Friday, November 20, 2009

Photo show and book release on Wednesday

On Wednesday, Nov 25 (night before Thanksgiving) I will be part of a three photographer show along with (Holga Queen) Michelle Bates and Mark Gardiner. We will be showing photos we have taken over the past 5 years of the Moisture Festival and will be launching a new book featuring our images of these comedy, varieté, vaudeville, and burlesque shows.

This pictorial history contains 140 pages of color photos in a soft bound 11x8.5 " book, with images from shows at Hale's Palladium, ACT, and Fremont Studios from 2005 through 2009.  The photographs are spectacular and tell the story of the festival in a beautiful way. We made quite an effort to include photos of everyone but I'm sure we missed a few nonetheless.  We did have to make a decision to limit the number of pages to keep the cost from getting out of hand.

The first print run is limited to 100 copies and will be available for $30 each. 

Join us at Hale's Ales on Wednesday, Nov 25 at 7pm to see the photographs.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Won!

From the Portland Metro Photographic News...

"Congratulations to Seattle-based photographer and PMPN member John Cornicello on your winning SCARY photo.  The judges agree that your image was the best interpretation of PMPN's Halloween theme.

"One judge commented: "Actually made me jump when the picture opened up full size! Excellent photo-illustration.""

My thanks also go to Lara Paxton for modeling, hair, and makeup. Thanks!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My "Friends" project on Facebook

For the past few weeks I've been inviting friends over to take some photographs. I usually say "portraits," but that isn't quite descriptive enough for some of them. I encourage costumes and makeup. A chance to let go and have a really fun photo session. Here are a few samples. You can see all of them on Facebook.

Thanks for taking a look. And call me when you're in the neighborhood. We'll get you into the project!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Light to subject distance

Its not just about the size.

Yes, quality of light is often determined by the size of the light. But size alone isn't enough, you also need to consider distance. A 24" square softbox about 18" from the subject is beautiful. The same 24" softbox move back to 8 feet from the subject isn't so beautiful. Let's look at some of the reasons why.

When setting up your lights, you have two creative decisions and one technical. Aperture and light-to-subject distance are your creative choices. How much (or little) depth of field do you want? Select the Aperture for that. What quality of light do you want? Select your light size and distance for that. That leaves you with one more setting. You have to match the power output of the flash to give the proper exposure at your selected aperture. If you want to take the photograph at f/5.6 and your flash meter reads f/8 you have to lower the output of your flash by 1/2 (1 stop). If you move the light back you change the quality of the light. Unacceptable. If you leave the light and stop down, you have a different look and feel to the image. Also not acceptable. So you have to change the power on the flash.

At 18" away, the light is large relative to the portrait subject's head. Its light wraps around the subject and gives a nice smooth gradient falloff around the contours of the subject. The light/shadow edge (shadow edge transfer) is soft and smooth. When moved back a few feet from the subject the light is relatively small, it needs to be more powerful, and its light no longer falls off quickly. The light in close is soft and contrasty, with soft shadows. The light far away is hard and flat, with harsh shadows. At first this sounds contradictory. Contrasty with soft shadows? Flat with harsh shadows? In close the light wraps around the subject and falls of smoothly from the highlight to the shadows, providing lights and darks. Yet there is little shadow from the nose or eyebrow ridge. The smaller light, further away, gives a more even (flat) light across the subjet (less contrast), but is not close/large enough to wrap around contours like the nose, giving dark shadows on the opposite side from the light.

Now that the size/distance is coming clear we need to think about how much light there is. What do you set the power level to on your flash? This is something I don't think a lot of photographers take into consideration. Its main effect will be in specular highlights, such as oils on the skin or the catchlights in the eyes.

Specular highlights are not subject to the inverse square law, which says that when you double the distance between the light and subject the subject receives 1/4 the light (the light has to cover an area 4 times the original, not 2). But we're not talking about overall area here (the diffuse reflection). We're talking about the mirror-like reflection of the light source. Those stay the same no matter the light to subject distance. In an extreme example, we can look at a mirror and a light. Photograph the reflection of the light in the mirror with the light 12" away. Then photograph the same light reflection in the mirror, but from 10 feet away. The bright specular reflection of the light will be the same brightness. The rest of the scene will be much darker. But the light in the mirror remains the same.

