Nikon SB-600 Speedlight

Baby's Ear Shell Macro Strobist Photographs

Baby's Ear Shell in macro top side - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/16 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: Nikon SB-600 Speedlight with diffuser cap @ 1/8th power just under shellA dog park friend saw my recent macro photographs of shells I found actually at the dog park and approached me last week with a rare shell she found herself on a local beach thinking I might like to photograph it as well.  She gave me a shell she said was called a Baby's Ear Shell for how its soft curves and translucent shell looks.  It is a very delicate looking shell when held in one's hand.  However, to photograph it I wanted to bring out as much detail as possible, which meant using a strobist technique.  The other challenge was how to prop or stand the shell so it could be cleanly photographed.  My solution for that is represented in the last image below.

For the above shot I placed a speedlight just under the shell adjusting the strobe's power to illuminate without blowing out too much of the bottom of the shell.  Slight movements produced different shadows, but it did not take long until I was pleased with the results I got above.

Baby's Ear Shell in macro back side - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/16 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: Nikon SB-600 Speedlight with diffuser cap @ 1/4th power just under shellTo photograph the under side of the shell I placed the speedlight behind the shell for a more traditional backlit look.  This created shadows which show the depth of the dome of the shell and the underside ring portion of it.  I was surprised to be able to pull blue out of the dome portion, which is not visible with the shell just in hand.

My shell shooting solution, putting a piece of tape on it and hanging it from a wire rack.The method I came up with to photograph the shell was simply to hang it by a piece of tape from a wire rack plant holder I have in my living room.  Then I simply painted over in black the tape and the wire in Photoshop.  The black background was created in camera by choosing a fast shutter speed of 1/200th while shooting in my living room with the blinds closed.

Thank you Mari for thinking of me and sharing your shell!

Nikon D3100 DSLR Photography Lesson in St. Petersburg Florida with Kyle

Kyle with his Nikon D3100 in Straub Park with Proline tripod product placementI had been in e-mail contact with Kyle for awhile, giving him tripod buying advice, etc.  This morning I met him for a DSLR Photography Lesson in the usual downtown St. Petersburg spot.  Even though the calendar said December 22nd, it felt more like May 22nd as the Florida sun continued to shine on full force.  

As usual during a first lesson, we covered a wide range of photography topics starting out with my 4-step process for getting the settings right for any given type of shot followed by simply how to best hold a DSLR for maximum stability and efficiency.  Kyle kept his Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8G lens on his D3100 as we went from making shots with bokeh, to controling DoF for group shots, to how to compose and take shots using a tripod, before ending with some flash portrait practice.  

I hope Kyle can put all we covered today to use to produce his best holiday photographs ever.  He already had two of his photographs published in a local credit union's calendar, maybe next year he can go national!

Nikon SB-600 Speedlight DSLR Photography Lesson St. Petersburg Florida

Sunil with very useful kneepad after practicing using his Nikon SB-600 Speedlight during our photography lesson in St. PetersburgFriday wrapped up a crash course in DSLR Photography with Sunil as he took his fourth lesson and seventh and eighth hours of 1-on-1 instruction.  Our first DSLR Photography Lesson on Monday covered the typical topics I do with any person on a first lesson.  The second was on night photography.  The third was exclusively using a 50mm lens.  This final lesson was all about how to best use his Nikon SB-600 Speedlight for portrait photography.

We met at the same spot as all the other lessons, in front of the Museum of Fine Art in downtown St. Petersburg, although on a Friday afternoon the area is much, much more lively than on any other week day.  I had Sunil mount his SB-600 to the hotshoe of his Nikon D50 and using two lenses, an 18-55mm and a 70-300mm, we practiced how to get the most out of on camera external flash.  We used the banyan trees on Beach Drive, then the covered walkway by the Ovation Building before ending up by the St. Pete waterfront.  

It was a good week with Sunil who I got to know a little bit as I shared a lot of my photography knowledge with him.  I look forward to seeing how his photography grows.