Thursday, December 29, 2011

High ISO Portraiture

I think my journey into “High ISO Portraiture” began, or at least the seed was planted, many years ago watching television. The memorable scene was a shot of people in the back seat of a car, I liked to look beyond the subjects out the window at the out of focus lights in the background. I was later to learn these out of focus lights are called bokeh. Now bokeh can mean different things to different people but for me, at least in this respect, it refers to the shape or character of the out of focus lights. I will write a blog post on bokeh in the near future but for now, well let’s digress.

In this case bokeh is characterized by what f/stop you use, the focal length of the lens and the distance between the camera and the light.


The shape of the bokeh are indicative of the aperture shape. When the lens is wide open the out of focus light will be round. However sometimes you have to stop down a little when you need a little dept of field.

Lek and Family
Notice the octagonal shape of the light.


The size of the bokeh is dependent on two things. The distance the lights are from the camera position and the magnification of the lens. The closer the lights the larger the bokeh and the larger the telephoto the larger the bokeh.

Focal Length 140 mm (full frame)

Focal Length 70 mm (full frame)

Fun with Bokeh - Focal Length 200 mm (full frame)

Subject exposure for these images was achieved using TTL flash with either an 18 inch softbox or shoot thru umbrella. The high iso allowed me use the “ambient” street lights as fill.

There are many elements and factors to consider when shooting High ISO Portraiture, to many to post all here. You would need a book to cover them all, hope you liked this introduction. Thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Here’s Looking at You Kid

One for my favourite techniques for getting the great shot is anticipation. This is a great technique to practice when photographing people, animals; I even use it these days when I am shooting landscapes waiting for the right moment for a bird to fly gracefully into the frame, where I want it. Many people with their 8 or 10 frames per second machine gun cameras might disagree. But machine gunning a shot can become a lazy habit, may mean you miss the shot and will prevent you from learning the skill of anticipation.

The Newfoundland Lynx

The Lynx

Not only would I argue that machine gunning a shot will keep you from improving as a photographer it will often mean you miss “the” shot. Anticipation is product of study and patience and will develop over time. Also it is something you will enjoy and improve at the more you practice.



The element of luck will creep into the situation from time to time. But to put that into perspective I love the quote from Stephen Leacock: "I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it".

Want to be a great photographer? The time honoured answered to that question would be to practice honing you skills.

Thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Help-Portrait St John’s video

In case you missed it here is a short 2 minute and 14 second video from Help-Portrait St John’s which took place at the Salvation Army New Hope Community Centre in downtown St John's on December 3, 2011. It was a very rewarding experience and we're already planning for 2012.

To find out more and keep up to date please click here to visit our Facebook page.

Thank you for stopping by! :-)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Yuri Arcurs

I thought I’d write a few blog post’s about photographers who have influenced me over the years. Of course it is their great photography which attracted me to them and fortunately they are often willing to share their techniques and ideas. One of these photographers is Yuri Arcurs who is at the top of his game as the number one stock photographer in the world. One thing that has helped Yuri achieve this success is his attention to detail. He studies, analyses and determines the best method to achieve the highest quality images.

For example, Yuri doesn’t mind saying for certain that you cannot take a sharp portrait handheld, you just can’t do it. He goes on to say that if you’re getting sharp images shooting free hand “your lucky” and that you will increase your percentage of sharp images using a monopod. Actually with some of the portrait work I’ve been doing recently, where I need slow shutter speeds to soak up as much ambient light as possible, I needed a tripod.

Another thing Yuri talks about is what might at first seem like a very simple idea, pressing the shutter button. I hadn’t given this much thought in the past but it was easy to see how you could refine this action to minimize camera movement.

The technique is simple; you move only your forefinger. People, me included, tend to squeeze their hand, creating a slight jerking motion. Anybody into target shooting will know what I’m talking about and probably have practiced this technique to reduce rifle movement to improve their marksmanship.

It’s so great to come across someone who talks about these refinements; there are a lot of great photographers out there and there is always something to learn.

Check out Yuri’s website where he shares many of his thoughts on photography.

Thank you for stopping by! :-)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Mummer Ate My Camera

I went to the St John’s Mummers Parade on Saturday (December 17, 2011) and to no ones surprise it was a colourful and fun time. It’s great to see this tradition alive and well in Newfoundland. We all deserve a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Taking some time to have some fun is a great way to relieve stress and spend time with family and friends.


