ISO | Summer Photo Challenge09.01.12

This is the last post of this series!  Just in time as I will be diving into sharing a bunch of client sessions over the next little while:)  So, the last part of the exposure equation that we have been discussing for the last few weeks is ISO.  The ISO determines how sensitive the digital sensor is to light…how much light is needed to burn an image.  The ISO can range typically from ISO 100 to ISO 800 to ISO 5000 and beyond.  The higher the ISO the more sensitive the sensor is to light (and again you will have to consider the other two factors aperture and shutter speed).  ISO will also determine how much grain (noise) an image has.  The higher the ISO the grainier the image is.  This is why you would usually want to keep your ISO as low as possible (although I do not mind a little grain at times for the right image).

Here is an example of the graininess of the higher ISO (I have enlarged this image so you can see):

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The first looks very grainy compared to the second.

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In sports photography, a higher ISO is typically used so that a faster shutter speed can be used to stop the action (particularly for indoor sports).  I like the high ISO capability so that I can shoot in low light situations – this is definitely a factor I take into account when purchasing new equipment.  Test yours out and see what you can get without using flash – remember you have to be in manual mode to be able to manipulate ISO and the remaining factors (aperture and shutter speed).  Practice, practice, practice so that you can capture those moments quickly.  And practice before the big events (like birthday parties) come so that you do not miss the moments.

Here is a few examples of pictures with higher ISOs:

first one is f2.8, shutter 1/125 and ISO 2200

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The second one is f3.5, shutter 1/1000 and ISO 8000_DSC8043a

The last image is at f1.4, shutter 1/80 and ISO 1600_DSC6475 copy

Good luck with your shooting!

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Shutter Speed | Summer Photo Challenge08.28.12

Sorry for the delay but it is that time of year:) I am sure that you are all getting into the swing of back-to-school so not certain how much you will be picking up cameras to play after this long weekend. I will put up the last “Summer Photo Challenge” post on ISO before the long weekend so that you can practice a bit more.

In this post I am going to look at another variable of the equation of light – shutter speed. Shutter speed determines how long the shutter is open and in turn how much light hits the sensor. It is is shown on your camera as a number like 60, 300 and up to 8000. This is actually 1/60th of a second, 1/300th of a second and 1/8000 of a second. With 1/8000 being significantly faster than 1/60th and letting way less light in. The other factor that is determined with the shutter speed in motion and how it is captured. If you would like to slow motion, you will want a slower shutter speed so that the shutter stays open longer to allow motion to occur through the image. If you would like to stop motion, you will want a fast shutter speed. Here is an example of stopping and capturing motion. You can see how without anything else changing, the aperture must change to accommodate the slower shutter speed from the first to the second picture.
It is important to note that typically anything slower than 1/60 will see some motion if you are hand holding your camera and not using a tripod or monopod. There are some amazing effects that you can produce using the long exposure range of your camera (slow shutter speeds) but for our purposes, we will just look at being handheld.

As in any image that you are producing, you will want to consider the story that you want to tell so that you can get the desired effect. To illustrate, I am going to use three image I took at the Redlands Classic (an international bike race in the spring).  I was just there with my family hanging out and at the time did not know that I would use them to illustrate a point so they are not as perfect as I would like.  I have commented where I would have improved on two of the images though.  I still think that they illustrate my points though:).

The first image (f 4, shutter 1/800, ISO 200) was stopping the action so that we could see the bikers’ faces.
In the next image, I wanted to show how fast the bikers were moving past us (you can see the car faintly behind them is still (slightly blurred as I was hand held and not using a tripod as I should have been). I used f22, shutter of 1/30 and ISO 200.  _DSC8254a
In this last image, I panned with the biker (at a bit too low of a shutter speed as he should not have a halo effect on him) in an attempt to blur the background and keep him sharp. I used f 22, shutter 1/13 and ISO 200._DSC8261a

Here are a couple of other pictures from recent sessions where the client was moving and having fun and I stopped to action to capture the expression.

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Have fun capturing some action!  Looking forward to seeing your images.

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Aperture | Summer Photo Challenge08.20.12

This week I am going to start into the all important technical equation that accounts for most of the light that you capture in an image.  The next three posts will be Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.  These three factors must work together to ensure that you have enough light hitting the sensor to create an image.  When you are working in manual mode each of these three factors will need to be considered in relation to each other.  So this whole equation will not really come together for a couple of weeks.  If you are uncertain how to work these factors together and this seems too much for this week…break it down by shooting in Aperture mode.  This way you will be able to adjust the aperture to see the various results and the camera will adjust the other variables to produce an image.

What is aperture?

It is the size of the opening on the lens that allows light in.  It will also be called the f-stop.  The smaller the f-stop (number) the larger the hole and in turn the more light that is getting in.  The aperture (f-stop) will also affect how much of the picture is in focus.  This is called the depth of field.  This means that the smaller the f-stop the narrower the plane that is in focus.  The larger the f-stop number the deeper the field of focus.  You do have to remember though that as more of the image is in focus, the less light that is hitting the sensor as this hole is getting smaller (can be likened to squinting).  This would be where the other two factors would have to come into play to compensate for less light or extra light.  The following (handwritten and iPhone pic- sorry:) diagram will depict how the size of the hole corresponds to the numbers.


