Saturday, July 19, 2008

Catch the rainbow

So the second assignment for the photo club has been due for a couple of days now... I finally have some extra time to stop and blog about it.... The second assignment is titled "Catch the rainbow" and is pretty much as it sounds... take 7 photos, one of each color of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). Again, no flashes, no post processing etc. I was super excited about this assignment and had thought about a lot of the photos for quite a few days (if not weeks). Here was the rough plan of attack:
  • Red: Originally I thought about a macro shot with extremely shallow DOF on the red 'S' in the RSX Type-S badge, but there would be too much blue so I shifted my attention to the red dashboard lights inside the car...
  • Orange: There is a huge orange street lamp right outside my bedroom window which shines straight across the room to a mirror. I was going to stand in front of the mirror for a pure silhouette shot with orange rim lights everywhere.
  • Yellow: Some shot of my favorite chocolate candy :)
  • Green: Originally I wanted to do maybe a shot of the Xbox's ring of green light as it boots up, but then I wanted to do something more dramatic and borrowed a friend's KG jersey....
  • Blue: The backshot of the police man at the farmers market. (see the farmers market album)
That left me with indigo and violet that I didn't really have any ideas for... But I soon learned that the shot in your mind... won't always match the shot you end up making :).

That's the shot of KG's jersey... I tried very hard to get this shot right... but in the end just couldn't quite get it the way I had imagined.... maybe it was never a good idea... but definitely poor execution. Here is what I wanted... I wanted the jersey standing alone in the dark closet. I wanted to use a wide angle lens to really make the closet seem much larger (and thus emptier). I wanted a single hard light shining on the jersey from above to sort of highlight his name but leave the rest of the room really dark. I was hoping this would make for a dramatic picture and as a homage to a great player.... Unfortunately after hours of trying, I just couldn't quite get it right. The composition just didn't work for me... I couldn't find a good way to compose it and honestly I ended up spending the majority of the time fidgeting with the lights... Keep in mind no flash allowed, so I worked with a desk lamp (boy have I been getting lots of mileage with that thing lately :)). I clamped it to the shelf to camera right but quickly ran into a problem... desk lamps are designed to spread light... but I wanted a focused beam of light or else everything will be equally lit and nothing will be interesting... I ended up grabbing an empty cardboard box (long rectangular one) and shoved it onto the light bulb to better control the light (see that strange shadow on the right side... thats from one of the flaps...). Unfortunately I wasn't using a tripod so I was all contorted with one hand on the cardboard "snoot" and one hand holding the camera... If I spent more time and used a tripod as well as an actual snoot, I probably could have made a better shot... but I think I was just tired of it and gave up. Suggestions on composition improvement desperately needed!

The chocolate shot (Ferror Rocher) Actually worked out much better than I had originally thought.

And set up shot:

So I knew I wanted a white-ish background to make the gold stand out and also to just have a bright "happy" picture. This is a photo of luxurious chocolate candy after all. I started out with a white cardboard that I bought from Target (like 1.99) and placed a small piece of glass on top of it to add some reflection. I just used some glass from a photo frame, nothing fancy. I wanted a really well lit, but still slightly directional light so I started out with the natural back light coming in through the blinds. This adds a bit of color and light to the candies in the back as well as some "rim light" around the candy (ok ok, it looks like its coming from above). I then took a floor lamp (one of those that shines upwards) and placed it on the table shining directly at the candy. The direct light really worked well with the gold foils and lit it up beautifully I thought, this is good. I threw in two mini-reflectors on the right hand side to help lessen the shadows and just brighten it up a bit more. The effect isn't very obvious, but it is definitely brighter than it would be without those 2 mini-reflectors. Note that a crumpled up piece of foil would have worked just as well. Since it had such a mixed lighting, I used a gray card to make sure the white balance is correct and that the gold foil will indeed turn out gold (this is very important to the shot for obvious reasons :)).

In the end, most of the planned shots didn't work. The red shot was pretty much one of the few shots that just came out the way I had imagined. The blue shot lacked the impact I wanted so I tried a second blue shot... which also failed so I ended up having to plan for a third (and 4th) blue shot.... The ornageshot also failed... a silhouette of yourself holding a camera isn't very exciting... I did keep with the orange glow from the light and ended up doing some random self portraits. Anyways, full album available (with commentaries on what I was trying) here, note it also includes shots from assignment 1.