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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Let the subject shine through the noise

Even though I am a definite convert to the things David Hobby is doing with off-camera small flashes over at Strobist I have to admit to being a lover of natural light.

Which is all well and good if you've actually got some light! But what do you do after the sun goes down? Get the tripod out and experiment with two minute long exposures?

Sure that's always great fun but one of the most fantastic things about digital is that you can shoot at night! The camera can see things our own eyes almost can't. This photo was taken in the little town of Mapoon up near the very northern tip of Australia on Cape York. It was taken at a little after 7pm and it was literally pitch dark. I could hardly see my hands in front of my face.

So I put the camera on 3200 ISO and started snapping away. Even then I was getting barely handholdable shutter speeds, but I managed to retain the atmosphere of being on a crocodile infested river in a very small boat late at night.

We were working with the Mapoon Turtle Rescue Project and heading out to tag and mark nests, as well as fix any that had been damaged by wild pigs and dogs. The look of anticipation on Sue's face far outweighs any blurring issues due to hand shake or movement. For me the issue of noisy high ISO pictures becomes irrelevant when you get a picture like this. At this size can you see any noise anyway?

Sometimes we need to step back from all the technical hoo-haa and talk of what ISO settings you can actually use and just take photographs. Let the subject speak for itself and outshine all the technical concerns. If you pay too much attention to what people say you can or can't do you'll miss some great moments.

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