Tag Archives: digital photography

  • Seeing The Light: The Fine Art Digital Workflow (With Zack Schnepf)

    Tattered-and-Swift

    April 5 & 6, 2014

    Presented by the Cascade Center of Photography

    Where: Bend, Oregon

    Price: $425

    Registration Page

    Join two of the Pacific Northwest's top outdoor photographers and photography educators for an intensive weekend seminar learning their digital image developing techniques. During this classroom based workshop Sean and Zack will alternate teaching duties, each sharing his personal workflow, his philosophy behind developing a photograph and the specific techniques each uses to master his images. Teaching sessions will be interspersed with work sessions in which participants will have the opportunity to apply what they have learned on laptops with guidance from Sean and Zack.

    Both instructors will walk the class through post production of several images, covering an assortment of topics including:

    • Raw adjustments
    • Color balance and contrast
    • Exposure blending
    • Creative adjustments
    • Preparing for print or web output

    The class will provide an excellent opportunity to have your specific questions answered, pick up new skills that will help you take your image developing to the next level and learn directly from two photographers who helped pioneer the current path of digital landscape and nature photography.

    Both Sean and Zack have produced video tutorial series which will provide excellent support for the content covered in this class. You can find out more about these video here on OutdoorExposurePhoto.com and at www.zschnepf.com.

  • Advanced Luminosity Mask Techniques

    Rainier-Sunrise-Reflection

    May 10 & 11, 2014

    Presented by the Cascade Center of Photography

    Where: Bend, Oregon

    Price: $395

    Registration Page

    Luminosity Masks provide a very advanced and finely tuned method of applying image adjustments in Photoshop based on the luminosity values of an image. In this intensive two day class, Sean Bagshaw will demonstrate and teach a variety of the advanced and powerful Luminosity Mask techniques that he uses in his image developing. Each day of the class will be divided between instruction time and work time in which participants will have the opportunity to practice the techniques on laptops with Sean's guidance.

    Learning to successfully incorporate Luminosity Masks into a Photoshop workflow can be quite challenging, so being able to watch, ask questions and learn directly from Sean should prove helpful and valuable. The basic outline of the photo workshop will be based on Sean's popular video tutorial series, The Complete Guide to Luminosity Masks, and will incorporate the use of Tony Kuyper's Photoshop actions and custom TK_ACTIONS panel.

    For participants who do not already own the actions and/or the video tutorials but would like to, they are available for purchase here on OutdoorExposurePhoto.com.


  • Sizing Images Made Easy (Easier?) On The PhotoCascadia Blog

    Sizing images for screen and print output may be one of the most confusing and misunderstood concepts in digital photography, which is deceiving because it appears pretty basic on the surface. Even after more than a decade of moderately hardcore Photoshop use I still find new ways to confound myself in this area. This topic is steeped in misunderstanding, urban legend, faulty logic and general confusion. Screen resolution vs. print resolution? What is the correct resolution for the web? To resample or not to resample? How much can I enlarge an image for printing? Why shouldn't I upload a bunch of full resolution 21 megapixel images to Facebook or email them to grandma?

    I have published an article on the Photo Cascadia Blog that I hope will help clear things up a bit and allow folks to get a firm grasp on exactly how best to size images for different purposes. However, if you are a recreational photographer who isn't concerned with optimal image output, you should maintain your blissful state of mind and avoid reading this article at all cost.

    If you are already involved in using Photoshop or other photo processing applications to size your images then it could be a worthwhile read. You might be interested to know that screen images don't need to be 72 ppi (pixels per inch) and that, in fact, ppi resolution doesn't have any affect on how images appear on the screen? And what about always printing at a certain resolution such as 300 or 360 ppi? The reality is that resolutions as low as 180 ppi can produce prints that look the just as good to the eye as higher resolutions and sometimes even better. Check out the article to learn more and find out my personal guidelines and workflow tips for sizing images.

  • New Article On PhotoCascadia: Canon 5D Mark II ISO Noise

    I have a new article on the Photo Cascadia blog detailing testing I did on ISO noise performance in the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Out of all the technological advances in digital cameras in recent years I feel that lower image noise at higher ISO settings has had the largest positive impact on my photography. It is amazing to be able to shoot hand held at small apertures or in low light and also to capture night sky images without star trails and produce images that are not destroyed by noise.

