Fotography Friday

I say that title like this will be a regular thing, blogging about photography on Fridays. Don't get too excited, haha. I have been playing with my camera a bit today, though, and wanted to document my findings. (Like this is some sort of scientific experiment, ha!)

For Christmas, I got a bunch of Amazon gift cards, as requested (yay family!). I used them all to get some cool new camera stuff - a speedlight (external flash), new battery, backpack for all my gear, and a frame to set up backgrounds. The battery was absolutely necessary, as my 2.5 year old battery bit the dust over Christmas. It won't hold a charge anymore. Of course, my brand new battery wouldn't charge either, which lead me to realize that my battery charger was also dead. Bummer. Luckily, the local Batteries Plus! had a charger I could use, and last night I got my new battery completely charged - whew. I'm shooting my aunt's wedding this weekend so this was essential.

So far, I'm really liking the backpack I got. Its just an Amazon Basics thing, not fancy at all. But its big and has lots of padded, removable compartments inside that perfectly hold my camera body, lenses, new speedlight, and other random things like the battery charger. And there are tons of zippered pockets for storing papers. I think I'll like having a backpack as opposed to a traditional shoulder bag for my camera gear.

I haven't had a chance to use my backdrop stand yet, though I did set it up to see how big it gets. It is huge. I was worried that with it I'd only be able to shoot kids or adults sitting down, but it goes way over my head, so there will be no problems with adults standing. Now I just need some backdrops! For the time being I'm just gonna use sheets or other fabrics I have at home, but eventually I want to get some real muslin stuff.

What I experimented with today was my new speedlight. Its a Newer TT560. Not expensive at all. It was less than $50 on Amazon. That being the case, I really wasn't expecting it to be all that great. Nikon speedlights are several hundred dollars, but who can afford that? Not this chick. I think this Newer speedlight will do just fine for me (unless I go pro in the future, haha). The reviews for this one were great for the most part. I've been wanting an external flash for a while now, because I HATE the one that is built into the camera. Like I wish I didn't have one on my camera body. It sucks. I rarely use it, and never if I'm doing "professional" shots for other people.

When my aunt got engaged a few months ago and asked me to shoot her wedding, I knew I HAD to get a speedlight ASAP. Ideally, shooting an indoor wedding I'd have a much more professional setup with light boxes and umbrellas...but that ain't happenin, either. The church she's getting married in has high ceilings (like most churches do), so I'm anxious to see how I'll bounce the light of the flash in there. I had planned on making everyone tough out the weather (its really not that cold here in NC right now, though it was frigid earlier this week), but now the weatherpeople are saying its supposed to be strong storms with lots of rain tomorrow evening, so we'll most likely be completely inside for photos. Challenging! Luckily, I love a challenge.

Tonight is the rehearsal and dinner, so I'll have an opportunity to practice in the church with my new setup. I'm sure my first few shots will be interesting. ( ;

So I brought my gear to work today so I could play around with the speedlight. I wasn't even sure how to attach it, but it turns out its super easy. And self-explanatory. So I just went to the patient room in the back and took some photos of our little stuffed giraffe.
This was with the speedlight pointed directly at the giraffe. Very stark and bright. Oh, and with a 55-200mm 1.4 lens. (ONE DAY I will have nicer lenses!!) I had the settings on 1/20 and f1.4 with ISO 640. I used the same setting on all the shots; the only thing changed was the angle of the flash.

This was with the flash pointed to the right side of the frame. Much softer, but not ideal.

Flash pointed to the left. I just wanted to see if the shadows moved much. They did a bit.

This turned out to be the ideal setting. Flash pointed behind me, with the diffuser on. It got rid of the shadows and its not too bright. The most natural looking light, I think. (Oh, I had the overhead light off in the room I was in, with the blinds on the window open.)

And since I didn't have any human models around today, I set the timer and took a few shots of myself for comparison. This first shot is with the same camera settings but using the built in flash on the camera:
Very harsh, flat, and unflattering.

Now compare that to this shot, taken with the speedlight pointed behind the camera and with the diffuser on:
Better, huh? Still well lit, but much softer and pleasing to the eye. With richer colors, too. Score!

Needless to say, I am beyond tickled with my new purchases. And I can't wait to keep playing with my new speedlight! ( :