Here are some examples with a larger f-stop (smaller opening).  You will want to have a higher number (larger f stop) for group pictures as well as for landscapes so that you have a large part of the image in focus.  The following shots have been done at f7.1 and f11 respectively.

calgary family photo1calgary family photo2

You would want to use a small f-stop (or shoot wide open) if you wanted to focus the viewers eye on a certain area of the photo.  The shallower depth of field will blur out a distracting background.  It is a nice effect to soften an image as well.  The following have been shot at 2.2, 2.0, 2.8, 5.6 and 3.5 respectively.  You can see here that focal length and distance from a subject will also come into play but I want to keep this fairly simple.  I hope that does note get too confusing.  It is best to begin playing with your camera and your lens starting with varying apertures and then you can start to see how other factors come in (like moving closer to the subject or zooming in and then later adding the other variables to the equation).


calgary child photographer_DSC2146aa


Have fun shooting this week and I look forward to seeing your images!

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Lighting | Summer Photo Challenge08.13.12

Lighting…this is what it is all about.  Recording light.  It is probably the lesson that I should have started with but wanted you to begin by looking at what was in your photo and how you were going to compose first.  So now we are going to look at lighting a subject (using natural light).  Of course this is a huge subject and there are so many factors that affect lighting – from time of day (colour and intensity), to weather/available shade to direction of the light.  I am mostly going to focus on direction of light for this post and am only going to talk about the sun as I am not a fan of pop-up flash.

Front lighting

Front lighting seems the most obvious way for people to pose themselves when they are outside.  Unfortunately this will typically result in unattractive shadows under the eyes (producing a tired look to the eyes)if the sun is too high, flat lighting if the sun is lower (showing no form to the face and still tired eyes as depicted here) and it will also cause your subject to squint (as shown here).


Side lighting

Side lighting can be gorgeous depending on the angle and mood of the photo that you are looking for.  It will typically produce a more dramatic look as the light moves more towards the side of the head but it can create shadows and in turn, depth to your images.  Highlighting the contours of the face.  You will need to watch the way the shadows fall across your subject’s face and particularly the eyes.  You still typically want to maintain catch lights (the light reflecting back in the eyes – the twinkle) in both eyes unless you are going for an extremely dramatic look.  I am using this picture to show more of the shadowing and contouring.


Here you will see that the light from the window is hitting at about 30-45 degrees to the baby to give some depth to his face but maintain the catch lights in his eyes.

TOT12011 A119

Back lighting

Often photographers will turn their subjects away from the sun.  This helps to eliminate squinting and distracting shadows.  It can be tricky though so that you do not get too much lens flare (unless that is what you are going for) and you want to get the correct exposure on your subject’s face without completely blowing out the background (another lesson).  Back lighting does add nice rim lighting to your subjects hair and shoulders – making them appear angelic:).  It can also be used very effectively for silhouettes.



If you must shoot mid day in the harshest light and you do not want to worry about how the light is hitting the subject too much, try to place them in the shade.


I hope that this helps.  Please feel free to ask questions if I have not explained something clearly.

Have fun playing with light!

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Fill the Frame | Summer Photo Challenge08.06.12

This might be one of my favourite rules…and at times one that I need to work against:)  I like to shoot in close.  I like to get expressions so you can feel the pictures and see the details.  I need to remember the opposite and step back and look at the whole picture sometimes:)  Typically though, people take pictures from too far away and it is difficult to see the people in the picture.  Zoom in or move in closer to change the impact of your picture.  You can also crop in later but you have to watch the resolution of your image when you do this.  So this week, I want you to practice moving in closer and filling the frame with more of your subject to tell the story.  Here are some examples:

You can see here how distracting all of the stuff around my daughter is that you do not even really see her.  Once you move in, you can see her, her tired eyes from swimming and even her little freckles:).

_DSC0161_DSC0172aaThe next set is from a couple of months ago and we were enjoying root beer floats (a major treat around these parts:).  My son’s shot is okay, you can tell what he is doing  but my daughter’s shot has a lot more impact.  You can really feel how much she is enjoying that float.

_DSC0680_DSC0681aThe next set is a couple of my dog.  He has not been doing well lately so I am trying to capture him as much as possible right now.  He was diagnosed with diabetes in January and has been losing his sight due to cataracts as well as continuing to have hip issues from arthritis:(  We needed to return from vacation last week as he was not doing well and very anxious.  He is doing a bit better now that he is back in is own surroundings with his people.  As hard as it is to watch him deteriorate I am happy to have him home and be his seeing-eye person.


_DSC6859aHere are just a few more shots to depict this rule.

TOT12011 A046a 11x14My children return to school this week so I am right back to full-time work and looking forward to a very busy next 5 months.  I will share some of my vacation pics from San Diego later this week as we saw some neat things.

Next week I am going to talk about different lighting.  Looking forward to seeing your images!

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