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Technical Tips: ISO

Lesson 3 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

3. Technical Tips: ISO


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What Makes a Picture Successful?


Technical Tips: ISO


Technical Tips: Aperture


Technical Tips: Shutter Speed


Technical Tips: Focus


Using Light to Tell a Story


Using Composition to Tell a Story


Lesson Info

Technical Tips: ISO

Okay, so now we're gonna talk about why is this important. This is a quote by Elliot Erwitt. "The whole point of taking pictures is "so you don't have to explain things with words." So, this isn't a new concept, right? And everything I'm teaching you is coming from everything I've learned from great photographers before me, still working today, that make real life photos. Elliot is one of my favorites. I would suggest writing him down if you don't know who he is. He's one of my absolute favorite photojournalist. Okay. "There are always two people in every picture: "the photographer and the viewer." That's the other thing I want you to remember. We always have an influence in some way over how the story is told. All right, so we're gonna talk about how we do this. This is some nitty-gritty, as my producer likes to call it, nuts and bolts of technical stuff with making the picture, but not just what is ISO and what is aperture? I'm gonna talk to you about how you use it in terms of story...

telling because it's something I didn't really talk about in the first class. Okay, so the first thing we're gonna talk about is native ISO. Does anyone know what that term means? Anybody, anybody? Okay, so, native ISO, and I didn't know this 'til I was teaching with Jenna and Tristen that the cameras have different ISOs that they work better on. And it's basically the two here. So if you are Canon or Sony, I suggest you write down that list. If you are Nikon or Fuji I suggest you just make note of that. It's suggested that these are the best ISOs for your camera system. And that the other ones it doesn't perform as well. And this was new to me, but I think this is really helpful for those that are working in low light situations. You know what your go to should be to help in terms of the quality of your picture. So the multiples of 160, versus the multiples of 200. And from what I found Fuji is basically the multiples of 200. I couldn't like, I found like a couple of threads about it online, so if I am incorrect please someone correct me, but I'm pretty sure that is correct. For Canon and Sony that's the case. I don't know what happened. I think it has something to do with the lifestyle genre, or like outdoor portraiture. Where we're very concerned about the quality of our image, right? Especially if they're blowing them up big, we don't want to have a lot of grain or noise. But in that that's somehow has like woven itself into concerns with photographers and documentary. I hear it all the time, "Oh I don't want to go over "or 1600 then the quality of my images are gonna be bad." Right? So that's really not the case in my opinion. I shoot at basically 6400 to 10,000 ISO most of the time when I'm in the home. Now there are times when it does change, but for the most part that's what I'm working with. And you just, just stop being afraid of the grain. (laughs) When we shot film we embraced it, we loved like a little bit of grit and grain. So it should be the same with your digital cameras. And I'm gonna show you some examples here, okay. Just so you have an idea. This is shot at 1600, okay? Inside, 1600. Great quality, right? This was shot at 3200 ISO. Note like I've printed, it's beautiful, it's a beautiful print. This is at 6400. Again, really nice quality image. And this is at 10, ISO. So, I don't you to be afraid. I'm gonna push it more. I don't go this high very often. Although new cameras are coming out all the time and it blows me away how high the ISO is that you can push. But that's at 12,800. My camera was basically seeing in the dark. I was manually focusing. And there was a little bit of concern for the grain. But I printed it and it's really gorgeous. And this mom, Shelly, who's actually also a one year student. She said this is like her new favorite picture. Because it exactly represents how they fall asleep all the time. And that eventually he's gonna grow up and not do that anymore, right? And like all moms, we don't get to see this. We don't actually get to see how much they love and need us and I'm so happy that I didn't let the the low light situation or pushing my camera prevent me from making this photo, right? And I was super psyched when she loved it. Okay. Now we're gonna talk about choosing the right ISO. Do you guys feel like when you're outside if it's light out or bright out, is your go-to 200 to 400? Okay, so I have one no. Anybody else? Okay. So I find at least with newer photographers that is the case. We just 200 to 400, right? I'm gonna show you some photo examples of when I'm not doing that and I still have light out. And the reason is because of how I'm using my light. So this image was actually made at 1600 ISO. Does anybody know why it was at 1600? To catch the speed of the balls Right so. so it isn't a blur. Yes, I needed a shutter speed that was high enough, right? So in order to make sure that I stopped that ball in motion, I've got to put my ISO up. Also I wanted a little bit higher aperture. I wanted a little bit more information in the back, it to be layered a little more. And so that is why I made that choice. Okay. Here's another one at 1600. This was made at 3200. 'Cause I was shooting basically in the shade and there's just a little pocket of light on his face. And the way that I could meter for that and have that little pocket of light is I had to use a higher, a higher ISO. This is another ISO at 1600. He was in the shade. And I wanted to have a lot of detail in terms of the cone and his mouth and the ice cream everywhere. So because of that I needed to increase my aperture a little, especially 'cause I'm close, right? Because the closer you get to your subject you're going to create a lack of depth of field. So the only way to counteract that if you want more detailed information is you have to increase your aperture, does that make sense to everybody? Okay, hope that makes sense to everybody at home. This is another one at 1600. I'm outside on the beach. But it's a cloudy day and they're running around like crazy and I don't want to miss that motion or movement, so I want to make sure that I keep my shutter speed really high. And in order to do that that's gonna tell me that I have to keep my ISO up. Does that make sense? Okay. Does that make sense for everyone out there? Okay, good. Okay. (sighs) How many of you guys are working in the homes with your clients yet? Has everyone? Or I'll switch it. How many have not yet? Okay good, so everyone in the audience