Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Have you ever used a fish-eye lens? The fish-eye lens allows for some up close and personal views of the world we live in. It is the lens that often answers the question of "What does the world look when seen from the point of view of the..." Again, due to its really wide and sweeping vision and its close-focusing capabilities, 4", this lens can go just about anywhere and offer up any number of fresh viewpoints of the world.

If you could squeeze into the mailbox what view is offered up when the postman delivers your mail? If you could crawl inside a very large shoe, what view is offered up when the foot enters the shoe? If you could sit on the back shelf of the refrigerator, what view would you see when someone in the family shows up for their 2AM feeding? If you could sit on the end of the spoon, what view would you have when you daughter takes her cough syrup? What view would you see if you were the end of a needle about to give someone a shot of Novocain? If you could crawl inside your oven, what view would you see when someone comes along and takes out the cooked pizza?

Lots of questions here and by no means is this a complete list! What does the office garbage can see from its low point of view, when someone throw's a wad of paper into it? And on and on it can go, but for now let's tackle at least one of these questions, beginning with the pizza in the oven.

Before placing my camera and full frame fish-eye lens on the at the back of the oven, I engaged the camera's built-in flash, setting it to rear curtain sync and set the camera to Aperture Priority Mode, choosing an aperture of f/16 for maximum depth of field, along with pre-focusing the camera to its shortest focus point of 4". (Auto focus has been turned-off as usual.) In addition I had engaged the camera's self-timer to fire 5 seconds after first pressing the camera's shutter release. All that remained was to explain to the model that he needed to just stand there for a few seconds acting as if he was about to take the fresh baked pizza out of the oven. (Getting my model to do exactly as I directed was the easiest part of the shoot since the model in this case is me! The wife and kids had left earlier in the day to head out for the 'spring sales' so my choice in models was truly limited.) Holding the pizza with one hand and firing the shutter release with the other hand, I held the position you see here and five seconds later, this was the result; f/16 at 1 second. For those who don't know about rear curtain sync, here is how it works, in capsule form: Instead of the flash firing at the beginning of the exposure, it fires at the end. With the camera in Aperture Priority Mode, the initial exposure was taking into account the light outside the oven which was the available light on me and the light in our well-lit kitchen and at the end of the exposure time, the flash went off, an illuminated the interior of the oven, along with the Pizza and my hand and oven mitt. Easy stuff, really, it is!

And of course the really more pressing question: DID I ACTUALLY SET MY NIKON D-300 WITH THE FULL FRAME 14MM FISH-EYE LENS INTO A 400 DEGREE OVEN!? Of course not! The oven is actually at room temperature. So how do I explain the RED-HOT COILS overhead? I made a simple COLOR BALANCE Adjustment Layer in Photo-Shop and added RED, thus turning the normally grey oven coils to a "glowing RED!"

All My Best,
Bryan F. Peterson


Phat Baby Photographer said...

Can you clarify why a rear curtain sync was required for this photo? I typically associate it with flash photography of moving objects (e.g. a car at night) so that the light trails the car rather then the reverse. Isn't it just as easy to balance the ambient light with a first curtain sync?

Separately, thanks for the article. I rarely use my fisheye although it could be fun for baby photography and this article has some nice suggestions for me to try out.

The Perfect Picture School of Photography said...

I used rear-curtain sync to counter act the subtle movement of trying to hold the pizza in place. I am not the steadiest guy in the world, especially when I am really excited about taking a shot of a pizza coming out the oven. So, you are correct I used it for 'movement' concerns, but in this case, it was subtle movement concerns and I didn't want any potential ghosting. And on that note, here are a couple more rear curtain sync shots that might fuel some creative thought-(ordinary 4th of July sparklers were used).

Image 1
Image 2

Bryan Peterson

Phat Baby Photographer said...

Brilliant. It never occurred to me to use rear curtain sync to counteract any camera shake from pressing the shutter (or in your case holding a pizza).

Fun images too - thanks for sharing.

Kathy Marciante Photography said...

Brilliant for sure!!! Awesome idea and I love that you include your "brainstorming". That's a huge part of photography! The image is magnificent!! Thanks for the stirring the idea pot. Can this only be done with a fish eye?