Monday, January 4, 2016

the duality of me :: lazy lighting with a most practical investment of 2016

First, let me start off with a big Happy New Year.

I'm not a big believer in resolutions as I believe that you should be awesome everyday with no need to set a date to change your ways.

On the other hand, sometimes some people need a kick in the ass and today is a good a day as any to make a change if need be. Why procrastinate until this mystifying New Year's Day.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get on with today's post. . .

The Duality Of Me :: Lazy Lighting With A Most Practical Investment Of 2016.

What does it all mean?


Lazy lighting?

Practical investments?

Jeez, I could only imagine what a first time reader of this blog, words of literary genius, could be thinking this very moment. Or perhaps not thinking. Simply scratching their heads while staring at a can of CENTO crushed tomatoes.

Or maybe not. But those who frequent this blog may understand that today's post title, askew as it may be, is exactly the vibrations I like to put out into your brains.

Without further ado...

Investment Strategy

Before I get into photo chatter, let's discuss can openers.

Can openers?!

Yup. this is serious as a heart attack.

A background would be helpful, yeah?

Seems Chateau les Murphy has had a voodoo curse cast upon our kitchen. The curse of the can openers. As ludicrous as it may sound, it seems that the lifespan of any can opener that myself or my wife purchase, last no longer than, um, about a five can average. I shit you not. We've bought everything ranging as cheap as a dollar discount opener upwards and beyond a sawbuck, USD of course. Over the past few years we've bought at least ten can openers. You may think that isn't horribly insane and it's not if your perception is that we've only opened about 50 cans over those years. On the contrary, The Murphy Mansion cranks out a lot of culinary creations. 50 cans? Sheeeiittt. That's in a couple month's work, give or take a can or so.

So how or with what did we open our cans? Well, I would routinely violently stab holes in the tops with either a butcher knife or with one of many tools enclosed in my Leatherman. Needless to say, this was neither safe nor pleasant.

And then I had that Ah Ha moment.

In the late 90s and and through most of the 2000s, I was working in the restaurant industry. I held every position from bartender to bouncer, cook to dishwasher, manager to maintenance man. No matter what gig I was working, I always knew my way around the kitchen, if not for anything but to eat!

Funny how the brain can store the most vague of memories but after breaking yet another can opener on its first can, not an hour out of the market, the gray matter between my ears had a vision of the industrial beasts mounted to the stainless steel counter tops of just about every commercial kitchen I'd ever seen.

Never had I purchased anything from Ebay but knowing I would only be happy with a vintage styled opener, the bay would seem to be the only appropriate resource for such a unique item.

Introducing the Edlund No. 2, A.K.A., "Old Reliable". After discovering the industry's standard of openers, I discovered they are still in business. Popping over to their website I saw the Old Reliable is still in production, only now it's as shiny, pimped out, chromed out as can be. Pretty? For sure. But as the Kitchen at Casa Di Murphy is brand new, I thought the vintage style would be a nice contrast.

So Rad!

The gears still turn like butter. The blade or whatever it is that pokes the hole in the can still as sharp as razors.

OH!!!! Damn, I almost went into my photo discussion without sharing the most vital part of this section. This king of can openers cost me a mere $20.00!!! I'm pretty sure this rig has ripped through thousands of cans and I'm sure will tear up thousands more. . .

Talk about a positive valuation!

Strobist Style a la Lazy Light

Photographers, pro and/or enthusiasts, if you are not in the know of the Strobist movement, then I suggest you set aside about, um, I don't know, 10,000 hours to go and brand this religion to your ass with a blue hot steel. Yep. I said blue hot.

Basically, I'm not here today to explain the Strobist camp to everyone. I'm going to, and I never do, assume that you have some background on this doctrine.

The photo. Hmm. Let's look at it again since I typed a lot of words already and the photograph is way at the top of the page now. Drawn to the Lazy Light title, you may be an actual lazy human being who therefore is too lazy to scroll back to the top of the page to refer back to the photograph. So here you go . . .

Now. Let's talk about it for a second, shall we?

Old Reliable is mounted and ready to bite into a can of CENTO crushed tomatoes.

Obvious stuff, duh. Now, to go a bit further. . .

The background and even some foreground are dark and dramatic while our subjects, the stars of the show, have this super duper awesome GLOWY MCGLOWERSON feel going on.

See it? Almost an ethereal vibe going on. A three or four strobe setup? Nah. Big mods? Uh. No. Heavy post? Dodge and Burn? Nope. Heavy vignette? Sorry.

Lazy light.

Seconds after mounting the Edlund No. 2, I ran to the studio to grab Betsy (Nikon D4) and her sexy long legs (FEISOL carbon fiber tripod system).

Being that it was damn near, if not midnight when I was shooting this (creativity rests for no one), there wasn't a ton of ambient coming through the windows besides a couple sodium vapor street lamps. I opted out and closed the blinds, shades or whatever they are called these days. I went for some EVEN but BORING light from the high hats in the kitchen and dining room. Here's what even and boring looks like . . .

I guess it's a matter of taste really.

Sure, some people may prefer the evenly lit photo and I'm certain it may have applications where it would be preferable to have the even and boring photograph.

But from a creative standpoint?

Yo, the Glowy McGlowerson, dramatic photo knocks your socks off any day of the week. Go ahead. Debate it. I dare ya!

So. How was it shot? How was it lit? What is the creative genius that has been shared herein today?

Lazy light people!

Lemme explain.

On any other day, if the ambient options weren't jiving with my right brain, I would grab a strobe or two or five.

I'm serious.

As already mentioned, it was damn near if not passing midnight. Although the urge to create was strong, the urge to minimize (er, um, be lazy). I had Betsy and the FEISOL but I did not feel like grabbing the Pocketwizard transceivers, mods and strobes. On the other hand, I definitely did not want even and boring light from the photograph I was about to create of this life changing device.

Think Murphy. Think.


The answer was in my pocket. The iPhone 6s Plus!!! Of course!

HuH? How so? The flashlight. It abides by all Strobist laws whether it's a dedicated system or not.

But still, how was the Glowy McGlowerson thing achieved?

Let's break it down.

Even though the concept was Lazy Light, in actuality, there were probably more calories burned by this technique versus using strobes.

First I wanted to create that nice dark ambient but with a very very very slow shutter. Confused?

Bare with me. Or is it Bear with me. Either way.

At 30/1, f/16.0 and ISO 50, I had a nice dark canvas. I know I know, your telling yourself I could have handheld at 1/125, 400 and 5.6 and probably gotten an even darker exposure. Yes but the slow shutter was the key.

The key to what?

Painting with light!


The moment the shutter was released, I had to run around Old Reliable with the iPhone flashlight, painting her every part, along with some of the room contents as well.

Can you dig it?

Yes you can!

What's The Point?

The big WHY. A most powerful of words.

Look, if you're a full time photog or just a person who loves to be creative, I just want to show you there are ways to do some awesome things with minimal amounts of equipment. Was it the simplicity of the flashlight that took the photograph from humdrum to holy moly? To some degree but more important than any amount of gear is CREATIVITY.

As for Old Reliable. My how she looks so gangsta in my kitchen.

Happy new year!

Until next time...