Freelance Photographer Cambridge - Blog | 25 - Amp It Up

June 21, 2017
bokeh photographic (Alistair Grant); UK Freelance Photographer: Food Photographer - Cambridge, London; Food & Drink Photographer - Cambridge, London; Product Photographer - Cambridge, London; Packshot Photographer - Cambridge, London; Pack Shot Photographer - Cambridge, London; Commercial Photographer - Cambridge, London; Restaurant Photographer - Cambridge, London; Culinary Photographer - Cambridge, London; Catering Photographer - Cambridge, London; Industrial Photographer - Cambridge, London; Agricultural Photographer - Cambridge, London; Farming Photographer - Cambridge, London; Editorial Photographer - Cambridge, London; Feature Photographer - Cambridge, London; Lifestyle Photographer - Cambridge, London; Advertising Photographer - Cambridge, London; Event Photographer - Cambridge, London; Conference Photographer - Cambridge, London; Corporate Photographer - Cambridge, London; Business Photographer - Cambridge, London; Portrait Photographer - Cambridge, London; PR Photographer - Cambridge, London; Wedding Photographer - Cambridge, London; Retail Photographer - Cambridge, London; Property Photographer - Cambridge, London; Architectural Photographer - Cambridge, London; School Photographer - Cambridge, London and Photography Training Courses - Cambridge, London. St Ives, Cambridgeshire. Email: alistair.grant@bokehphotographic.co.uk, Tel: 07775 365507.    
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bokeh photographic 35mm Film Artwork - bokeh photographic written in dark blue text  superimposed over picture of Angel of the North simulated as a 35mm film photographic contact sheet frame. © bokeh photographic (Alistair Grant): Food Photographer, Commercial Photographer, Product Photographer, Packshot Photographer, Headshot Photographer, Industrial Photographer, Business Photographer, Event Photographer, Conference Photographer, Portrait Photographer, Corporate Photographer, PR Photographer, Wedding Photographer and Photography Training in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire and across the UK.bokeh photographic 35mm Film Artwork | bokeh photographic - Alistair Grant | Freelance Photographer - Cambridge, London & UK.bokeh photographic 35mm Film Graphic by Alistair Grant - Professional Photographer providing: Food & Drink Photography; Commercial Photography (Product Photography, Packshot Photography, Headshot Photography, Industrial Photography and all types of Business Photography); Event Photography; Conference Photography; Portrait Photography; Corporate Photography; PR Photography; Wedding Photography and Photography Training Courses in Cambridge, London and across the UK. St Ives, Cambridge: Email: alistair.grant@bokehphotographic.co.uk, Tel: 07775 365507.

   Alistair Grant 

Freelance Photographer Cambridge & London

     

bokeh photographic: Blog 25

Freelance Photographer Cambridge Blog Image | Blog 25 - Songwriter/Composer, Singer and Violinist Alice Zawadzki performing during Sam Lee’s Singing with Nightingales at Grafham Water © bokeh photographic (Alistair Grant): Freelance Photographer, St Ives, Cambridge, London and across the UK.Blog 25 - Amp it Up (Alice Zawadzki performing during Sam Lee’s Singing with Nightingales at Grafham Water) | bokeh photographic - Alistair Grant | Freelance Photographer – Cambridge & London.Blog 25 - Amp it Up (Alice Zawadzki performing during Sam Lee’s Singing with Nightingales at Grafham Water) by Alistair Grant - Food Photographer; Commercial Photographer; Event Photographer; Portrait Photographer; Corporate Photographer; PR Photographer; Wedding Photographer and Photographic Training Courses in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire and across the UK. Email: alistair.grant@bokehphotographic.co.uk, Tel: 07775 365507.

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  About The Blog Artwork – About The Blog written in thick white chalk on square blackboard with green border. © bokeh photographic (Alistair Grant): Food Photographer, Commercial Photographer, Product Photographer, Packshot Photographer, Headshot Photographer, Industrial Photographer, Business Photographer, Event Photographer, Conference Photographer, Portrait Photographer, Corporate Photographer, PR Photographer, Wedding Photographer and Photography Training in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire and across the UK. About The Blog Blackboard Artwork | bokeh photographic - Alistair Grant | Freelance Photographer - Cambridge, London & UK.About The Blog Blackboard Graphic by Alistair Grant - Professional Photographer providing: Food & Drink Photography; Commercial Photography (Product Photography, Packshot Photography, Headshot Photography, Industrial Photography and all types of Business Photography); Event Photography; Conference Photography; Portrait Photography; Corporate Photography; PR Photography; Wedding Photography and Photography Training Courses in Cambridge, London and across the UK. St Ives, Cambridge: Email: alistair.grant@bokehphotographic.co.uk, Tel: 07775 365507.
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Amp It Up 

I have had a lot of discussions about ISO recently. It seems that many photographers either: i) don’t manipulate ISO (i.e. they rely on auto ISO) or ii) habitually set a fixed value irrespective of the conditions most typically ISO 100 - probably the result of photography magazines near hysterical claims that settings above this risks spoiling a shot - but sometimes something like ISO 6400; the highest true analogue ISO setting on most dSLR cameras. I can’t hope to comprehensively tackle ISO in a short blog so here’s just one example of this really important exposure parameter.

