Studio experimentation I

2009-01-13

in Daily updates, Geek stuff, Ottawa, Photography

The photography class I was hoping to take at the Ottawa School of Art got canceled, due to lack of enrollments. Probably, that has a fair bit to do with the ongoing transit strike.

Nevermind. I can learn photographic lighting without the benefit of a class. I shot these on my dining room table. I used some tracing paper and my ironing board to set up a crude seamless backdrop (something more opaque would be better). For illumination, I used a hotshoe mounted flash. For light modification, I used a big round reflector: white on one side, soft gold on the other.

Because I have neither a wireless cable release (what a bizarre anachronism that term is!) nor an assistant, my basic approach was to turn the dining room lights on, focus manually, turn the lights out, point and set the flash, push the shutter (on two second delay), then dash into the right spot while holding my reflector.

These are all the original files, straight from the camera with no Photoshop tomfoolery.

Report a typo or inaccuracy

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

zoom January 13, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Jo’s animation course got canceled too. But my mixed media class was bursting at the seams.

Tristan January 13, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Why is “wireless cable release” a very anachronistic term?

Etymology of cable from OED:

“late L. capulum, caplum a halter for catching or fastening cattle, according to Isidore f. cap{ebreve}re to take ‘quod eo indomita jumenta comprehendantur’: cf. capulum, -us, ‘handle, haft’, capul{amac}-re to take, catch, etc.”

So, if cable originally meant “to take”, “to catch”, “a handle”, we can see it’s already a derivative use to use “cable” in the sense of “computer cable”, i.e. ethernet or usb “cables”. Or to go further back, Coaxial cables for cable TV. Except it’s not – in all these uses, we are literally “catching” the signal of one thing by another thing by use of the cable – just think of someone with an amplifier and speakers but no speaker cable – they can’t “catch” the power of the amplifier in such a way that it goes to the speakers.

So, any kind of wireless device is emphatically still a kind of “cable” – it’s not equivocal to call a wireless bridge a kind of “cable”, it’s a device that catches a signal, takes hold of it in such a way that it can move from one place to another. It’s not like one end of it is “throwing” and the other is “catching”, rather we should understand both ends as “catching” in the sense of taking hold of the signal in a particular way – in the same sense that we don’t think of the end of the rope on the cattle as “throwing” and the end in your hand as “catching” – both ends of the rope are essential for the sake of catching the animal, having a hold on the animal.

So, “wireless cable release” seems like an entirely appropriate use of the term “cable” – it’s just a wireless cable. in 1000 A.D. it might not have been so obvious that a cable could be made using electromagnetic waves, but now the world is held together by said cables – if all the satellites were destroyed at once, the world would probably plunge into Chaos – proving these satellite “links” are literally holding things together.

Tris January 13, 2009 at 11:02 pm

This is the earliest OED known use of “cable” meaning something that carries information over a distance:

“1852 Leisure Hour Sept. 591 Complimentary messages were transmitted by means of the cable through the waters to Dover.”

A cable release, however, is not even transmitting information, it is just enacting a force. Thus, a “wireless cable release” is actually less of a derivative from the original use of cable than a physical “computer cable”.

Milan January 14, 2009 at 8:52 am

My first cable release was a steel cable with a plunger on one end and a plastic sheath around it. You pushed the plunger and the far end of the cable slipped past the edge of the sheath and pushed your shutter button.

Without the cable, it seems more sensible to call it a ‘wireless shutter release’ or a ‘wireless trigger.’

coyote January 14, 2009 at 9:22 am

Milan: Sorry your class was cancelled. But it looks like you’re doing fine on your own. Cheers to you! It’s always amazed me that people will pay a couple of hundred bucks or more for table-top softbox kits, when they can easily build them for a few bucks and get the same results.

Tristan: Not to get all nitpicky ( Dog knows ,nobody ever does that in blogland…) but you appear to sidestep the fact that a cable release, in cameraspeak, long referred to a mechanical choke-cable arrangement rather than any electrical connection.

I imagine you know that with these, a flexible wire ran through a flexible sheath of variable length, with a finger-actuated plunger on one end and a way to fasten the arrangement to the shutter release on the other. The wire protruded there, to prod the shutter release when the plunger was pressed.

All 35 millimetre cameras had standard spiral screw receptacles machined into their shutter release buttons so one could attach such a manual cable, one actuated with air, and only in latter days with “wired” or “unwired electrical pulses .

They were, all, literally, handles, to isolate the camera from too much physical vibration. Although with the old cables, one had to have a very light touch to accomplish this.

Much photographic history seems to have involved holding one’s breath, being as still as possible, and praying against stray gusts of wind or heavy vehicles in the vicinity.

coyote January 14, 2009 at 9:24 am

Ah. I see Milan anticipated me while I was being long winded. Hah.

Milan January 14, 2009 at 10:09 am

It’s always amazed me that people will pay a couple of hundred bucks or more for table-top softbox kits, when they can easily build them for a few bucks and get the same results.

The biggest limitation of my ‘kit’ is that it involves no stands at this time. As such, there is a limited range of positions for the reflector, and little ability to be consistent between shots.

The next step is to get a light stand and radio triggers for my flash.

Much photographic history seems to have involved holding one’s breath, being as still as possible, and praying against stray gusts of wind or heavy vehicles in the vicinity.

Much of current photography still does – especially for those interested in small subjects, long lenses, and available light.

Tristan January 14, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Milan,

What you are missing is that “cable” originally meant something which had a hold on cattle, which allowed you to manipulate them. In other words, it referred to the activity of control rather than to the determinate presence of a braided rope. Therefore, it’s not a derivative use to call a wireless shutter trigger a “cable” – because this is exactly what it is, it is a device that gives you a hold on the shutter from afar so you can manipulate it without being immediately present.

Milan January 14, 2009 at 12:25 pm

This is the most pointless argument ever.

Anon January 14, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I like the Einstein photo best.

Milan July 19, 2009 at 4:49 pm

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