Don’t Fear High ISO’s

Last night I shot a kickboxing tournament in Vaughan, Ontario. So the food was all Italian, and I must say, rather good. As was the wine. I used a flash of course; bounced behind me, as usual. A few samples:




But I chose to set my camera to 3200 ISO. For three reasons:

  1. The first thought when doing flash is about the non-flash, ambient part of your photo. That means 1/250 sec, 3200 ISO, f/2.8 on a 70-200mm lens.
  2. The flash was bouncing against a very high ballroom ceiling. That works fine but needs a high ISO.
  3. I needed a fairly fast shutter speed to freeze motion a little.

That’s why. You see the logic? And as you look at those shots, I hope you realize that high ISOs are nothing to be afraid of.

A well exposed photo at high ISO is always better than an underexposed shot at low ISO, remember that! 

POSTSCRIPT: I shot these from my seat at the dinner table. Not wanting to get in the way of the hired pros. And wanting to enjoy my dinner.

Tip: I am available for private training, as most of you know, whether local or worldwide using Google Hangouts. And if you want to start by doing it yourself, get my e-books from



If you like crisp, sharp, punchy photos, you may want to do a few things…


  1. Use a flash.
  2. Use a prime lens.
  3. Use a tripod; or hold your camera formly.
  4. Use a fast shutter speed.
  5. Expose to the right: i.e. expose brightly, just shy of overexposing.
  6. Use a high contrast scene, like the one above.
  7. make sure your subject is the bright pixels.

If you do the above, you’ll see much sharper images than you are used to.


That Creative Dip

We all hit it every now and then, if we are engaged in some creative endeavour: the dip. The block. The point when we think “I am bored with this, I have done it all. I cannot come up with anything new, creative or fun. I’m done, and moving on”.


Blocked? No you’re not! You are just bored. And delayed. Temporarily. Your muse will return.

So how do you deal with this in the interim?

By making it new. Get inspired! Do things like:

  • Have a good night’s sleep. Or two. Start there!
  • Realize you are not alone. Entire web sites are dedicated to Creative Block.
  • Google photographs of the type you like. Read some of the back stories.
  • Read some photography magazines.
  • Learn something new. A new type of photography; a new technique.
  • Read photo books.
  • Carry a notepad and immediately write down what inspires you.
  • Get my books from Amazon or from
  • Set yourself challenges. Like “shoot only B&W for a week”, or “Focus manually for a week”, or “take only wide angle pictures for a week”.
  • Join a meetup group, like Brantford Photography School.
  • Contact your friends who like photography, and go for a walk around town, do some street photography.
  • Do macro photography indoors. Do whatever photography you have not done.
  • Binge Watch Netflix for an entire weekend—then get on with it.

There are many ways you can re-kindle your enthusiasm. Look for the ones that resonate for you, and, as said: get on with it. There’s lots to do.

There’s been 12 billion years before you when you were not here, and before our universe collapses or freezes, there’ll be another 12 billion years—you and I are just here for a few decades. Enjoy them.


And Now For Some Free Efex.

News for Lightroom and Photoshop users. The Nik Collection of photo editing tools, including Viveza, Silver Efex Pro, and so on, is now available for free. It used to cost $500. I suppose this means it is end-of-life, but you may want to add these tools for occasional use.

Top right, select “download now”. Then install.

Note that this is not actually a plugin. It is simply an external app called from within Lightroom by right-clicking and selecting “Edit in…”, and then selecting the effect you like.

If you have sensibly selected “Store Presets with Catalog” in Lightroom, the presents do not appear and you have to add them yourself, like this:

The drawbacks:

  1. You now lose both time and disk space, because when you edit, a new file (usually, a large .TIFF) is created.
  2. You are breaking the “fully reversible edits” paradigm in Lightroom!
  3. You have to learn new software.

In fact, frankly, after a fairly brief inspection I do not yet see a lot that Lightroom cannot do all by itself. No doubt there’s some, but not an awful lot—not that I would use regularly anyway.

But I do like the film types included in SilverFX Pro, for instance, and may just occasionally use these. The fact that this is not an actual plugin is a great thing: if I do not use these apps, they in no way degrade or affect Lightroom. So, I have installed them. You may want to as well, as long as you use them judiciously. Have fun!



Adobe Bug Redux

It’s even worse than I thought. It appears that Adobe deliberately caused the “Lightroom [etc] will not start” issue!

This apparently from Adobe:

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 14.45.50

So Adobe installer screws up the folder owner/rights; then Adobe causes their apps to refuse to start when it detects the issue. And they give no information: the fix (below) is out there, but you have to Google to find it.

Absurd that Adobe can do this: stop people’s business cold, deliberately. A bug is inevitable and forgivable, but a deliberate decision to not allow the app to start when they detect it, is unforgivable.

Almost enough to give mega-corporations a bad name.

Oh wait.