Speedlight for dummies: part 2.

Pretty soon after my first speedlight-try, I realised what an advantage it would be to separate the flash from the camera. So I got a transmitter. On the list of what I love about Godox: it’s cheap. That means I can learn without having to invest a fortune (so far under 2000:- for flash and transmitter!).

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Lensbaby is too soft for this purpose and my taste at f/2,8, so the rest are taken with f/4.

Today I have been working with my Fujifilm t-x2, Godox tt350, and a transmitter. Lens: I made a bad choice. I couldn’t choose between working on my speedlight skills and working on my manual focus skills, so I chose the lensbaby. I should have gone with an af-lens, as I don’t quite handle manual focus yet. Oh, well! One sharp out of every ten isn’t too bad, is it? Love the look of the lensbaby when I get it right! 😀

Anyway. I wanted a controlled environment, so all photos are from inside my living room with a simple black backdrop.

 

Todays tasks:

  1. Find out how it works.
  2. Try different settings (more or less flash, more or less natural light)
  3. Try different angles (because lighting dogs are NOT the same as lighting people. People don’t have huge triangular ears or very long snouts).
  4. Try to get the eyes sharp.
  5. Maybe get something worth saving.

I wanted kind of low key, and in my mind the photos were fantastic (of course). In reality…Let’s just say I need more practice!

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Flash straight from the side/behind her. “Are you done soon?”

I was worried the flash would be distracting for my model, or even frighten her, so the first thing I did was to flash it in a different direction and give her a treat a few times. Flash = treat. She got that really fast, and there were no problems at all!

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Flash behind her. I so missed the focus on this one, but wanted to show the effect. The light on her face is natural light from a window.

I started with TTL-mode, and adjusted the amount of light. I got the lighting of her really nice, but wanted to get a darker background so I changed to manual mode instead.

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Flash bounced in the ceiling. Nice, but too much light on the background.

In manual mode I set the exposure on the camera first, and then I added a tiny bit of light from the flash.

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Flash almost straight in front of her a little bit to the side.

I also tried to bounce it in the ceiling, and compare that with flash straight-on. The bounced one is much softer, obviously, but also harder to control.

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From the side, bounced in the ceiling.

Luckily, I have a very patient model who works for a handful of kibble. That allows me to play and test things! After an hour of shooting, I know A LOT more than I did an hour ago. And I guess that after a few more sessions, I may even start to know what I’m doing…:D

Play is good for you!

My lensbaby has not left my camera, I’m mesmerized. It’s so different from “normal” photographing. The combination of mastering the manual focus (hard!), the special soft qualities of the lens, the fact that I’m spoilt with the perfect technical quality of Fujinon lenses (they just deliver without any thought process from me), makes me feel like a beginner.

And I like it! I’m learning to see things differently, to use my camera differently. The images, of course, come out differently, and I edit them differently – realism is boring. Sane is boring.

I guess it’s a phase that gets old soon, but some of it will linger in my future work – that I’m sure of. But for now I experiment like crazy.

Click on the images to see a bigger size

My camera join me at every walk. I find Little things to try to focus on. I try different apertures, and play with light and colors.

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My husbands birthday tulips in front of my window. The short dof is interesting to work with, and the fact that the edges will be unsharp is an invitation to compose differently.

Click on the images to see a bigger size

Playing with shapes and structure. This session, the sweet spot of the lens was at f/4. I find that it varies with the light.

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Love the falling snow in this one…

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And with a smaller aperture (this one f/5,6) it’s really sharp – when I get the focus where I want it.

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I love the soft effect, but not in every shot. In this one…perfect!

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Is I mentioned, the editing of these photos sometimes gets a little…different. I love the matte retro-effect, and I allow myself to play as much as I like 🙂

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And I look at photos from other lensbaby-photographers, especially with the velvet 56, and OMG, the beautiful images! This lens will probably live on my camera for a few more weeks, Before I feel that I kind of master it.

I even tried some action shots…Interesting with only manual focus!

I think a slightly smaller aperture will be better…:D The photos are sharp, but the soft glow is a bit much.

