Cameron Knowlton found the World War II-era currency in a coin shop some 13 years ago and thought it an interesting subject for a photo. The colors and textures were the main attraction, but when, at last, he got to making the picture in his home studio late last year, it took a bit of doing to capture those elements.
With the cash on a white foam-core board, his D600 and AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED on a tripod above the display and his SB-700 on a stand at camera left, firing up into a reflective umbrella that spread the light across the bills, the image turned out flat. “No shadows, no texture detail,” Cameron says. Next step: lightpainting.
“I cut the flash’s power to 1/64 of its maximum output,” Cameron says, “and set it for 1/200-second duration. I used a small Maglite and a clip-on bicycle light, one in each hand, to paint some light onto the money for the duration of the exposure. I was behind the camera, practically hugging the tripod, with the flashlights angled to the money so light would rake over it and give it texture and dimension.” It took 31 exposures using that technique until he was satisfied with this image, a two-second exposure at f/13 and ISO 200, the camera set for manual and Matrix metering. Singled out for particular praise: the D600, for the “exquisite detail” it rendered.
A semipro photographer who also does internet marketing for Fortune 500 companies, Cameron says he’s a portrait photographer by nature who also shoots landscapes. “And if it’s lousy weather, I go inside and do studio shots.”