here has already worked in the home. Do you guys change your ISO throughout the day inside or do you leave it where it is? I usually change. (crosstalk) Okay, so we have half and half, 50, 50. For the most part I suggest leaving it. So I'm gonna show you I think it's six images from the six different rooms in Lauren's house. And every image is made at 6400. The thing is when we're photographing real life moments, things are happening really fast, right? And they might be moving from room to room. So the last thing I want to be dealing with is making a whole lot of adjustments, technically to my camera, moving from room to room. So I suggest picking the room that you're spending time in where the light is the lowest, set your ISO to that. And then all you have to address is shutter speed going to the other rooms. Does that make sense? For the most part I leave my aperture at inside at about 2.8. There are times when that changes when I'm opening it wider, if it's really low light. Or if I'm closing it and going a little bit higher with my aperture if I want to create some more depth of field. But for the most part my average is 2.8. And I know that in the last two classes I didn't talk a lot about my settings. And so I think it's important to just let you guys know for the most part, for people that are wondering, I stay at 2.8. And that is my go to all day long. And then it fluctuates from there. But I always tend to go back to the 2.8. So here's a room, here's the first bedroom. Nice light. We have two window, or light sources. But I know that the darker room requires so I just keep it at 6400. So here's a darker room at a different time of day, but I'm still at 6400. And the nice thing is because my shutter's a little bit slower, I was able to show a little bit of the motion of the little girl playing with the blanket. Now we're in the dining room. Same thing 6400. It think it's so funny, look at this dog. (light laughter) I'm like as they're eating the SpaghettiOs like what is going on? I mean it was just like, they were like, "Nah we don't really need utensils," like especially him. Okay. There's the darkest room. And then I allowed that motion, like by dragging the shutter. I didn't know that Lauren was gonna come in, but I heard her. I heard her say, "Where is she?" And so I hoped as she was jumping, I was photographing her jumping on the bed, she basically just gave me the picture. She like opened the door and looked in I was like, "Yes." (audience laughs) Bathroom, 6400. Reading books in bed, 6400. The only thing I'm adjusting is my shutter speed. Taking her to bed, 6400. And it's all different rooms in the house that I showed you, all was fine at 6400. And it just made my job a lot easier. It's one less thing my brain has to worry about in terms of changing all the technical things in my camera so that I can just save all the important brain space to just focus on the moments and making good pictures. This the best tip I can give people if they haven't heard this yet. How many of you, this is gonna be one of those situations where I want to swear so bad. How many of you (chuckles) go from one room and like you're inside and outside and you're like, "Oh my god it's an amazing moment!" Ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, ting. And then you're like, and I'm shooting at and it's really bright outside. And you've lost the photo because you had the wrong settings, right? I can not impress upon you more. Just get into the habit when you are moving from outside to inside, outside to inside, inside to outside, different types of buildings, that you just automatically at least think about what you might need in terms of your ISO. And just adjust it as your walking and shoot. Because you have a better chance of getting that photo than if you're shooting in bright sun at 6400, 2.8. Does that make sense? And with my students in the field, whenever we go from room I'm like, "You're transitioning "right, you're changing your ISO, "you're changing your ISO, you're moving it, right?" It just, you're so much happier. And like I still do it, there's still times I forget, but I try and always be in the mindset of making a note, "Okay I'm going inside, "I'm probably gonna need 6400, 32, 6400." If you can just make an estimate you're gonna be in a better situation to get that photo. The other thing, I didn't put this in here, but another suggestion is making mental notes about what your settings are for particular rooms. So like if we go back to, I'll just go back for a minute. If we go back here. Like I already know when I'm in a bathroom, first of all I'm gonna have to change my white balance. Usually it's really warm in a bathroom, so I use Kelvin. It's another question if anyone has. So I manually adjust my white balance. And so I know, anybody else do Kelvin? I'm not saying one is better than the other, I just am used to Kelvin. So I know when I'm in a bathroom, my guess is gonna be 2800 Kelvin. I'm around there. And so I make a mental note, "Okay. "I'm at 6400, 2.8. "1/800 of a second and my Kelvin is here." And then I'm like, "Oh we're going into the kitchen, "or to the dining room. "Okay I've got to warm it back up, "so I'm just gonna change my white balance real quick. "I'm gonna go up to like 4500 and now I need "a little bit more light, so I'm gonna "go to 1/600 of a second." Does that make sense? Or 1/640 of a second. I just make little mental notes if I go back and forth into the rooms, I just very quickly can adjust that. Now my friend Jenna who I teach with, she does it by clicks. So she takes a mental note like, "Oh my shutter speed is one, two, three." And so she knows, "Oh I got to go down three, "I have to go up three." That's another way to do it, right that's smart. For me I just, I memorize a number, but Jenna just she's like, "Okay I got to go "down three clicks," and then she's there when she goes to the next room. All right. You guys feel good about the ISO? Okay, yes. I got a couple of questions from online, starting with Debbie Hunt. So does that mean she's saying when shooting kids are you using aperture priority or shutter speed priority? But are you shooting in all manual the way you're describing it? I'm all manual. Okay. I'm a control freak. (chuckles) I very easily can admit that. And for me I want complete and utter control over my light. And if I want to drag the shutter versus not drag the shutter and so I choose to shoot in all manual. I suggest if you don't to try it. But I know a lot of people that just shoot in aperture priority and then use the compensation like they're shooting in manual. I've learned that I'm just not gonna fight people on that. It's basically the same thing just in a round about way. So, do it, whatever works for you. But for me I feel like manual, I just want control over everything. I feel like I want my brain making all the decisions, not my camera for me in that situation.