So. I’ll continue to reject your reality and substitute my own! At least until it gets boring 😉

Lensbaby velvet 56 + Fujifilm x-t2

A few weeks ago I chatted with a friend about different lenses to the x-t2, and she dropped “you should get a lensbaby. I think you would like it!”.

Hmmm…I had looked at lensababy before, but only manual focus…seems difficult! But when I start thinking about something I often have a hard time letting it go. I wonder how much they cost? Where can I get them? Ooops…kind of ordered one…

It arrived yesterday. And I’m hooked.

A lensbaby is a toy, a lens that gives a velvety feel to the images. It’s sharp in the middle, and makes the highlights bleed a bit, like a glow. With a small aperture the effect is very subtle, with a big aperture the dof gets very narrow and the soft effect is very clear. It’s not for every image, but I’m learning as I go…

First of all, when I put the lens on I couldn’t take a single photo. Thank god for Youtube, where I quickly learned that I needed to enable shooting without a lens. Problem solved.

The tulips above are the first two photos I took. Then I brought the camera for my dog walk, and tried it on different motivs, with different apertures:

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I love the effect on the bokeh, it almost looks like under water. The lens is sharp and I can get really close to my motivs.

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I was a bit nervous about the manual focus, but it was a lot easier than I thought. As you can see I missed it a couple of times, but with a little training it will be fine. I set my camera to focus-peaking, it made it a lot easier to see where focus is (it’s outlined in white or red).

I also tried some wider shots. You can clearly see the difference the size of aperture makes.

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I Think I need some more experimenting here, to know what works and what doesn’t work for me. My learning curve is pretty steep, but it’s far from done!

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I really like this one, the softness works really well with the small feather.

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As this feather is a bit more textured, I chose a slightly smaller aperture.

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Here you can clearly see the effect of blur all around the edges. I have to think a bit differently to make it work to my advantage (not sure about this one…)

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My favorite of the day. I love everything about this photo, the difference between soft and sharp, the colors, the composition.

So pleased with my lensbaby! Yes, it’s a “one trick pony”, but what a trick!

Speedlight for dummies: part one

One of the things that I could see everywhere at Fotomässan was light.

Not strange, as a photographer is totally dependant on light! As I am outdoors most of the time, I use the sun as my lightsource, and if I need to I bounce the light in a reflector. (Wait, that’s a lie…I bring my reflector, and think I will use it, but never do. I just…forget…)

But sometimes I have felt the need for a second source of light. To brighten shadows on location, and save me some time in Photoshop. Something small and easy to carry. I know what you are all thinking: “you need a flash!”. But me and flashes don’t really work well together. I hate being photographed with a flash, and I have seen in my four-legged models that many of them feel the same way. Plus I don’t like how it looks. And the eyes get red or green.

Or maybe, just maybe, I don’t know how to use it properly…

Luckily for me, I could listen to no less than three seminars on how to use flash. Speedlight, Prophotos A1 (a speedlight/studioflash hybrid), and studioflash with softbox.

It actually seemed easy. It actually seemed like it could work for me! All of a sudden I knew what I had been doing wrong, and – maybe – how to fix it!

Although a prophoto A1 seems kind of fantastic, it COSTs about 10.000 sek. That’s way over my budget for “fun things to test”. Instead I got a Godox TT350 to use on my camera, just to give it a go! Price: 1100 sek.

All the photos today are straight from my camera, no editing whatsoever, just to show you what I did:

 

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No flash.

 

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How it usually looks when I try to use a speedlight. Terrible!

So far so bad – but I knew how to fix this! I switched from TTL (that means that the camera and flash talk to each other and agree on the best exposure. In this case they are wrong.) to manual flash mode, and used my flash compensation to turn down the intensity of the flash…

 

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Much better, but still not really perfect…

…and all the way down…

 

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Yes! That’s it, the result I have been looking for! Just a touch of light.

One of my biggest concerns was if my model would find the flash scary or uncomfortable, but she didn’t seem to mind.

 

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The Godox speedlight comes with a “catchlight-card”, that reflects a bit extra in the eyes. Works really well!

