Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ride Along Shot- Avoiding the Cold

Greetings, Hohenfels, welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. I hope everyone is having a great week and looking forward to something great this weekend.

For our ride along today, I thought we’d stay in lovely Hohenfels. In fact, it’s so cold and gloomy; I thought we’d stay inside. Let’s go to the living room and get started.

This is my first Christmas photo of the season. There’ll be many more, I’m sure, but getting this one set up and in the camera is always exciting. Last year, it was a bottle of wine with a glass and the tree.

Hohenfels Volks- our first Christmas shot
ISO 100, f/4.5, 15 Seconds, 53mm, 3000K
Merry Christmas!

Come Christmas season, I love to take creative shots that illustrate this time of year. I visualized this shot all day while cruising Nuernberg's Christkindlmarkt. Getting home, I rushed into the house to get the shot set up and going. Of course, this kind of shot requires shooting on a tripod with IS turned off. That means using a remote trigger. I like using a remote trigger cable, some folks prefer wireless. Locking up the mirror allowed for that little bit of extra sharpness in the glass and the decorations surrounding the candleholder. Focus was on the glass to minimize the DOF between tree and candle. Placing the candle holder in sharp focus at or near an intersection of thirds isolates it and makes it the obvious center of interest, while allowing the eye to wander through the tree and memories of long ago Christmases.

This shot proved more difficult than first glance implies. I’ll be trying this one a few more times to get it perfect, but I really enjoy the way it turned out. It just says “Merry Christmas!”

After several failed attempts using multiple flashes to light the tree some and the glass, I went with a longer exposure and used just one flash. After getting the exposure started, I manually fired the flash at 1/128th power with the head zoomed in to 110mm. The flash comes in from camera left at about 45 degrees to the candleholder. The second pop of the flash at the same level was again camera right, zoomed to 50mm almost dead at the tree. The third and final pop, again at 1/128th and 110mm zoom, was aimed at the platter and decorations around the candleholder from camera right.

By setting the flash at minimum power and adjusting the zoom, I was able to bring out the green of the tree, the colors of the decoration, and use the longer focal length with a wide aperture to create some nice boke, or blur, behind the glass. It also highlighted the edges of the glass, and shows the nice, almost home spun, texture of the candle glass. It also allowed some detail in the decorations around the base of the candle.

Shooting at 15 seconds allowed me to manually zoom, aim, and pop the flash. That brought the whole thing together, bringing out detail while allowing a warm winter night feel to the image. The highlights in the image were slightly overexposed to allow for detail in the shadows, and it was darkened during conversion from RAW in Canon Digital Photo Pro software. I lowered the color temperature to about 3000K to bring out the green in the tree and hint at the blue in the platter holding the decorations and candleholder.

The candleholder was one that Mrs. Hohenfels-Volks picked up at a local market. The little things you can pick up at Moebelhof and other such places can really add some flavor to your photos. I’ll definitely try this shot again, perhaps with a snoot over the flash and some black cards to darken the highlights in the glass, perhaps giving a more old timey feel to it.

Same settings as above image
Here’s another version with the color temperature raised to about 3500K. Adding in that little bit of red makes it feel almost as if a fireplace is blazing somewhere in the room.

Now on to other things, remember to get your votes in for next week’s theme. We have a 3-way tie right now, and that means it’s my choice if we end the week that way! This week our theme is “Morning Moments.” I hope to see everyone participating! Get shooting and start posting at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting here is always welcome, too!


  1. Nice job Daddy ;-)

  2. Yea I need some work on the flash that's slaved, but I did figure out how to fire the Pilot light ;o) *sigh* I need to spend some time with my flash. These shots are lovely!

  3. You'll get it! Stop by the my work this evening and I can show you the settings, I had a hard time, starting out with flash, including some extremely ghastly shots! Thanks for the kind words, it's really appreciated!