    It turns out that there is more to the ISO/image noise story than I suspected. Even as cameras improved I assumed that regardless of how good the ISO performance was that lower ISO settings would always produce lower levels of image noise. Noise tests with the Canon EOS 7D that were posted on the web by Tony Loentzen changed that logic. His tests showed that the 7D actually produced cleaner images at some higher ISO settings. For example, he found that ISO 640 produced almost as little noise as ISO 100!

    Curious to find out if the Canon 5D Mark II behaved in a similar way I decided to conduct my own test. To see my test images and find out what I discovered you can read my article on PhotoCascadia.com. I'd love to hear your thoughts, questions and feedback.

  • Image Developing Workshop Review

    Steve Cole, a photographer based in Washington, recently attended two of my digital image developing classes in Bend, Oregon. Steve is serious about photography and has spent a lot of time researching techniques and developing his skills. He drove to Bend from Seattle hoping that he could add some new techniques and skills to his repertoire.

    Steve, it turns out, is also a very good writer. After the class he was motivated to pen a detailed review of the classes. His description of what goes on during the class and what content was covered is better than I could do myself. For a well written, unsolicited overview of what we were up to in Bend I encourage you to give Steve's article a read.

    Here is a short excerpt. "So were the two classes worth it? Without hesitation, I can say YES. From the minute you first meet him, Sean is friendly and engaging without any elitism or arrogance. He is just a guy who is passionate about nature and photography and who doesn't love that? Before becoming a "pro" photographer 8 years ago, Sean was a middle school teacher and that really shows in his ability to teach and explain concepts."

    As Steve says in the article, I haven't yet scheduled these classes again in the near future. If you have a venue and a group of 10 to 15 people who are interested give me a call.

    Steve's Blog: scolephoto.blogspot.com

    Steve's Website: www.scolephoto.com

  • Digital Image Processing Video Tutorials

    Digital cameras and image processing have revolutionized photography. There was a time when photographers had a holistic view of photography, mastering both the technical skills with a camera and the artistic skills in the darkroom to develop and process their images to perfection. Embracing the two sides of photography, capture and processing, allowed them to showcase their personal vision in their images. The advent of 35mm color slide film photography shifted the focus away from processing and placed greater emphasis on camera technique, with certain limitations. While camera technique is as important as it ever was, digital image processing has provided a path for photographers to get back in the "darkroom" and regain the creative control of developing and processing images.

    In three separate video tutorial series I share knowledge, philosophy, guiding workflow and specific techniques that I use to process and develop my photographs.

    Photoshop Basics For Nature Photographers Price: $39.99
    Add to CartView Cart

    New to Photoshop? Learn to apply Photoshop to your outdoor, landscape & nature photography including Bridge and Camera Raw, plus the basic layout, tools, palettes, adjustments and filters you need to know to get started processing your outdoor photographs using the power & precision of Photoshop CS.

    This tutorial series is for Photoshop beginners or those who want to fill in gaps in their skills. Based in CS5, almost all of the content is also applicable to earlier versions of CS and Photoshop Elements.
    Includes 23 video tutorials with over three and a half hours of content.

    Digital Processing Workflow For Nature Photographers Pre: $44.99

    Add to CartView Cart

    This tutorial series helps you establish an organized, best practice, non-destructive workflow . The workflow progresses through image organization, raw processing, and non-destructive Photoshop techniques. Topics include image clean up, color and contrast, selections, adjustment layers, masks and soft proofing for print as well as creative processing techniques that I use.

    These tutorials are based in Photoshop CS5 but most of the workflow is also applicable to earlier versions of CS and Photoshop Elements.

    Includes 30 video tutorials with over four hours of content.

    Processing For Extended DynamiRange Price: $44.99

    Add to CartView Cart
    These advanced tutorials provide instruction in powerful techniques that will help you overcome the limitations of cameras to properly record high dynamic range light. Techniques include raw processing, Photoshop adjustments, exposure blending and luminosity masking.
    These tutorials do not teach how to use HDR software. The techniques are all based on Photoshop adjustments and layer masking techniques. Proficiency with Photoshop CS is essential. Not compatible with Photoshop Elements.
    Includes 29 video tutorials with over four and a half hours of content.
    Digital Workflow And Extending Dynamic Range Set Price $79.99 Add to CartView Cart
    Get Digital Processing Workflow For Nature Photographers and Processing For Extended Dynamic Range together at a special price.

