McKinney Falls in Winter

There’s not much color to shoot in winter. The trees have lost all their leaves. The grass has gone dormant or is covered with snow. The once beautiful blue skies are overcast and gray.

But winter has a beauty all its own, full of photographic possibilities. The sun is lower in the southern sky, casting wonderful shadows and creating dramatic contrast. The air is crisp and clean and you can capture details seldom seen during the hazy summer months. The lack of color pushes the mind to see texture and detail often missed during more vibrant times of the year.

So pick up your camera and go back to visit those places you shot during the spring, summer and fall months. Look for texture, contrast and detail to capture and enjoy the soft, wrapping light of those gray, overcast days. Open your mind to the endless photographic possibilities on a cold and dreary day and bring back some images that capture the spirit of Winter!

McKinney Falls In Winter

McKinney Falls in Winter – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 200mm, f/29 for 1/4th of a second at ISO 50. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Nothing Could Be Finer…

I occasionally get asked why a “point & shoot” camera like the G10 or G11 is so good for landscape work and the answer is really simple: depth of field. One key to a good landscape shot is keeping the entire scene in perfect focus and with G10/G11′s small sensor, this is a snap (no pun intended).

I’m no sensor engineer but I can tell you this, the smaller the sensor, the “larger” the depth of field. That’s why a full-frame sensor like that used in my 5D2 can so easily throw the background out of focus, even at smaller apertures like f/8. That’s also why a crop-body sensor like that found in the Canon 50D, 7D or Rebel series will never be able to match the bokeh produced by a full frame camera.

It’s also why a point & shoot can take such wonderful landscape images where every detail is in perfect focus. That small sensor may produce noise at higher ISO setting but at ISO 80 and shot at f/5.6 you’ll have almost unlimited DOF and near perfect focus. So for inexpensive landscape shooting, nothing could be finer…

Nothing Could Be Finer

Bastrop State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon Powershot G10 set on aperture priority (Av) using a circular polarizer. The exposure was taken at 30mm, f/5.6 for 1/50th of a second at ISO 80. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Lighting a Dungeon (Without a Fire Breathing Dragon)

There is only one Joe McNally and only Joe gets the BIG jobs like this. The rest of us? We get a wee bit more modest jobs…

Had some fun Friday shooting a pretty cool computer controlled coordinate measuring machine (CMM) made by none other than Zeiss, a name very familiar to most photographers. I wanted to get a few close-up shots of the probe that does the actual measuring as well as an environmental portrait of the machine and operator in action.

I walked into the 10′ x 20′ room housing the CMM and took a few snaps with my G10 to see what the room’s fluorescent lighting looked like. As in most manufacturing plants, the dark floor and walls seemed to suck up the available light like a sponge. And as luck would have it, the CMM’s base was a giant block of black granite and Miguel, the operator, was wearing a grey shirt and black pants. (Butterflies in the stomach…)

I decided to get the easy shots out of the way and began with a few closeups of the measuring probe as it zoomed all around the part it was measuring. I shot these using a softbox on the left and a shoot-through umbrella on the right at 45 deg. I chose a fairly wide aperture to throw the cluttered background out of focus. My 580EX II’s were on manual around 1/4th power controlled wirelessly using the PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 units. My biggest issues were the specular highlights (that’s a David Hobby term for a blinding reflection) coming off the (very Terminator looking) probe. These shots contains a few small areas that are almost completely blown out but hey, that’s life.

CMM Closeup 1

CMM Close Up – Houston, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 180mm, f/5.6 for 1/50th of a second at ISO 400. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

CMM Closeup 2

CMM Close Up – Houston, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 135mm, f/7.1 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 400. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

With the easy “product shots” out of the way, now I had to figure some way to light this dark room, the big shiny machine and Miguel, the operator. All with three Canon 580 EX II strobes, a 24″ Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe (softbox) and a 43″ Westcott shoot-through umbrella. (Panic begins to set in…)

Miguel was extremely patient while I tried several different lighting positions attempting to light the machine evenly without leaving him in the dark. I settled upon the layout shown below by pure luck, using the softbox pointed at Miguel through the arch of the CMM, as the key and using the shoot-through umbrella as the fill. I also bounced another 580EX II against the white ceiling to add some additional fill behind the CMM to soften the shadows. I pumped up all three strobes to 1/1 power to fill this dark room with as much soft light as possible.

CMM Lighting Diagram

Shooting at ISO 400 with the Canon 5D Mark II really makes this a snap due to the almost nonexistent noise at ISO 200 – 800. The 580EX II’s worked perfectly with their external battery packs and new PocketWizard MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 radio triggers. Post capture processing was simple using Miguel’s shirt to set a custom white balance in Lightroom. I spent less than 10 minutes retouching these shots in Photoshop so my entire “labor” for this shoot was under four hours.

My next shoot is a bunch of big green machines under sodium vapor lamps on the factory floor, so wish me luck!

CMM Operator

Hard at Work – Houston, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 47mm, f/6.3 for 1/80th of a second at ISO 400. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta and in Photoshop CS4. Click on the image above for a larger version.

See What a Little Rain Can Do?

