Tag Archives: Dan Splaine Photo educator

What is ISO and how do use it in my photography?

Some Tips And Info For Selecting The “correct” ISO For Your Digital Photography

ISO selection is important because it is allows the photographer to adapt to the lighting conditions found in their scene. The ISO value you select is one leg of the exposure triangle, along with aperture and shutter speed, which allows for precise exposure and creative control.  Understanding ISO and how to use it is a fundamental photographer skill.

With digital cameras the ISO is a numerical value given for the level of sensitivity your camera sensor has to light.  We saw the same rating system with film.  Remember shooting ISO 100, 400, 800 etc… rated rolls of film?  Do any of you old timers remember ASA ratings on film (pre-ISO)?   With digital cameras we have the option to select a particular  ISO value for every shot, which is a big advantage with digital photography.

In general the lower the ISO setting the less sensitive your sensor will be to light, the higher the ISO setting the more sensitive your sensor will be to light.  This means that when you are shooting in bright conditions you can use a low ISO value and when shooting in low light conditions you select a high ISO value.

Most digital cameras offer a range of ISO values to choose from; 100 to 3200 is a common range of choices, although many models of camera go higher and lower.  In general, the lower the ISO the better quality your results will be.  Using a higher ISO will increase noise (digital artifacts), reduce sharpness and decrease the contrast ratio of your results.  Digital cameras with larger sensors produce less of these negative effects than cameras with smaller sensors. Low ISO setting will then have less noise, more sharpness and a larger contrast ratio which will produce the higher quality images relative to high ISO settings.

In my opinion these disadvantage, the reductions in image quality have to be weighed against the benefits of having the option to shoot at a higher ISO rating. Most issues with noise, sharpness and contrast can be restored with software and I would urge you to shoot high values when conditions dictate.  Being able to shoot action photos at high shutter speeds, with a telephoto lens in an indoor scene is only possible with high ISO values  (1600, 3200, 6400) makes the trade-off in quality  acceptable .

A variable ISO allows you to adapt your exposure settings to the scene and the creative options you want to use in your photography.

My general recommendation is to select the lowest ISO value that will allow for a proper exposure with the least noise. 

ISO TIPS FOR DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHERS

Here are some of my recommendations for using  different ISO values in your digital photography.  This is an important photographer tool and I encourage you to explore this option for exposure control in your photography.  Good images always start with good camera work and ISO is a fundamental tool for photography.

 

  • TURN OFF your AUTO ISO – By using auto ISO you are letting the camera give a ISO value choice and you are not deciding which ISO suits your photographic intent best the  scene. This is one habit you want to change if your goal is to take control of your creative results.Turn AUTO ISO off, and leave it off!
  • SELECT the ISO FOR THE SCENE:  When you are beginning to determine your exposure settings, one of the first steps is to select an ISO value that is right for the scene and your photographic intentions.  If you are in the woods with an overhead canopy of foliage blocking your light you would select a higher value.  If you are shooting portraits with plenty of window light and you want to use large apertures for shallow depth of field then a low value would be your best choice.  Evaluate the lighting resources and exposure options for the image you want to create and choose the ISO according to those objectives.
  • CHANGES in ISO ARE EQUAL TO “STOPS” –  When we change our exposure settings (in whole stop increments) we are halving or doubling the amount of exposure.  For example if you move from F 11 to F 8 you are doubling the aperture size or if you move from 1/250th of second to 1/125th of a second you are cutting the duration of your exposure in half.  The same ratio holds true with ISO, when you move from 400 to 800 you are doubling the sensitivity setting or as we would say increasing it by a “stop”.  Digital cameras allow for incremental changes in EV (Exposure Value = Stops) usually and half and third stop amounts.  You can refine exposure equally with aperture, shutter speed or ISO in those partial stop increments.
  • SHOOT RAW -  RAW is the best format for image capture and will yield the best results because you are collecting the maximum amount of data when you make your photo. JPEG is great file format to distribute photos but it produces less quality for capture.  RAW files can be processed with photo editing software post capture to yield the highest quality images.  The negative effects of shooting with high ISO (noise, sharpness, and contrast effects) are increased when shooting JPEG compared to RAW
  • PLAY with EXPOSURE COMBINATIONS – There is no exact recipe for exposure combinations.  Play with a variety of exposure combinations and ISO settings and compare your results on your computer. Each variable in the exposure triangle makes a difference in how your images will ultimately look. Experimenting with combinations will produce a variety of visual results.
  • USE A TRIPOD – If you are seeking low noise, high sharpness and a wide contrast ratio that low ISO settings provide use a tripod.  Long lenses and long exposure times make hand held photography difficult, especially in dim light at a low ISO.  Securing you camera on a tripod is the solution for this type of shooting situation.
  • SHOOTING HAND HELD with TELEPHOTO LENS –  Long lenses are difficult to use when shooting  hand-held.  By increasing your ISO setting you can then shoot at faster shutter speeds which will eliminate the blur caused by camera movement.  For example an ISO of 1000 with a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second shooting with a 500 mm lens.
  • HIGH SHUTTER SPEEDS = HIGH ISO -  If you want to stop subject action you need to shoot at high shutter speeds.  Increasing your ISO will allow you to increase your shutter speed.  This is especially useful for shooting indoor sports or performances with limited stage lighting.
  • USE ARTIFICIAL LIGHT – Sometimes we run into the limits of ISO choices in particular photographic conditions.  For example you are shooting a portrait in a low available  light setting.  Facial details and skin looks best at low ISO values (100-200) and raising the ISO to a high value will produce less than flattering results.  The solution to this situation it to use flash or other artificial light sources to keep the quality you desire.  More light is often a better solution than a higher ISO.
Digital cameras have very precise exposure refinement tools and a variable ISO option is one of the most important.  Understanding this feature and how to deploy, and how to select ISO for your scene ,to achieve your desired photographic result is essential for good image making.