    Tutorial Samples

    Photoshop Basics

    Processing Workflow

    Extending Dynamic Range

  • On Landscape Photography, Digital Image Developing and Artistic Expression

    One of the mindsets that guides my photography is that the human eye and the camera don’t experience the world in the same way. Photographs are more limited than human sight in many ways, but can also see in ways that we can not. It is my goal to understand what the camera sees so I can manipulate and coax it to capture a photograph that reconciles with my own view of the landscape. To some this goes against tradition. We have been conditioned to believe that a photograph portrays, or at least should portray, an accurate record of the world and we must accept what the camera gives us. In truth, the very act of taking a photograph significantly alters a scene from how we perceive it in any number of ways. I'm less interested in the literal and more interested in what I can communicate and create. Artists have always endeavored to express themselves, their experiences and their impressions through their medium. A camera is a tool to do just that, to paint an artistic vision of the world. I want to capture something that excites me and hopefully resonates with others. In a recent interview my friend, professional musician and fellow photographer, Chip Phillips said, "The main thing to make the [musical] performance successful is to stir up an emotional response in the listener, and the same is true with a photograph."

    Both the way that we capture and develop our images have entered a new and exciting phase. Early on I embraced the changes digital technology brought to the art form. The digital age has allowed photographers to overcome many shortcomings and limitations of cameras that have frustrated them from the beginning. The new tools of photography enable me to be more creative and to express my experiences and vision more fully than ever before. I will always be fan and a student of traditional landscape and nature photography, venturing into the land to work with the raw materials of light, form, color and texture. And while the photographic tools and techniques are evolving, the motivation and the thought processes of the nature photographer remain unchanged. If anything, I find that it is more important than ever to be on top of my game. It takes skill in traditional photography techniques as well as skill in digital developing to get my images to approach what I hope for them.

    There are those who worry that digital photography has lowered the bar. I can say my experience has been just the opposite. All the principles of light and composition continue to apply and proper camera technique is still essential. In fact, the way that I work with the camera in the field these days is more involved and creative than it ever could have been with film. I shoot thinking several steps ahead to how I will want to develop the image later on. In just a few seconds I might capture a range of frames utilizing different exposures, apertures and focal points in order to collect all the visual information in the scene I'll need to develop the finished piece. Learning how to think and work with so many variables while simultaneously pre-visualizing the future processing has been far more interesting and challenging than working within the confines of a single frame of film ever was. Far from being a shortcut or a creativity killer, digital photography allows us to express a new and exciting vision, not unlike the way film photography did when it was introduced over a century ago.

    For further musings on the topics of photography, artistic expression and where current digital developing techniques come to bare I would point you toward Guy Tal's recent article: Lie Like You Mean It.

    There are so many great activities one can be involved in in life. For many of us, one of those activities is the magic of exploring the world with our cameras in hand, capturing moments and trying to make lasting memories of the scenes that impress upon us.

    Links that might be of interest:

    Upcoming image processing classes and outdoor photography workshops.

    Instructional videos on fine art image processing.

    In my photography I am aware that the human eye and the camera don’t see the world in the same way. Photographs are more limited than human sight in some ways, but can also see in other ways that we can not. Since its invention we have been conditioned to accept that photography portrays a “literal” record of the world. However, as an artist, I'm less interested in the literal and more interested in how I can communicate my own experience and personal artistic vision. Artists have always endeavored to express themselves, their experiences and their impressions through their medium. My challenge is to use the camera to do just that, to paint an artistic vision of the world as I see it. I strive to do it well enough that it resonates with others.

    I am a fan of traditional landscape and nature photography. I derive great pleasure from venturing into the land and working with the raw materials of natural light, form, color and texture. The earth is my palette. But I also want to go beyond photography as a mere technical pursuit or objective record of natural history. In my photos I struggle to express something beyond a literal representation of the scene. Through the use of traditional photography techniques as well as careful digital developing I struggle to project my own human impressions, experiences and imagination. I hope that those who view my images are able to experience the same sense of adventure, mystery, drama, exploration and beauty that I do when I am out in the world.

    Photography has entered a new and exciting era. Early on I embraced the changes digital technology brought to the art form. The digital age has allowed photographers to overcome many shortcomings and limitations of cameras that have frustrated them from the beginning. It is an exciting time to be a landscape artist. The new tools of photography enable me to be more creative and to express my experiences and vision more fully than ever before.

    For those wondering if digital cameras have lowered the bar in photography, I can say my experience has been just the opposite. All the principles of light and composition continue to apply and proper camera technique is still essential. In fact, the way that I work with the camera in the field these days is more involved and creative than it ever was or could have been with film. I shoot thinking several steps ahead to how I will want to develop the image later on. In just a few seconds I might capture a range of frames utilizing different exposures, apertures and focal points in order to collect all the visual information in the scene I'll need to develop the finished piece. Learning how to think and work with so many variables while simultaneously pre-visualizing the future processing has been far more interesting and challenging than working within the confines of a single frame of film ever was. Far from being a shortcut and creativity killer, digital photography allows us to express a new and exciting vision, not unlike the way film photography did when it was introduced over a century ago.

