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Written by Roger Payne

After my bathtub antics last time round – you can read that here if you missed it – I’d got the taste for creating studio quality results on the cheap. I spotted my chance when my wife bought some colourful tulips into the house and within seconds of them being put in a vase, I snaffled them to get shooting.

Aside from the flowers themselves, I used two sheets of white A3 paper, which I taped to a north-facing window. I used two sheets as a single sheet tends to show the pulp in the paper when lit from behind and then put a couple of paper clips on the bottom just to hold the sheets together and add a little weight. A couple of bulldog clips would be just as effective. With my X-E2S mounted to a tripod with the XF60mm macro lens attached, I started my shoot by selecting a custom white-balance setting; effectively to tell the camera the white point in my set-up to guarantee accurate colour reproduction. This was done by choosing White Balance in the menu, then one of the custom options before following the simple on-screen instructions. With that done, the flowers were placed in front of the paper and I got this.

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It’s hardly inspiring, is it? Composition aside, the biggest problem is the fact that the white paper has gone grey. This is because metering systems are calibrated to 18% grey. This is not a problem when shooting most standard scenes, but when you have white (or black) subjects they need a helping hand. I tried two options. First, I switched to spot metering and took a reading from the shadow area of the central yellow bloom. The result was better, but was starting to bleach the highlights, so I dialed in +1.3 stops of exposure compensation instead. Better.

The fact remained that the collection of tulips weren’t really working together, so I started trying individual flowers, placed in a toothbrush holder and held in place with a piece of scrunched up paper – no expense spared! I moved the focusing point to the flower head and tried a range of framing options.

If you’ve ever used the XF60mm Macro, you’ll know that it’s optically superb, and as the lens focused I found myself liking the abstract-like shapes in the out-of-focus bloom areas. So I switched to manual focusing, deliberately defocused and then took a range of images varying the aperture from F2.4 to F11, which altered the amount that was sharp. This one at F3.6 suited me best.

I swapped to another flower and did the same, shooting some in sharp focus and some defocused. This was repeated on the third bloom with which I also tried a few Film Simulation modes, including basic Black & White and Classic Chrome.

Shooting done, when I came to edit the images, I really liked the defocused shots and thought they could create a piece of abstract art if I created a triptych, which was easy enough to do in Photoshop. I simply created a black background, then dropped the images on in turn before shuffling them around until I got the position right.

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What do you think? I rather like the look. My wife, however, was a little less impressed. Turns out tulips don’t like being man-handled a great deal and the ones I’d photographed individually soon wilted.

Back to the shops for me!

Yerbury Studio and Fujifilm Power of the Portrait Seminar

I’m so lucky. I have one of those jobs where I get to speak to creative people on a daily basis, share ideas, see amazing images all the time. It can be quite overwhelming, inspiring visions springing out of nowhere, ideas being converted from the written word to a physical printed image. In an industry which is (thankfully) teeming with creative types, there are certain names which keep being talked about. One of those names is Trevor Yerbury, in fact two names Trevor and Faye Yerbury. For those who don’t know Trevor and Faye own the Yerbury Studio, based in Edinburgh, one of the most highly respected and regarded photographic studios in the UK. Trevor Yerbury is a 4th generation photographer, the business founded by his great grand­father in Edinburgh in 1864.

2Trevor joined the family business in 1968 and has been driving the business forward, with his wife Faye and team, ever since. Together they create the most amazingly simple, striking and sophisticated images, creating an overall elegant and timeless collection of images. Both Trevor and Faye have received accolades over the years from Masters of Photography, Fellowships and between them hold 15 Kodak European Gold Awards. Internationally they are also respected judges.

Trevor and Faye organise a series of very successful seminars, both in the UK and abroad, sharing their experience, skills and passion with fellow professional photographers.

Both Trevor and Faye are now passionate users of the Fujifilm X range of cameras and Fujinon lenses, using them pretty much exclusively for all their work now. Trevor uses the X-Pro1 and Faye the X-T1, but as with all married couples they are pretty happy to share cameras and lenses. That’s how it works, right?

I recently joined them on one of their seminar tours in the UK at St Albans. They’ve been producing a series of seminars based around The Power of the Portrait.  Here they spoke to an eager congregation of professional photographers, who were there to learn the secrets to success in portrait photography and help fine tune skills in marketing and promoting a profitable portrait business.

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There are many things which I found fascinating. Firstly, just how generous Trevor and Faye are with their knowledge and understanding. Of course, they are experts in terms of photography skill, but they’ve fine-tuned all aspects of their business, will talk about most commonly made mistakes and also how to maximise the profitability, the relationships and the longevity of the business.  They will talk to photographers in a way which really resonates, especially elements such as creating your own photographic style, the importance of relationships, after sales and creating unique products.

Secondly, how passionate they are about our cameras – you may find this hard to swallow and a bit contrived coming from the PR Manager, but they really are. To hear terms like, ‘The Fuji system is the future of photography’ and ‘they should change the shutter sound to one that makes the same sound as a cash register’ is totally from their mouths, not ours.  It’s wonderful to hear because you know it’s honest. They wouldn’t be using the X cameras if it wasn’t going to work for them and help produce shots to showcase their work.  Obviously these guys have been in the business a good while now and know what they like and what they don’t like. It made me very happy to hear what they were saying and to see so many people in the audience already with their X cameras ready.

Throughout the day they shot a few attendees, showing how simply you can produce an amazing image, using one camera, one lens, one reflector and one light box.  Amazing.

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After the seminar you could tell that all the delegates were energised and motivate, ready to get back to their studios with fresh ideas and a revitalised view of how to run their business and also seeing some of the amazing pictures taken by two of the most respected photographers in the UK, on the X-cameras.

Further information regarding The Power of The Portrait can be found here, new dates have been added:

http://www.yerburystudio.com/power-portrait-2/

Information about the Fujifilm X- Series cameras:

http://www.fujifilm.eu/uk/products/digital-cameras/

Switching Systems – Interview with Michelle Williams

Interview with Michelle Williams – professional photographer that recently made the switch to the world of Fujifilm X

Michelle is a professional photographer from North Wales. She has been photographing weddings, newborns and animals as her full time job on a Canon camera for the last ten years. She recently discovered the Fujifilm X series of cameras so we got in touch to ask her a bit about her rite of discovery.

So what made you decide to try a Fujifilm camera?

I’m a Canon user and have been for ten years. I never thought I would want to change to another make of camera, ever. Recently however, I’ve seen a lot of feedback online about the Fuji cameras so last week I sold some bits and bought a used X-E1 and a 35mm lens.

I wasn’t expecting much as these things are usually prone to hype. I’d tried the Olympus pen for a walk around camera and it was good but more of a fun camera than one I would seriously use. From the very first image I took with the X-E1 I was nothing short of gobsmacked. I was so excited to see what it was capable of.

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How has the X-E1 changed how you shoot?

I’ve not been out of the house without it since I bought it. This weekend I had a wedding and packed my usual kit of a 5D2 and a 7D with all my lenses. I also took along the little Fuji to play with if I got a chance.

To my surprise, I shot the majority of the day with the Fuji alone! The images are brilliant straight from camera which on a wedding means saving tons of time for me so again I’m taken aback by its capabilities…especially in low light!

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I truly am blown away with the colour, clarity and functionality of this camera.

Once again, thank you to you all for making photography fun and exciting for me again. Keep up the great work!

See more of Michelle’s work by following her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/michellewilliamsphotographyuk