This is the effect I wanted – photos that doesn’t look as if Ihave used a flash, they just…pop…a bit more. Switching from TTL to M gave me the possibility to set my cameras exposure as I wanted it, and then just use a tiny bit of flash to fill the shadows. Nice!

This was my first attempt, and I have a lot more that I want to try with that small speedlight. But there is hope!

 

 

 

 

 

Gathering inspiration

Creativity needs to be refilled. At least that’s the case for me. I need input – new ideas, new ways to see and interpret the world. I get that in a lot of ways:

  • Watching TV (yes, it’s true!)
  • Talking to friends
  • Take a walk with my dogs, with my mind open
  • Talking to new people
  • Look at images and films
  • Listen to music
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Learn new things
  • Get new equipment (something small is enough)
  • Go to an exhibition or art-gallery
  • Discuss with other photographers
  • Teach
  • Experiment within boundries (only 23mm, only night, only flatlay, etc)

And a lot more…

Some of these things I do automatically almost every day. Some of them I need to plan for. And some of them happens rarely, but makes a great impact.

As an introvert person I enjoy the company of one (me) or maybe two (my husband), and I tend to not make interaction with other people my priority.

That’s why events like Fotomässan are extra good for me! I’m forced out in the world, and for a few days my head is wide open and I take in a lot of new impressions at once. It’s exhausting. But it’s exhilirating!

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A calm photo to rest my brain a bit…;)

Yesterday I spent the whole day with other people. Talking, listening, looking, learning. I will do the same today.

And then I will need at least two weeks to process everything, write down all my new ideas, try everything I learned, follow up on new contacts, and little by little make sense of what now feels like a beehive in my mind (but in a good way!).

I’ll write a bit more frequently here, as a part of my “get everything out of my head into the open and take a good look at it”-process. Maybe it will be interesting for someone else, mostly it will be interesting for me.

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A mobile-photo of poor quality, but it’s still valuable to me – it will always remind me of Fotomässan 2018!

My creativity is full, overflowing actually, and will be for some time 🙂

Fuerteventura: Saturday with sunrise, Vallebrón, craftfair and snorkling.

It’s fun to revisit my photos from my vacation, now that it’s been a few weeks! So many memories…It takes a little while, as I find myself remembering and dreaming quite a bit.

Anyway! Saturday we woke early. Ola said to me “I read your bucket list, and I know you want to photograph the sunrise over the sea! Let’s try it!” We didn’t go far, but far enough to have a nice view over…Clouds. And Clouds. And more Clouds.

To save myself a lot of editing job, I chose to photograph in JPEG and take advantage of the beautiful color profile that Fujifilm has. It has a red/yellow tint that works perfect with sunrises!

Even though we didn’t actually see the sun, the light was still beautiful in colour.

After breakfast we set off. Our dreamplace to live is a small village called Vallebrón, and we visit every time we are nearby.

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It’s something about how you drive through the mountans and suddenly a valley just opens up – the light is amazing. It just has a good feel to it!

The town seems quiet, and has that Fuerteventura-mix between beautiful houses, ruins, and everything inbetween.

This time we visited the viewpoint nearby and could see all the way to the sea.

Some day…

The weather was quite warm despite the sun playing hide and seek, to we continued to Lajares and the craft fair. Lajares is a really nice little town as well, with restaurants, cafés, and art and craft stores. Saturdays there is a fair, and that’s where we headed.

I love looking atdifferent kinds of art, ad really enjoyed visiting the air and the small shops/studios!

Last stop for the day: snorkeling in El Cotillo.

This was the place where Ola almost drowned last time. Do I need to tell you that I was a bit nervous, and NEVER let him out of my sight? I stood on the beach, following his every move, while he filmed underwater and enjoyed himself immensly.

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The beach is lovely, a nice bay with calm water. I especially like the house, the architecture is a bit…special 😀

You can see where the waves start crashing No swimming beyond that point!

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Look carefully…can you see the flippers? They are there.

It actually felt like a a small victory when he got up from the water unharmed.