A snap of the Victim taking a few snaps………..

Photo courtesy of Laurie Wallace

A few random pictures from the parade.




A Fire Breathing Horse





The Hobby Horse goes gulp gulp!

Brian at Mummers Parade 2
Photo courtesy of Laurie Wallace

For more on the tradition of Mummering in Newfoundland please click here to visit the Mummers Festival website.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Light Drag

Light Drag, like Flash Drag (more on that in another post) is about moving the camera during exposure. There are a number of ways you can do this and the effects can be stunning, pretty cool or perhaps just worth the value of learning something new. You never know exactly what you might come up with and for that reason alone it can be a lot of fun.

The significant difference between Light Drag and Flash Drag is that with Light Drag you would be using ambient light, one light source. With Flash Drag you would be using two light sources flash and ambient light for exposure and effect  

Light Drag is the more difficult of the two because camera movement must be segmented into (at least) two distinct steps otherwise all you will get is a streak of light and no defined subject. Light Drag would also be used with longer exposure speeds, for example 1 second or longer.

The Technique:
If you want to focus on a subject matter in your image there will have to be some delay in your exposure movement. So for example during a 4 second exposure you might want to delay your movement a second or two before you move your camera to distinctly capture the subject. This delay could be placed anywhere in the exposure, but I’ve found it would be best placed at the beginning or end.

Also movement can be achieved in a number of ways including horizontal, vertical or diagonal panning or zooming. A tripod is an essential tool for this type of work. Following is one of my zoom shots...........

Zoom at the Rooms

Zoom at the Rooms

Like I said one fun things about this is that you never know exactly what your going to come up with and with a little practice and a unique location you could create some captivating images.

Please share your experiences, it would be great to learn and hear from you!

Monday, October 31, 2011

My City

A very informative post on National Geographic about my hometown St John’s Newfoundland, I thought I’d share it with you. The title of the post ”I Heart My City: Karen’s St. John’s, Newfoundland”.

Harbour Twilight
Harbour Twilight

There is a lot of insight and useful information for anyone visiting this beautiful, colourful and friendly city. If you have any questions, please ask away I will be happy to answer.

Greetings from Canada's Far East! :-)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Elements of Exposure

It seems from my workshops this year that one of the concepts of photography people have some trouble with is exposure. So I thought I write a post on the subject.

Exposure can be controlled by:
  1. Shutter Speed
  2. Aperture
  3. ISO

Please Note:
The terms stop and f-stop can sometimes be used interchangeably in reference to exposure whereas f-stop is also used to describe the lens aperture setting. In either case we are talking exposure.


The length of time the shutter is opened, exposing the sensor to light. The sensor, or image sensor, is the electronic chip which “records” the image; it is this sensor which replaced film. The longer the shutter is open the greater the amount of light reaching and exposing the sensor.

The iris or opening of the lens which allows light through. The wider the iris opens the more light is allowed to reach the sensor. Think of it as the iris or more specifically the pupil in your eye. When you go into a dark room your iris expands to let in more light so you can see. Inversely when the light is bright your iris contracts to reduce the light. Aperture is referred to in terms of f-stops and in today’s nomenclature a larger number f-stop say f8 is smaller when compared to f1.4, which is a larger aperture.


The sensitivity of the image sensor. With film it was referred to as film speed. Simply put the lower the ISO the less sensitive the sensor is to light, the higher the ISO the more sensitive the sensor is to light.


Putting it all together

A stop also sometimes referred to an f-stop is half or doubling the light reaching the sensor.

In terms of shutter speed, moving from one of these values to another is one stop adjustment. So doubling or halving the shutter speed is ONE stop.

1/125 1/250 1/500 1/1000 1/2000

In terms of aperture moving from one of these values is an adjustment of one stop.

1.4    2.0    2.8    4    5.6    8    11    16    22

In this case f8 lets in half the light of f5.6 and twice the light as f11. Numbers wise doubling or halving the f-stop number is TWO stops adjustment (for example f5.6 to f11 is two stops).

In terms of ISO, moving from one of these values to another is one stop adjustment. So doubling or halving the ISO is ONE stop, as is the case for shutter speed.

