How I took that shot by Mervyn Daly

In the recent group competition, 'In Costume', Mervyn Daly ran out the deserved winner with his image with the 'Tears of a Clown' theme.

Mervyn Daly

Learn how Mervyn, who is becoming a fixture on the winner's podium, put this shot together here:

"I had an idea of creating an image with a 'Tears of a Clown' theme. I convinced (bribed) my daughter, Tara , to model for me, telling her what I was trying to create and getting her ideas also".

"I began by setting up a white backdrop which was lit by a 200w Elinchrom light at half power on the left, a 400w Elinchrom light at full power on the right. I metered and got a reading of 1/125sec @ f8, ISO200".

"I got out the make-up from my wife and Tara's stash and did the face painting and, when finished, I placed a folded sheet over her head and began shooting".

"The image was cropped and levels and curves adjusted, I burned in a couple of spots on the background to remove some creases and then converted to b&w on a separate layer and selectively deleted around the mouth to expose the colour on original layer".

"I shot with Nikon D300s, with sigma 17-70 2.8-4.5. @ 20mm. I used a reflective umbrella on the 200w head and a shoot through umbrella on the 400w head. Post processing was done in Photoshop CS2".

Well done Mervyn and Tara on producing a wonderful shot.


Monster Lens seen in St. Peter’s Square

A lens with a long reach can be a really useful tool when you can't get near your subject or you're looking to compress the view. Vieing for the first close up shot of a newly elected Pope from St. Peter's Square would be an ideal occasion to use such a lens but what would be a suitable focal length for such a job? 200mm, 300mm, 600mm? Maybe with an extender or teleconverter to really get close?

One photographer, Dylan Martinez of Reuters, doing this exact job last week considered the same issue and brought along a Zoom-Nikkor 1200-1700mm f/5.6-8P IF-ED!


At 16Kg and a maximum diameter × maximum length of 237 mm × 888 mm with a closest focusing distance of 10m, this beast looked more like a military weapon than a camera lens when it was set up in St. Peter's Square on 13/3/13. Italian newspaper, La Stampa, ran a few photos of the photographer at work here and you can see his results on the Reuters blog.

The lens was initially designed and was first used in 1990, to shoot baseball at the Koshien Stadium, Japan. The Nikon website has all the details here.



How I took that shot – by Mervyn Daly

In our recent 'Food' competition, Mervyn Daly won 3rd place with his unusual 'landscape' made entirely of food. Here, Mervyn explains how he created this image (click to enlarge).

by Mervyn Daly

"I wanted to try something a bit different. I originally wanted to replicate one of my seascape shots but the sea proved too difficult to get right, so I resorted to using mainly broccoli as trees. When my kids were younger we used to call broccoli - 'baby trees', in an effort to get them to eat it (unsuccessfully, I must add)".

"I set up on the kitchen table in front of the patio door with only natural light. The camera was mounted on a tripod, level with the table top. I began with the foreground by using brown sugar as soil, then placed some soda bread pieces as rocks and adjusted them to get the composition I wanted. These were positioned only a few centimeters from the lens. I then began individually placing the broccoli pieces, propped with cocktail sticks, checking the composition as I worked. I used drinking chocolate powder for the pathway, strips of curly cabbage as hedging, and I cut a loaf of bread in half for the hills at the back, and there is some asparagus thrown in for good measure".

"I had a white background behind which went muggy and grey with the settings I used, which I wasn't happy with, so I resorted to importing a sky on a new layer and blending it in. I was trying to create a kind of fantasy shot so I think I can be forgiven just this once".

Technical Details:
Nikon D300s. Sigma 17-70mm @ 20mm
Natural daylight, 3 sec @ f22, iso 100. Adjusted curves.

See more of Mervyn's images here