Our vacation was getting near the end, but we still had one more day.

Friday – we meet JP in Fuerteventura!

I had one special thing I wanted to do this trip – I wanted to photograph dogs! Every nature photo is beteer with a dog in it. But…where could I finns models? I know exactly zero dog owners in Fuerteventura…

After our first trip, Ola started to browse the internet after more information and films from our newfound paradise. He quickly found JP in Fuerteventura, and we have watched every video from the beginning with great interest.

So I built up my courage, and in january I asked JP if we could meet him, and if I could photograph his dogs. And he said yes!

So friday afternoon we came to the meetingplace. Both of us a bit nervous (small talk is not my forte, and in English it’s even worse), but there was no need for that! JP is just as nice and friendly as he seems, and took us for a walk with the dogs at a dried-out river bed. This was a new side of the island, like a miniature Grand Canyon! I was busy with dogs and camera, and we enjoyed the company, the sun, and the stunning nature.

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When they found out I not only had meatballs, but in fact was giving them away FOR FREE, the two dogs started modeling like never before. We had a great time!

Morale of this story? Dare to ask. The worse thing that could happen is that you get a “no”. And there is a much bigger chance of “yes” if you ask, than if you don’t ask…;)

 

Thursday – going south

Thursday our plans was to go to the south. As long as we could! Fuerteventura isn’t a large Island, so it’s a nice field trip for a day.

First stop: Morro Jable. We wanted a cup of coffee. The city wasn’t awake yet…No coffee, but I got some history instead!

Stella Canaris was an enormous hotel/resort/zoo. 2013 they stopped paying the people working there. Everything was left from one day to another – keys in the rooms, chairs by the pool, glasses and plates in the cafés. The animals were rescued or let out of their cages (I really hope the large snake and the Crocodile that can be seen on the posters were rehomed), the staff either left or stayed to live in the abandoned hotelrooms.

There was a guard watching us so I couldn’t try to get inside the fences…that’s an adventure for next time!

I Think abandoned places are fascinating, I can imagine whole stories about how it was and what happened then. Mostly ghoststories, I love horror litterature and creepypasta…

Anyway, as coffee in the morning is a must-have, we continued to the harbour. There we found the waiting hall for the ferry. And coffee!

In the harbour we also visited a sea-turtle nursery. As you are well aware of we humans tend to destroy the world around us. Sea-turtles eat plastic bags or get stuck in garbage, and get really sick and die. In this nursery they are getting help, and they are released from Cofete beach when they are fully recovered.

It made me really sad to see these majestic animals sort of flying through the water in the small pool, round and round, with their feet scraping the walls. They are so beautiful and full of grace, and I really hope they will be let out in the ocean soon! At the same time it was very effective to show the gentle seaturtles to the tourists, my first thought was “how do I donate money to this?”

We moved on – to the south, to the south!

From Morro Jable there’s a dirt road leading South. After about 8 km you can choose the Mountains and Cofete, but this time we stayed with the shoreline and headed for a lighthouse. On the way we passed a viewpoint and stopped to look at the scenery.

Down here you can see far without any company except for the goats. Our car looked deserted…

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At the lighthouse we were surprised by rain. But that doesn’t stop us!

We continued on the road to the last viewpoint.

If we could get there, that was! All of a sudden a large group of goats decided they wanted to go from one place to another. We were in their way…

After about ten minutes they left us alone, and we were on our way again.

Here there was nothing to break the wind, and I got wet as the waves crashed against the rock I stood on. Luckily my camera is made to endure bad weather, because the Beauty!

And right there, in the middle of nowhere: a door. As a Dark Tower fan I felt chills…

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On the way back we passed the most peculiar camping site I have ever seen. I guess you could call it Caravan city?

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Back in Morro Jable we got wet in the rain, walked the beachpromenade all the way, watched flowers and squirrels, and had a terrible late lunch at a chinese restuarant. Morro Jable is nice, but the north is really more our thing…

One last stop before we got home: the beaches of Jandia are famous. We had to stop!

