Posted by: digibirder | June 29, 2010

The bear essentials

Cooped up on my own today – Keith had a number of appointments and was out in the car all day – I decided to amuse myself by practising some more portraiture with my new Gary Fong diffuser. So, who was to be my model? With no one to call on at short notice, it had to be Stead E. Bear, the free gift we received from the car showroom at Eric Stead of Sheffield when we bought our car. He sat quite happily on the windowsill while I kept fiddling with the camera settings and bombarding him with flash after flash from the camera.

Well, it was quite a session, and I think I managed to make at least some sense of it all. I was trying the flash with different aperture and shutter speed settings, and some shots were taken using the settings in the instructions that came with the diffuser. I want to be confident when I actually go out taking portraits of real people – people who may have paid for me to take their portraits. So, here are the results (any geeks out there will love this, but if it’s not your bag, just ignore this post). Also please ignore the dirty window! Being short of mazuma, we’ve cancelled the window cleaner, and there has been quite a lot of dirt flying round as a result of the solar panels being fitted. That’s my excuse anyway! I’ve managed to avoid the scaffolding appearing in the images.

The instructions for the diffuser say to use P mode (I think they assume you will be a beginner, so suggest P mode as a way of  getting some good results without messing about in manual settings) and 800 ISO. But I think I managed to get some decent shots with my own settings. The first five were on M mode, the rest on P. I think a lot depends also on what effect you are after. And if you want to blur the background, you need to keep the aperture open as far as possible without it causing the shutter speed to go beyond the flash sync speed (1/250 on my camera). You can see that the background is more in focus in some shots than in others. Also, as the aperture is changed, this has more effect on the ambient exposure (background) than the model, which is lit purely with the flash. I’m not sure whether altering the camera settings or the flash output is better, but most of the images are not that bad, really. All images taken with Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens on Canon 40D (I love that lens!).



  1. i do have a 50mm but find it too long. now the 35f1.8 is gorgeous!

    I’ve never used P. I always use M – yes Mr Auto uses M!!

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