Photographer and photo educator Dan Splaine of Test of Time Photography in Nashua, New Hampshire. ©2012Daniel J. Splaine

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Photographer and photo educator Dan Splaine has more than thirty years experience producing photography for public relations, marketing and editorial clients. His company TEST of TIME PHOTOGRAPHY based in Nashua, NH provides commercial photography services in studio and at client locations all over the world. He presents a program of digital photography workshops and photography tours for adults throughout New England.

 

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Thirty Five Years behind the Camera – A Word of Thanks

July 11 is an auspicious day in my calendar.

July 11, 2012 marks a milestone in my career as a photographer.  Thirty five years ago on a sweltering summer day I entered the federal office building in Manchester, NH  a civilian and emerged a few hours a freshly inducted private in the Army. On that day I began my journey to becoming a professorial photographer by volunteering for a four-year enlistment.  I was to become an 84 Bravo, in Army speak. (MOS 84-B = Military Occupation Specialty STILL PHOTOGRAPHIC SPECIALIST).

Private Dan Splaine in the Public Affairs office at Fort Rucker, Alabama in 1978

This photo was made very early in my photography career (1978). At the time of this shot I had just graduated from the US Army still photographic specialist training school at Lowry Air Force Base in Aurora, Co. This was my first photography job! I was attached to the Public Affairs office at Fort Rucker, AL which was the home of Army aviation training. The wall behind me covered with copies of the press photos that I cranked out of the my tiny darkroom.

I spent the summer of 1977 in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in the heart of the Ozark mountains in Missouri.  This experience looms large in my memory .  I was a goofy 17-year-old kid from NH who suddenly found himself in a completely unfamiliar reality.  It was a “Dorothy, we aren’t in Kansas any more” sort of epic paradigm shift.   I learned how to march, I developed some proficiency with weapons and I discovered that there are all kinds of people in this world.  Life has presented few opportunities to show  my marching skills but the weapons thing and the insight into human behavior has come in handy.

From there Uncle Sam sent me to Lowry Air Force Base in Aurora , Colorado for photography school.  To this point in life my academic record could be bets described as erratic.  Most of my reports cards  contained the full range of letters and the classroom never seemed to contain my wandering brain.  This school was different.  My teachers were a mix of civilian and active duty military photographers whose experience as combat photographers ran from  WWII through Viet Nam. This program was intense and thrilling.  This impressive bunch shared their knowledge freely  in exchange for performance.  Every week we had proficiency tests score 80% and up you get to continue in the program.  Score less than 80% and you earn a one way ticket to the infantry,for the remainder of your enlistment.  I maintained a 97% test score average for the entire  nine month program!The peril that I could spend my four years as an infantryman was a factor, although truth be told, I have never been motivated by threats.  What inspired my performance was the passion I witnessed and ultimately embraced  for the craft of photography. The photography instructor’s  enthusiasm was contagious and they required that I respect this vocation that shaped all of their lives.  The lessons they taught, both big and small, have informed my approach to photography every day of my thirty-five years behind the lens.

I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those men who trained me so well, who shaped my attitude and gave me a life of photography.  As I reflect on the passing years and consider my experiences: the miles traveled and most importantly the people I have met  due to the camera, the measure of their gift is immeasurable. Happy anniversary to me!

