Nick Exposed

A Creative Community Hosted By Photog/Designer Nick Mayo

Downtown Buildings

ISO 1600 55mm f/9 1/1000sec

One of my biggest inspirations when it comes to street photography is by far Jay Maisel. I could browse through his work for days with complete amazement. He just recently turned 80 years old and it shows, not in his physical ability, appearance or mannerisms, but in his wealth of knowledge and skill! He’s famously known now days for his beautiful photography of the streets of New York. He goes for a “photo walk” every single day and exercises his “photography muscle” as he so elegantly describes it. He’s also known for shooting pretty much everything at ISO 1600 giving him a very distinctive feel to his stunning photography.

I have learned so much from studying the work and watching many interviews with this extraordinary photographic master. So I decided to give a go at running about town at ISO 1600, and I must say the noise that you get at this ISO speed gives a very stylized effect which I like in some instances such as this photo, and have yet to acquire the taste of in others. It adds a bit of extra grit to the already gritty scenery downtown and can lead to some pleasing results. And I cant argue with the forgiving shutter speeds it lends in taking crisp shots in busy downtown. I think often as photogs we tend to get to worked up on image quality and trying to shoot at the lowest possible settings that we forget to just play, and experiment. Its great to see a true expert ignore the rules and CREATE his own masterpieces rather than worry about the settings.

I am truly happy I gave this a shot as it has pushed me outside my comfort zone of having to have as sharp or smooth of images as possible. It brings to the table the flexibility of creativity. Though I may not shoot like this all the time like Jay, it is definitely in my “camera bag” of tricks, and I look forward to pulling it out when the time calls… and maybe even when the time doesn’t call for.

Thanks Jay Maisel!

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41 thoughts on “Downtown Buildings

  1. I love the idea, and even more your enthusiasm. I’m going to have to try this out too sometimes, possibly even higher ISO’s as well. I’ve been meaning to start working on creating a, close as possible that is, “film” replication digitally. I doubt it can be done too well, but I like a little bit grainy shots sometimes as well. Not ALL the time, but sometimes.

  2. gweaverii on said:

    The high ISO works beautifully here. The image has a far more interesting texture at that exposure. Thanks for posting the information on Jay Maisel.

  3. belgradestreets on said:

    Another great post. I am going to have a go at the ISO 1600 technique here in Belgrade having read this.

  4. I love this! You always find beauty in everything you shoot and the words to describe them.

    • Hey thanks Nez! Its true theres so much beauty in the world around us that we almost become numb to it. Im just reawakening my senses and allowing myself to enjoy it šŸ™‚

  5. Great picture, love the commentary as well. Its so good to experiment & this is something I’m going to have a go at as well. Some great ideas. Thanks for the link to Jay’s site as well. I can see why you are hooked on his work. Many thanks. John šŸ™‚

    • Hey John! Absolutely, his work is like has quit the addictive quality. I would also suggest doing a google image search to check out even more, as his site only offers a little taste.

  6. Great tones, really fits the subject manner and live your enthusiasm.

  7. Love the shapes of the architecture… very well captured šŸ™‚

  8. Rather similar to the “Lomo” craze, when you think about it. Anything that gets people thinking outside the box (with the hole in it) artistically is worth trying.

  9. Love the’s beautiful.

  10. I agree about shooting at high ISO. It’s not for everything, but occasionally, it works.We must have been on the same wavelength yesterday as my “365” shot was also shot at 1600 and it worked out well.

    Great shot! Great perspective and balance. Wonderful lines.

  11. Does the super fast shutter speed make up for the amount of light you are letting in with the high iso? Rather, is it usually necessary to bump it up that high?

    • High ISO will always make for more noise, but the same is true of very slow shutter speeds as well. The longer the exposure, the hotter the sensor gets, thereby increasing the “noise.” At least, that’s how my photography instructor explained it to the class.

    • Hey Dan! I always appreciate your questions. To tackle the first part of your question, with a High ISO speed like this it is super sensitive to the light coming in, so you can get away with cranking up the shutter speed even at medium to small apertures. As far as your second question, no its not necessary to bump either your ISO or shutter speed up so high. I probably would of had a nice sharp image at ISO 100 working with a shutter speed around 1/50 sec, but this is more an artistic decision rather than technical.

  12. Excellent shot – love the contrast in this photo, the lighting, the shapes, the composition – it works!

    I checked out Jay’s site and wow – he is amazing!!! I’m a new fan.

    Great post!

    • Hey Mona! Im so happy you guys are checking out Jay’s work! It has impacted me in a Gigantic way, and I hope it does the same for you! He is extremely confident in his work, and as a New Yorker he has a no bs way of putting things and its great to learn from.

  13. Beautiful photograph. Especially these blue glasses hit my eyes… Thank you Nick, with my love, nia

  14. Everything about this photo is pleasing. The movement through out the piece, the building details, the touch of blue, and the completely grey sky and clouds.

  15. Another great post and image Nick! I love Jay Maisel, it’s so funny that you mention him as I was watching some of Kelby Training’s “Another Day With Jay Maisel” today while on the treadmill, and I’ve gotta say he just inspires me to death. Of course I would love to walk around NY all day as well, living way out in the suburbs kind of dampens the street photography options a little bit. I’ve yet to try the 1600 iso on a photowalk although with my camera I’m not so afraid as I have used it before with quite impressive results at other times.


    • Hey Howard! Thanks for the kind words! I absolutely love The “Day with Jay Maisel” Courses on Kelby training!! As far as shooting in the Burbs goes, we are only limited by our limiting beliefs. You seem to be getting great street photos in your own neighborhood. It doesnt always have to be downtown, pave your own path! Im sure Im only telling you something you already know šŸ™‚

  16. Yes, I too have done a lot of SP at ISO 1600; deliberately saturating my images with heavy grain, especially at night.

    It is a gritty look in b/w SP, and I love it.

    • Thats great to hear! I had a browse through your blog and it seems youve had good success with this kind creative technique! Thanks for sharing your thoughts šŸ™‚

  17. Pingback: 31st Jan 2012 – Angles and Gables « My 2012 Photo Challenge

  18. Very interesting ! I would have never thought to actually go to ISO 1600 on purpose. Cool effect!

  19. Hi, Nick. Love the shot. I remember pushing Tri-X Pan to 1600 back in the days of film when there were few alternatives for speed. Tri-X was a remarkable film. It had great latitude, great grain, great tonality. You could fall in love with character like that!

    In the 60’s shooting at 1600 was more often than not an act of desperation, but I was always drawn to the grainy textures induced by high speed. I’m glad to hear so many of you followers are intrigued by grain for its artistic value.

    Hope you show us more of your 1600 images!

    • Thanks for sharing Dave! I get so excited when I hear stories from back in the film days. I don’t have much experience with it myself, but I know there is a good deal of info to be learned by looking back! I actually just recently bought an old film camera to play around with a bit and will be posting about it soon.

      I agree, I love the fact that people are open to the artistic qualities to be had with grainy photos. There were far more people excited about trying it then I had anticipated. And you can count on seeing more 1600 images from me, I found it very fun to experiment with.

  20. nicely done.

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