So, you ask, why do we bring the light in close? Because in close we can lower the power to get the same exposure. Lowering the power lowers the light output. So up close that catchlight in the eye or the highlights on the skin are lessened. Additionally, because the light is in close and large, these reflections get spread out and even out. Instead of a bright hotspot on the tip of the nose, there is a nice even glow across the entire face.

In the above samples the light to subject distance was changed, the power on the flash remained constant, and the aperture was changed* to maintain the same exposure. Pay particular attention to the mannequin's right cheek, the tip of its nose, and the lips. In the first image, with the light further away (smaller) you see bright highlights in these spots. As you move to images b, c, and d, the light was moved closer, becoming larger. In doing so you will notice that the highlights spread out more and the overall look is softer.

This is something to consider when purchasing studio strobes. Too often the first thing a new photographer asks is "how powerful is the light?" Should I get 600 watt seconds? 1200? 2400? More? In some situations, a lot of power is necessary. So it is a good question. But the question I usually find myself asking when shopping for lights is "how low can I set the power?" and "what affect on color and flash duration does this have?" The more expensive flash units will usually offer better consistency (the flash color doesn't change when power levels change) and will offer a wider range of power settings. Some less expensive units may just offer a 2- or 3-position rocker switch (full, 1/2, 1/4). While more expensive units may have a variable slider or dial so you have more control to get just the power level you want.

Bringing the light in close also helps pop the subject out from the background. It also lets you light the background independently of the subject. Being in close, the light falls of quickly (go back to inverse square). The light falling on the subject doesn't have enough power to reach the background. The background stays dark so you can light it separately to give the scene contrast that you desire. You can also use other controls on the background (color gels, a spot light, grids, etc.).

Going back to the example image above, you see how the background is lit by the single light source in example A. But when moved in close, as in example C, the background has gone completely black. If you want, you can light the background completely separately now with a spot, color gels, etc.

As you move the light further away from the subject you have to raise the power to maintain the desired aperture and the light spreads out more. Where in close the light only fell on the subjects head and shoulders, moved back it covers their entire body and also spills onto the floor and background giving a flatter, blander image. For this reason, a larger light further away is not the same, even though the size relationship to the subject might be the same. A 24" square light at 24" away from the subject may have a similar light quality to a 48" square light 48" away on the subject, but the rest of the scene will be noticeably different. The light further away will produce an overall "flatter" image with the light spilling onto the background and periphery of the subject.

*Earlier, I mentioned maintaining aperture for creative control over depth of field. The two examples below are taken at the same aperture, but this time the lamp power was increased when it was moved further away to maintain the exposure. Note the same issues listed above. When far away, there are hightlights and shadows on the face and the background is lit up. In close the surface is smoothed and the background has gone to black.

Continuing on focal length

Just a quick demo/test/quiz. Here are two photos of a mannequin. The camera was placed on a firm tripod and did not move between the shots. Photo A was taken with a 300mm lens. Photo C was taken with a 16mm lens. Again, the only difference between the two is the focal length. The camera and mannequin remained stationary between the shots.

Now for the quiz. Photo B...

Which lens?

Answer, 16mm. But cropped in to show the same angle of view as the 300mm. Determination? The 16mm and the 300mm show the exact same perspective.

Photographs taken with different focal length lenses, but from the same camera position, show exactly the same perspective in the section of the scene that is common to all the different angles of view of the various lenses. Perspective is not affected by focal length, but by camera to subject distance. Short lenses appear to stretch perspective because we tend to use them from in closer. Long lenses appear to compress images because we almost exclusively use them from further away. We don't use long lenses in close because their field of view is too narrow and they often cannot focus as close as we would want. So we move back to get the framing we want, and thereby affect the perspective.

What would happen if we used the 16mm lens but moved in closer to fill the frame the same as the 300mm? Then we see the drastic perspective change...

Again, the perspective change is from moving the camera. The wide angle lens allows us to get in this close and be able to capture the full scene. But it doesn't cause the effect.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Considering Focal Length

Here is a piece that I wrote for the Seattle Photographic Society's Cable Releases newsletter this month:

The focal length of a lens determines the size of the image projected onto the film/sensor. It also determines the angle of view, the area of the scene which will be recorded. Different focal length lenses are given descriptions like normal, wide, ultra-wide, long, telephoto, etc. These are not absolute designations. For example, a 50mm lens would be considered "normal" for a 35mm camera, but would be a wide angle lens on a 6x6cm (medium format) camera. And 50mm would be considered a moderate telephoto on most (non full-frame) digital SLRs that have a sensor that is smaller than a 35mm fill frame.

