A new life

My first granddaughter was born today, at 03:22. Addison Margaret May Shepherd-Willems, weighing in at almost 7 lbs.

(1/125 sec, f/3.5, ISO1000, probably with flash assist)

I had to shoot these in a very dark hospital room. Today I used a combination of:

  • High ISO, large aperture, no flash (I had an f/1.4 lens and an f/1.2 lens, as well as an f/2.8 zoom)
  • Medium ISO, flash
  • High ISO, flash assist

(1/100, f/1.4, ISO3200, probably without flash)

The thing is: I am not sure which ones I used flash for. And that is a key lesson to take away from this: good flash photos can often look like no flash photos.

(1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 1600, with flash assist)

Another key lesson: exposing to the right makes for low noise. I call this Willems’s Dictum: “Bright Pixels Are Sharp Pixels”. Shooting at high ISO is fine as long as you expose brightly: exposing to the right is as important as ISO.

In other words, a dark shot at 1600 ISO looks grainier than a bright shot at 3200 ISO. Noise, like cockroaches and politicians, hides in the dark. Do NOT under-expose. Even worse, of course, is under-exposing and then pulling up (thus increasing the noise). Exposing to the right *(i.e brighly) is good; exposing to the right and then darking is even better, if you have that luxury.

(1/250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1000, flash)

A final note: of course you realize that shooting at f/1.4 means that you have to focus accurately, and that you had better be sure what is important in your picture. But clouds have silver linings: I use the shallow depth of field as a benefit. It allows you to choose one subject to emphasize and to blur out the rest.

Toronto residents: Saturday I teach at Vistek. Studio lighting and portrait lighting. Join me there, a great opportunity to get small class help from me! https://www.vistek.ca/events/ and sign up now: limited space.


Turn turn turn

Another reminder to those of you who do outside portraits: turn your subjects away from the sun. Like this, I photo I made yesterday of Oakville’ mayor Rob Burton and friends:

The advantages:

  1. The nice shadows coming towards you.
  2. The sun becomes the hair/edge light.
  3. The subjects do not squint.
  4. The light on my subjects’ faces is not harsh like sunlight.

Of course this needs a… flash. To light up their faces. I used a Bowens 400 Ws studio flash, powered by a Bowens “Travel Kit” battery.

Camera settings: 100 ISO, 1/250th, f/7.1. Flash set to 4 (out of 5), bounced into an umbrella.

And that is that. Simple.


Are you a pro, or committed amateur?

…then you may want to ask me to be added to the Speedlighter’s Forum on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SpeedlightersForum/.

Please only ask if you are indeed a pro or committed amateur, and you know all about aperture, shutter, ISO, lenses, and so on. This private and closed Facebook forum is going to be high level, not for simple beginners questions. I welcome those, too, here. Speedlighter.ca is for everyone, from complete beginner to 20-year full time pro.

So pro/almost pro: discuss things with equals on https://www.facebook.com/groups/SpeedlightersForum/. And everyone from beginner to pro: come here daily to read a tip, trick, mini lesson, shoot explained, etc every day. And here, too, I welcome a lot more discussion that there is. I know thousands read here; now also contribute by asking questions or leaving comments. First comment needs to be approved by me; after that, you can comment as much as you like.