  • Exposure Blending Techniques In Landscape Photography

    I recently published an article on the Photo Cascadia blog discussing some of the basic exposure blending techniques I use. Exposure blending is the processing technique I get asked about more than any other, and this is the topic most requested in my digital image processing classes.

    Greensprings Sunset

    So, what is exposure blending? Simply put, it is a method of combining the best exposed portions of two or more exposures of a scene to maintain detail and balance in the brightest and darkest areas. Camera's have serious limitations in their ability to "see" wide ranges of light. Scenes with a fairly narrow range of light can be captured in a single exposure. But in many dramatic natural light situations the range of light from the brightest areas, like a sunset sky, and the darkest areas, like a shadowed canyon in the foreground, are far outside the ability of film or digital sensor to record all at the same time. This is in contrast to our own eyesight which is able to see a very wide range of light.

    For this reason, many of the dramatic light photos people try to take have sky that is completely overexposed or white and landscape that is completely underexposed or black. These images never live up to the way that the person taking the photo experienced the scene and often evoke the disclaimer, "it looked way better than this when I took it". Since the invention of photography in the 19th century photographers have tried to compensate for this shortcoming. Traditional film photographers developed a long list of techniques, both in camera and through darkroom processing, to try to create images of high light range scenes that matched what they could see. Digital cameras and the ability to process images using computers have now given photographers the best options for dealing with this problem. It is possible to take multiple exposures of a scene in camera, exposing each image for a different part of the light range, and then combine the properly exposed portions of each into one final image. The product is a photograph that has light balance and shadow and highlight detail that more accurately expresses our vision. Photographs that would previously have been impossible are now possible, although not without some effort, skill and artistic vision.

    Rowena Hills

    There are automated software solutions, known as High Dynamic Range (HDR)software, that can blend multiple exposures automatically, making it possible for even the most amateur photographers to combine exposures and create high dynamic range images. The most current versions of Photoshop have HDR software built in. Other popular HDR software includes Photomatix, Nik HDR Efex Pro, and UnifiedColor HDR Expose. Currently, however, all the software solutions I have tried create quality issues for someone like myself whowants to create large fine art prints. They allow very minimal local control over the effects they create and often produce a very cartoonish or glowing look that may or may not be what is intended. Most problematic to me are the color shifts, low contrast and digital artifacts that can be introduced by HDR software. For these reasons almost all of my exposure blending is done using hand blending techniques with layer masks in Photoshop.

    These techniques are an art form in their own right, taking years to master and greatly increasing the overall difficulty and level of skill required in the photographic process. The exciting part is that the creative control that darkroom masters such as Ansel Adams had, and that was largely lost in the era of color film, has now back in the hands of the photographer. Marc Adamus sums up the challenge and value of this approach eloquently on his website stating, "My process in the field today is more difficult, more complex and more creative than it ever was or could have been with film...to think about this all in the field and bring back the right exposures to fulfill my vision of the scene has taken considerably more practice than learning how to use a colored or graduated filter in the film days, and has also opened new creative avenues. Anyone who thinks of digital photography as a 'crutch' of sorts, simply does not understand these processes and the precision with which they must be executed in-camera as well as in processing." Marc does such a good job communicating the ways that many contemporary photographers work that I would encourage you to read his entire artist statement if you have the time.

    Deep Forest

    If you are interested in learning more about the basic concepts and techniques behind exposure blending I would recommend reading my articles, Bracketing Exposures For Exposure Blending and The Basics Of Exposure Blending. I also offer classes on exposure blending as well as private instruction.

    I'd love to hear your comments related to this topic. If you are an outdoor photographer, is this a technique that you use? What are your experiences with it? If you are not a photographer, what are your impressions such contemporary photography techniques? Please feel free to leave me a comment or share this article using the social media links below.

  • How Many Exposures To Bracket For Exposure Blending Or HDR?

    As photographers we frequently struggle to overcome the limitations of our equipment in order to create the photographs we envision. One of the biggest limitations of traditional photography is the narrow dynamic range of light that can be contained in an image compared to what we see.

