Canon announced on august 31 that they’ve developed the worlds largest CMOS sensor measuring a whopping 202 x 205 mm. Thats the beast up there to the left of a full-frame CMOS chip. Apparently this thing is so light sensitive, it is able to capture great images at just 100th of the light required by my EOS 5D Mark II full frame camera. Knowing how good a performer my camera is in this regard, its just mindblowing to think of the capabilities of a sensor this large. For instance, this sensor is able to do video at 60 frames per second at light equivalent to just 0.3 lux. That is one third the light off a single candle. At 60 FPS.
Greetings photo buffs! I have had a little hiatus from my blog, but now I’m back with a little tutorial, namely ‘How to do a high-key portrait’.
This technique should be in every serious photographers bag of tricks, if it aint already, so here is the lay-down:
1) Use a good camera/ lens combination for portraiture. I used the full-frame Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 85mm 1.8 at F/2.2.
2) Use soft, diffuse light. I shot these photos with natural light in-doors by a west-facing window in the middle of an overcast day in early April. Generally, you want very soft light for this effect, so use plenty large umbrellas/softboxes/diffusers, or north light, or an overcast day, or even shade. You do not want direct light or sun. Also, you want the background to be very bright – these were shot in front of a south-facing window.
3) Use low ISO. While you want to overexpose a tad (‘expose to the right’), use as low an ISO speed you can get away with for ultimate image quality. I shot at ISO 200. I’m applying the actual high-key effect later in Camera RAW, to avoid clipping the highlights in-camera. Your mileage may vary, though, so if you prefer, aim for the overexposed look directly, by dialing in ~ +2 stops of exposure compensation.
4) Use a large aperture. You want to get good seperation from face to background for that 3D effect, but you also want to nail sharpness on eyes. On a shot like this with the 85mm 1.8, f/2.2 was a good compromise.
5) Get at least one eye in focus. Rule of thumb. Eyes will draw the attention first, so make sure you focus on an eye. With portrait lenses and shallow Depth Of Field, often you won’t be able to hold both eyes in focus, particularly if the subject’s face is at an angle, and close to the camera. As long as one eye is in sharp focus, you’re OK. You should only break the sharp-eyes rule for artistic expression. (The first picture in this article actually breaks this rule, but I feel it gets away with it. Sofie was swaying a bit back and forth, so critical focus ended up on her eyebrow, while her eyes falls a bit out of focus, showing just how little DOF there is to work with).
6) Once shot, select your best frames and process expertly. Post processing is what makes a good picture a very good picture. I spared nothing in Camera Raw on these ones. First, I pushed the shots about 2 stops to overexpose them, but kept highlights in check. Then I turned down Saturation by a large amount, and increased the Vibrance by about the same. Those steps will give you this high-key, neutral, soft look. I did some skin spotting with the heal tool in Camera RAW. Finally, I added effects, such as Vignette, Split-toning and Film Grain to give the shots a ‘film-like’ appearance. I added a bit of skin diffusion (duplicate layer, large gaussian blur, Overlay blend mode, low opacity) and monochromatic contrast in Photoshop at the end.
And thats about all there is to it! The rest is up to you. Happy shooting 🙂
Just a few short years ago, high ISO color photography was virtually non existent. Anything above ISO 400 would mean shooting with B&W film. Some specialist ISO 800 films existed (such as Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 800), but the image quality was.. well, not good enough. The first digital cameras did not improve on this. Not only would you get a smaller image with less detail than with film, but digital noise would overcome your image, sometimes even at low ISOs, and the mantra was ‘always shoot at ISO 100’.
The game has now changed, though. As you may know.
I am first and foremost a performance documentarist photographer, and today I shoot what was impossible to capture just a few years ago. Indeed, half of my work is done at ISO 1600 and above, and this is now possible to do, retaining high image fidelity and relatively low noise. Each time I buy a new DSLR body (which is not often – as I said I’m a documentarist photographer!), the evolutionary changes are very visible to me in terms of image noise and image quality, shooting the same demanding low-light work.
