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Volume 1 April Issue 2011

The art of low light photography

Learn to Balance Light 6 Shannon Kalahar 8

Plan it now


ISO Art of Tripods 13

Meet the Staff


Five Sources of Light

Users Submissions

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Light Painting

Photographer of the Month


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Letter from the editor

An intro to low light


elcome everyone to the first magazine for photographers who have a passion to take photos in low light settings. The challenge of low light photography adds a difficulty to getting an image that is satisfying to the photographer. I first discovered about the beauty of low light photography when I bought my Nikon D60 DSLR in the summer of 2010. The experiments consisted with light painting and long exposure along with an open shutter. The results were stunning, I felt that light was being manipulated by myself, this is the art of light. There is a different moment of success when finding light at night or in a tunnel, its a challenge that requires patience and creativity. The art that I felt in my body needed to be expressed and shared, which is where ISO comes in. To any photographer that knows their gear, they will know where the name of the magazine derives from. International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a setting on cameras that determines how sensitive the image sensor is to light. It is catchy and relates to the theme of the magazine, so it was destiny. I hope you find this magazine to teach you, connect and inspire to go out and experiment with low light photography so that you too can enjoy the discovery on being an engineer of light. Danny McDonald


ISO Staff Editor-in-Chief: Daniel McDonald ( Senior Photo Editor: Daniel McDonald ( Associate Publisher: Paul Wang ( Senior Designer: Daniel McDonald ( Cover Photo: Shannon Kalahar ( Advisor: Paul Wang (

Photos: Light Graphy: Drawing

Waking Hours

Weddings Portraits Births Couples Graduations Parties Memories...

5 Sources of Light Danny McDonald

This is a small list of light that can always be found or done during anytime of the day. The idea to present these items is to inform you some forms to manipulate light to make you more knowledgeable with photography. Use the power of light to bring it in dark settings to make pictures at night possible.


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Sunlight is the ultimate mother source of light in any situation even at night! The sun powers electricity on our plane to provide us light during night. But during the day this is the best lighting most people can ask for. It is bright and its the light that can most easily be manipulated. Play with your ISO to get better colors but most of all be sure to have a low exposure like -.3 or -.6 to bring out more colors. If you can get a polarized filter, you will be in love with the results.

Sunset at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Studio Lights

If you got the money to buy brand new hallogen lights, then go for it and be top of the line light manipulator. But if you have a low budget, then no worries. Be sure to check out craigslist to find older studio lights going for cheap from professional and amateur photographers. The next option you got is to make it yourself. Go to Home Depot and check out the Hallogen Bulbs that are sold there and the hoods. There are also clips that you can purchase to make your lights unique and clip them onto chairs.


Light set that can be found at Home Depot.


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As a photographer who loves to experiment at night, you should always carry around a nice bright flashlight around. This is where creativity and manipulation is in the hands of the photographer. Put the shutter on low and then use your flashlight to paint the areas that you want to see more light in. You can be specific, you can bring more life in a persons face and light up an alley. This strategy is known as light painting because you can also play around with actual designs with the low shutter.


Bounce cards, mirrors and any form of reflector is an excellent way to share the love of light that is around, but most of all in what is being produced by your flash unit. Joe McNally once lit up the infield of a baseball field using up to twelve mirrors, one flash and low shutter. With assistance or a studio, you can make one flash unit your studio lights. But it would be a almost flawless lighting if you can get both. Always aim the reflectors to where shadows are, you can tell where they are some taking sample shots during your photo shoot.

Flash Unit

Have a love of money? Then solve most of your simple problems by purchasing a very large flash unit or even a basic one. An external flash unit can cure most of light problems for an amateur photographer, but it also allows for creativity for the aspiring photographer. If you do decide to get a flash unit be sure to get one with a diluter and a bounce card on the flash so you can direct the flash or decide how much you want. Remember flash units drain your battery so be sure to carry an extra one around.

Flashlight that can be found at any home goods store.

A simple sun reflector that is used for a car can be used as a bounce card.

Canon flash unit that can enhance any photographers ability. 7 ISO

Shannon Kalahar Danny McDonald


ur featured photographer of the month goes to a young girl from the Tampa Bay area in Florida is a passion for photography since high school. It all started when she decided to take a photo class for an elective. Her father once majored in Photography in college and had a lot of old textbooks and equipment. Shannon started out with her fathers Pentax ME Super and a variety of lenses, but it wasn’t until she saw a “blank” sheet of paper transform in the developer that she got hooked. Shannon would try to finish her classes as fast as possible and then spend the rest of her time in the dark room. Her camera of choice for fine art is a 90mm Linhof Konica and for digital work she shoots with a Canon 5D and primarily uses a 24-105mm f4 lens. It provides a lot of range and it’s perfect for all of her needs. Shannon’s inspiration for fine art comes from Sally Mann. “Her photographs are indescribably haunting and technically, she is a goddess.” Also artists like Pipilotti Rist who push the envelope and make uncomfortable work. For portraiture, Shannon motivation and inspiration has to be herself. “I have a big passion for people and I believe 100 percent there is something beautiful in all of us.” Her favorite situations are people who hate to have their picture taken, by sitting down and getting to know them before she photograph’s them she can usually create something that they are really proud to have. Shannon loves to shoot her pictures under natural light but she sees “low light” photography is open to interpretation. For example right before sunset or at dawn creates a very difficult setting for photography especially for important pictures such as weddings or vacations. Shannon has taken several pictures of couples during sunset and has found ways to create the low light situation into a portrait that is admirred.