 

 

 

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Test of Time Photography on The Friends of Kevin Radio Show

On Monday (7-9-12)  I will be  Kevin Willett’s   guest on his radio show broadcast on WSMN radio in Nashua, NH.  Kevin is the founder of the FRIENDS OF KEVIN NETWORKING GROUP, a really terrific business networking group that I am a member of.  He connects business people from around the Merrimack valley and southern New Hampshire together with his program of events and activities.

There are two things about this group that make it distinctly different from the other business networking groups I have experienced.   The first is Kevin’s goal of doing some good for the communities while helping members build their businesses.  He opens the group to not for profits, leveraging the network to support their needs in any way possible.

The other feature of the group adds to its effectiveness, is Kevin himself.   This guy is really working on behalf of the members, deploying a mix of technology (social media) and a friendly personal touch.  The FRIENDS OF KEVIN RADIO SHOW, that I am a guest on tomorrow,  is a perfect example of the extra value he provides members.

I am looking forward to our conversation and having a unique platform for getting the word out about my photo services and photography workshops.   Please listen in from 11 to 12 to WSMN 1590 radio to catch his program. I am scheduled from 11:40 to 12:00.

We will be discussing how to use photography for  business communications and social media, specifically how my commercial photography services can add to bottom line. The other topic  we will cover is my program of digital photography workshops and photographer tours. I have a number of events, like the Bronx Zoo Photographer Tour (July 21) and my Photo Walk Workshops that I want to promote to Kevin’s audience.

Kevin Willett in the WSMN radio station in Nashua, NH during his radio broadcast.  ©2011 Daniel J. Splaine

(Nashua, NH -€“ Nov, 21, 2011) Kevin Willett, on the air during the Friends of Kevin radio show on WSMN in Nashua, NH. Friends of Kevin is a business development/networking group that serves the business, non-profit and artist communities. The group’s goal is to promote member businesses both online through our website and social media presence, and in person at networking events.
The Friends of Kevin raises awareness of local non profits while allowing our friends to network in a stress free environment. For more information go to www.friendsofkevin.com. Photo courtesy of Dan Splaine -€“ Test of Time Photo ©2011Daniel J. Splaine All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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To Become a Better Photographer Look at Photography Critically

A tip for improving your photography

Do you ever look at the photography in magazine and on websites and think “why does this image look this good”?   Are you wondering why your photographs seem to lack the impact that you see in  professionally made photographs?   Let me first say that if you are asking these questions, if you are thinking critically about your photography – Congratulations!

 

Good photography is thoughtfully conceived and executed.   Devoting time looking at other photographers work and finding inspiration and insight in those images is an important way to improve you own photography.   Now, I am not suggesting that you mimic or outright rip off the work of other photographers.  My advice is to develop your critical eye, to learn how to find the qualities in an image that make it successful.  Use that insight to inform your own creative process and approach to image making.

How do we define an image as successful?  My standard for success is very straightforward: the viewer response.  If you make a photo that engages the viewer, which captures their attention and elicits a response, you are successful.  If the viewer is distracted by a technical flaw or bored, you’re not.  A response can be cognitive – your photo makes them think, emotional it evokes a feeling or perhaps they become engrossed in narrative the story in your photo.

Good photography engages the viewer, it captures their attention. Good photography also inspires, entertains and is a catalyst for action.  For example the photography of Lewis Hine (1874-1940) who used photography as tool of social reform.  His photography directly led to child labor law reforms because of the impact they had on the public awareness of the issue.

When you look at photography made by others begin to deconstruct the visual elements and creative techniques employed in its creation.  Break down the building blocks, the creative components of the shot. Analyze lighting sources  – quality and direction, subject features, composition, optical choices, camera position, color, tone, mood, emotion and all the features of the image.  Consider the relationship of these elements and the impression they have on you – the viewer.  Use those insights when you make your photography.  Identify the elements in your scene and use your critical assessment skills to arrange them in your camera frame.

Photographer and photo educator Dan Splaine of Test of Time Photography  in Nashua, New Hampshire. ©2012Daniel J. SplaineABOUT the AUTHOR:  Photographer Dan Splaine has more than thirty years experience creating original photography for corporations, institutions and individuals. He operates TEST OF TIME PHOTOGRAPHY in Nashua New Hampshire, a commercial photography and corporate assignment photography services company.  A live action and location photography specialist, he is most noted for his photography of people.  His assignments have involved travel to dozens of countries and at locations throughout the United States. ranging from tropical rainforests to the hall of Congress.