100 200 400 800 1600


Here’s how I remember it. If you double or half your shutter speed or ISO you are making a one stop adjustment. If you double or half your f-stop number, then this is a two stop adjustment.

I tried to make this as simple as possible while providing a minimal technical data. It often takes people some time to understand this or think this way. So don’t sweat it and if you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Bonavista is one of my favourite places to photograph. It is located on the tip of the Bonavista Peninsula about a three hour drive from St John’s, the capital of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador Canada.

As a landscape photographer I am most attracted to it’s amazing shores. It must have stricken terror in the eyes of mariners; it is a rugged coastline of stunning natural beauty.

These first four images are taken in and around Dungeon Provincial Park


Sunrise at Dungeon Beach

An 8 second Goat portrait


Bonavista is one of the oldest settlements on the northeast coast and still retains much of its small town historic charm.





And then there are the animals. Bonavista has a large public pasture adjacent to Dungeon Provincial Park. In (and sometimes outside) and around the pasture you will find horses, sheep and goats graze. I’ve personally had a few interesting experiences with the animals.

The Wild Horses of Cape Bonavista ;-)

Horses in Bonavista

Hope you enjoyed the images!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Graduated Neutral Density Filters

Graduated neutral density filters, sometimes called split neutral density filters or grad nd’s, come in a variety of shapes, sizes and densities and are used mostly by landscape photographers to control the exposure range of an image. One half of the filter is of a neutral density which reduces the exposure of bright areas to reduce or eliminate clipping. Some would say it extends the dynamic range of your camera and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that but it might be more correct to say they reign in the exposure latitude by creating a manageable balance between the highlights and shadows.

The filters typically come in 4 stop (1.2), 3 stop (0.9), 2 stop (0.6) and 1 stop (0.3) densities and are hard-split or soft-split. Hard split have a more defined abrupt transition from nd to clear whereas soft split have a more gradual transition. These filters come in square, rectangular and screw-on. The rectangular filters are most popular as they allow you the freedom to move the transition in the frame whereas the transition on screw-on filters is fixed, it will remain in the middle of the frame.

There are considerable resources already on the web about these filters so rather than repeat all that I thought I’d continue on with some advanced techniques you can use when using these filters.

Techniques – Aperture

The use of aperture is more distinct when shooting with hard-split rather than soft-split filters. Simply put by opening wide you can soften the transition and closing down will show the transition to be more defined. This is an image I shot with a 1.2 hard split nd grad……

“A New Day Begins……”

Techniques - Stacking Filters

You can create a variety of combinations of grads by stacking filters. Stacking filters means sandwiching two or more filters together, using their combined densities to achieve the exposure control you desire. For example by stacking a 0.9 and a 0.6 here I came up with a 5 stop nd grad……

“Morning Has Broken”

Many variations of stacking can be accomplished for example if the filters are large enough you can stagger their transitions.

Techniques - Feathering

Other techniques would include “feathering” where by you move the filter as the image is exposed. This would be effective when a slower shutter speed is used and can be used to soften or create a larger edge.

This is an image I shot to show the comparison between single filters and stacked filters using a 0.9 and 0.6 soft split filters.


There are also other types of nd grads as variable, Center-spot and reverse nd grads but these are less common and perhaps a topic for another day.

If you have any questions, would like to provide some input or wish to discuss this further please leave a comment I will get back to you. Thank You for stopping by!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Help-Portrait St John’s

We had a great day yesterday at the first Help-Portrait St John’s event. We photographed 53 people and gave away about 100 prints. I would like to thank Major Hedley Bungay and the Salvation Army New Hope Community Centre for providing the venue. And thank you to all the volunteers and sponsors. Sponsors included Henry’s Photo , Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union , Print Monkey and Tim Hortons.

The Help Portrait St-John's Team

I would also like to extend a very grateful thank you to April Pink who not only was our makeup artist but used her own supplies for the event. Please checkout our Help-Portrait St John’s Facebook page for more information!

I’ve had some lovely correspondence since the event and it’s great to know we had a positive influence in someone’s life. Looks like we’ll be doing it again next year!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fall Photography Workshop

Bowring Park Fall Photography Workshop

Sunday October 16, 2011 - 9:00 am to 11:00 am

Do you want to learn how to make stunning photographs? Do you want to do it in a small, intimate photo workshop where you can explore, create and learn using the guidance of an experienced professional photographer?

