The Revenge of the leftovers – D Photo Article

The Revenge of the leftovers – D Photo Article

To me, photography and sentimentality often walk hand-in-hand.

I love the feeling of nostalgia I experience when looking through old photographs.

Memories are powerful things, and I honestly feel that we, as photographers, don’t capture as many of our lives “ordinary events” as we should  because we underestimate how valuable that photographic memento will become over time.

This issues article is a trip down memory lane for me; a behind-the-scenes look at an image which was created for the fun of it, but which has over the past few years become increasingly more valuable to me.

I moved to Auckland in the early part of 2011. Before this, I was living in Whangarei, and an active member of the Whangarei Camera Club.

One of the highlights on the club’s calendar is an annual weekend away to Tiri Tiri Matangi Island, an island bird sanctuary roughly 30 minutes by boat off Auckland’s east coast. Roughly 20 members would make the trip down to Gulf Harbour, board a ferry and spend Saturday and Sunday on the island, enjoying each other’s company, exploring the numerous tracks and photographing whatever took our fancy.

The image I’m sharing with you here was taken during our 2009 trip.

As the island is a bird-watchers paradise, most people on the trip are there to photograph the birds.

As I had been the year before, I knew full well that the patience for bird photography was something I just didn’t have.

So, on our 2009 trip, as I had recently become addicted to off-camera lighting, I went with the idea of furthering my flash photography.

I packed a bag full of triggers, gels, lights and batteries, hoping to spread the addiction.

And so, on the Saturday afternoon, a few of us found ourselves in the DOC accommodation with flashes, gels, and a soon to be less than cold fridge.

The idea initially was to see what effects we could get by placing a blue gelled flash and a fisheye lens inside the fridge.

A Canon 580EX Flash was placed in the fridge, camera-left, triggered with Elinchrom Skyports, which I was using at that stage to trigger my studio lights.

Our first attempt was a good start, but as it often is with an idea, you roll with what you get and refine things from there.

Problems:
1) The camera needed to come forward to accentuate the effect of the fisheye.
2) We needed to make sure the flash was positioned in a way to avoid casting shadows on the subjects. In this case we simply moved it to the right of the camera.
3) The background really needed something to make it pop – Enter a second flash with a yellow gel, placed on a stand behind the subjects, aimed at the far wall, triggered with a hotshoe photo-receptor.

Attempt number 2 fixed some problems, but highlighted a few others that should probably have been expected.
1)Hide the legs of the light stand – Add more people or adjust position of the light stand.
2) The lighting in the kitchen needed to be worked on as well – added a 3rd flash, gelled yellow, triggered with another hotshoe photo receptor. Admittedly, I had huge reservations that there would not be enough light hitting the photo receptor to trigger it, but I was proved wrong.

When in doubt – overcorrect!

Way too many people in frame, and consequently the blue light wasn’t hitting everyone.
(Admittedly by this time our antics were drawing a little interest, which is always good for the guys who have never seen/worked with off camera flash.)

Regardless, things were getting better, and the number of problems were dwindling with each shot.

The final shot.
Definitely still in need of improvement, but admittedly we quit there to be kind to the fridge (And the bottles of wine which were meant to be chilling – quite a lot of food ended up outside of the fridge while we were shooting.)

The final image was taken through photoshop to tweak the colours a little and clone out the remnants of the light stand and clock.

Below is a quick setup diagram.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the sentimental value of this image to me grows with each passing year.

-It reminds me of good friends that I don’t see as often since moving to Auckland.

-It was also during this weekend that I decided to move ahead and start teaching off-camera flash, and I look at this image in the same way that a parent would look at photos of their children as newborns.

Looking back after almost 3 years, I am also forced to remind myself of how much I’ve progressed since taking this image. (For the life of me, I can’t remember what made me choose the camera settings Id did back then!)

My understanding of light and colour, the equipment I use, my approach to creating an image and so many other things that I often forget – all of these are constantly evolving with me.

I love looking back on my old photos, both for the memories they stir as well as for the milestones they provide along the path of my own journey as a photographer.

My hope with this article is not so much to teach you about the image, but to remind you to constantly find the fun in your photography and evolve your understanding and abilities.

And never, never forget that the photographs you take today may become the most precious of your memories in years to come.

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