Monday, September 12, 2011

Capturing a Better Picture: Tip #3- All About ISO

As promised... I am back this lovely Monday with another photography tip. Last week, when yelling encouraging you to transition to shooting in "Manual"... I told you that achieving the best picture, meant an awesome balance between 3 things: ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. If you missed out on it, you can view the post here. For the next three weeks, I'm going to dig a little deeper with each of these, and today it's ISO's turn.

Changing/Adjusting your ISO setting is definitely the EASIEST "fix" to capturing a better picture. It doesn't involve much at all... in fact, the only thing you're judging, is how much light the environment that you're "shooting" in, has. For instance, are you inside in a well lit area (perhaps surrounded by tons of natural light through huge windows)- or perhaps a gymnasium with horrible lighting? Are you outside on a cloudy day... or perhaps outside on the sunniest day with no cloud cover? When ISO is involved, your camera is rating it's sensitivity to the amount of light it's measuring. And as stated inthe previous photography post: When shooting in a darker setting, set your ISO toahigher number, such as 600-1600. However, the higher the ISO, the more "noise" you'll see on the photo- it'lllook dull and grainy. While shooting outdoors or in a fairly well lit area, your goal should always be to shoot in the lowest ISO possible- if you can, stay in the 100-250 range. I typically try and shoot at 250 whenever possible. It usually yields (along with proper aperture and shutter speed) a nice, clean, sharp image. For most cameras, setting your ISO is extremely easy... and I URGE you to look it up in your manual (if need be)... so you can stop shooting in ISO AUTO... pretty please?

For these demo photos, I photographed them between 4-4:30 pm. With both, indoor and outdoor, I set my f stop to f / 1.8 (I used my fixed 50mm lens) and shutter speed was at 1/250 sec (these are terms you'll understand a little better in the coming weeks!) Also these photos are all SOOC... no editing done to them what- so- ever!

Lets take a look at some indoor photos:

Although I wasn't 100% pleased with any of these settings with the lighting I had in my house today... it's a no brainer which looks "the best". It ended up being an ISO right in the middle... not too high, and not too low.

Now lets take a look at some photos taken outside:

As you can see... even though I photographed these flowers at 4:30 pm... when the sun is starting to set here, it was still crazy bright outside... and therefore, I almost needed to get all the way down to the lowest ISO setting in order to capture a decent image that was sharp and full of bright vibrant colors.

So as you can see... sometimes it takes a little while to figure out what ISO would be best. The cool thing- unless you're drastically changing your lighting settings, you can pretty much keep your camera on the same ISO throughout an entire event/walk/outing/etc. If you haven't already... go figure out if your camera can switch ISO settings. If it can... go practice, practice, practice. Just as easily as you turn your camera on, you'll switch your ISO to the appropriate setting... and it'll start to become routine. Please let me know if you need any further explanations... otherwise, I'll have another tip ready for you next Monday (the day we leave for Alabama!)
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  1. Awesome post Karen! I hope my photos start looking better since this is most definitely not my thing (:

  2. I'm going to give this a try. I'm going to have to find my ISO first though:)

  3. Thank you for the tips and suggestions and the encouragement to start shooting manually - I've never been brave enough to do it, probably because I didn't understand everything. I am eager to practice now :)

  4. Thanks for this great bit of info! I find myself getting a little more brave and trying new settings!

  5. Thank you for the help!! I've been shooting at 800 ISO for a long time, cause I couldn't seem to figure out enough light without it...and I knew 1600 would be noisy. But I'm getting smarter {thanks to you and lots of practice!}

  6. I am literally going to try this today! Love the tips you offer :)