After two years of back-breaking drought it’s down right refreshing (no pun intended) to see what a little rain can do for the Texas Hill Country. Late last year I photographed Pedernales Falls running about 15 cfs (cubic feet per second) which was about as exciting as watching the grass grow (or the Astros play). Now after a long winter of rain and (yes) even snow, the Pedernales River is flowing around 275 cfs and running almost 10 feet deep. What a difference a little ran can make!

The Upper Falls

PThe Upper Falls – Johnson City, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted using a Singh-Ray Vari-ND-Duo neutral density filter. The exposure was taken at 85mm, f/11 for 2 seconds at ISO 100. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Exploring Pedernales Falls

I spent most of last weekend doing a little one-on-one coaching at Pedernales Falls State Park (pronounced per-din-alleys) near Johnson City. This section of the Pedernales River runs through one of the most prominent uplift regions of the Edwards Plateau resulting in stair-step waterfalls running for over a mile.

It’s a beautiful area with hundreds of photographic opportunities for both the early morning and late afternoon hours. The geology is spectacular as you can see in this image and the swiftly running water makes a gorgeous subject set against the limestone and granite cliffs. This is one of my favorite spots in all Texas and a place we explore for hours during the Texas Landscape Safari each spring and fall.

Pedernales River

Pedernales River – Johnson City, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted using a Singh-Ray Vari-ND-Duo neutral density filter. The exposure was taken at 45mm, f/11 for 2 seconds at ISO 100. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Program

Now that we’ve ventured into new photographic territory. Braved the wilds of high-powered strobes and battery packs and the swirling rapids of feathering a softbox. I’m sure were all ready to return to our regularly scheduled program. So here’s another landscape shot taken with my Canon G10 during a quick hike around the lake at Bastrop State Park.

Bastrop State Park

Bastrop State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon Powershot G10 set on aperture priority (Av) using a circular polarizer. The exposure was taken at 30mm, f/5.6 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 80. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but I think this old dog will hunt!

I spent most of last Saturday attending a portraiture workshop in Austin put on by well known commercial photographer, Kirk Tuck. Now I haven’t shot a portrait in nearly 20 years so it took a while for my rattled old brain to engage again and begin to remember those lessons I learned in the mid 70′s. Kirk’s teaching style was relaxed but organized as he ran us through the basics of a good two light headshot using different lighting modifiers like a diffusion panel, shoot through umbrella and a huge 6′ tall softbox.

Lena

Lena – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand-held using a Profoto strobe and 6′ soft-box. The exposure was taken at 100mm, f/5.6 for 1/200th of a second at ISO 100. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta and Photoshop CS4. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Next he brought in an incredibly talented makeup artist, Patrica de la Garza to teach us the finer points of why we really do need a good makeup artist for commercial headshots. Patricia did an incredible job with Lena (above) and her presentation really got me thinking.

Next Kirk brought in the renowned photojournalist and commercial photographer Will van Overbeek, to show us a completely different style of portrait work using nothing more than a single softbox and a seamless white background. Next Will demonstrated some very simple fill-flash techniques for environmental portraits done using a single speedlight.

Barbara

Barbara – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand-held using a Profoto strobe and shoot-through umbrella for fill flash. The exposure was taken at 102mm, f/7.1 for 1/200th of a second at ISO 100. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta and Photoshop CS4. Click on the image above for a larger version.

After the demonstrations it was time to put our newly acquired knowledge to the test. Honestly, I could have gotten a great shot of either Lena or Barbara using my old Argus C-4 (google it youngsters). Kirk, Will and Park Street had the lighting setup perfectly and all we had to do was “point & shoot” and not get in our own way. These two college kids (the Talent) were real troopers, standing patiently while we blasted them with enough photons from those Profoto strobes to cause mild sunburn.

It was a great workshop and a real nice change of pace for me personally. After teaching the Texas Landscape Safari for the past couple years it was nice just to sit back and enjoy a great refresher course in classic portraiture from some incredibly talented folks like Kirk, Patricia, Will and Park.

Kudos folks!

Everywhere You Go

Canon G10 Landscape RigI wrote a quick little post back in November about how to outfit your Canon G9/G10/G11 for landscape photography and I thought it might be time to explain why this is so important.

Like many photographers, I really love the resolution and detail my Canon 5D Mark II is capable of producing and for most of my professional and personal shooting it’s my camera of choice. However, like all other DSLRs the 5D2 can seem like quite a load to lug around for a casual hike or even during a drive down a beautiful country road.

Sometimes all you really need is the convenience of a point & shoot combined with the control of a DSLR (without the weight of course). This is the niche that Canon’s Powershot “G” series were made for. And with the addition of a few inexpensive accessories as shown above, the G9/G10/G11 can perform perfectly on those occasions when less is more. In fact, I find myself taking my G10 with me everywhere I go these days, just in case I stumble upon a scene like this!

Still Waters

Still Waters – Bastrop, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon Powershot G10 set on aperture priority (Av) using a circular polarizer. The exposure was taken at 30mm, f/5.6 for 1/50th of a second at ISO 80. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.