If the beaches of Corralejo are for kiters and the beaches at El Cotillo for surfers, the beaches of Jandia seems to belong to the windsurfers. Especially the ones that are new to windsurfing.

(Sorry about the blown-out highlights in the clouds, I accidentally changed my settings…)

Tired and on our way home, we just had one more question:

Is this camper van for sale…?

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Wednesday – the city awakens

Vacation means time do do…nothing. Days that are unplanned, do whatever. Wednesday was exactly that kind of day for us!

At seven we went out into the city. I love early morning in a city! Before everyone is awake, see the workers and the joggers (here are a LOT of joggers!), meet the dogs on their morning walks. It’s peaceful.

Corralejo is a town that feels…alive. I mean, every city is alive as long as there is people, but some cities are more…awake. Moving. There’s a pulse.

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A mix of peolpe, all trying to make a living. Small bakeries, street musicians, sand artists, café-owners, shopkeepers, and – as this is Corralejo – surfers.

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The houses here are small and worn, the streets narrow. Life is everywhere. If you don’t have space – create it!

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We followed the beach, and watched the sunrise.

The sun paints everything pink and golden. Quick tip when you photograph sunrises or sunsets – don’t forget to look behind you! The light is fantastic…

And as we continued back, we watched the city wake up and greet the new day.

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Some people are building houses…

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…and some are building castles of sand.

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The surfers seem to have some kind of “hotline”, to tell eachother where the surf is perfect that day.

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And I got some fur therapy! This beauty came to say hi.

The rest of the day was spent on shopping, drinking coffee, snorkling (Ola), reading on the beach (me), enjoying the sun, hiding from the rain (quick but intense), and just…being a part of this city.

A perfect day.

 

Tuesday – roadtrip and The Beach Beyond The Caves

We normally get up att six (seven if I work from home), so we had an early start! We and our little Citroen started on the road from Corralejo to El Cotillo. Not the asphalt road – the road next to the sea! We didn’t really care about the goal, it’s the road that matters (a bumpy, dusty, wash-board-like road…) The plan was to stop and snorkel, but it was really cold and windy…

We passed Majanichu, said hello to a sea gurkin (hope he still lives, he was out of the water and we didn’t dare touch him…or maybe her…) and enjoyed the waves and the wind.

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The colour palet for Fuerteventura has to be sea-blue, terra cotta, graphite, sand-yellow, the green of the succulents that grow here and the deep lilac in the mountains. And maybe a light off white, from the foam on the waves.

We took a detour to the lighthouse next to El Cotillo, and followed the walk from sign to sign and learned a bit more about the beach and the island. In my opinion a bit cold to sit and meditate, but hey – whatever works for you!

A quick stop in El Cotillo for some lunch (obviously a mistake to order burgers and fries at a fish-restaurant, it tasted like the chef really hated burgers…But at least we weren’t hungry anymore!). El Cotillo is always nice!

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We were in the mood for more road-trips, so we set course for Ajuy! We were going to look for The Beach Beyond The Caves.

I love to bring my camera to Ajuy, it’s one of the most beautiful places I know and I always find new views.

We started our walk by leaving the common trail to the caves, and going through a broken fence into the great wide open (yes, I could hear Tom Petty in my head…).

And we walked. And walked. All alone. I could see the caves from the backside, and asked “Are you sure you know where we’re going…?” “Yes. Maybe. Ithink so…Let’s try one more hill!”

And there it was.

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We didn’t continue the walk down the cliff, but just stood in awe and enjoyed the sight.

Then all of a sudden we weren’t alone anymore! Three youngsters and a drone appeared.

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The sun disappeared, and we headed home. On the way back we passed the warning sign for dangerous drop…

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…and I took a closer look at the fence…

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Security? More like “at your own risk”. It’s a great walk and well worth the effort, but keep dogs and small children on a leash!

On our way back we were instantly reminded that Fuerteventura is a tourist island.

I don’t see that as a problem, as I’m starting to learn when and where to go to avoid the big busloads and still see the interesting stuff!

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And one last photo of the day. Kitesufrefs under a rainbow.

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Only on Fuerteventura.