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Ratings and Reviews


I own Kirsten's 3 classes. And they are ALL amazing, inspiring and refreshing. She is not only a super talented photographer but an amazing teacher and person as well. I have learned so much from each one of her classes. I have never met a photographer so willing to share and see their students succeed. I highly recommend people not only to buy this class, but all 3! I would not be the photographer I am today if it wasn’t for her. After following her advise for the last 3 years I am finally engaging with the audience I want and I feel true to myself in the way I shoot. This makes a huge difference in my everyday. I am am truly grateful to this photo wizard lady. ps: warning, make sure you are on birth control. These classes might make you want to have children, just to get amazing images like the ones she takes LOL (joking) #not

Carrie Littauer

This workshop was by far the best photography workshop I have ever been a part of. Kirsten's work, her humor, her authenticity, her expertise and perspective will forever change the way I work with families and go about documentary photography. I am so motivated and inspired to dig deeper into my role as a photographer, and as a person, to make a real difference in the lives of those that I photograph and with my art. I'm thrilled to have been in the LIVE studio and am so grateful for Creative Live for giving phenomenal artists like Kirsten this exposure and opportunity to teach other creatives like myself! Thank you.

Johanne Lila

In the very minutes Kirsten Lewis' first class (first of three) for cL aired, I realized I needed in on this awesomeness. I became a 1 Year Mentorship student with her right away, and now I have been so incredibly fortunate to be in the studio audience for the live taping of her final class (or the third of the three, who knows what the future might hold!). For me as a 'Kirsten Lewis alumni' taking this class was perfect. I was reminded of things I knew, but had forgotten. I learned a ton of new stuff. But most of all, I remembered why we do this work in the first place: The love that is right there in the reality of life. How much this work matters to real families out there. And how much it matters to keep getting better at this, to give our families better work. I will be forever greatful that I chose the best mentor, Kirsten is such a gift to all of us. And if you're still in doubt: This class is AMAZING! If you're new, if you've at it for a while, if you're alumni: Gold is HERE!

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