Sarah here. Andrew has family friends who grow absolutely breath-taking (and prize-winning) dahlias and zinnias; if you’ve poked through my galleries on our site, you may have seen some of them already. I fell in love with the huge dinner plate sized dahlias, and this year our friends were kind enough to give us a handful of dahlia tubers so we could try growing them ourselves.
One of the plants (Wanda’s Aurora) just bloomed for the first time, and I was thrilled to see that it makes those enormous lush blossoms I’d been dreaming of. It’s so much fun to play with flash direction and intensity with these luminous, sculptural petals.
Sarah here. In my quest to learn how to bend light to my will, I’ve been working through the Lighting 102 class over at the Strobist. I did the early exercises, but got stuck for a bit on the first assignment, aptly described as “deceptively simple”:
The assignment is to photograph one or more kitchen utensils – knives, forks, spoons, whisks – whatever you like. The look you are going or is that of ordinary object elevated to high art. Or at least commercial art, as this is the kind of thing that might appear as a catalog cover or in a calendar or on the wall of one of those ubiquitous “fast casual” restaurants.
It’s harder than it sounds. I finally buckled down and knocked it out today, using my super-fancy homemade cardboard light box to make a single speedlight nice and soft and less unidirectional. One of the harder parts was getting my subject to stay in position; I built a little mountain out of a dome diffuser and old corks to hold the corkscrew at a good angle, but it was less stable than a house of cards. More than once, I got everything set up perfectly, was juuuuuuuust adjusting the focus, had my finger resting on the shutter button……… and then the whole wobbly structure collapsed unceremoniously. Le sigh.
But eventually it held together long enough to pull off a few shots, and I actually kinda like a few of them.
Sarah here. After fighting with speedlights in my last attempted portrait shoot (and eventually giving up in favor of window light), I’ve been spending a lot of time over at the Strobist. If you haven’t already heard of him, David Hobby is a genius with flash and a great teacher. I read through Lighting 101 and am now making my way through Lighting 102, exercises and all. I’m a bit stuck on an assignment right now, but more about that later, perhaps.
In the meantime, I poked through the Strobist page on DIY projects, and came across these instructions for a cheapo light box. It’s super easy to do (materials: one box, white tissue paper, tape), and makes lovely soft wrapping light for small objects. If you wanted more even light, you could put a second light on the other side (maybe the top and front, too, if you really wanted to go nuts?). If I’d closed the barn doors (i.e. box flaps) a bit, I might have gotten some bounce on the front… especially if I lined them with white paper, too.
I’ve told Andrew that I’m claiming any reasonably sized cardboard boxes that come into the house, because I have my eye on a cheapo softbox next…