Herman Au Photography

My photo
Welcome to my blog! I'm a professional wedding photographer based in Los Angeles California. Follow my footsteps in turning my life long hobby into a career I love, and check out my latest work, newest products, teasers, and photography tutorials. I shoot in an unobtrusive photojournalistic style with an emphasis on natural and genuine emotions. You can find my portfolio on my website - http://www.hermanau.com.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

HDR WRX STi Wagon (by hermanau)
Shot with Sigma 105mm Macro, Nikon D50

I have a few shots published on flickr from the shoot last week with a few friends of mine. This probably is the last one with my car in the same lot since I think I've gotten enough practice with the place and I'm ready for the real thing. I'm getting more comfortable with my different arsenal of lens and how to get the shots I want. Although I must admit that there are some angles with the wide angle that I still don't feel perfectly comfortable with. Anyway, next week I have my first shoot coming up with some new cars, stay tuned. :)

HDR WRX STi Wagon (by hermanau)
Shot with Tokina 12-24mm wide angle with Nikon D70

This was shot with my wide angle lens on the 20mm end for less distortion. It appears to work pretty well but I still see that slightest distortion that makes me want to try the 24mm end next time. The light that I decided to include when I shot this seem to work pretty well with the HDR effect.

WRX STi wagon (by hermanau)
Shot with Sigma 105mm @ F/5.6 ISO200 with Nikon D50

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tutorial - Abstract Smoke Art

This has yet been another interesting experiment for me. After all the fruit splashes, I feel much more comfortable working with my flash. With a lot of questions in my mind have been answered with more experience under my belt, I decided to give the smoke shots a try. To my surprise, it's much easier to get good results than I originally anticipated. Here are some of the tips for you if you want to try shooting them at home. :)

Equipment required besides your camera:
  • Tripod (yes, this is a must, no excuse),
  • off camera flash sync. cable,
  • candle holder (or anything you find that holds your candle),
  • lighter (easier to work with than matches),
  • Remote shutter cable, or a IR remote to your camera (come on it's cheap...),
  • Some kind of black backdrop
  • keep water or an extinguisher handy just in case... you're warned :)
With your camera positioned towards the candle or inscent secured on your tabletop, pre focus on the candle, and shoot with a small aperture. Smaller aperture allows you to have a deeper depth of field, and thus have more of the smoke in focus. Set up your flash sync cable with your flash, and set it near the candle on the side, aiming towards where the smoke would be going. Set up your black background behind the entire setup, and position it with a generous distance so that the flash will not light up the backdrop. Turn off all the lights, close your windows, turn off your fan/AC to limit air flow.

The smoke I shoot is simple candle smoke that appears after the candle is put out. I simply blow at the candle to put it out. The color is added on with a simple Photoshop adjustment layer afterwards. It will take you 10 seconds to do a color if you know what you're doing. I'm not going to take your hand and walk you through since it's a little beyond the scope of this tutorial.

Once you have that set up properly, fire a couple test shots first to check the flash output. Pay attention to the background and see if it's pitch black. If your backdrop is catching light, find a way to restrict the flash and direct it to project where you want it to. If you're getting lens flare, chances are your flash is directly shooting at your lens. Find something to block your camera from seeing flash at all, and that would be easily solved.

Try to vary your flash output and ISO to get a balance of the setup. I use ISO 400 and have my SB600 set to -1.0 with F/22 and the smoke exposes perfectly. Once you think you captured enough, simply drop over to your photo editing program and clean up the image a little bit. Sometimes you may see small dust particles or spots, just use a clone tool or a healing brush to take care of it. The white background is achieved simply inverting the picture. Easy enough? Once you get a hang of it, just shoot a ton of them and let your creativity go wild. :)

Be safe, and have fun!

Some more shots I've done, click to enlarge / see more.

Smoke Abstract 1.13 (by hermanau)

Smoke Abstrat 1.10 (by hermanau)

Smoke Abstract, my first attempt (by hermanau)

Smoke Abstract, Rose (by hermanau)

X-Ray of a Dog? (by hermanau)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Transparency and Reflections

Transparency and Reflections, originally uploaded by hermanau.

The side entrance of Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles. On a hot sunny day, my friend and I were shooting the famous Disney Concert Hall, which is a hot spot for architectural photography. Not sure if anybody has shot ths angle before, but I'm definitely falling in love with my 12-24mm and it's distortions :)

Note to self: HDR works extraordinarily on reflective materials like metal, glass, etc; and also textured materials like concrete walls. Use it to your advantage. :)