The shorter the focal length of a lens, the smaller an object will appear on film (I will use the word film to describe actual film or a digital sensor in this article) when the subject remains at a set distance from the camera. Similarly, a longer lens will make the subject larger without moving the camera position. Focal length and image size are directly proportional. Double the focal length and everything in the image doubles in size.

Different focal lengths present different challenges to the photographer. Short lenses have a wide field of view and often include more of a scene than we really want unless we move in closer (which changes the perspective). Long lenses magnify more than just the subject. They magnify any camera movement causing blurs, leading to the necessity of using a tripod or other stabilization device.

Choosing a lens focal length is pretty easy when you are forced into the selection. If you cannot back up, use a shorter (wider angle) lens. If you cannot get closer, use a longer, narrower angle lens. There! The decision is made. Go take your picture.

But what about the creative side? When you do have options, which lens do you use? Sometimes you have all the room in the world to back up. But you might still want to use a wider lens because you want to get closer to your main subject, yet take in a field of view that shows the surroundings. Examples of this would be coming in close on a rock or plant in the foreground of a landscape scene. By coming in close you alter the perspective of the scene to make the foreground object appear much larger in relationship to the background (or the background much smaller in relationship to the subject). The use of the wide angle lens allows you to capture this. If you used a longer lens from further away you could get the same size for the subject, but the background would show less of the environment, helping isolate the subject. Both are viable treatments, but the looks are very different.

Conversely, you might be in a situation where you are able to walk right up to within inches of your subject. But instead you might select a longer lens to force yourself to move back from your subject, thereby giving you a more normal perspective on the scene. Most of the time we think of this in relationship to pictures of people (portraits). We want to stay a minimum of about 5 or 6 feet back from the subject of the photo so that their facial features are not distorted. We can keep our distance and take the photograph with any lens (the distortion comes from the camera to subject distance, not the lens). Here, the selection of lens focal length here will determine the framing. With a short lens at 6 feet we might get the entire person in the photo. If we want just their head and shoulders we have to crop in and lose quality due to the cropping and enlargement. We cannot move in closer, or things will distort. But if we select a longer lens (maybe 2 times the focal length for the "normal" lens for our film format (35mm, APSc, 6x6cm, etc.) we can maintain the working distance and fill the frame better. As noted above, moving back and narrowing the field of view also helps isolate the subject and make them stand out from the background.

What is not always so obvious is that the same thing applies to landscape photography. In my opinion, too many times a photographer puts on a short lens for a landscape image and is disappointed with the results. There is too much foreground or too much sky, or both. The image can often be improved by using a longer lens and moving back. This is not the same as cropping in. If the photographer kept the camera in the same position and switched to a longer lens it would have the same visual effect as cropping. But what I'm suggesting is moving back so that the perspective changes.

Here is an example. Take a field with a tree in the foreground and a house in the distant background. With a 50mm lens we stand 20 feet from the tree to render it a nice size in the image. But we find the house to be too small in the background. By moving back to 40 feet away and changing to a 100mm lens we find that the tree remains the same size because we balanced the the doubling of the distance with the doubling of the focal length. But the house is now noticeably larger in relation to the tree because the distance to the house has been changed a smaller amount. If the tree was originally 20 feet away and the house was 50 feet away, moving back 20 feet to 40 feet doubled the distance to the tree, but only changed the distance to the house from 50 feet to 70 feet. This is sometimes referred to as "telephoto compression," but is really based on the camera to subject distance, not the lens.

To zoom or not to zoom?
That is the question. While it is nobler in the eyes of some photographers to use prime lenses (fixed focal length, non-zoom lenses), I offer the contradiction that a zoom lens gives you much better control over the final image. Years ago zoom lenses were often of inferior optical quality, so prime lenses were required for the best image. But many of today's zoom lenses offer quality rivaling that of prime lenses.

We've all probably heard the saying, "zoom with your feet, not with your lens." I have to disagree. You cannot zoom with your feet. Zooming implies maintaining the relationship between objects in the frame. Once you start moving the camera, the relationship between objects changes. You set the camera to subject distance to give the overall look of a scene and set that relationship. You then select the focal length lens to fill the frame. With prime lenses you often cannot frame the scene exactly as you want it and have to later crop in post processing (digital or dark room) or move and change the photo. With a zoom lens you have the ability to keep the camera stationary and alter the focal length to get the cropping done in camera. If you zoom with your feet (move in closer or move back) you change the relationship between the objects in the photo (not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a different picture).