    Techniques for blending exposures vary from simple to highly complex. They can be accomplished using skilled layer masking techniques in Photoshop. We also have the option to use one of a rapidly growing list of exposure blending programs commonly referred to as High Dynamic Range (HDR) software.

    One of the most common questions I'm asked in classes and workshops on the topic of bracketing exposures for exposure blending and HDR imaging is, "how do you know how many exposures you need to bracket?"

    The goal is to capture all the dynamic range tonal information in a scene in a series of exposures. The sequence of images below shows four exposures I took of a high dynamic range scene on the Columbia River. Having all the shadow and highlight information recorded in the various exposures allowed me to blend them using layer masks to create the final image. I could have also used one of many HDR applications to blend the exposure values.

    To read the full article I wrote on the Photo Cascadia Blog go HERE.

    In the first exposure I noticed that both the shadows and highlights extended beyond the ends of the histogram.

    By underexposing a stop I was able to contain most of the highlights.

    Underexposing two stops enabled me to retain detail in even the brightest highlights.

    Finally I overexposed by two stops to get an exposure in which no shadow detail was clipped. I did take an exposure one stop over exposed but didn't end up using it in the final image.

    After careful blending using layers masks I did some additional processing for color and contrast to arrive at the final image.

    You can read the complete article on the PhotoCascadia.com blog.

    Please leave a comment or question below.

  • New Horizons In Photography With Better High ISO Performance

    Several months back I upgraded cameras from my trusty Canon EOS 5D to the newer model, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The Mark II boasted a range of new features that made it a worthwhile investment, including a larger and clearer LCD screen, a stronger and more weather proof build, easier to navigate menus, customizable settings, HD video, a sensor dust cleaning function as well as greater resolution (21 MP), updated processors and firmware and reportedly better image quality. Over time I have found that, really, just one feature of the newer camera has fundamentally changed the way I can take photos. That feature is the greatly improved performance at higher ISO settings.

    Hand held at 1/40 second, f/9, ISO 500

    ISO is the standard by which the sensitivity of film or a digital sensor is measured. Better sensitivity, lower noise and improved in-camera noise reduction at higher ISO settings are hallmarks of the latest generation of digital SLR cameras, and high ISO performance will surely continue to improve in the near future. I have always used Canon digital cameras by choice, but the most current high end digital SLRs from Nikon, Sony, Minolta and others all have much better high ISO performance than their predecessors.

    Hand held at 1/100 second, f/8, ISO 320

    I haven't done quantitative tests to compare the high ISO performance of older DSLRs and current ones, but the improvements are so dramatic to be readily apparent with a simple inspection of the image files at 100%. There are plenty of independent testers out there who have done careful scientific comparisons if you want the raw data. My goal in this article is simply to share some images I have taken recently that either would have previously been impossible or would have required more equipment and more labor intensive techniques. Of course, you would need to see high resolution image files to get a complete understanding of the image quality, but for the purpose of this article I think these screen size images give you the main idea. I should also point out that in addition to improvements in ISO performance, improved noise reduction algorithms in software like Adobe Lightroom and Camera RAW, as well as improved image stabilization technology in lenses take some of the credit.

    Hand held at 1/13 second, f/4.5, ISO 3200

    How does better high ISO performance allow for new opportunities in photography? As the sensor becomes more sensitive to light as the ISO setting is increased, the camera is able to maintain faster shutter speeds in lower light conditions and still get a proper exposure. Essentially it means you can shoot in lower light situations or with smaller aperture settings without the need for a tripod. However, with past cameras the increased sensitivity to light at higher ISO settings came with an unacceptable trade off; increased image noise or digital grain. Until I acquired the Canon 5D Mark II, the higher ISO settings were generally useless to me. My images need to be very clean and sharp, so I would always shoot at the lowest ISO setting (ISO 100) to ensure adequate image quality. This almost always meant the need for a tripod to get a sharp image.

    Hand held at 1/15 second, f/5.6, ISO 3200

    Experimenting with the ISO capabilities of the 5D Mark II during my travels in Mexico this month have left me impressed and excited about the possibilities. I still use my tripod most of the time, but I find that in situations where a tripod is impractical, time prohibitive or creatively limiting I can often raise the ISO to between 200 and 500 to allow for fast enough shutter speeds for hand held shooting with a very slight loss in overall image quality. Images at these ISO settings are certainly good enough for publishing and even fine art printing. There are times when having the ability to photograph without a tripod is extremely freeing and allows for flexibility, mobility, spontaneity and creativity that wasn't possible before.

