I think that most people would call me mad for not trying to capture something as sharp as possible. I was always taught that information is king, and this is often the case when working in the studio with clothing that needs detail. So with this editorial, my comfort zone was smashed, and in trying to make the most of a bad situation we broke all the rules and still achieved some amazing images!
Aperture f/6.3, Shutter 1/100th, ISO 2000, Focal Length 80-105mm
This was one of the most spontaneous shoots I'd done to date. We'd planned to go out to a usual spot based in my home town to shoot some 'polaroids' for Loic's modelling agency. What we'd not planned on was the overcast weather and the struggles we'd have with using a lens fixed at f/4. To add to this, the camera I was using generally doesn't deal well with ISO's higher than about 1600/2000. I'd always been concerned about using higher ISO's to achieve images in the past. In the digital world, instead of grain we get 'noise', a seemingly dirty word in the photographic practice. Noise doesn't just hinder our quality and sharpness though, it also blows out pixels, often destroying colours, adding fuzz and producing little red specs across the image.
In the knowledge that my camera wasn't to be used any higher than ISO 2000, and this was already a push, I had to compensate with other settings. Shutter Speeds were my next port of call and in this case I was going against everything that I teach on courses or was taught on the courses I'd attended in the past. 1/100th and below? you're going to encounter camera shake and potentially blur depending on how fast your subject is moving or how still you can hold the camera. For most of the shots in the editorial Loic was standing still or posing, so it didn't pose much of a threat to the images. However, for a few where he's walking across the beach and the waves are crashing in the background, we were bound to encounter blur. I was losing detail with ISO and blurring elements of my images with shutter speeds.
We'd went along with the shoot regardless of what was happening on a technical level and accepted that this was much more of an experimentation. Looking back on the images during post production I started to think about the creativity that goes into the photography of Peter Lindbergh, predominantly using natural light and most likely encountering some of the same 'problems'.
The higher ISO's and slower shutter speeds used for this editorial actually made the images. If I imagine them sharp and frozen, like an image of a waterfall which could have been shot with a long exposure, I don't think it would have represented the atmosphere we were in. It was stormy and cold, the ISO is the storm, with a lack of visibility and detail. The slower shutter speeds add movement and another interesting element.
It's not about the settings, it's all about the image.
Subsequently after this experience I went on to shoot another editorial with Laura Jane Dunkerley of BMA Models. I once again encountered problems with low light and having to use higher ISO's. For this editorial my camera was pushed to the limit, often exceeding the ISO 2000 barrier. In this case the ISO represented the harshness of the concrete jungle we shot in.