The exposure is controlled by three important settings on your camera. Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.
The first two can affect the feel and focus of your image. Slow the shutter speed down to give the feeling of movement. Speed it up to freeze the action. Open your aperture up and create a shallow depth of field causing the subject to be the only thing in focus, thus drawing the eye of the viewer toward it.
Shot at a slower shutter speed allows the motion of this actor to be blurred as he does his flip.
By using a large aperture, the singer is in focus and the background is slightly blurred.
Shutter speed and aperture have a huge influence of the artistic side of the image, but ISO is the setting that can make or break the picture. It controls the quality of the image and, when used right, can allow the photographer to use the other two settings to match the image to their vision.
Setting your camera to a low ISO, like 200 on Nikons or 100 on Canons, allows the highest image quality available from the camera, but it limits the sensitivity of the sensor. This can make the fast shutter speeds or small apertures that a photographer is looking for in some situations, hard to achieve. Especially high shutter speeds.
Remember, you should be using at least the reciprocal of your lens length. So if I’m shooting with a 150 mm lens, I should be using at least a shutter speed of 1/150 of a second in order to not introduce any camera shake into the image.
I was in a high school theater to shoot the images used in this post. The stage, even when under full light, was dark. As a result I had to use a very large aperture (usually 2.8) and a low shutter speed for the lens I was using (70-200), but by raising the ISO from my normal 200 to 1600, I was able to raise the shutter speed up to a point that helped eliminate camera shake and get most of the shots I wanted.
The trade-off? High ISO settings can introduce a lot of noise into an image. If you know the limitations of your camera, you can reduce the affect of the noise in your images. My Nikon D300 produces good images up to ISO 1600, so I was able to set the ISO at 1600 and still get usable images.
At this size. the image still looks good even at ISO 1600
You can see in the image above that the higher ISO setting doesn’t affect the quality that much, but if you click on it, you will be able to see a larger version and how the noise is beginning to affect overall quality of the picture. But even then, it isn’t that bad yet.
Don’t be afraid to raise your ISO to get the image you are trying to capture, but be aware of the possible affects it is going to have on your pictures. It is one of the tools we have as photographers and if we know how to use it, changing ISO can help.
You can read more about ISO settings at The Digital Photography School and The Digital SLR Guide websites.
Please feel free to leave comment and tell me what you think.
Posted 2 years, 6 months ago at 10:30 am. Add a comment
I had the opportunity to shoot our school’s fall musical, Annie.
Shooting in a dark theater is a challenge, but I have learned to trust my D300 and pushing the ISO up to 1600. If I go much over that, I begin to get some noisy images. Open up my 70-200 to f2.8 and wait for the spot to hit the subject and I can get some pretty good images.
The other thing I did was produce a picture of the entire cast. Not an easy job, given the situation. Low light, limited room, and a wide subject on stage. The solution? A panorama. Yes, a panorama. I took a series of shots of the cast and stitched them into a panorama. Photoshop has a great panorama stitching capability.
Cast and Crew
If you want to see more of the images from Annie you can see them in my gallery.
Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think.
Posted 2 years, 7 months ago at 6:46 pm. Add a comment
Again, I look to Jeremy Cowart for my inspiration to use my photography for giving back to the community. Every year our school has a staff vs. senior softball game where all proceeds go to the Cancer Society. I offer my photography to the cause shooting each player as they take their turn at bat and also some of the plays out in the field. The biggest contribution I make is to take a picture of all the players on the field and then make 8×10 prints that thank the sponsors.
We all know someone who has had their lives touched by cancer. I know I have several. This was an opportunity to give back to them.
Mr. Warren founder and coordinator of the game.
The Field and Crowd
Miss Kline at Bat
Saibrah White at Bat
Mr. Ermert Rips One to Right
The Staff - Winning Team
And for the record: the staff beat the senior 17-5.
Posted 3 years ago at 10:39 am. 1 comment
It was 4:30. The text message said that the district prom was going to be at Ramona High School at 6:30. A friend was asking me to come and shoot an event for free. Did I mind? NO!! and I was rewarded with an evening of being awestruck by the joy and energy these special kids have.
They danced, laughed, and they had fun. For a few hours their lives were “normal” and I loved being a part of it. No, I didn’t regret or have any misgivings about spending my Saturday night shooting this event. Especially after listening to Jeremy Cowart at Escalate Live last week where he stressed using your photography to give back and do something good in your community.
The prom being held in a high school gym didn’t help the photography. Dark and bad lighting. The answer seemed simple to me, grab the SB900 and the 50 f1.4 and shoot away. I also used the Hanson Fong Skin Glow Reversible Bounce Card which was recommended by Hal Schmitt at Light Photographic Workshops. Honestly, at $42 it is the best light modifier I have purchased.
I looked at the night as an experiment and learning opportunity in using speedlights. Remember, when using flash, the shutter speed controls the background exposure and the aperture combined with the flash intensity controls the exposure of the subject. Wanting to separate the subject from the background, I shot most of the images at a shutter speed of 250-300 and an aperture of 2-2.8. I put the flash on manual and shot most of the time at 1/8-1/4.
If I wanted the background darker, I increase the shutter speed. If I wanted the subject brighter, I usually increased the power of the flash by a 1/3 of a stop or so.
I think the technique worked fairly well, but needs a bit of refinement. After I looked at the images in Lightroom, I found that those setting tended to leave the subjects just a little darker than I wanted, but all of the images could be fixed with a little exposure control in the develop module of Lightroom.
Here are some of the images from the night.
Balloons outside the prom
Posing for the camera
Ramona's King and Queen
Poly's King and Queen have their first dance.
King's King and Queen
Honestly, it was a rewarding experience. I hope you have the opportunity to give and experience such an event.