Dan Splaine is also a photography educator and  he presents a program of digital photography workshops and photographer tours.  The tours and workshops are held in New England and at international locations.

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What Photography Students Say About My Photo Workshops And Photographer Tours.

Ten testimonials from some of the photographers who have attended one of my recent digital photography workshop and photographer tours. 

I present a program of photography education for adult photographers of all skill levels.  I host my digital workshops at my studio in Nashua, NH and at locations throughout New England.   The photographer tour I organize at locations in New England as well at international locations.

Listed below are some of the testimonials posted by my photography students on the website of the IMAGE MAKERS PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKSHOP meet-up group I run. These comments are much appreciated and I think they show the level of positive experience my photo workshops offer to my photography students

 

“It was a great class. Dan was very informative. I really enjoy his easy-going and comical personality/instruction. He makes confusing concepts very easy to understand. Perfect Boston sites for this workshop.”  Izzy S.

“OMG, this was such an AWESOME Class! Dan was AWESOME! I learned so much and had so much fun! And I’m looking at my pictures now and I am SO PLEASED! They came out incredible! Thank you so much for your time and sharing your knowledge Dan!!! “  Erica M.

“A great opportunity to see Boston in a different light (pun intended!). Dan provides the foundation before letting us loose to shoot, then provides whatever amount of supervision/advice each person wants. Definitely recommend”  Marian

 “A lot of really awesome work to review this month! Dan’s informative comments about each participant’s individual shots are so helpful. These meetups are a great way to share knowledge and learn how-to’s from other photographers. Again, thanks Dan for putting all the time in and being so willing to share your knowledge.”  Sharon R.

 ”I always take away at least a few new ideas from Dan’s classes and this workshop not only did that but gave me a great way to challenge myself even more with a handout that included exercises. Thanks again, Dan.” Corinne C

 “Had a great day and shot some decent images. Now to work on editing. Met some new people, practiced a new technique, shot some good images, had a great lunch and got exercise. Can’t ask for more…Thanks Dan it was really great”   Laurie L-B

 “A very welcoming, fun, casual gathering of budding photographers,lead by a pro who graciously lends his time, studio space, knowledge and humor to the group. I’m looking forward to next month’s meeting”  Linda L.

 “Great weekend full of information and techniques…and the ability to go out and try these tips. It was wonderful that if we needed one-on-one assistance Dan was there to help. Thanks very much for a successful photo weekend getaway.”   Christine C

 “Thanks, Dan, for the well-presented workshop and accompanying worksheets. You’re great explaining all the points and oh, so patient with the queries.”  Jeanne P.

 “I loved the informal setting. It was very easy to ask questions and the discussions were very informative. I walked away with a better understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. And also learned some valuable tips. I loved this workshop” Angela Smith

Digital photography workshop at the TEST of TIME PHOTOGRAPHY studio in Nashua, NH. The photo class is one of the many offered by professional photographer Dan Splaine at the studio and locations throughout New England. ©2012 Daniel J. Splaine - All Rights Reserved

 

My digital photography education program for adults includes field photography, studio photography, on-location sessions involving a range of photography topics. The photo tours are held in interesting locations and events around New England. For more information contact me at info@testoftimephoto.com  or visit the TEST of TIME PHOTOGRAPHY website and add yourself to my email list.

Thanks to all the photography student who attended one of my recent workshops and photo tours.  A special thanks to all of you who posted sch positive comments and testimonials. I look forward to seeing you at your nest photo workshop.  _ Thanks, Dan

 

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July photo Challenge FIREWORKS PHOTOGRAPHY

Have some summer fun with your digital  camera and join in the photography challenge for July 2012- FIREWORKS PHOTOGRAPHY.

 

Join in with the other members of the IMAGE MAKERS PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKSHOPS meet-up group for this photography education experience.  Register for the event (it’s FREE) and share your fireworks photography with this group of over 200 photographers.  You can download a FREE guide to Fireworks Photography prepared by me to help build your photo skills.  Photographers can also win a private photo tutoring session if they participate in this photographer challenge.

 

 

 

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2012 Photo Walk Workshops in Boston

PHOTO WALK WORKSHOPS presented by Dan Splaine and TEST of TIME PHOTOGRAPHY

I am happy to announce the launch of  a new program of photography workshops for the spring, summer and fall of 2012.  The PHOTO WALK WORKSHOPS will begin on April 28th and will run through October.  These digital photography workshops are open to adult photographers of all skill levels.  We will present these workshops at multiple outdoor locations which provide our photography students hands on field photography experience.

