewanian insecurity as much as anything. Angie did point out that there are a much larger percentage of people that do not drive in places like London, New York and Los Angeles and when you have to walk/wheel quite a ways and spend as much time in the cold or on public transportation as they do it would make a big difference.

It had been far too long since I made some photos just for the fun of it and and to share in this space. Dragon fruit were finally on sale the other day, and not just on sale but in stock, so I was happy to buy one and make a photo or three.

Spring is only a few weeks away and I can't wait to get out for a prolonged time outside but until then enjoy these!

UPDATE: These photos caught some attention when I posted them to the Photographers with Disabilities pages on Facebook and it was requested of me that I give a greater explanation of how they were made. The following portions will be very technical so if that is not what you are interested in feel free to skip over and just enjoy the photos.

So, to start, one mostly attractive, washed Dragon fruit. All photos were made with a simple six dollar white IKEA fleece blanket used as a mostly seamless backdrop. Photo number two had a piece of clear acrylic laid flat to produce the reflection you see at the bottom of the photo.

The lens used for these photos was my Nikon 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S VR Micro Nikkor mounted on my D700. In the hot shoe was a PocketWizard +III used to trigger the two SB-28s.

For the first photo the key light was a Nikon SB-28 with a 1/2 window green gel all inside of a Lumiquest Soft Box III. It was at approximately 1/8 power, zoomed out to 24 mm and only about 25-30 cm away from the fruit at camera right on about a 75° angle. That is to say it was almost perpendicular to the fruit; almost completely at the side of it. That light was gobo'ed with a black laptop case. I had to use something to prevent the spill from contaminating the red background with white (well, 1/2 window green) light. This light was triggered by a PocketWizard +II.

The rim light, as seen by the little blue specular highlight on the top left portion of the dragon fruit was a Lumopro LP 120 at 1/32 power, altered by a combination of a 1/2 window green gel and a 1/2 CTB covered by a 5° grid spot. It was mounted on a gorilla pod, aimed down from about 30° behind the Dragon fruit. I made this decision to maintain a lot of shadow but still give it that tiny kiss of light to add the three dimensionality to the fruit. This light was triggered by optical slave.

The background light was simply an SB-28 on 1/16 power zoomed in to 85 mm, gelled with a Rosco red 60 and red 90. It was on a boom, directly above the fruit, aimed at the background far enough away from the fruit that it would not spill directly onto it. As it is, you can see the background reflecting onto the top of the fruit more than I maybe would have liked. But it was what I able to make with the room I had available to me at the time. I can only occupy the dining room table for so long before I start crowding my wife out of her workspace. :-) This photo was made at f/11, 1/200th of a second at ISO 400.

The second photo used the same light for the background but I swapped out the soft box on the key light for a grid spot so that the beam would be significantly focused on the white flesh of the fruit. The grid spot on the rim light was exchanged for a tight snoot and was aimed at the facedown piece of fruit. This gave it more coverage and created more illumination spread than a gridspot would have. The gel colours remained the same. I added a sheet of clear acrylic to the white fleece blanket to produce a bit of reflection as well as prevent the blanket from getting wet with fruit juice and fruit getting fuzz on it, as I intended to eat it later.

This photo was made at f/5.6, 1/200th of a second, ISO 100. Because I had pulled back further for this shot I gained depth of field and did not require the additional you would have at f/11, but by dropping my ISO two stops and opening my aperture two stops I maintain the same exposure on the background. I believe the powers remain the same for the key and fill light but I may be incorrect. My focus was maintaining the exposure on the most difficult to reach light and that was the flash on the boom overhead.

The final photo was the exact same lighting as the second photo, I just decided to get up close and personal with it on a more interesting angle than I had with the first two. However, as with any macro shot, additional depth of field is appreciated so I increased my ISO to 200 and decreased my aperture to f/8 for that little bit of extra depth.

Where the vibrant colors come from is in the white balance. For postprocessing in Lightroom 4, besides removing two blemishes on the fruit, the only thing I tweaked was a usual touch of saturation (and I mean just a touch) and bringing the green out of the white balance by sliding the tint slider more towards the magenta side. If I remember correctly it was about 33 points of magenta added. I added a slight vignette on each but besides that my processing was minimal.

So, for those interested, I hope this walk-through if you a new tidbit of insight into your lighting and light control.

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