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The Great Pumpkin is coming...


Nov 28, 2006
North of Weird
First Name
...to a town near you.

We decided a couple large adult sized beverages each and dinner were first required and hey - we had our camera's with us - why not do some levitation/balancing shots? Pretty simple stuff here. Order dinner. Drink beer. Drink more beer. (Pearl Snap on tap to be specific) Get creative. Shoot pictures. Eat dinner.

After this, we wandered across the parking lot to Precision Camera. Not a good thing after just drinking. I'm getting good at spending Eric's money too. Tonight he ponied up for a Sekonic light meter and an intervolometer. So far I've coaxed him to purchasing a D750, Nikon battery grip, 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, three SB700 speedlights, four CactusV triggers and some softboxes/light stands. :doh:

Having spent his money, we then decided to venture out into the night with a couple concepts in mind. One was the 'spinning orb' of which I've seen some finished products yet never participated in creating one.

When we finished with the skyline shot, we peeked down the hike and bike trail just off the "Boardwalk" and saw the Great Pumpkin we've all heard about... It just sat there so we didn't feel threatened.

Seeing that, we had to set up one final shot as we thought we had a great story to tell about the Great Pumpkin sighting of 2016

The End.

Oh - the Learning & Doing part. :chug:

The first shot with the beer/burgers and iPhone was pretty easy. I simply setup the trays to be balanced on either side of the post at the end of table. The beers just went outboard of the burgers to balance the shot and provided some cool reflective light. The iPhone is a real, functional unit - not a dead one. I figured I'd want to meter on the phone so I chose spot metering. Eric canted the phone on a corner and holding it in place with his pointer finger waited until I got to "1" doing a countdown of 3-2-1. At "1" he released and I was already firing off 11fps. Continuous focus mode was used to keep focus lock on the iPhone as it traveled. Shallow depth of field was chosen on purpose using f/2.8 and freezing motion with 1/250th second. A simple crop and a little nip and tuck on LR and presto - done.

The spinning orb shot on the Boardwalk was interesting. We setup the cameras on tripods and about 15' away put a little rock on the ground. Eric stood over the rock and I focused on him (using a flashlight), then turned off auto-focus. This locked in the focal point at that rock. He had a shoelace with a little button battery about the size of a quarter taped to one end. Three LED red bulbs were placed on the button cell with a lead on both the positive and negative sides of the cell. Gaffers tape held the LED's to the battery. That assembly was then taped tight to the end of the shoelace. He simply stood about a foot off the rock and started spinning the shoelace/LED assembly while at the same time walked a circle around the rock and the same foot away from it. The exposures took a few attempts to get it right but in a nutshell we settled on a 20 second exposure (I counted down once the shutter was hit to give him an idea where we were in the shot and how much time he had left to complete the circle). I was also at f/19 as I wanted a ton of depth to cover any focal issues with the orb spinning as well as keeping the railing and city sharp in the background. ISO was 640 for reference. A 20 second exposure is a long time....

Once we had that shot, we decided to go the other direction and shoot away from the city lights down the trail. Again, we setup the camera about 15 to 20 feet from our new rock, popped the auto-focus on/lit Eric up/focused and turned auto-focus off. Since we were shooting with considerably reduced light in this direction, we bumped our exposure up to 30 seconds and opened up a bit to f/13. ISO also went up to 1250. I also had Eric spin the LED assembly considerably faster for this shot to put more 'lines' in place.

Finally, since we had a good story to tell we setup one more shot for Eric's "Live A Great Story" series. I think I've mentioned his last name is Storey, and his good friend started the Live A Great Story movement. So it was only natural he donned a hoodie and we did one final departing shot. This one actually tested my thinking ability for a bit. Just how do you shoot a fairly dark skyline while at the same time illuminating a close in subject? I know I needed to expose for ambient light, then flash my subject. So with the camera on a tripod I kept my same settings from the Boardwalk orb shot as a starting point and got the skyline looking the way I wanted. Then it was simply flashing the subject. yeah that sounds easy....

I broke out a speedlight and small 24x24 softbox and setup about 8' from him. I focused on him with a flashlight then turned off auto-focus and asked he didn't move. Started at 1/4 power on the speedlight and blew him off the face of earth. Man that was way too hot while at 1/10th sec, f/8 and 6400ISO. So I just walked the power down and redirected the flow with the softbox as necessary to shape the light a bit better each time. I 'think' I wound up at 1/64th power in the end. I also had rear curtain sync for this so I could expose the skyline and "if" he moved probably wouldn't show the blur and the speedlight would freeze him/any motion "if" he did move. At least in theory that's what I was leaning towards and I think it worked.

So there you have it on tonight's adventure to HopDoddy Burgers, Precision Camera and the Boardwalk in downtown Austin.



Keeper of the Asylum
Feb 28, 2003
First Name
Last Name
It is amazing that nothing of him shows in the orb shots. Even with the long exposure, I would have expecting some kind of faint ghost just from the reflected light off the LEDs. I guess they just weren't that bright. Was he wearing dark clothing?

I had fun with my kids doing long exposure pics in the back yard with colored flash lights swinging on strings. They got a real kick out of that.