Digital photography students at a Photo Walk Workshop presented by photographer Dan Splaine in Boston's Chinatown neighborhood.  ©2012 Danile J. Splaine

The PHOTO WALK WORKSHOPS are led by a professional travel photographer who provides instruction and coaching during the 2 ½ hour workshop.  Our goal is to help photographers of all skill levels achieve greater creative control over their photography.  Combining conversation and  photo exercises helps our photography students learn how to use their digital cameras to make the photos they imagine.

By holding these workshops in unique and visually interesting settings around Boston and other New England locations present a learn-by-doing experience for our photography students.  Each workshop attendee receives a workshop study guide (via email) to help them prepare for their workshop session.  The study guide has information about equipment, photo skills and practice exercises.   We begin each workshop with a discussion of photography topics followed by a field photography session to practice photo skills.

Some of the locations of the PHOTO WALK WORKSHOPS are:

  • BOSTON COMMON AND PUBLIC GARDEN
  • BOSTON NORTH END
  • BOSTON CHINATOWN
  • NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY IN BOSTON
  • ROCKPORT HARBOR
  • PORTSMOUTH, NH HARBOR

For complete information and registration go to the TEST of TIME PHOTOGRAPHY website.

Photographer Dan Splaine offers photography workshops and photography tours in locations throughout New England. If you have any questions please contact us at photowalk@testoftimephoto.com

 

 

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Street Photography Workshop at Chinese New Year Parade

On Sunday I held a street photography workshop during the Chinese New Year Parade festivities in Boston’s Chinatown.  Sixteen photographers  joined me for a day of  photo education and  image making. The Lion Dancers and festivities made provided a unique subject to photograph and plenty of excitement.

Street photography is one of the oldest traditions in photography.  As camera technology became smaller and more mobile (Moving from large format view cameras to smaller roll film cameras) photographers turned their cameras  to the realities and moments they observed around them.  The aim of this workshop was to immerse the participants into the urban environment and to  have them practice this type of on the fly documentary photography.  Despite the cold and crowds, they were able to make some remarkable images.

Check out the results on the group Flickr page.

This workshop is one of the program of digital photography workshops and photography tours that we offer at Test of Time Photography.  Our objective its to build photographer skills and creative abilities so our students can create the images they imagine.   This was a fun event and a great way to start of the year.

 

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NH Primary fun – “You’re no Jack Kennedy…”

Game on in New Hampshire!  Now that the Iowa caucus is over John Huntsman will not be the only primary candidate wandering the streets on New Hampshire  seeking primary voters.    This shot  made on Monday when all the excitement was in the Midwest, the calm before the storm.  Looking forward to a week full of political events and sightings.

Gov. Huntsman with wife in tow,  passing in front of a bust of JFK  which graces the  Main Street in front of the city hall in Nashua, NH.   The statue commemorates the spot that  Kennedy started his campaign for president in 1960.  The image reeks of irony for me and I can not but hear the voice of Lloyd Benson comment on VP Dan Quayle ” You’re no Jack Kennedy…”

The presidential primary,  the national sport of the Granite State  is truly  one of my favorite things.  Only six more days until the parade leaves town!

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New Photo project for the New Year – 2012 IMAGE MAKER’S 52 PHOTO WALK program

Photographer Dan Splaine of Test of Time photography in Nashua NH announces the 2012 IMAGE MAKER"S 52 WEEK PHOTO WALK. Splaine is a photo educator who presents a program of digital photography workshops and photographer tours ©2012 Daniel J. Splaine.

 

The New Year is upon us and of course our inclination is to set some goals and resolutions to carry out in 2012.  One of the goals I have tasked myself with is spend some time on a regular basis practicing my photography skills.  This goal has led me to develop a program that I would like to share with other photographer’s to help them grow their photographic skills.

I invite you to join me for the 2012 IMAGE MAKER’S 52 WEEK PHOTO WALK program.  The concept is simple, make a commitment to take a walk with your camera for one half hour once a week and post a single image from that excursion online. The aim is 52 new images in 52 weeks. The idea behind this is to spend a small amount of time each week practicing your skills , and over the course of the year your work will improve.  The weekly  investment in time and effort can easily be accomplished and the online conversation will  encourage folks to stick with it for the entire year.

 

The photos will be posted and shared online through a Flickr group I have organized.  

Full details and the rules for participating are listed on the Test of Time Photography website CLICK HERE

Jump into the challenge, the more folks participating the more motivation to continue.  Sign  up here

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