Most students on bokeh photographic Training Courses are aware that selecting a higher ISO ‘speed’ means a greater sensitivity to light in steps that increase by a factor of two: 100, 200, 400, 800 etc. In other words, holding all other settings equal, a photograph taken using ISO 200 will require half the exposure time of a photograph taken at ISO 100. However, what students don’t fully understand is the mechanism underlying ISO and the trade-offs associated with higher ISO values. Dialling in a higher ISO amplifies the signal captured by the camera sensor. However, increasing ISO also amplifies noise which is ugly and thus generally undesirable with a special exception for ‘grain’ in certain image types. Noise is not a single entity. Random or shot noise is a function of Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). A sensor contains millions of picture elements (i.e. pixels) each containing a light-sensitive diode which registers the number of photons striking it. The brighter the light the greater the electrical charge generated. When the electrical charge for each individual pixel is calculated the low through high charge count allows the tonal range of scene to be reproduced. The greater the number of photons that strike a pixel the higher the SNR and so (perceived) noise is less. Unfortunately photons don’t strike in a predictable manner and the SNR is especially reduced in low charge pixels. This explains why noise always appears first in shadow and/or featureless areas of an image. It’s important to note that the amount of random noise in a high ISO image is no different to a low ISO image; it’s the amplification effect of higher ISO values that makes noise visible. Larger modern sensors are more efficient in terms of their ability to collect more photons per pixel and so random noise is less due to a higher SNR. Pattern Noise can either be Read Noise (generated by the conversion of the electrical charge into binary data and which typically shows as speckles and/or horizontal or vertical lines) or Dark Noise (generated by heat in the sensor and other electrical components, particularly during long exposures, and which typically shows as white flare). Each camera has a characteristic noise signature – understandably not something that manufacturers draw attention to. Nevertheless, it is incredibly useful to know how far you can ‘push’ your camera, in different conditions, before noise becomes perceptible.

This image of the talented Alice Zawadzki performing during Sam Lee’s Singing with Nightingales is one of my most popular recent images. Before taking the shot I realised the scene exceeded the dynamic range of my Canon 1DX sensor. It is a high-contrast 'over-scaled' scene due to the extremely bright tones of the fire against the predominately dark background – it was taken in a field at midnight! Options were limited: bracketing under/over-exposed frames and merging them in software wasn’t an option; a relatively fast shutter speed was required to freeze the action especially as using flash wasn’t appropriate; and I was already shooting fully open at the widest aperture on my superb 85mm f/1.2 glass. Key considerations were correctly exposing for the light falling on Alice’s face whilst retaining reasonable shadow detail. I opted for a shutter speed of 1/100sec and an ISO of 8000 based on experience of how the camera would perform with particular reference to noise.† Whilst a higher ISO would have further opened up the shadows (or allowed a faster shutter) I knew that for the conditions ISO 8000 was as high as I could go on the 1DX before noise appeared in the shadows. This is nowhere near the top (expanded) ISO of 204,800. Canon’s claim that 1DX high-ISO files are 2-stops cleaner than the 1DMkIV is dubious. It’s important to note I’m not claiming 8000 is the highest practical ISO value. In a scene where more fine detail is present in the shadows it is often possible to use a higher ISO as it is harder to discern noise above the detail.

Some final points: Firstly, Read and/or Dark Noise weren’t a particular concern as this wasn’t a long exposure – the source of any noise in the image is Random Noise caused by amplification; Secondly, although noise-reduction functions of the camera were switched on these mostly deal with Read and/or Dark Noise via black-frame subtraction techniques; Thirdly, it’s worth reiterating that different cameras have different noise signatures – if I had been using my Canon 5DMkII I wouldn’t have attempted as high an ISO as noise would have been perceptible in the image; Fourthly, in my humble opinion post-production noise-reduction software is akin to snake oil and prevention is better than cure!

†The compromise here is an interesting one. Normally overexposure (i.e. clipping) of the highlights is avoided at all costs. However, given the extreme dynamic range of the scene and the desire to avoid blocking the shadows my decision was to allow (probably non-recoverable) clipping of the flames as the brightest part of the scene.

   

→ Call Alistair Grant on 07775 365507, Email alistair.grant@bokehphotographic.co.uk or click Booking Enquiries if you have any questions or would like to make a booking.

   
     

bokeh: "the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens"


Alistair Grant (bokeh photographic): Freelance Photographer providing: Food Photography - Cambridge, London; Food & Drink Photography - Cambridge, London; Product Photography - Cambridge, London; Packshot Photography - Cambridge, London; Pack Shot Photography - Cambridge, London; Commercial Photography - Cambridge, London; Restaurant Photography - Cambridge, London; Culinary Photography - Cambridge, London; Catering Photographer - Cambridge, London; Industrial Photography - Cambridge, London; Agricultural Photography - Cambridge, London; Farming Photography - Cambridge, London; Editorial Photography - Cambridge, London; Feature Photography - Cambridge, London; Lifestyle Photography - Cambridge, London; Advertising Photography - Cambridge, London; Event Photography - Cambridge, London; Conference Photography - Cambridge, London; Corporate Photography - Cambridge, London; Business Photography - Cambridge, London; Portrait Photography - Cambridge, London; PR Photography - Cambridge, London; Wedding Photography - Cambridge, London; Retail Photography - Cambridge, London; Property Photography - Cambridge, London; Architectural Photography - Cambridge, London; School Photography - Cambridge, London and Photography Training Courses - Cambridge, London. St Ives, Cambridgeshire. Email: alistair.grant@bokehphotographic.co.uk, Tel: 07775 365507.

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bokeh photographic - Alistair Grant | Freelance Photography - Food & Drink Photography - Photography Training | Cambridge - London - UK | Tel: 07775 365507