Join Brian Carey and have lots of fun learning how to better make images through solid principles of photography. Learn composition, lighting, technique and colour. Brian will also share his experience with you and answer any questions you might have.

Fall at the Lake

These workshops are scheduled to take advantage of the very best conditions for a photographic outing, when the lighting conditions are best. They are scheduled to last for 2 to 3 hours and cost $50, plus tax, per participant. This price does not include transportation.

A limited number of workshops are planned and a small number of openings are available, be sure to register soon so you won’t be disappointed. Join us at beautiful Bowring Park, St John’s Newfoundland, as we explore the flora, fauna, waterways and wildlife the Waterford Valley has to offer.

To Register please fill out the form below. Please note payment must be made to complete the registration process. You can pay using major credit cards using the "Buy Now" button below. Once payment is received you will receive a confirmation email from us. Thank You!

Fall in Bowring Park
Join us at beautiful Bowring Park, St John’s Newfoundland, as we explore the wonderful fall colours the Waterford Valley has to offer.

To Register please fill out the form below. Please note payment must be made to complete the registration process. You can pay using major credit cards using the "Buy Now" button below. Once payment is received you will receive a confirmation email from us. Thank You!

Photo Skills: Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Creative Exposure

Sometimes it’s not a matter of where or when you take a shot but it’s simply a matter of exposure. As amazing as our eye’s are you can create images beyond your eye’s capacity to see it. The flexibility of variable iso’s on digital cameras has launched many new creative possibilities.

Take for example..........

"Moonlight Over Motion Bay"

Moonlight Over Motion Bay

Here a near full moon provides all the luminance needed. Being able to take photographs under these conditions is one thing I love about digital, it provides avenues of creativity film never could. But lets look farther into the heavens………….

"Heaven’s Gate"

Heavens Gate

I have had this image in my head for years but I had one problem trying to create it. The issue was, “how do I control the ambient light”? Of course you use shutter speed to control ambient light but if I left my shutter open for an hour or so the city lights would blow out most of the frame. I only became aware of the possibilities of image stacking when I started studying Time lapse photography this year. With this technique I could control the ambient light by breaking it down into multiple images. I had been aware of image stacking for years but never understood this aspect of it, until now!

Where is the best place to photograph? The question usually is “I’m going to “such and such a place,” where’s the best place to get a great shot”? My answer used to be more of a matter of “when will you be there”. I mean light is the answer of course, but lets stretch this a bit, exposure is what matters! I mean how you expose, exposure in itself s a creative license.

After all I am a “Chase the Light” kind of guy, but sometimes it’s a matter of exposure, creative exposure.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Win a Free Portrait Session

Hi everyone I am offering a chance to win a free portrait session. This would be available to anyone, a single gal, a single guy, a couple, a family or any combination there-off. I would offer to hold the session anywhere in the St John’s metro area for this offer. If you live outside St John’s you can make the trip there and have the session at an outdoor location or at my studio.


All you got to do is press “Like” and comment here. Be sure to do both, I will need it to register you for the draw. Draw date is September 30 2011, don’t miss out on this $200 value. We could schedule shortly thereafter, perhaps a lovely fall portrait at a local park?

The Girls

I would like the option of using the portraits as a part of my portfolio and will provide one free 8x10 print of the session, other prints can be purchased on my website.

Meghan 6

Please remember you must press “Like” and comment here. I need this in order to be sure to register you name.

It costs you nothing to enter and you could end up with the portrait of a lifetime!

Sorry family members or employees not eligible.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

One Life

I usually don’t enter photography competitions for a few reasons. Whether you like something or not is a relative subjective thing, it's personal and basing the value of something on the opinions of others can take the enjoyment out of photography. But I can’t deny the benefits of the major competitions. There is a business side to “success” in the field and winning one of these can certainly help with that. Oh how I admire people who only do things solely for the love of it! Kudos to you!

Are far as competitions go the One Life International Photography Competition is one I couldn’t pass up. I decided to enter two images “Cabot Tower Drive” and “Heading out this Morning” (taken at Petty Harbour Newfoundland).

Cabot Tower Drive
Cabot Tower Drive

Winning one of the major competitions can be a great boost to ones artistic career. Aside from the prize money it would open doors and perhaps allow one to move beyond their dreams.

