Thursday, November 17, 2011

Small log outbuilding

Bogue Chitto, Mississippi

Last week I posted a series of photographs called "Leaf light" and a couple of people were interested in the technical details. So if you are interested in how those pictures were shot, a brief explanation follows below the break.

The idea for these shots came to me as I held autumn leaves up to the sun and found that the sun shining through revealed colors and patterns that did not show up in normal light. A little experimenting proved that it was possible to position the camera at an angle to the back-lit leaf without the sun shining directly into the lens. The more difficult part was getting a good background.

A black background seemed appropriate so I made a simple platform with a few scraps of plywood fastened together. I painted the backdrop flat black and mounted the entire thing on a tripod in front of a south-facing window on a cloudless, sunny day. This whole setup could be improvised on a table top.

I used a small wood clamp to hold the leaf upright by the stem. Once I had the set-up, it was just a matter of adjusting the angle of the black backdrop and leaf so that the sun shone through the leaf without striking the background, and positioning the camera so that the leaf was framed against the black background.

The camera used was the Pentax K10D. I chose the Pentax FA 100mm macro lens for several reasons although these are not truly macro shots. The FA 100 is very sharp, the front element is deeply set into the barrel of the lens minimizing the potential for flair and the 100mm focal length allowed working at a comfortable distance. The apeture was set to f11 to maximize depth of field which resulted in an shutter speed of 1/30 at ISO 100.

A touch on the black slider in Lightroom took the background to pure black; otherwise there was very little adjustment needed in the computer. The entire Leaf light series can be seen here


  1. Ingenious and simple and the skill to pull it off! Well done Edd.

  2. Thanks Robert. It's fun to piddle around with things like this once in a while.


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