Now Nikon has released their new flagship low-light beast, the Nikon D3s, and I’m salivating. Lately Nikon has taken the téte for low noise at high ISO, and the Nikon D3s delivers everything you’d need in that department in a pro body, albeit at only 12MP full frame to keep the pixels large.
Robert Galbraith has done a review of this camera already in november, as he has ties with Nikon. Check out his review, with image samples comparing the D3s to Nikons former low-light king, the already very impressive Nikon D3. Keep in mind that this is a pre-release date camera, so final image quality is likely even better. He also takes a look at Nikons new AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens. Also note that the downloadable files are in AdobeRGB color space, and should be viewed in a color managed environment, such as Photoshop (you won’t see accurate colors in your browser, unless it is color managed, which is unlikely).
You can also compare the Nikon D3s to other cameras at DCResources’ Comparometer.
And here at Prophotohome comparing the D3s to Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 7D and Nikon D300.
I swear, ISO 3200 on this camera looks like ISO 100 of yesteryear. Just jawdropping high ISO performance.
I can’t wait to see some more images from this camera, performance, concerts, sports and astro… Oh, and video too!
On top of the hasty pace of hardware technology, software keeps improving as well, making revisits of old photos worthwhile. More on this soon.
Hi. I know not much is happening around here. Did you check out the techniques already?
I can be one lazy photographer.
But you know what? Some of my favourite shots I took right here, at home. In my apartment. Or I took two steps out onto my balcony and let my camera capture the scene I saw, right there and then. When nature gives you gifts like these amazing dramas in the sky, and litterally drops them in your lap, its just a matter of being mentally prepared to capture them – both with your mind and with your camera. I call it calculated luck – but you may call it lazy photography.
This should give me some blog hits 🙂
The Britney Spears Circus is coming to Scandinavia soon, and with it comes a propostorous contract for all photographers to sign before shooting it.
According to this article in danish newspaper Politiken, Britney Spears management demands from all press photographers a signature on a deal that ensures
1) The popstar assumes copyright on the photos, and the right to decide where and when they are published.
2) The photographers may not use the photos after 30 days from the concert. No archive.
3) No photos must be sold on to third party.
4) Pictures that Britney Spears or the event management finds inappropriate can not be published.
The chief of photography on the newspaper Politiken finds it really unreasonable that, while they are not allowed to even archive the photos, Britney can use any of the best shots for ads and merchandise, like t-shirts and coffee mugs…
The answer from pretty much the collective danish and swedish press and news agencies has been that they will not show up to the event unless this contract is scrapped. Nor will they use archive photos to cover the event.
Magic Lantern is an unofficial firmware update to the Canon 5D Mark II that enables a variety of wanted features for videography.
The firmware enables features such as: Manual audio gain (as opposed to the default auto gain), on-screen level audio meters and lower audio noise. On the picture side, you gain zebra stripes (live clipping warning), and crop screen for various motion picture formats.
This sounds promising. More hacks please!
And speaking of the Canon 5D Mark II, canon just announced a firmware update for it, enabling manual video exposure. One of the top customer feedback points. With the new firmware, you’ll be able to select the following in video mode:
Full aperture control
ISO Speed: Auto, 100 – 6400 and H1
Shutter speed from 1/30 to 1/4000
The update will be available here on june 2nd.
Thanks for listening Canon. Now enable a choice between 24 and 30 FPS shooting, and you’ve got a winner.
Did you ever wonder what happened to Vincent Laforet’s Canon 5D Mark II? No? Well, here it is being tested again!* In a true DV rebel style subway short (the subway is at the end) made by Stu. This is probably a more realistic and down to earth test of the 5D II’s video capabilities than the far fetching eye candy of Vincent Laforets Reverie, provided you know some stuntmen, and that you ignore the fact that it really is a true master of visual effects actually filming it.
* Actually, its way unlikely to be the same-same camera, but its a loaner from Laforet in any event.