Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tablescapes and Exposure Compensation

Mindy has kept a dining table all dolled up for some time now.  She changes it for the different seasons, occasions, and whims that happen to blow her way.  There are several advantages to this:  the table is always set, it always looks nice, never stays the same for very long, is functional, and it prevents the table from becoming a dumping ground for clutter.  Oh yeah, and it offers a nice photographic opportunity.  It's called Tablescaping.
I don't find the word in my dictionary but it sure is searchable on the Net.  The settings are not just a plate, fork and glass.  They are decorated to highlight the theme of the moment.  I've always thought she has a talent for pulling these off very well.  And it never fails when someone comes over that they comment on the table setting and how nice it looks.  

So, anyway, I thought I'd post a few pictures of the Easter table she has set up.  I won't show the whole table, just bits and pieces.  To see it in it's entirety you can go to her site here and you can see the other tables she's done as well.  (btw - I'm beating her to the punch this time so give her a few days to get the photos on her site)  

So what does all this have to do with Photography Musings?  Well, I take the photos for one thing.  And as I looked back on some of photos of past tablescapes they made me cringe.  I felt most of them should be light and airy but my photos are dark and somewhat moody.  At the time I felt they were pretty good but now I just want to take them off the air or at least infuse some light into them.  So what does that say about my photography?  I hope it says I've learned a little over the past couple years of shooting, that I'm seeing better, able to interpret a scene better and am more able to attain the mood I'm after in a photo.  As I said, this is my hope.  

Recently, I bought a SB-700 Speedlight and this has helped greatly with introducing light into a scene to create a mood.  However, as I was taking photos of the current tablescape I removed the Speedlight at one point and introduced more light by simply adjusting the exposure compensation button on the camera in the + direction.  It works great.  The flip side is for each increase in exposure compensation there's a corresponding decrease in shutter speed or an equal increase in ISO value.  

So what does that mean?  Well, in my case shooting indoors with no direct sunlight and having the ISO set to 100, the shutter got low enough I had to use a tripod to ensure steady shots.  Of course, I could have boosted the ISO to keep the shutter speeds up but I much prefer the setup I used.  Hey, I'm at home and there's no pressure.  Now if I could get paid this way....

For those of you who may not be versed in these terms, ISO refers to the sensitivity of the sensor to light.  So on my camera ISO100 is the lowest standard setting and 6400 is the highest standard setting.  If I take a picture at ISO100 there will be no noticeable noise (or grain) in the photo.  If the same picture is taken at ISO 6400 there will be noticeable noise in the photo.  

So because I prefer no noise and a sharp image I have no problem using ISO100, slow shutter speed and a tripod.  And of course, I'll be using the exposure compensation more than I have in the past.  It's a great tool.  A tripod will be the subject in an upcoming article.  I really like the one I have and no, it's not a Gitzo - though I really thought I'd end up with one.  Till then, enjoy.

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