Some new camera gear

For some time now I’ve been pondering whether or not to upgrade my studio camera (a 35mm equivalent DSLR). And now I’ve done it – and purchased a medium format body & lens.

Medium format cameras have long been used by professional photographers mainly for landscape and studio work and the perceived benefits have been the subject of great debate on internet forums – even more-so with the advent of mirrorless cameras. The main selling point of medium format is, or course, the size of the photosites on the (larger) sensor that capture those all-important megapixels. The bigger the photosites, the more light (or data) the sensor collects.

There are those that say that medium format has a ‘look’ that makes it distinctive and refer to aesthetic qualities such as depth-of-field, sharpness and colour – but this is all subjective and is difficult to prove given the inherent variations in comparative camera systems.

This is all something that I’ll be investigating over the coming months. I have used 35mm cameras (film followed by digital) ever since I first became seriously interested in photography back in my teens. Medium format, because of the relative expense of the systems, was just a dream. Now its time to fulfil that dream and I’ll be reporting back with my thoughts.

First shot out of the camera 1/320s, f/4.5, ISO2500

My motorsport season looms

Just into the new year and I’ve already had a reminder from the Vintage Sports-Car Club to register my media interests for the forthcoming season. Together with my other accreditation at Loton Park, Shelsley Walsh & Prescott it means that my motorsport calendar is already full (in fact it may need some thinning out).

Let’s hope that none of the days are as wet as the one below:

A few more composites

I’ve added a few more composite photographs to the collection – all with the ‘old tool’ theme which I’m finding quite interesting. The practice using Photoshop in conjunction with Lightroom is certainly paying off and it is getting easier to add the backgrounds without it looking too obvious. Here are the latest couple:

Rusty cog
Ironing

Lighting modifier trials

I carried out some lighting modifier trials in the studio yesterday to identify the different effects that they have on the same subject. It should be noted that the purpose of the trial was to see the effect on the background and the shadows and so sometimes I had to adjust the power setting on the strobe because modifiers can restrict light output considerably. All were taken against a neutral-grey (50%) background with just one strobe (+modifier) with a white reflector opposite to help fill-in the shadows.

The initial ‘control’ shot was taken with a 70x60cm diffuser softbox. This gave a nice overall light with subtle shadow.

A 40cm beauty dish gave more shadow and its relatively smaller size created more fall-off (seen by the gradient on the background).

Adding a 60 degree honeycomb grid to the beauty dish made little difference to the lighting on the subject but hardly lit the background at all. The power had to be turned up to compensate for the light lost due to the grid.

An 18cm bowl flooded the subject with light and the power had to be turned down considerably. This gave quite a harsh light with strong shadows and strong highlights.

Adding either a large (60 degree) or small (40 degree) honeycomb grid to the bowl made little difference to the subject lighting. Again the power had to be increased and the background received less light.

Adding barn doors to the bowl made virtually no difference – probably due to the close proximity of the light to the subject.

A conical snoot gave, unsurprisingly, a much more focussed light with bright highlights and deep shadows and very little background light.

In conclusion: the beauty dish created an interesting effect although I may need to bring the reflector closer to the subject to slightly reduce the harshness of the shadows. The conical snoot created a dramatic effect and so I’ll be working with both of these modifiers more in the future. The bowl modifier created quite a harsh light whichever modifier was used and for close-up work is probably not going to be used much on its own. However if I make a scrim diffuser it may create some interesting gradient light. But that’s a trial for another day.