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FotoU: Understanding ISO

ISO is one of those lesser-known yet very important concepts that every photographer should understand.  If you understand ISO, you will be able to capture images that are impossible for a wanna-be photographer!  Which, if you’re like me, it’s not how much you know that’s important – it’s how much more you know than everyone else that matters.

Let’s first define the ISO number.  Simply speaking, the ISO on your digital camera is the speed at which the sensor reacts to light – the HIGHER the number, the MORE reactive to light.  For example, an ISO of 800 will be more reactive to light than 100.  In the following pictures, the only thing that was changed was the ISO setting.

So, you can have the same amount of existing light and get a brighter picture simply by adjusting the ISO.  This becomes very useful when you’re taking pictures in a low-light situation and you don’t want to or can’t use a flash.  For example:

So, if you’ve ever been indoors, at a basketball game, or at an assembly and couldn’t or didn’t want to use a flash – increasing the ISO is the answer.  Finally, you’ll be able to get the images that you’ve been missing!

The only drawback to increasing ISO is ‘noise.’  Noise is pixelation and discoloration of the image that is created by increasing the ISO too high and making the sensor ‘hyper-sensitive.’  Look at the following examples of images that are enlarged:

With today’s cameras, noise is not as big of an issue as it once was.  Generally, you will only see noise if you are printing an enlargement of your image.  My camera will go up to 6400 ISO!  That means I’m very cool and my high-end ISO is likely larger than yours…which is what really matters.

FotoFriday: The “Magic Touch”

Thanks to many weeks of practice with newborns, I have been designated as the photographer with the “magic touch.”

This past week was full of newborn appointments. Thanks to a great teacher (Eric), I have learned the ins and outs of making a baby happy even when they are screaming at the top of their lungs.

During a sitting this week Victoria and I devoted all of our attention to coaxing a baby to sleep in order to get that “perfect” shot.

This particular picture was taken by Eric on his i-phone (and no he doesn’t have the i-phone 4 yet, he’s devastated). As you can see, I’m sitting on the floor with binki, tissue, and bottle in hand. This little tyke was not about to let us pose him while he was awake.

I’m stoked about the vast amount of knowledge I’m gaining. It is a constant learning process but a fun one nonetheless. Woot Woot. Until next time,…Ciao!

FotoU: Using F-Stop to Create a Better Photograph

When you take a picture, there is always something that you’re focusing on.  Whether it’s a flower or a person or a fruit bowl – you want that ‘thing’ to stand out.  There are usually miscellaneous other elements, typically in the background, that you don’t care about.  The background could have trees, traffic, trampolines, tricksters (that’s all the ‘tr’ words I could think of off the top of my head)…that you don’t want in your photo.  The question is, ‘How do I get rid of the stuff that I don’t want?’  Your options are to spend an hour in Photoshop, freeze everything in time and move to another location, or use a lower F-Stop.

The F-Stop is a measure of how open your shutter is when you take a photo.  It’s like the iris of your eye – except not as pretty (that was for the ladies).

The confusing thing is that, as your F-Stop gets lower, the shutter opens wider.  This ridiculous system of numbers was created by terrorists to damage our morale.  Here’s how the F-Stops relate to the size of the opening:

When the shutter is wide open, your ‘depth of field’ gets very shallow – only the subject is in focus.  Simply, when you have a low F-Stop, the background gets blurry.  Look at this example:

F2.8                                                                                                                                F16

Notice how the distracting background vanishes and the focus is completely on the subject of your photograph.  This is a good thing when you’re trying to make something stand out in your photograph.  Here are examples of some flowers I photographed on vacation (I usually photograph more masculine items like Jeeps and wrenches):

Without having a low F-Stop and a shallow depth of field, these photographs would not have been nearly as eye-catching.  A low F-Stop allowed me to focus on just one thing.  I was able to control what the viewer saw.

To shoot with a low F-Stop, simply change your camera mode to ‘Av.’  Av stands for ‘aperture priority.’  Once you have the mode set to Av, set the F-Stop to the lowest possible number.  In aperture priority mode, the camera will automatically make the necessary adjustments to shutter speed to get the correct light exposure at the F-Stop you’ve selected.

It is especially important, when taking portraits, to get the subject to stand out from the background.  Again, a low F-Stop allows you to create a better portrait. This helps us to focus on what’s important in the image.  This next picture was taken the day before I had open-heart surgery.  I wanted the focus to be the relationship between my daughter and I – not the rocks and flowers.  I think we could all use a blurry background sometimes to help us focus on what matters.  :)

FotoFriday: There’s Always a 1st

My Friday started off by exploring uncharted territory here in the studio with a session that ended more unusual than most.  First birthdays are sort of a big landmark so we needed to make sure we really caught the experience of the big #1 for this little guy. He started out great. He sat there looking super cute in his little shirt and tie. When the bubble noises and patty cake games ceased to keep his attention we decided it was time to pull out the cake. Every birthday party has to have a cake and this first birthday had to be celebrated by a cake smashing celebration.

It is not often that your parents place an entire cake in front of you that you can do whatever you would like with. I would have gone after the frosting…

…In this situation he was really not a fan of the frosting because the bow was way more exciting. Things started to get messy when we tried to show him what to do…

… and then this happened.

Poor guy. So, off to the bathroom he went to get cleaned up.

As I was walking by the bathroom mom opened the door and I noticed he was perfectly content sitting in the sink with the water running. He was splashing water everywhere and just having a great time. So we grabbed the light and quickly rolled it into the bathroom, which gave us this cute shot :)

We have never shot in the bathroom before, until today. I think it just added to the entire experience and it was fun to document everything right down to the very end. Apparently, sinks are way more fun than cakes. Happy Friday!

FotoFly has finally Landed!


Well, we’re finally opening the doors and are ready to go! Everyone is really excited about the studio and even more excited to get started this week. FotoFly introduces a new flight to photography with great prices and a unique and very artistic approach to the studio experience.

Our studio has two Fotowings where sessions will take place, and we have staggered
appointments in such a way that no two sessions will begin at the same time. The reserved wing will be where the FotoSession begins and where the majority of the photos will be taken. However, in most cases, photos will be taken in both wings. While both wings can accommodate any age group, we do have a few recommendations. The left wing is recommended for older children, seniors, families, and large groups. The right wing is recommended for newborns, toddlers, small groups of young children, and families. Both wings have canvas and fabric backdrops available. Here are a few images so you can get an idea of what they look like.
There is no charge to schedule an appointment. At FotoFly you only pay if you are satisfied with your session, so you pay $79 for a copyright release CD for your sitting. There is NO sitting fee at FotoFly and your sitting may vary from 20-45 minutes. This week, July 5-9, FotoFly is welcoming all family and friends to the studio by offering $30 off! You can get a disk of your session for $49 THIS WEEK ONLY, schedule now to take advantage of this price! Our grand opening will be held this upcoming Saturday July 10th so if you can’t make it during the week come join us Saturday!
Make sure to follow us on both facebook and twitter to keep updated with studio news and new blog posts. Each week we will be posting a tips and tricks post on the blog which will be everything from clothing ideas to camera tips, as well as new images from the week, so check back every Monday and Friday for new posts.

We look forward to meeting you!