Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bethlehem A.D. 2014

Photo #1
Bethlehem 2014: This is the second time I photographed this event, and while I thought the shot would be a breeze, I was mistaken. I brought my normal DSLR kit, assuming that I'd have everything I could possibly need. I decided to leave my long lens behind, and substituted a Nikon SB-700 for my third speedlight, primarily because I could clip on a Color Temperature Orange (CTO) filter more easily that I could affix a gel.

Photo #2
I submitted Photo #1 as a possible lead for a "Hen and Egg" pairing of shots. The larger "hen" was the overview shot, while Photo #2, the detail shot, provided a more intimate view of the event. Both of these shots were made with a Fujifilm X-100S using a CTO filtered SB-700 for fill. I packed the camera as an afterthought, figuring that my normal Nikon bodies would do all of the heavy lifting. I used an MPEX Universal Translator between the speedlight and the camera's hot shoe to prevent any unnecessary communication through the hot shoe contacts. The flash was set to manual mode and the flash output was determined through trial and error.

Photo #3
Bounce Flash - Off My Hand. When I approached these two crafts people, I had an SB-700 on my Fuji X100s, complete with the CTO colored filter cap supplied with the flash. The filter would give me a light source that was very close to the halogen lamps placed in the stall for lighting. I was shooting at ISO 1600, and my flash was set to manual (the Nikon SB-700 and the Fuji can't communicate exposure information).

In my self portrait (Photo #3), I'm modeling a Nikon D70 with an SB-700 complete with CTO gel. The head of the speedlight has been rotated 180 degrees and is tipped slightly to the rear so that no direct light can hit my imagined subject. I have my hand at a 45 degree angle to reflect the light straight forward. The coloration of my skin adds a bit more warmth to the light. You can see that the light source is considerably higher than when the speedlight's head is faced forward in the conventional fashion. It works well when shooting in high ISO situations, since a lot of light is lost when using this technique.

Photo #4 is one of my two submissions from last year's Bethlehem A.D. 2013, and my favorite assignment photo from the year. There are a number of minor technical problems, but overall, it pretty much encapsulates the visual excitement of the event. The blue skylights and the harsh hot spotlight only add to the impact of the image, along with a near absence of 21st century artifacts.

Looking back, I think Photo #1 was technically superior to (last year's) Photo #4, but it was rejected in favor of more neutral Photo #2.  I believe that any "seasonal" photo would have a better chance of being published if the has a more secular theme. The nativity scene at the top of the page clearly depicts an event with deep religions significance to many people, but as we now celebrate the "holidays", photos like Photo #4 could be seen as the better choice.