Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR micro F2.8G

Photography Tip - think of ISO like a pair of sunglasses

Over the past few months I have started to describe ISO to my photography students like a pair of sunglasses.  You have sunlight hitting your eyes.  When wearing sunglasses your eyes feel all nice and comfortable even with all that sunlight.  However, if you take off your sunglasses, the same amount of light is hitting your eyes, except now it hurts and you squint.  There is a cost to taking off your sunglasses.  

It is the same thing with ISO.  There is a certain amout of light hitting your DSLR camera's sensor.  If you increase the ISO setting, the same amount of light will hit the sensor, except now the camera's sensor with a higher ISO is more sensitive to that same amount of light.  This is just like your eyes getting more sensitive without sunglasses.  The tradeoff with no sunglasses is squinting.  The tradeoff with high ISO is introducing noise, grain and artifacting into the photograph.  

This is why I usually only increase ISO last when trying to get the correct exposure.  Most of the time I will use the largest aperture possible with the slowest shutter speed possible.  Once I hit those limits, only then do I start to increase ISO because I want to maximize image quality as much as possible.  

Colorful pelican profile views St. Petersburg Florida fine art photography

Brown Pelican looking very colorful in profile St. Petersburg Florida fine art photography - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/4 ISO 200 1/4000thSome more examples of one of my favorite subjects to photograph in St. Petersburg, Florida -- brown pelicans.  The males, like the one featured here, are actually rather colorful in their plummage.  I thought the line of buoys in the background matched the colors around the bird's beak and eyes.  

Brown Pelican looking eye-to-eye in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/4 ISO 200 1/4000thPhotographing a pelican straight on always produces a weird looking shot.  It kind of makes me uncomfortable even now looking at the pelican in the eye!

Purple Hyacinth Flower Macro Photograph from Publix

My purple hyacinth growing right in water in my living room!

I am a regular Publix (Florida grocery store franchise) Friday shopper, and have been all my adult life in Florida.  On a recent shopping trip I was thinking to finally get a new plant to replace the one that had long since died (of natural causes!) in my living room.  I was very quickly talked into getting the above purple hyacinth by the lady behind the counter.  Growing a plant right in a vase of water appealed to me, and she promised when in bloom the scent would fill the room.  She was right, it now smells great anytime I pass by the bloom!

Purple Hyacinth in bloom in my living room - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR Micro @ f/8 ISO 200 0.4 sec natural light

Having flowers right inside your house also makes for a very convenient photography subject too.  So my photography tip is if you live somewhere that is really cold, so cold it deters you from going outside with your DSLR in winter, then go out and buy some flowers and shoot from the comfort of your living room!

Rain water droplet macro photography Florida

rain water droplet macro photograph - Nikon D300 with Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/4 1/60th ISO 1000 & pop-up flash on TTLDue to another of circumstances coming together, I found myself late this evening with the opportunity to finaly make a raindrop water droplet macro photograph.  I did not have all the gear I would have liked with me (i.e. tripod & speedlight), but at least I had my trusty Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR micro f/2.8G lens on my Nikon.  Since I was in very low light and had to handhold the shot, I had to crank the ISO up to 1000 to get a decent exposure and also brace myself against an adjacent column to get even close to a steady enough shot, despite having VR on as well.  The result was merely a passable shot, but at least I finally got a chance to attempt the raindrop subject matter I had been long wanting to.

pastel filter on raindrop macro photo - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/4 1/60th ISO 1000 & pop-up flash on TTLI applied the Pastel filter in Color Efex Pro 3 to make the pure black less stark in the above shot.  After the next Florida rain shower, I will try to purposefully go out and make a proper rain droplet macro shot.  

Kiki yawning studio like white background pet photography done in home

Kiki's mouth opens too wide when yawning to even fit in the frame! - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/8 ISO 200 1/60th Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/4 power in brolly to frame rightI have been doing quite a few in-apartment photo shoots featuring white backgrounds added digitally lately of various subjects and inevitably when I finish them before I put my photography and strobist gear away I make a few photographs of beloved puppy, Kiki.  I cannot say she is always thrilled about this.  Her expression is usually pretty neutral.  This time I interrupted her naptime resulting first in a yawn then the look she gave me (see below).  

Kiki looking very nonplussed as she usually does for photos - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/8 ISO 200 1/60th Strobist: SB-800 @ 1/4 power in brolly to frame rightSince these photographs were made in the close confines of my living room, and even though the great Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR micro f/2.8G macro lens makes great bokeh, the backgrounds were still a distraction, which is why I chose to do a Quick Select of just Kiki in Photoshop CS5 and then refine the edges and send that image onto a new layer (done automatically if you choose the right output).  I added a layer below Kiki, painted it white, and voila, a studio looking image of Kiki done right in my own living room, no mess, no fuss.

Get images like these of your dog or cat or pet done right in your own living room . . . contact Jason today to reserve your shoot!

Baby's Ear Shell Macro Strobist Photographs

Baby's Ear Shell in macro top side - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/16 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: Nikon SB-600 Speedlight with diffuser cap @ 1/8th power just under shellA dog park friend saw my recent macro photographs of shells I found actually at the dog park and approached me last week with a rare shell she found herself on a local beach thinking I might like to photograph it as well.  She gave me a shell she said was called a Baby's Ear Shell for how its soft curves and translucent shell looks.  It is a very delicate looking shell when held in one's hand.  However, to photograph it I wanted to bring out as much detail as possible, which meant using a strobist technique.  The other challenge was how to prop or stand the shell so it could be cleanly photographed.  My solution for that is represented in the last image below.

For the above shot I placed a speedlight just under the shell adjusting the strobe's power to illuminate without blowing out too much of the bottom of the shell.  Slight movements produced different shadows, but it did not take long until I was pleased with the results I got above.

Baby's Ear Shell in macro back side - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/16 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: Nikon SB-600 Speedlight with diffuser cap @ 1/4th power just under shellTo photograph the under side of the shell I placed the speedlight behind the shell for a more traditional backlit look.  This created shadows which show the depth of the dome of the shell and the underside ring portion of it.  I was surprised to be able to pull blue out of the dome portion, which is not visible with the shell just in hand.

My shell shooting solution, putting a piece of tape on it and hanging it from a wire rack.The method I came up with to photograph the shell was simply to hang it by a piece of tape from a wire rack plant holder I have in my living room.  Then I simply painted over in black the tape and the wire in Photoshop.  The black background was created in camera by choosing a fast shutter speed of 1/200th while shooting in my living room with the blinds closed.

Thank you Mari for thinking of me and sharing your shell!