Chalk Macro Focus Stack

Chalk Macro Focus Stack


I just had to try focus stacking. As you can see the difference between the two images it really does work. I exposed 12 different images slightly changing the focus back to front. A Nikon D800 was used with a 60mm micro lens. We ran the images through Capture One to the computer so we had some idea of how the focus was changing. It was very interesting.

How would this work on some large industrial facility where you could get everything from the far wall to the near bolt in focus? I am sure this has been done. It must give the image a hyper real existence. Kind of like doing a HDR image to the extreme. Sometimes you can tell it has been worked hard, other images you can’t. Just another tool in the box for digital. I could never have done this on 4×5 sheet film.


Quick And Easy Portrait With The FourSquare Softbox And One Speedlight

Quick And Easy Portrait With The FourSquare Softbox And One Speedlight


A keen eye may notice that the setup is a mirror of our final pick. We reversed the set mid way through the shoot and only shot overview images at the end.

My good friend Steve Thornton is always willing to let me shoot a current portrait of him. This was done because I continually want to emphasize what can be done with a single light source and some fill if required. My source is the FourSquare fitted with a single SB 900 and a pocket wizard for a trigger with a Visual Departure Flex Fill. My camera is a Canon 5D Mark II fitted with a 85mm lens. I like to use the camera on a ball head so I can move it, dutch the camera, without having to actually carry or hold the camera. You get finicky as you get older and like to make things as comfortable as possible. Our final image is without the fill, but this is just a personal choice on how I wanted the image to look

Playing around with a single source can be the beginning of understanding what lighting is all about. If you use it outside and find your ambient level exposure and make a shot and then begin to explore with a single source flash (with or without modifier) you can really begin to see how much dimension and feel you could add to your images. Even if you are just shooting your kids or neighbor, adding your own light to what nature gives can be a very good learning experience.  So good in fact, that the little speed light will become part of your regular gear.


VW Beetle in the studio





Have been looking into what other lighting fixtures are useable for in studio photography. This is a commercially available fluorescent fixture available from a local distributor. The goal was to find the most color correct bulbs. These are daylight balanced and create a very nice light when it is place through a 1/2 grid silent from the Rag Place in California. What I have suspended above the “Bug” is a 8×8 frame on two rolling stands. This particular frame is from Matthews in California. Depending on the subject, I like adding/using a large diffusion for lighting a shiny curved object. In many cases the diffusion needs to be larger than you think. Our magical brain has a way of filtering out all those little reflections before we see a proof up on the computer screen.  We are using a D800 tethered to a Mac running Capture One Pro.

What I have really found handy are the adjustable tables that are available at Sam’s and Costco. That is the table that the car is sitting on. It adjusts to varying heights and can be useful as a prop table, makeup table or a shoot table as I am showing here. I think they are only around 50 to 60 dollars and well worth the investment. We have several. They also have one that folds in half that is around 40 dollars. Happy shooting


Pour Shot




Friday with Dr. Dan resulted in this pour shot.

FourSquare 20×20 Box with Grid, Set Left = 1/32 each 2x SB 900

Top Right = 1/16 SB 900 with red gel Not Shown

Lower Left  = 1/64 SB 800 with red gel Not Shown

Background Blue Through Plastic Sheet= SB900 @ 1/128 and ZootSnoot with Blue gel

Nikon D800, Nikon 100 mm Macro, F-11, 1/160 sec, ISO 800


What was neat in planning this shot for the blog was research at one of our local plastic supply houses. They had all kinds of textured plastic which is what we used for the background. I only bought one to see how it worked. So now when I need something unique I will definitely go back for more research. The product was available on a roll and you purchased by the foot. I spent around eight dollars for this piece.

We tried water, vodka, Karo Syrup thinned with water but eventually through trial and error used glycerin diluted with water and cough syrup to get the color. Now I warn you … be prepared if you choose to try this the mixture is very sticky and makes a beautiful mess. We did not think that it would splash as far as it did but we got it all over the table, floor, background, stands, the box and the camera stand.

The other nifty piece of this puzzle are the two pieces of clear plexi that were cut to match the martini glasses base so that we could suspend them. We used hot glue to adhere the glasses to the plexi but in hindsight I probably would use clear museum putty or gel. Just look it up on Google or Yahoo to find a source. The hot glue worked well but the surface tension wasn’t quite strong enough for the glass to hold it for a long period of time. The total time we spent on this exercise was just around four hours. I spent an additional two hours getting the plexi cut, purchasing the background and the glycerin.

Rosco Light Panels for Small Product Photography

Well, we are all back from the Holidays and it’s time to start writing more posts. Since we last posted we have been using the Rosco Light Pads to shoot some small products for a client. What is really cool is that each pad can be controlled by it own individual controller. All three in this pic are each set to a different output level. While they are a little expensive, we have saved a tremendous amount of time by not having to set up large flash sources and/or tungsten lights. We snapped a real quick pic of a FourSquare block so you could get the idea of our setup. After this last shoot I am thinking of getting a few more that are even bigger. The ones shown are 6″x6″.

Rosco Light Panels for small product photography