Skip to content

HBU New Years

December 26, 2011


T h e   S h o t

   A New Years card for my friends on a flickr critique site.  I stick with pet portrait theme established with the Christmas card. That was High Key Dog, so I go Low Key Ferret.

    A ferret is the closest thing I have to a giant flying lizard, no wait…my wife! Doh !

 So I set the camera below his eye level to give presence and let the talent do the rest. I’ll get something good, Fabio’s a natural.


T h e   T e x t

     I under-expose slightly to give a canvas on Fabio’s black patches. 6 pt. text is illegible in a standard view (full pic), but you can see something’s afoot. Each greeting is a separate layer so it can be warped to break up the lines in the photo, but just as important, it allows me to pack a jumble of text, where individual messages are kept separate, into a small space.

    In this case I actually wanted the text obvious, but I discovered along the way how it can be much more cleverly hidden.


L i g h t i n g

   Ferrets are fast. Set shutter to 1/250 (max sync). This effectively kills the ugly tungsten ambient. Set aperture to f/8 to get the DOF I want and bring the lights up to that.

Key light is a snooted / gridded LP-160 @ 1/32 camera right.

Fill light is a mini softbox on a 430EXii @ 1/16 overhead, feathered off Fabio’s “canvas side”.

 Accent / separation light is a snooted / gridded LP_160 @ 1/64 camera left and behind subject.

    I notice a Fabio sized snowman on our holiday display wearing black felt boots…score! I use Frosty for my framing  and exposure set up.

15 frames later I arrive at the flash settings above, light locations below, and  f/9 on the camera.


S e t   U p


    Low power settings on flashes means quick recycle times. Reflector was actually up on corner of stool during shooting, just for a little left side fill, but up and away from lower left “canvas’ area.

    Snooted / gridded key light give a sharp flick of light at a very small family of angles, resulting in crisp highlights and shadow definition to add depth and detail to the fur. Perfect here, not so good for wife’s portrait (really brings out her beard).

Usually won’t get too much from a snooted and gridded separation light with a darker subject, but here Fabio is so small, it is a relatively larger source.


 T h e    P a t h

   The perspective I wanted determined the focal length (38mm on a cropped sensor), DOF the aperture (f/9). The subject and location determined the shutter (1/250). The lighting as usual is part science part magic, but that’s the fun part.

   15 frames to get the light, 20 or so to capture the talent and there it is…off to Photoshop for 40 or so text layers  😦

   If you look at the catch lights at 100% (click to zoom) in Fabio’s left eye, you can see the tight spectral nature of the snooted / gridded key light and recognize the effect on the fur. I love this crisp light …sometimes.

   Like FWOT says, it’s always dark around here (this latitude/season) when I have time to shoot….so I expect a bunch of this indoor flash stuff for me. At least for the first few months of my new 365/100 stranger project sponsored by the exclusive Ruan Institute of Photography in assoc. with the  Orbit Freedom Foundation.

   I had not tried disguising text in an image before. Learned a lot more than I could put in this post, had even more fun. My only regret is those omitted who should have received a greeting.  Well,  get the bunny and catch ’em at Easter.




From → Ramblings

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: