Another view of Toronto

As seen from the Don Valley Parkway on Saturday around noon:


Made at 1/500 sec, f/11, 400 ISO, with a 16mm lens.

Why and how those decisions?

  • 16mm to get it in and to make it easy for me in terms of shutter speed and depth of field.
  • 1/500 sec because I am doing this handheld in one hand.
  • f/11 to ensure focus and DOF: I am focusing without truly looking.
  • 400 ISO to enable the above.

…in a hurry! You may notice the similarity to the “sunny 16 rule”: my settings are just 2/3 stop lighter than sunny sixteen. When you are experienced in these things, settings become simple. Just try.


If you like sharp and crisp…

…then use flash. And if you use flash, then use it off camera.

Flash is crisp and sharp. Or rather, using flash leads to crisp photos because:

  • Contrast is perceived as crisp sharpness.
  • Flash lasts 1/1000 sec or less, and that means your effective shutter speed is 1/1000 sec or less.

Like this:




Maybe better: close to the ground to get a ‘cat’s eye view’:


1/30 sec at f/11, 400 ISO. Meaning, the ambient light basically disappears. The photo is crisp because although the shutter is slow, ambient light does basically nothing and the flash speed (1/16,000 sec, because the flash is set to 1/16 power) is the effective shutter speed.

…all of which is made like this:


The flashes are on the right: three flashes fired by one pocket wizard.  Note that in this last image, I used a very slow shutter speed (several seconds, if I recall correctly) in order to show some of the ambient scene.

Anyway: can you see how much more lively and “real” these images look than a simple “even lighting” image, such as a “natural light” image that some photographers proudly boast is their only source of light?

One more thing to note: I am using three flashes connected via a three-flash mount (see yesterday’s post). With no softening modifier such as an umbrella or a softbox. The take-away lesson from this: When using off-camera flash, a softening modifier is not always needed.  

Document your life while you can.

The death, in my arms, of my three year old Bengal cat Shiva last week reminds me again how ephemeral life is. Here he is, poor Shiva, taking his final journey to the vet an hour or two after his death for a postmortem:


I am happy that I have many more pictures of Shiva. Thousands. The maybe five or six pictures of dead Shiva are nothing compared to the many hundreds of live Shiva.

After the vet visit, I decided to do something more fun and take some photos of my car:


(85mm, 200 ISO, 1/200 sec, f/11 – that’s the “Sunny Sixteen” rule)

And here’s my foreverspin spinning top in action (bounced flash at half power; meaning an effective virtual shutter speed of roughly 1/2000 sec):



The point: document your life, as I do, even though photography is my job as well.

I can picture anything. Do you want the same skills? Easy. Learn, And it’s really simple today. Start here: get the free downloads from the bottom of this page: – those are free chapters from some of my e-books that are useful by themselves. Learn those.

Then learn more of the technical and artistic skills you need. Get the rest of the e-books. Or come to my frequent workshops: see the listing here. Or get individual, bespoke training, which many of my clients find is the best way to quickly learn. However you do it: learn, while you can, and have a documented life. It can be over all too soon, but more importantly: every day is one to share, to treasure, to come back to. Photography is how.


Pic of the day: Travellers. ravellers


I always carry a camera. Doesn’t this pic shout “Travellers”? No comfortable seating; he is on his smartphone; she is looking at her fingernails; aircraft operations go on slowly in the background. A big but not too busy airport (Las Vegas? No. So where? I cannot remember). Where are they going? Where is their carry-on luggage? Questions.