Friday, July 19, 2013

Striving

As a photographer, there is always another level to aim for. Either purely technological or creative. Lately, I have been feeling the second.

Fallen by Jacob Åberg on 500px.com
Fallen by Jacob Åberg

It's the urge to do something more, to accomplish something. It's a feeling so strong that I can almost reach out and grab it. Not even a feeling, more like something I can feel growing inside of myself. It is a strange feeling, that is pulling me forward in strange directions. It's frightening at times.

I know approximately where I am, and I know very well what kind of images I have in my head, and roughly how far I still need to go to make them. But the distance I still need to travel, in terms of personal growth and technical knowledge, is not insignificant. And that distance is frightening. I want to be able to make something great. To accomplish something. But I don't know if can, or if I will have the time to. I feel an urgency, yet I know that some things have to be given the time it takes.

How long until I fall?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lately

So what have I been up to? What photography-interested people usually do, lots of pictures. I would love to go through every single one, but that would take a while more than I have.

Instead, let me show you one.
take my hand (escape from darkness) by Jacob Åberg (jacke)) on 500px.com
take my hand (escape from darkness) by Jacob Åberg

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A mix of exposures

I'm always trying to find new things to try, technically. The experimentation part is one that I really enjoy about making a picture.

Unseen by Jacob Åberg (jacke)) on 500px.com
Unseen by Jacob Åberg

 Some lighting info first, I had two Speedlights on each side of the subject, slightly in front of her turned inwards towards the wall. The (camera) left one was behind the central character, and the (camera) right was just out of frame. And then one Speedlight behind her aimed at her back.

I don't remember exactly when I came across the story about violinist Joshua Bell doing a secret performance in the L'Enfant Plaza metro station, but it resonated with me in a strong way, and eventually I found myself wanting to do a visual interpretation of it. I have a bad habit of not really documenting my process, but eventually I came onto the idea of mixed exposures, using both flash and long exposure for light-painting.

Now, light-painting takes some time, so unless you're in a controlled environment you will easily over-expose the image, and I wanted to do it outside. The darkness of evening will get you part of the way, but I still didn't want to risk running out of time, so I got the idea of using a neutral density-filter to get a longer exposure time. Of course when you use an ND-filter then will also need to increase flash power, which will be difficult with the 9-stop ND-filter I wanted to use. So you could take the easy way out of doing it in two exposures and combining it in Photoshop, or... add the ND-filter mid exposure.

By hanging a black t-shirt on a stand in front of the lens I could easily block off the light coming in after the initial flash exposure. I didn't do any documented comparisons how long shutter time it would be the equivalent of before I got the blockage in place, but I knew it was faster than 1/2 second, which according to my estimations still was in the "safe zone". Then while the t-shirt was blocking the lens I screwed in the ND-filter, then pull away the t-shirt and get to work with the flashlights!

I'm satisfied with how it came out, even though it doesn't completely match the image I had in my head. The concept worked, the technical aspect worked (aside from some wonky flash misfirings). Things I could have done better:
  • using a weaker ND-filter; with such a strong one the flashlights lost a lot of their power
  • better concealing of lightstands; as it turned out I had to take some out in post-production
  • cleaner light-trails; with more practice it would have looked a bit less "messy" than it ended up as.
These are however not show-stoppers. The one thing that bothers me most is the clumsy placement of the lightstands that ended up showing in the picture. Without those I could honestly say that this image is not photoshopped. Of course the main elements in the picture are not photoshopped, we really did go out, set up lights and run around with flashlights. But it's not "not photoshopped".

And in case there are doubters here is also a Lightroom capture so you can see how much I changed.

Just as every picture is, it was a learning experience.

Monday, January 07, 2013

In anticipation of the next

It's an interesting activity, photography. In particular so when it involves construction and lighting of studio sets. This is an image which at first lives only inside your head, through planning and building, it slowly takes shape in the real world, until one day the shutter clicks and it's there, captured either in an array of pixels or on a strip of film. It's an intoxicating feeling to make fantasy become real, even if only for a split second.