Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Spiders and Flies

Here I am again, stuck in the office. But I am glad I have new insect macro shots to blog about.

First is the common Striped Lynx Spider (Oxyopes salticus). It has thorns on its legs, eyes on top of its head (probably to see horizontally when they are in a vertical orientation) and a rather painful (but not poisonous) bite. I see a lot these Lynx spiders in our garden but this is the first time I took a photograph of it feeding. Curiously, it doesn't wrap its prey in silk and drag it away to some dark corner to consume; I found this one on an exposed leaf. And I can say this is a female because that the pedipalps are quite small.

lynx (1 of 1)

Second is a Jumping Spider (Salticidae). This is one of the most common spiders. Scientists say that among spiders, they are the most intelligent. This one is orange, and is a bit smaller than the common ones. I found it under leaf. I can't tell you much aside from the fact that it was the most behaved Jumping Spider I have found so far as it did not move while I was shooting.

jumper (1 of 1)

Lastly, I found this curious looking fly. It is a Hunchback Fly (Acroceridae Toxophora). And upon doing research, it is a parasite that lives inside spiders where it develops into the mature fly that you see. It flies really slowly, I think partly because of its unusual shape.

hunchback fly (1 of 1)

Monday, September 26, 2011

On Different Light Sources and Portrait #21

Always go where the light is...

Lets face it, photography is about light. And I have observed that all great photographers understand light. If you do not know how to use light sources to your advantage then you wont go far in photography.

And in this particular shoot, I had 3 different sources.

First, we were bored waiting for our co-photographers who were doing a client shoot so we decided to play around with two portable light: a battery powered LED array and a circular florescent light powered by a car battery. And we also had the headlights of the car we had with us. So we found something workable and I managed this single image. Note that there is some flaring due to the fact that I was shooting straight into the car's headlights which we used as sort of a rim light.

portraits (1 of 3)

Second, we were waiting for the crew to set up the lights so the model asked me to shoot her inside the coffee shop. The place had an assortment of lights. Just in the stairs they had three different warm lights. This image is what I got from that set. I changed the image to a colder tone since I wanted to accentuate her hair color.

portraits (2 of 3)

Lastly, we played around with strobes and colored gels. We had a strobe with CTO gel (color temperature orange) and bare strobes diffused by a white reflector. I turned it into something vintage because the orange gel already played a lot in setting the tone of the shot. This is also the image I will add to my portraits project.

Portrait #21: Krizha
portraits (3 of 3)

A little background on the model. I met Krizha through a good friend and always wanted to shoot her. When she sent me a message asking for a shoot, I instantly accepted since I wanted to add her to my project. Aside from modelling, she also sings and has a band. This is one talented girl. I promised her a reshoot and I hope that will push through. Hopefully, the next shoot will just be in ambient daylight so I can do much more as that is where I am most comfortable in.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On Shooting Orb Weavers

The easiest way to find a spider is to follow its web.

Most nocturnal spiders I see are those from the orb weaver family. And the right time to look for one is at about 5 to 6 in the evening. They'd be starting to weave their webs and wouldn't really mind a photographer pointing his camera. But when it finished building its web, most spiders either hide nearby or sit in the center in a tight ball; either way, you'd have a hard time finding an angle for a shot. So the best time to shoot an orb weaver is when it is building its web.

This particular spider I found made its web on our gate. I watched it start moving from one place to another to establish the anchor points of its silky net. And I watched it hastily weave through those points, leaving a thin silk thread to form the orb web. It took me a while before I realized I had to shoot it. It was hard to track as it was moving at a frantic pace. What I learned about shooting orb weavers was that if I held my camera parallel to the web and steadied myself so that the web would be in my depth of field, I could shoot the spider while it moved without having to track it. I don't usually shoot on top of my subjects but I had to if I wanted any output with this one.

orb weavers (1 of 1)

orb weavers (2 of 2)

Oh, I forgot to mention that this is the first time I shot with a strobe during the twilight hours. I think I'll continue shooting more during this time of day. Though I really like ambient light and shooting during the golden hours, this is probably a good time to catch new species of arachnids and nocturnal insects. I'll probably do it again tomorrow if the weather permits.

Monday, September 19, 2011

On Music, Photography and Portrait #20

A little known ritual I have before shooting portraits: I listen to random songs for inspiration.

People wonder why I always have around these huge headphones in my camera bag. It is because I need to crank up the volume before shooting. Music has long been my pick-me-up; be it work related stuff or photography. There is nothing like a bit of alternative or trance to get you going.

And I also turn to music when editing. My output is, more often than not, based on what I listen to. When the song is mellow, I tend to do cross processing or add that Indian summer like effects. When its trance, I go with loud and vivid colors. It is either I match the output to my music or the other way around when I already visualized in my head what I want to achieve. 

Last Sunday, before heading to the shoot, I went with easy Sunday music. Some Maroon 5, Jason Mraz and a compilation of John Mayer acoustics. And on my first impression on the model for Sunday, I knew I played the right songs.

So, the model is Dannica. She's fourteen but is tall enough to pass as an 18 year old. She's mature for her age and much more refined than a lot of the older models I've been in shoots with. You wouldn't really know her age until you ask. I find that younger models are harder to shoot because they lack the attention span (which probably comes with age) but with her, it was a breeze; she knows how to work with the photographer. And I was surprised that it was her first shoot.

Vintage Look
vintage look 

I'm happy with the output. I wish I had more shooting time but I was still struggling with the 90mm manual focus. But again, when it's spot on, the output is cool. I'll stick with the 90mm for now, until I get something like a 50mm f1.8.
Portrait #20: Dannica
Portrait #20

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On Close Ups and Portrait #19

"The eyes are the window to one's soul..."

Before I get caught up in editing the panoramas I took today, I'd like to introduce you (my readers, if there are any) to Lean Mariz. I got an invite to a shoot with her and did not know she studied in Cebu and lives about an hour and a half from Davao City; She came all that way just for the shoot. As a photographer you'd have to feel flattered to know that your model came from another place just for a simple shoot.

Lean (le-an), has this amazing look. Her gaze can mesmerize you into just looking; and her smile, well, can make you smile as well. I had to capture that look so I used a macro lens to get up close and personal with her. And for me, it was the right decision. It was hard as I was using a 90mm lens with manual focus and no light metering. But what was good about it was that I could really get close (six inches from her face) and capture the details in her eyes.

And this was a good shoot for me as I found what lens I am most comfortable with. I think I will need to save up for another 90mm macro lens; this time with Auto Focus and metering. Finding my range made all the difference as I can know concentrate on my own style of portraiture. Its back to the telephoto range for me.

I'll end this blog with my two best shots of Lean.

Raw Beauty
headshots (1 of 1)

Portrait #19: Lean

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