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! :-)