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Archive for the ‘studio photography’ Category

It is now the season for irises. All kinds of irises are starting to pop open in the garden of my dear friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer. We are neighbors in a townhouse community in Northern Virginia, which means there is relatively little space for gardening, but Cindy manages to pack an amazing amount of flower power into her limited area. Fortunately, she and her husband, who is also a Michael, live in an end-unit, so they have a bit more space than the interior units.

Cindy likes to select flowers to grow that she knows will be photogenic and love to pore over the flower catalogues on line. Our challenge is to figure out how to capture the  beauty of these carefully selected flowers in the crowed garden. One of Cindy’s techniques is to use a small artificial background to help to isolate the flower. Often she uses a white foam core board to which she has attached a piece of black velvet-like material. She can then create studio-like images with a black or white background, depending on the flower.

This technique requires two people, because it is almost impossible to hold the background in place and frame a shot at the same time. I took these iris photos yesterday while Cindy held the background in place for me and then we reversed positions. In some of the images it looks like I was using some kind of studio lighting, but it was all natural night on a somewhat cloudy day that diffused the light nicely.

You don’t really need any special equipment to create this effect—you could use almost anything for a background. The day before, our improvised background was a collapsible black storage cube from IKEA that Cindy had just given me. The final photo, taken by Cindy with her iPhone, shows me holding that black cube and gives you a sense of the garden environment and how the technique is used.

bearded iris

bearded iris

bearded iris

iris

background

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last week I assisted fellow photographer Cindy Dyer in taking some headshots for a client and served as a test subject for the lighting setup. Cindy used a portable X-Drop background stand, several LED lights with soft boxes, a Westcott Eyelighter reflector, and a tall V-flat to achieve optimal results. Believe it or not, this is a relatively simple lighting setup.

Cindy and I share studio space with a video production company, so there is plenty of room for lighting setups like this one. I have very little experience with studio photography, so I learn a lot each time I assist Cindy. My job usually is to help set everything up, make adjustments to the lights as she is shooting, and engage with the subjects to keep them relaxed and comfortable. I marvel at the ease with which she poses the subjects to get wonderful results, a total contrast with the wildlife subjects that I normally photograph. I think it is good to stretch ourselves from time to time into new areas of exploration.

Cindy took these shots of the setup with her iPhone, but used a Nikon D850 for the actual headshots. If you want to see some examples of Cindy’s work, check out her portrait website at http://cindydyerportraits.com/portraits/.

Today is a big day for Cindy as the United States Postal Service releases another stamp with one of her photographs, a Global Forever stamp that features an African Daisy. This round, Global stamp can be used to mail a 1-ounce letter to any country to which First-Class Mail International service is available.

This new stamp is the eleventh image that Cindy has had published as a Forever® stamp. Previously, she had images for: Ferns 2014, Water Lilies 2015 and Kenilworth Park (as part of the National Park Service 100th Anniversary 16-stamp panel) in 2016. Check out Cindy’s blog posting for additional information on the African Daisy stamp, including a photo of the stamp itself. Congratulations, Cindy.

studio setup

studio setup

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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