The process:
1. Get full ambient
2. Drop it down to add drama
3. Get the subject back by adding flash.

Starting point:
F8, ISO100 or ISO400, Shutter = depends on ambient
Power = 1/8’th

Be super mindful of what is growing out of the head of your subject

Here’s a good example of no matter how ‘easy’ you may thing it is to get some good shots, you MUST be mindful of things that will distract – ESPECIALLY things in the front or behind your subject.

Take this scene for example:

Problem #1 – light post growing out of trumpet player’s head

Problem #2 – people in front are distracting



Indeed, the close in shots on the player’s head gave a much more pleasing image…  Wish that white car weren’t there in the back.

ATO_0995_20130516_105747 ATO_0997_20130516_105748

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: NIKON D200
  • Taken: 16 May, 2013
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/350s

Strengths of my various DSLRs


This is my first DSLR and remains a clutch component of my arsenal and all comes down to one reason: 1600 ISO.

     Key Indoor Lens Pairings

  • Kit lens, F=3.5, f = 18mm: Suitable for indoor pictures with decent light, either through the window or indoor light sources.  The key aspect why you’d go for this one over the other options I list below are that it is automatic and very wide… meaning that you can interact easily with your subject while also taking pictures (i.e. you can play cards with your kids while shooting close up images of them at the same time without getting up or stepping back).
  • 24mm F2.8: Contrasty, all manual, but easy to operate.  Default settings for indoor shooting: ISO1600, F2.8 , s = 1/30 or 1/60.  You can chimp it from there fairly easily.
  • 35mm F1.8:  Automatic, fast and tack sharp.  It’s taking me longer to warm up to this focal length, for some reason, so I don’t use it as often…

D40 Achilles heel:  since this camera is truly an entry level consumer grade camera, the shutter speed feels ridiculously slow after shooting with the other two bodies.


  • Great, all round body.  
  • Massively capable with a prime lens mounted, even indoor with available light since grain is very fine.
  • Fit’s like a glove and the shutter feel is excellent.  A D90 owner friend of mine shot my D70s and said that he felt that the D70s felt better.

   Key Lens Pairings

The 50mm F1.8 is a match made in heaven on this one.

I remember reading online about a photographer that, in the days of film, shot at the 75mm focal length for practically every shot. Well… with 1.5x crop factor, that makes this focal length perfect.

How to decide whether to go for this one instead of D40?  If it is indoors and you are trying to get stolen moments, go for this one.   The shorter shutter delay will help you get the shot you want. In contrast, if the subject isn’t moving too much, can pose or is stationary – go for the D40.


If you are shooting outdoor, especially if it’s sunny outside, drop any notion of any of the above and bring this camera.  This camera does produce soft images, I don’t care what anyone else says – the images are soft.  I have no idea why this is – lack of in camera sharpening or agressive AA filter or what… I just know that the images are soft.  Having said that – the images it produces for well lit scenes are straight from the pages of a photography magazine.

 No particular key lens parings on this one.  Since you will need sufficiently well lit scenes to shoot with this lens, pairing with a prime lens isn’t particularly necessary.  

Having said that, the 24mm F2.8 AF-D, F100-like feel of the shutter on this camera, it’s rugged build and quick shutter make it a great combo for street/journalist type shooting.

The Auto-focus…. WORKS….. WELL.  Great for birds in flight, but since I don’t shoot birds in flight… something else then, kids soccer games, for example.