Shannon carries her carbonfiber tripod in one of her favorite spots in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“It was a safe haven, a creative fortress and I think the chemicals found a way into my blood stream because I have been addicted ever since”


Her camera of choice for fine art is a 90mm Linhof Konica

Being a photographer for so long, you are bound to run into difficulties and road bumps. Having a flash break mid-shoot can be deastating for a photographer. Ways to fix the issue is by experimenting with low shutter and even using other sources of light such as a flash light. Bringing in natural light will appear the picture to have more light. Having flash is essential for some pictures especially in low light in order to bring out the specular highlights in someone’s eyes to show color and life. Another difficulty Shannon has encountered is having the ceilings be too high to effectively bounce off flash. This is when props can really help out a photo shoot by using bounce cards to manage the light created by the flash. So with less light and no flash, you can get blurry images, light is the key. Beginners Tip: (Directly from Shannon) The first step to photography is to ALWAYS find your light. It doesn’t matter how perfect everything else is, if your light is wrong the picture will ultimately fail. Also don’t assume you can fix everything in post process. Starting with film taught me to slow down, because it’s so expensive and I didn’t want to waste negatives. Now I make sure to get everything right as I take the first snap, even if it is digital. It will make it easier later on and the photographs will be

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more successful. Some of Shannon’s favorite places to shoot her photography are outdoors, gritty urban spaces are some of her favorite for portraits. She explains how you start to see everything as a photograph so parking someplace new and walking usually yields a bunch of great results. It is difficult for Shannon to pick a picture that she really loves that she has taken. “There comes a point when I hate every thing that I have made. We’re all our own worst critic and I can constantly nit-pick what I’ve done.” But Shannon’s most proud work of her film is one of her current projects she is making for “the Catharsis Project.” Final Words from Shannon: Shoot film (manually), this is the fastest way to teach yourself the in’s and out’s of photography. Having your camera on auto will not give you any control. Research the history of photo, research artists, research lighting. “Light, Science and Magic” will teach you everything you need to know about light. Find what you are passionate about and push it as far as you can.

Photographer of the Month “Find what you are passionate about and push it as far as you can.” -Shannon Kalahar Her favorite situations are people who hate to have their picture taken.

Shannon loves to shoot her pictures under natural light but she sees “low light” photography is open to interpretation.

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Pictures by Shannon

for more visit

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Art of Tripods

Daniel McDonald


he very first object you want to grab when you are shooting something at night is your camera, but the second thing you want to get is a tripod. Small, medium or big a tripod will provide the opportunity to take photos at night and show detail. For best results using a tripod be sure to use a low shutter along with not flash. Put the ISO up to around 800 and a high f-stop. This will bring out details and use the light that is available to its full potential. This technique does not work too well with moving objects, so it is ideal for landscape shots or portraits and telling the subject to stay still. One time I covered an event and did not bring my tripod and it was a candle light vigil at night. I only managed to get around five to eight pictures that came out worth publishing because I used my head or anything stable as a tripod. Save yourself time and get a tripod. There are so many different types of tripods from size and even the material that allow a tripod for any form of budget. Visit for more choices.

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Peter Lik Photography

Visit nature through the eyes of Lik

Miami Beach, FL

Photo Gallery

Readers Submissions



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Readers Submissions Month of April



1 Jordan Gault 2 Daniel McDonald 3 Sara Santarelli 4 Alicia Abelow 5 Katelyn Cucinotta 6 Daniel McDonald 7 Lucas Cannistraci 8 Lucas Cannistraci 9 Sara Santarelli


Very special thanks to our submissions this month. Did you learn a new technique? Try it out and send it in to get featured! E-mail Submissions: 9 6

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Light Painting Danny McDonald


here are a lot of young amateur photographers out there going on craigslist, getting a cheap DSLR and just playing with light painting all the time. These guys go out and do it because they think its cool, well they are wrong, it is really cool. Light Painting is when you take a DSLR and put it on a very low shutter or bulb along with low exposure. Put the ISO at around 600 - 800 and be sure to do this at night or in a dark room. The choice of light can be just about anything but the common objects for light painting is a flash light, lasers or pointers. This is literally manipulating light with your own hands. Follows these steps and look at the examples provided to understand light painting more. To make the process easier we recommend two people or more, but if you are byself be sure to set a timer on your camera so you can have time to get into place.

By using a flash light, you can decide when and where to draw.

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Light painting allows anything to be possible.

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Magazine about Low Light Photography. Created by Danny McDonald for Magazine Design course at USFSP. Created in 2011.


Magazine about Low Light Photography. Created by Danny McDonald for Magazine Design course at USFSP. Created in 2011.