Photographic Seeing
Many book chapters have been written about the differences in seeing between eye and lens. I strongly recommend picking up one of the many books by Andreas Feininger written in the late 60s or early 70s for detailed discussions of this. I will offer here some of his observations:

1. While a lens mechanically reproduces everything within its field of view, the eye/brain combination consciously perceives only those aspects that you are momentarily interested in. It disregards and doesn't notice the rest of the scene. The lens is objective, the eye/brain is subjective. The photographer has to learn to pay close attention to everything within the image, no matter how insignificant or dull it might seem. It is always those "unimportant" parts of the image that ruin the photograph.

2. The visual impression is only a part of what we take in. There are sounds, smells, vibrations, and possibly other people around us that all contribute to what the eye/brain sees. The lens only captures the visual part. The photographer must learn to mute senses other than sight and then be satisfied that the visual aspect of the subject is enough to reflect its essence.

3. A photograph presents a subject taken out of context. There is a frame around it. Peripheral vision is cut off by the boundaries. No matter how important those peripheral influences are in real life, they are not in the photo. The beautiful blue sky doesn't help when you come in tight on a clump of flowers, though it might have been part of what drew you in to take the close up photo. The photographer must learn to evaluate his subjects on their own merits and disregard everything outside the scene.

4. Because our eye/brain works so quickly, we sometimes think that we see everything sharp simultaneously, no matter its distance. But the camera lens can only be focused on one specific plane at a time, showing objects in front of or beyond this plane increasingly blurred the further they are from that plane. And at the same time, the eye/brain can be very selective and let you concentrate on just a part of the scene, whereas the camera lens, when stopped down, will give equal sharpness to the entire scene and remove the concentration. The photographer has to learn how and when to control the sharpness.

5. The eye/brain can adjust automatically to brightness levels in a scene as we look around the scene. The lens diaphragm stays the same throughout the exposure, and can lead to both over- and under-exposure in the same scene. The sky blows out white, the trees turn to black and only a little of the mid-tones appear as we expected. The photographer has to learn to recognize excessive subject contrast and control it (fill light, reflectors, or just move on without taking that picture). Similarly, the eye/brain adjusts to changes in the color of light. Whether in daylight, tungsten light, etc. a sheet of white paper appears white to our eyes. Not so to film. The photographer has to learn to control white balance with camera settings, filters, or post processing.

Theory to practice
Of course a lot of this photographic theory goes out the window in the real world. But I think it is important to have the theory buried someplace in the back of your mind. I'm the first person to admit that I often don't see the photo until after I take it--sometimes seconds later, sometimes a month later when looking at a set of images again. Much of the process, for me, is subconscious. Something catches my eye and I react. Other photographers are very methodical and go through pre-visualization processes, knowing everything about the image and its final print before clicking the shutter. As in most things artistic, there isn't a right or wrong way. Find the way that works for you and have fun with it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Prints Are Too Dark

This is something I often hear at camera club meetings and classes. Even after calibrating a monitor with a hardware device, people are saying that their prints match color pretty well, but they're still too dark.

My response has been that they have their monitor set to bright. But I didn't have a good suggestion of how to set the brightness. Until today. I ran across an article by Eric Chan, one of the Adobe Camera Raw engineers, that talks about monitor brightness. Check you read it on his website, where he gives a tip on how to use your camera meter to help set the brightness if your calibration system doesn't let you set a specific target luminance setting.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Gone swimmin'

Originally uploaded by John Cornicello.
Had a great underwater photo session today with David, Patricia, Kim, Tristen, and Tamara. Here are my initial selections with some Lightroom editing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

First Thursday Art Walk in Seattle (reminder)

Just a little reminder that I have 25 images on display at the Utilikilts store in Seattle's Pioneer Square Art Walk this month. Opening/reception is Thursday, Aug 6, 5-9pm

Utilikilts Pioneer Square Store
620 1st Avenue (@ Cherry Street)
Seattle, WA 98104

I've had a long history with Utilikilts, having met Steven back when he first started selling the Utilikilts at the Fremont Sunday Market. They asked me to take photos at a party at their old shop in Interbay (no, the one even before that one). That day I ordered my first digital SLR (Canon D30) and made my jump from film to digital (and have never looked back). So, in effect, the Utilikilts folks are partly responsible for me jumping feet first back into Photography after a long hiatus.

