Leaves How-To (Technobabble)

Just in case you’d like to try taking your own leaf photos, here is how I took the ones in the previous post:

Step One:  Go out for a walk and pick up leaves that appeal to you.  Try not to get caught by the neighbors, who may wonder what you’re doing when you stand on their curb and try to reach the leaves in their yards without technically stepping on their property.  Have a good story ready.

Step Two:  Squish the leaves for a couple of hours.  I used the Oxford Russian Dictionary, but I’m sure any dictionary of a Slavic language will do.

Step Three:  Hang/drape/prop something black to use as your background.  I threw a piece of black fleece  over the end of the bed.  You could also use a large black shirt/dress, a piece of posterboard, etc.

Step Four:  Mount your external flash on your tripod (if you don’t have one, I suppose you could rig something together with a bare incandescent light bulb or something), and put the whole setup so that the black background is behind it.  (Also, I set my pop-up flash to Commander Mode and used it to fire the external flash via the infrared sensor.  I dialed the pop-up waaaay down, so that most of the light was coming from the flash on the tripod to make the leaves back-lit.)

Step Five:  Tweak your camera settings.  You pretty much have to be in manual mode for this.  Set your camera so that, without the flash, all you get is blackness (you can do this by stopping down the aperture and/or increasing shutter speed).  That means that you’ve successfully filtered out all of your ambient light.  You want to do this, because all you want is the light from your flash(es), not from your overhead lamp or anything.

Step Six:  Hold the leaves so that they are blocking the camera’s view of the flash.  I held mine directly between the camera and the flash to make them look kind of translucent, with the light from the flash shining through them.  You may need to use a wide-angle lens (I used my 35mm) with a close minimum focusing distance.

Step Seven:  Experiment and play!

Step Eight:  Post-processing — I didn’t really do much to these.  I think maybe I tweaked the brightness and saturation a tiny bit on a couple of them, but they’re pretty much like they were straight out of the camera.  I love it when that happens.  🙂

Step Nine:  Eat a piece of Halloween candy.  You’ve earned it!


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