Nikkor 105mm VR Micro

Photography Tip - How to make a black background out of nothing but camera & strobe settings

This flower was photographed in my living room in the afternoon, black background achieved by: Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro lens @ f/22 ISO 200 1/250th - Strobist: SB-800 in reflective umbrella to frame leftIf you would like to photograph a subject on a black background, you do not need to have an actual black background to achieve this.  Using strobist skills and manual settings on your DSLR you can create a black background almost magically.  I set these flowers on a small table in the middle of my living room.  It was 1:21pm on a sunny afternoon with the blinds closed on both windows, but a lot of light was still filtering through.  I setup a reflective umbrella (a softbox would work even better) to the left of the flowers with a Nikon SB-800 Speedlight.  It took some fiddling to make sure none of the light from the umbrella splashed onto any of the walls, which made them visible in the shot.  The same goes for getting the settings on my DSLR to produce the results I wanted.  In the end I was able to achieve what I wanted, just the light from the speedlight exposing my subject with the ambient light in the room eliminated due to the small aperture and fast shutter speed settings.  

How to create a black background: 

  1. setup the subject in a room with as much distance from the walls as possible
  2. setup a speedlight to left or right of subject with umbrella/softbox/other light modifier
  3. start with f/16 and 1/200th & adjust from there as necessary (ISO should be at lowest setting) 

Thank you to Bill Gracey and his great flickr photostream for the inspiration for this shot.  Be sure and visit his extensive gallery of strobe lit plants.

Try this at home and be sure and post a link to your results in the comments below.  If you would like to learn how to make photographs like this first hand, I offer 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons in and around the St. Petersburg area.  Reserve your lesson today! 

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  • Signs of Fall and Winter in Florida

    Pine cone stuck to a swinging bench - Nikon D300 Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR f/2.8G lens @ f/4 ISO 200 1/100thFall and winter in west-central Florida are not constants.  For example, just Wednesday a cold front came through bringing hours of rain and arctic (for us) 48 degree weather at night and 50s during the day Thursday.  Today is Friday and I am writing in shorts and short sleeves with the ceiling fan on and all the windows open.  Summer returned.  

    So it is difficult to be a traditional seasonal photographer in this part of Florida.  There are no autumn leaves to photograph to time stamp an image to have been made in the fall.  There is of course certainly no snow to illustrate any given photo is from winter.  

    Seeing this pine cone wedged on a bench swing was the most autumnal scene I have observed this year.  Post a link to your photographs that represent fall and winter in Florida to you below in the comments, and for non-Floridians, I enjoy seeing what real fall and winter look like too! 

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  • Free iPhone Wallpaper - Smiling Border Collie

    free iPhone wallpaper -- Smiling Border Collie with bokeh

    Start your day off with a free new wallpaper for your iPhone or iPod touch!

    My dog photography career began last year when I adopted a puppy of my own (Kiki).  She quickly made many friends at the local dog park.  This introduced me to the world of fun and challenge that is trying to photograph dogs running, wrestling and in general going wild in a large fenced in area.  

    For photographing candid action shots of dogs I mostly use my Nikkor 105mm VR micro lens because of its fast focusing and great sharpness.  I find 105mm is enough length because eventually all dogs will pass close by.

    Reserve a candid action photography session for your dog today, or find out more about them. 

    Please let me know if you use this wallpaper in the comments below.


    My full (and growing) collection of iPhone wallpapers can be viewed HERE and are available for just $1 each.


     To Install the wallpaper onto your iPhone:

    1. Right-click or control-click on the image.

    2. Select “Save as…”

    * Mac users:  save the image to a folder or add it to your iPhoto library.

    * PC users:   save the image in your “My Pictures” folder.

    Connect the iPhone/iPod Touch to your computer and do the following:

    1. Launch iTunes, click your iPhone icon on iTunes, choose the Photos tab, and select “Sync photos from:”

    2. From the pop-up menu, do one of the following:

    * If your using a Mac, choose iPhoto or your Pictures folder.
    * If you’re using a PC, choose My Pictures folder.

    3. Choose Folder, then choose any folder on your computer that has images.

    4. Choose “All photos,” or choose “Selected folders” or “Selected albums” and choose the folders or albums you want to sync.

    On your iPhone:

    5. Launch the Photos app. Browse through the albums or Camera Roll until you find the picture you wish to use.

    6. Select the picture so it is displayed full screen.

    7. Tap the icon in the lower left corner of the screen. If you don’t see the icon, single tap the picture to display the menus.

    8. A menu pops up with three options: Email Photo, Use as Wallpaper, or Assign to Contact.

    9. Choose “Use as Wallpaper"

    Thanks to Photo Focus and Scott Bourne for the directions above.

    All iPhone/iPod Touch Wallpapers are provided without any technical support. Each image is a 320×480 jpg file. All images are Copyright Jason Collin Photography, All Rights Reserved. You are granted a single use, non-exclusive, perpetual license to install this wallpaper on any iPhone or iPod Touch personally owned by you. This license grants you the right to use the wallpaper for non-commercial/personal use only. You may not re-sell, distribute, print or otherwise publish the image without the express written consent of the Copyright owner: Jason Collin Photography 

    Classic Ford Galaxie mini shoot

    Nice chrome fenders on this classic Ford Galaxie

    I went to Crescent Lake Park with the fam to check out a community yard sale in search of a cheap tennis racquet and beyond hope an old, sturdy tripod that could tie me over until I get my dream Gitzo carbon fiber tripod.  I found neither, but there was something unexpected, a classic Ford Galaxie.  It was owned by a retired gentleman from my home state of Rhode Island!  I struck up a conversation with him about this and that.  

    the front end of a classic Ford Galaxie with sweet antique Rhode Island license plate

    Naturally I asked him if he minded if I took a few photos.  He said not at all.  So I whipped out the D300 which had my Nikkor 105mm VR Micro f/2.8G lens on it, not the ideal lens for photographing a car in whole.  Also, it was sitting in the middle of a huge grass field in the bright noon Florida sun.  So I just made the photos I could in that situation with the gear I had.

    left tail-light of a classic Ford Galaxie

    I gave the owner my business card and said I'd love to have another chance to photograph his classic ride for free with my usual car photography kit with me.  I'm not sure if he'll take me up on that offer, but I do know he and some other old-timers hangout at this donut shop on 9th Avenue where all kinds of stories are told.  So I will most definitely go and check out that place because I of course love donuts, and I would really like to hear stories about the old days and what they used to do in their cars.

    the interior of a classic Ford Galaxie -- she was a beauty inside, and out for that matter