Tonight, I attended the 25th anniversary of Photosensitive, a collective of Canadian photojournalists.

I am honoured to be a member of Photosensitive, and I have contributed to the last two Photosensitive projects, “Picture Change” and “Aging”.

A few pics from tonight:

One lesson: don’t be dogmatic. No flash here; I merely used 1600 ISO, f/2.8 at 1/100 sec. When you work it out (which I will leave to you), that’s basically two stops brighter than 400-40-4, which makes sense, Normally, if I used a flash ambient would be –2 stops; this time, ambient has to carry the photo, so it’s two stops brighter.

Photosensitive does everything in black and white.

I used only available light and my 24-70 f/2.8 lens. Why? To shake it all up a little, that’s why!

Me in the mirror…:

Black and white rocks for this sort of work. Look at the photos at full size.


Mission: impossible

Sometimes you are faced with a situation that would be easy to solve with a flash.

Like this church, in which I co-shot a wedding on Saturday:

You can see why the situation needs flash. Without it, I am stuck: I expose for the church, and the stained glass pretty much disappears, as you see above.

Or I expose for the glass:

Yeah, the glass is back. But now I lose the church.

OK, flash then. Simple! (If you have done my courses and bought my books.)

But Wait.

It is a Roman Catholic church, and that church is used to an authoritarian top-down command structure, and in this particular case that works against us. Because the photography rules (and there’s a full page of them) say:

“No Flash”.

Now I am stuck. As my colleague George quite rightly says: “we are here for the people” (and you can imagine him shrug). Right he is.

But hang on. There are still tricks we can use.

One: use the built-in HDR mode in your camera, if it has is. Some high-end cameras do, and my 5D Mk3 is one of those.

Select it and press. The camera now takes three pictures (my choice), two stops apart from each other (my choice), and crunches a few seconds, while it combines them into a JPG file:

Now, the bright and dark areas are no longer 12 stops apart.

And that was the problem: the difference between bright and dark was simply too great for a camera to handle in one image.  Select HDR (which you all know stands for “High Dynamic Range”—right?) and hold the shutter down until it has done three shots (or more, if you prefer).

And then you can work the image a little more in Lightroom, if you like. Problem solved. There’s always a solution.


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An old light trick

This came up in class tonight, so, a repeat:

Okay, here’s a simple trick shot for you.

How did I get the bulb to light up without it being connected?

Simple. Like this:

I used an LED flashlight behind the (frosted) bulb. That makes it look like the bulb itself is lit. 6 second exposure, 200 ISO, f/5.6.

Sometimes “simple” is all it takes.


Abstract, or meaning extracted?

This tree, from yesterday’s walk with students:

I made that by zooming my 16-35 lens while shooting at about 1/15 second. That gives you either something that is still recognizable as a tree, or something that is less so:

Which one is better? They are both good. The first one says something about the tree, I feel. The second one is more about the line, motion, shapness.

And the point? The point is that you can do with your photography what you want, from literalism t abstract art. And that there are many tricks. And that you should use those tricks!




SLR TIP from four years ago

Exactly four years ago, 15 July 2011, I wrote this – and it is still relevant. Plus ça change…

When you are using an SLR to look at images you have taken on the back of your camera, set your camera to not autorotate the images. That way you can see the image fill the entire LCD instead of part of the LCD with big black bars on both sides. And that looks so much better!

On some cameras (all Canon SLR cameras, for instance) you even have two options: “turn or not turn” on the camera display, and “turn or not turn” in the image itself.

In this case I set autorotate ON in the file, but OFF when reviewing on camera (i.e. I use the middle option: the file is unchanged, just the displaying on the camera changes).

You will find thise fuction either in the playback menu of your camera, or in the settings menu.