Posted by: digibirder | June 27, 2010

Practice makes perfect

When I was exhibiting at the village fair the other week, the other photographer I was speaking to was taking portraits on her stand and had a Gary Fong flash diffuser attached to her flashgun. I’ve seen these before and wondered how good they were. Some reviews were enthusiastic and others thought they were a waste of money. This photographer gave it very high praise, so I decided to give it a go, but I ordered a different version of it. The Collapsible Lightsphere seemed to be the better bet, as it collapses (there’s a surprise!) and therefore fits better in a camera bag.

So, to see how it performed, off we went to the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield on Friday and had a practice portrait session, with Keith as the model again. It was quite a sunny day, but we went into the shade of some trees to get some better results out of the bright light. It seemed to perform very well, but I think I need some more practice with it. I haven’t really got used to the flashgun on its own yet, so adding the diffuser was an extra obstacle. Having said that, I was fairly pleased with the results. The light was very soft and skin tones were good. I had some strange looks from people wondering what on earth it was!

As we were wandering around looking for some more suitable areas to try out the technique, we were approached by a few inquisitive squirrels. They are obviously fed by people and have become quite fearless. One started to follow us across the grass, so we stopped to see what it would do. I grabbed the following shot quickly, hence the squirrel’s blurry head, but moments later the thing had attached itself to Keith’s leg and was almost up his shorts! Keith shook it off, but it all happened too quick for me to record the incident. Keith had some tiny claw marks on the back of his leg.

We decided that we should really be getting more exercise, so in a bid to get this into our daily routine, we offered to take next door’s dog for a walk on a regular basis. Our first outing was last Thursday, when we had a walk over the fields surrounding our village. We were absolutely jiggered by the time we arrived home, but Millie seemed to be ready for more! She is a little Yorkshire Terrier and I have never seen a dog with more energy!! I didn’t get any photos as she wouldn’t sit still for more than a nano-second.

One of the fields we went through was full of poppies, so I stopped for a few minutes to get some shots. I will have to go back for another session when we aren’t being walked by a dog. It would be nice to get them with a spectacular sunset in the background. There was a nice sunset as I was coming home from camera club that same night, but I didn’t have my camera with me. And I didn’t fancy tramping over the fields again that day! Checking my Photographer’s Ephemeris, the sun should be setting nicely behind this field of poppies for a few more days, but they won’t last much longer, so I’ll have to get a move on.

The solar panel fitting has been put back for a couple more days, as they have still not arrived from China. I’ll be glad when the scaffolding can come down and we can have the patio back. We did manage to have a barbecue last week, but the chiminea had been moved down to the bottom of the garden so that it doesn’t get damaged, and we had to eat indoors as there is no room for the patio table and chairs to be put out. We should be all done by next weekend, though, and then we’ll be able to use the patio again.

Tales are rife of photographers having images stolen from the interweb, so I’ve been investigating the best way to protect my images with a watermark before posting to the web. There are about 101 ways in Photoshop to do this, but I have finally hit upon one method that is not too difficult to do, and which looks OK, and it can be automated to add the watermark to a folder of images at one go, rather than having to do it on each image individually. It will take a bit of time to set up, but once it’s done, adding the copyright watermark should be a piece of cake. I’ve never created a Photoshop Action before, so it’s a bit of a steep learning curve, but it doesn’t look too taxing.



  1. what aperture were you using?

    Can’t imagine my photos are worth stealing. they are greatly reduced before loading.

    got to love that squrrel!!

    • Presumably you mean for the portraits? Aperture was at f/6.3 for the portraits. First one at 1/250, second one at 1/125. I was using the 18-200mm zoom. I wasn’t sure how they would turn out, as I was on P mode, on recommendation of the seller of the diffuser, but I am going to test it on M or Av modes too. I just need practice getting the settings correct to match the flash with the ambient light.

      Even though images are reduced for the web, they can still be stolen if the thief wants to use it in the same way. Some pro photographers have had their images used on someone else’s website, where they’ve been passed off as examples of their own work. Even watermarking can be bypassed – if it’s near the edge it can be cropped out.

      I’ve got to go back and see those squirrels again!!

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