Please click here to view my entries.

Heading out this Morning
Heading out this Morning

If you could please take a minute and vote for me. All you got to do is click on "Vote for Me" at the top of the page, I'd appreciate it very much. Help me bring Newfoundland to the world.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Photography History and Appreciation Workshop

Are you interested in Photography History or perhaps just want to learn more about this wonderful art? If so then you might want to consider the "Photography History and Appreciation Workshop" being held at Memorial Universities Lifelong Learning Division this October in St John’s Newfoundland. This workshop will be facilitated by Edith Cuerrier , MA (Photo Preservation and Collections Management).


The workshop will comprise of 4 classes and take place on Wednesdays, October 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2011. Time is from 7 to 9 p.m.

To register, contact MUN Lifelong Learning Division at 709 864 7979 or email

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chasing Rainbows

Perhaps one of my favorite pleasures of practicing photography is that it helps connect me with my world, it teaches me to appreciate it more. Because of it I’ve learned so much about nature; much more than I would have otherwise. As the eminent physicist Richard Feynman called it the “Inconceivable nature of nature”. It is often inspiring to experience nature’s wonders.

I’ve been going through my old photography magazines from the ’80’s and ’90’s recently. Like so many of us these days my house is becoming more and more cluttered and I have to do something about it and I was wondering if these magazines had any more use, which leads me to this.

My enjoyment of photography and nature is not the only reason I enjoyed the work of the late Galen Rowell, I also appreciated his insights. The April 1991 edition of Outdoor Photographer is one example.

Prophetic Rays

Galen writes about rainbows and points out that rainbows form as “Arcs with a radius of 42 degrees around the anti-solar point appear directly opposite the sun”. I know I read this article back in 1991 but I think this time the point made will stick with me.

So if your out during a light shower or sprinkle of rain on an otherwise sunny day look in the direction opposite the sun and if the conditions are right you’ll be able to enjoy the “Inconceivable nature of nature”.

Thank you for stopping by! :-)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wedding Photography

When I decided to get back into Wedding Photography last year I did so after considerable thought. I had been doing wedding photography before and had to give it up for a while because of other commitments so I had the experience to know it is very demanding.


In my opinion a GOOD wedding photographer has to be very knowledgeable in the craft, very knowledgeable. He/She has to be able to go from set to set, location to location and immediately set up the composition by positioning the people in the shot and light it creatively.

Michelle and Randy 1

Unfortunately not all wedding photographer see it this way. Often wedding photography is approached casually and often time’s beginners think you need a camera, a flash and away you go. Using techniques like on-camera flash is a sure recipe for mediocre or poor photography. Another important issue is not only the quality of equipment but also the quantity. Recently I know of one wedding day where things went terribly wrong. The photographer only had one camera and it failed and they were not able to get another to finish up the day. It’s easy to feel bad for the wedding couple but it’s something people should be aware of. Caveat emptor!


My approach is to make artistic, elegant images. I’m not using this as a tagline. I truly want to make images that are artistic and elegant. So wedding photography might be hard work but it’s also an opportunity for me to create beautiful work. It’s a magnificent creative outlet.

Michelle and Randy 3

Thank You for stopping by! :-)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Photography Gift Certificates

I’ve had some inquires from people wanting to give gift certificates for photography training this holiday season and I thought it was a great idea. I decided to offer three and these gift certificates can be used for either private training sessions or workshops.

I will be scheduling at least two maybe three workshops in 2012. If I have the demand, I will schedule more. Private training can be scheduled to fit both of our calendars and will be designed to help you learn camera operation, composition and technique. I’ll be happy to accommodate you in any way I can.

Please note these gift certificates can be purchased and used at any time throughout the year.

Sunrise at Cape Bonavista

Sunrise at Cape Bonavista

$50 +HST Gift Certificate


$100 +HST Gift Certificate


$200 +HST Gift Certificate


How to redeem your gift certificate:

  1. Once you have purchased your Gift Certificate you can register for a workshop or request private training by email at
  2. Select PayPal as your payment option. Log in to your account. You must have or register for a PayPal account to redeem this gift certificate.
  3. When prompted, enter your gift certificate redemption code and follow the last steps to redeem your gift certificate.

Thank you for stopping by!