I was recently asked if I could help out providing an image for a magazine article about stress management. For reasons as yet undiscovered the requested image would be of the USS Enterprise flying through a storm in space. Unfortunately I didn't have a lot of time (just a couple of hours), but I did have a very nice model of the Enterprise D I could use to build the image around.
Thinking fast, I rigged up a rather slapdash rig consisting of a black reflector backdrop, an umbrella and stand from which dangled the model by a thread, and a couple of strobes. One light above, diffused, to provide the key light, and another, reflected and lower power, to fill some of the very dark shadows. It ended up all looking something like this:
Using a fast shutter, f/16 and cunning flash positioning I managed to keep the background black and give the model suitably textured lighting so it didn't have that flat, uniform, shadowless appearance of, well, a model. The narrow aperture obviously…
Street lights at night can be very pretty. For someone who lives close to the centre of a large city, skirting round the edge of the town centre can provide a host of beautiful views at night.
One advantage to using a wide open lens when taking these pictures is the capture of bokeh, or creative blur. An extreme example is shown to your right; a mass of coloured circles that roughly represent the city they are part of.
A more subtle example, of course, is in the picture of the day at the top of this post. The lights cluster around the top of the leaves like fireflies, obviously part of a cityscape but at the same time abstract.
The extreme out of focus image is a blurred version of the picture on the left. A view over Sheffield from Pitsmoor, looking up Netherthorpe Road and up to the university. Even when the buildings are focussed (roughly; I'm still practicing) the lights take on the shape of the lens's aperture.
I try to incorporate some foreground focus when using blurre…