Thanks, Utilikilts!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Listen to editors talk about selecting photos

More from the Canon Professional Network...

Aidan Sullivan of Getty Images selects from 4,000+ images and talks about why he likes the images. Watch the 17 minute movie on this page.

Magdalena Herrera of GEO France talks about her selections in the video on this page.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

New online DOF calculator from Canon

Canon Europe has produced an online depth-of-field calculator that allows you to input your camera, aperture, focal length and focus distance and get an almost instant calculation for your required near and far limits of focus, total depth-of-field and hyperfocal distance.

They also offer a very good article about DOF. An excerpt on focal length:

You will usually choose the focal length to suit the subject rather than to suit the depth-of-field. However, the accepted rule is that you get more depth-of-field with wideangle lenses than with telephoto lenses. In fact, this rule is misleading. What actually happens is that a wideangle lens magnifies the subject less than a telephoto lens, which means that more of the image appears sharper."

Update: Yes, the Canon DOF calculator works on an iPhone.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lullaby Moon

Originally uploaded by johncornicello
A few years ago I did some publicity photos for Lucia Neare as she applied for grants for new project. That became Lullaby Moon, and I had not had a chance to see the actual performance until last night at Gasworks park. I don't think I've seen the park as full as it was, other than on the 4th of July. Great show. Great Publicity. More photos on Facebook or Flickr.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Circus Contraption Farewell Show/Party

Originally uploaded by John Cornicello.
Saturday, July 18, marked the end of an institution. Seattle's original one ring circus group, Circus Contraption, held a party to mark the end of their run.

More photos available on Facebook

Jeff "The Dude" Dowd gets the Key to Fremont

Originally uploaded by John Cornicello.
Jeff Dowd, who was the inspiration for "The Dude" in the movie The Big Lebowski, returned to Seattle today for a Lebowski Festival party and to receive the Key and Passport to Fremont, Center of the Universe.

More photos available on Facebook

Friday, July 17, 2009

First Thursday show at Utilikilts in August

Here is a sampling of some images that will be on display at the Utilikilts Pioneer Square store for Seattle's First Thursday Art Walk in August (August 6, 2009).

Utilikilts is at 620 1st Avenue (@ Cherry Street)
Seattle, WA 98104

I look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oregon Country Fair

Originally uploaded by John Cornicello.
Collection of photos from Oregon Country Fair on Faceboook(opens in a new browser window).

Sun. Rain. Thunder & Lightning. Great performances by the Fremont Players and the Fremont Philharmonic got to play in the Midnight Show and in the Ritz (showers and sauna) in the same night. Sorry, no photos of us playing in the showers. The only thing missing from the fair was sleep!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fremont Zombie Walk

Originally uploaded by John Cornicello.
Our fine Fremont Friends set out to set a new world record for a zombie walk and I think they succeeded. Still waiting for confirmation from the Guinness World Records folks. Close to 4,000 signed in, probably another 2,000 who never got to the tables to sign in.

More photos on Facebook

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Welcome Caelen

Originally uploaded by John Cornicello.
Here is Caelen with happy mom, Katherine (previously seen in the Maternity post a few weeks ago). More photos on Facebook.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Circus Contraption -- Last Shows

Originally uploaded by John Cornicello.
After a ten year run, Circus Contraption is disbanding. This weekend is their last three shows.

I've had the honor and pleasure to work with them on various projects (fundraisers, publicity, Moisture Festival) over the years and will miss them. But also look forward to new projects from the individual contributors.

Go see The Show To End All Shows.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Orchestra Seattle

I recently photographed the last concert of the 08-09 season of Orchestra Seattle and Seattle Chamber Singers. I've been photographing for their calendar the past three years. Here are some images from Sunday, June 7...




Maternity Photos

Recently had a maternity photo session with Ted and Katherine. Due date is this week, so waiting to hear the news. Here they are as clowns:


SANCA party

The School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) had a great anniversary party in Seattle's Georgetown Ballroom on Saturday night. Photos are online and available at


Friday, April 24, 2009

Updated Web Site

I have changed and updated the galleries at I hope that you find the new galleries faster and easier to browse through.