Please feel free to comment or offer suggestions.
Posted 3 years ago at 8:45 am. 3 comments
I took pictures for the school’s Comedy Sportz team a few weeks ago.
After posting the pictures on Smugmug I got a lot of pictures viewed and the visits to my site went WAY up, but I thought that was going to be about it and at the same time, one of the parents asked if they could use some of the images for publicity. I said sure and forgot all about it.
Flash forward two weeks. I got an email with a link to the Press Enterprise in the inland empire in southern California.
The link was to an article about the Comedy Sportz team. And there were some of my images!
Plus, I got photo credit. How can I argue?
Here is the link to the article in the Press Enterprise.
Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 1:39 pm. Add a comment
I was asked shoot an event at school, the COMEDY SPORTz competition.
I’ve never been to one of these events, but I have shot in the theater. Talk about low light!!!!
The event is modeled after Whose Line is It Anyway? The British and then American TV show that spotlighted improvisational comedy.
The kids weren’t bad. They really got into the scenes and were very witty and quick. It really wasn’t a bad show. Again, it is always nice to see students doing something they love to do. Passion.
As for the shooting, what can I say? LOW LIGHT!! Set the camera on Aperture Priority, open up the 70-200 f2.8 to wide open, set the ISO to auto (max 1600) and shoot.
I did have a problem with exposure. Using evlauative metering created an overexposure situation on the subjects as the camera tried to bring the background to the right exposure, but when I went to center weighting, the exposure got a lot better.
I also learned how to really stream line my post production time in Lightroom, but I’ll talk about that at another time.
You can view all of the images at the Nature Light Photography Gallery.
Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 4:48 pm. Add a comment
Last night, I was invited by a friend to see her perform in a play at the King High School where I work. I was honored to have been asked. It isn’t every day that a teacher is asked to watch a student do what they love.
It was a fun evening. I realized that we have some very talented and passionate people on our campus. The acting was good, the singing was good, and the photography was fun. OH! That last part was about me.
Shooting in VERY low light and getting the camera to capture images that were usable was a challenge, especially as I was kind of stuck in a seat and couldn’t get a variety of angles. Also, flash photography was not allowed. Did any of that stop me? Noooooo.
Using the 70-200 f2.8 wide open on aperture priority with the D300′s ISO set to auto (essentially 1600) yielded some good quality images. I never cease to be amazed at the way the D300 handles the relatively high ISO of 1600. It just seems to take the image and remove the noise. Result? Good, usable images. You can view all of the images here: Nature Light Photo Galleries.
As for the kids: like I said, they were passionate about what they were doing. Not all of them were great actors or great singers or great dancers, but they got up on stage and performed. You could tell that they loved what they were doing and the were proud to do it. They didn’t care about what others thought or how they compared to others, they just did it. It made me realize that to succeed in anything, you have to do the same thing.
Almost as a side note, a parent approached me asking if I was Mr. Williamson. After confirming her suspicions and steeling myself for the onslaught of “I want to talk to you about how my kid is doing in your class…”, she introduced herself as the mother of the lead in the play and she wanted to let me know that I was her son’s favorite teacher. I had her son in my class THREE years ago!!! I didn’t even think he remembered me. To tell the truth, I was TOTALLY not ready for that and very pleasantly surprised.
Like I said, to succeed you have to be passionate about what you are doing. The results might surprise you.
Posted 3 years, 7 months ago at 8:46 am. Add a comment
I was asked to shoot a charity basketball game between the seniors and the staff to benefit scleroderma victims. I like this kind of event. The kids have fun and so does the staff. Plus, it goes to a good cause. Here are a few images from the evening and a short analysis of the problems and possible solutions follows that.
You can see all of the images at The Nature Light Photography Gallery.
What Did I Learn?
This was a new challenge. I have never shot sports inside before. Water polo and swimming? Yes. Softball? Yes. Rodeo? Yes. But never indoor basketball.
I have read where the lighting situation inside most high school gyms is difficult. JEEZ!! Is that true!!!! My plan was to take my SB600 and shoot with a fairly fast piece of glass, the 70-200 f2/8. It worked. Kind of.
While the flash did freeze the action fairly well, focus was a bit of a problem. The lens wouldn’t lock on to subjects well and fast enough. I think this is due to the very low light conditions and the difficulty of following the subject.
I basically planted myself under one basket and shot from a seated position. The length of the lens made it difficult to keep the subject in the viewfinder as they came closer to my end of the court and the proximity of the players made good composition difficult. You can see my results here.
You can see the limited field of view and difficulty of composition.
I brought my 50mm f1.4 also, but it limited my ability to isolate the players or what I wanted to shoot. I also had the D70 kit lens, a 18-70mm f3.5-4.5, but I didn’t think that it was fast enough. But I wasn’t getting the shots I wanted or needed, so I tried it.
I was surprised. It focused quickly, the flash froze the subjects well, and the images were usable!! The subjects weren’t too close for a good composition and I could compose fairly well.
With a wider lens, the composition is better.
The only problem was that the on camera flash left some weird shadows behind the subjects. It’s not the lens, but me not utilizing the flash well.
Harsh shadows caused by on camera flash.
I think I really need a better flash, something like a SB900 and some sort of remote to fire it off from a distance. I have seen sports shooters utilize two flashes mounted on stands placed at the corners of the floor and triggered by remotes such as Radio Poppers or Pocket Wizards. I would like to try that set-up next time.
The bottom line is that next time I WILL get the flash off of the camera and try to get two flashes that I can work together to improve the lighting situation.
All-in-all, I think it was a good shoot. OH, and the staff won!!!
Posted 3 years, 8 months ago at 11:19 am. Add a comment