    Hand held at 1/20 sec, f/4, ISO 3200

    What's more, I have found that I can also hand hold my camera in minimal light situations, such as indoors or for night time city scenes, by increasing the ISO dramatically. I have increased the ISO to as much as 3200 and still been able to capture very usable images. A slight degree of noise in these images is acceptable to me for the fact that they would have been almost impossible to get otherwise. While I still return to the tripod if image quality is essential, it is exciting to be able to photograph people and other moving objects in low light conditions and not have them be blurred. Most of my night city photography does not include people because of the blurring of objects in motion with slow shutter speeds.  Being able to hand hold the camera and get sharp images of moving subjects indoors and at night opens a whole new world of possibilities.

    Hand held at 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 3200

    I'm sure the technology in ISO performance will continue to improve for some time. Within a couple of years there will be cameras that allow us to photograph in almost complete darkness with fast shutter speeds and produce noise free images. Until then it is exciting to know how good the ISO performance is right now, and that photographers have the ability to take photographs that were previously impossible or impractical.

    Hand held at 1/15 second, f/7.1, ISO 500

    If you found this article helpful, informative or otherwise useful, feel free to share it on the social media network of your choice using the handy links below. If you have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks!

    Hand held at 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 3200

    New Photography Possibilities with high ISO Performance

    Several months back I upgraded cameras from my trusty Canon EOS 5D to the newer model, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The Mark II boasted a range of new features that made it a worthwhile investment, including a larger and clearer LCD screen, a stronger and more weather proof build, easier to navigate menus, customizable settings, HD video, a sensor dust cleaning function as well as greater resolution (21 MP), updated processors and firmware and reportedly better image quality. Over time I have found that one specific attribute of the newer camera has had a bigger impact on the way I can take photographs than any other. That feature is the greatly improved performance at higher ISO settings.

    I haven't run any objective tests to make quantitative comparisons between older DSLRs and current ones, but there are plenty of independent testers out there who have if you want the raw data. My goal in this article is to share some images I have taken recently that either would have been previously impossible or would have required more equipment and more labor intensive techniques.

    Better sensitivity, lower noise and improved in-camera noise reduction at higher ISO settings are hallmarks of the latest generation of digital SLR cameras, and high ISO performance will surely continue to improve in the near future. ISO is the standard by which the sensitivity of film or a digital sensor is measured. I have always used Canon digital cameras by choice, but the most current high end digital SLRs from Nikon, Sony, Minolta and others all have much better high ISO performance than their predecessors.

    How does better high ISO performance allow for new opportunities in photography? As the sensor becomes more sensitive to light with increased ISO settings the camera is able to maintain faster shutter speeds in lower light conditions and still get a proper exposure. Essentially it means you can shoot in lower light situations or with smaller aperture settings, without a tripod, than at lower ISO settings. However, with past cameras the increased sensitivity to light at higher ISO settings came with an unacceptable trade off; increased image noise or digital grain. Until I acquired the Canon 5D Mark II, the higher ISO settings were generally useless to me. My images need to be very clean and sharp, so I would always shoot at the lowest ISO setting (ISO 100) to ensure adequate image quality. This almost always meant using a tripod.

    Experimenting with the ISO capabilities of the 5D Mark II during my travels in Mexico this month have left me impressed and excited about the possibilities. I still use my tripod most of the time, but I find that in situations where a tripod is impractical, time prohibitive or creatively limiting I can often bump up the ISO to between 200 and 500 to allow for fast enough shutter speeds for hand held shooting with a very slight loss in overall image quality. Images at these ISO settings are certainly good enough for publishing and even fine art printing. In some situations the ability to photograph without a tripod can be very freeing and allow for creativity and camera positions that weren't possible before.

    What's more, I have found that I can also hand hold my camera in very low light situations, such as indoors or with night time city scenes, by increasing the ISO dramatically. I have increased the ISO to as much as 3200 and still been able to capture very usable images. The value of these images in greatly enhanced by the fact that they would have been almost impossible to get otherwise. While I still return to the tripod if image quality is essential, it is exciting to be able to photograph people and other moving objects in low light conditions and not have them be blurred. Most of my night city photography does not include people because of the blurring of objects in motion. Being able to hand hold the camera and get sharp images of moving subjects in low light opens a whole new world of possibilities.

    I'm sure the technology in ISO performance will continue to improve for some time. Within a couple of years there will be cameras that allow us to photograph by moonlight without a tripod and produce noise free images. Until then it is exciting to know that ISO performance is at a level right now that allows for types of shooting that were previously impossible or impractical.

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