Thanks for taking a look! And don't forget to visit the new storefront to purchase prints.


Monday, April 20, 2009

New Print Site Available

I have recently set up a new site for selling photographic prints.

Check it out. Thanks!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Day with Kim Weston

Originally uploaded by John Cornicello.

My wife, Kim, and I took Kim's daughter Courtney down to Carmel for a "Day with Kim Weston" this past weekend. We spent time at Weston's home discussing photographs from the Weston family (Edward, Brett, Cole, and Kim). Then spent an afternoon at Point Lobos, followed by attending the opening of an Ansel Adams show in Carmel, and then a dinner with special guest Huntington Witherill. Very inspirational and fun day. Looking forward to more trips to Monterey and Carmel.

Essential Baking Company show in Wallingford

Approaching the Monolith
Originally uploaded by John Cornicello.
Short notice, but I'm hanging a show of local images at the Essential Bakery on the corner of 34th and Woodlawn in Wallingford this evening and have a small opening reception on Friday, April 3 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm.

Maybe I'll see you there!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Unclad Art Show

I'm going to be part of the Unclad Art show in March in Stanwood, WA (USA).

More information is available at
Samples of all the art are now online at

I will be showing two pieces (Trio and Hula) shown below. I will also have a variety of greeting cards on sale in the show's gift shop.

Hope you can stop by and see the show!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Photographers descend on Seattle

What a night at Benham Gallery in Seattle.

Mac Holbert of Nash Editions has a show up and was there to talk about digital printing. He is also in town for the Epson Print Academy seminar tomorrow (Saturday). So along with Mac, a few other luminaries showed up this evening: Jeff Schewe, Greg Gorman, JP Caponigro, Andrew Rodney, Jack Reznicki (who I have not seen since I had a studio in NYC around 1983), John Shaw, print longevity expert Henry Willhelm, and probably a few more who I can't think of at the moment.

Above is a photo of Jeff Schewe and me, taken by Jeff's wife. At the top is a photo of Jeff and Greg Gorman.

Looking forward to the Epson Print Academy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Comparing monolight strobes

I admit it! I have a mixed variety of monolights. I've got a Speedotron Force 10, an Alien Bees Ring Light, and a few SP Systems Excalibur 3200 and 1600 units. I try to not mix them together on the same set to help maintain color fidelity. But I decided to test them all out to find out just how different the color temperature of each is and how consistent the color is when dialing down the power. (Am I the only person out there who wants less strobe power or lower ISO cameras? I would like to have a good ISO 50 or 25 available. Higher ISOs with less noise is OK, but I'm often going in and adding grain.)

Anway, this isn't a scientific test, but I think it will work for my needs. I set up a Greytag Macbeth Color Checker and a WhiBal card at about 5 feet from a light stand. Took a series of photos at full power, 1/2, 1/4 (or -1, -2), etc. with each head. 7" standard reflector on the Excalibur and Speedotron, the 10" ring reflector (no diffuser) on the Alien Bee. I then opened all the files in Adobe Camera Raw 5.2 and used the White Balance tool to read the WhiBal in each image and wrote down the color temp and tint that resulted.

Here are the results:
Power Setting
ColorTemp Adjusted To
Tint Adjusted To
SP Systems Excalibur 3200
Full Power
1/2 Power
1/4 Power
1/8 Power

Alien Bees ABR800 Ring Light
Full Power
1/2 Power
1/4 Power
1/8 Power
1/16 Power
1/32 Power

Speedotron Force 5
Full Power

As you can see, they are all pretty consistent. The color of the light goes slightly bluer (requiring a little bit more yellow compensation in the Color Temperature scale) as the power is lowered. I believe that is to be expected.

I also metered all three heads in the same configuration at 5 feet at full / minimum power:

Excalibur: 22 / 8
Alien Bee Ring Light: 32 / 5.6
Speedotron Force 5: 32 / 5.6

I won't list the watt-second ratings, as I don't think that number matters much, especially when comparing different brands of strobe heads. Watt-seconds measures how much energy can be stored in the capacitor. It doesn't really tell us much about the efficiency of the system.

Bottom line, I'm happy with all of these products.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fine Art Nude Mentor Series

I have recently teamed up with Contessa Black of Black Mist to teach fine art nude photography in Seattle. Please check out the Black Mist Photography information on at

Here are some images from recent Fine Art Nude (FAN) sessions in my studio: