Photo Tips – ISO/Light Sensitivity

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With today being National Camera Day—let’s finish up with series of Getting To Know Your Camera.

ISO – International Standard of Organization or before digital it was known as film speed and not “in search of”.  Well, we are “in search of” more light!

Low ISO – less light and less grain or noise.

High ISO – more light and more grain or noise.

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Low ISO is similar to your camera wearing sunglasses and the higher you turn up the ISO it is like you have taken your sunglasses off.  A high ISO makes your camera more sensitive to light.  It is always best to keep your ISO as low as you can so as to keep a higher quality photo.  Sometimes turning up your ISO can’t be avoided when you require a fast shutter speed.

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In this photo I needed a fast shutter speed to to freeze the action and therefore I needed to turn the ISO up to 3200 to let more light in and then I could speed up the shutter release.  To refresh you from the last lesson, the shutter speed is a measurement of time and it is the amount of time that the shutter is open.  It is always better to have a sharper photo with grain rather than a unusable blurry photo.  f5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 3200

Sometimes you change one of the settings to get the results you want, sometimes two and sometimes all three.

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As you can see this photo has been under exposed – f4.5, 1/250 sec,  ISO 100 and with a few setting changes you have a correctly exposed photo.

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So in this photo I wanted to capture the girls in mid air, have enough light and not be blurry.  To achieve this I kept the f-stop at 4.5, changed the shutter speed to 1/500 and pushed the ISO up to 5000.  It is very rewarding when a dark photo comes to life!

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As sunlight is running out ISO is our friend at dusk.  f5, 1/125, ISO 400

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To brighten this photo I kept the f-stop and the shutter speed the same, but I increased the ISO to 800.

Below are a series of photos to show how light and ISO are directly related.

BRIGHT SUNLIGHT

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ISO 200

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ISO 400

SHADED SUNLIGHT

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ISO 400

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ISO 800

DIRECT SUNLIGHT INDOORS

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ISO 800

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ISO 1600

DARKER ROOM INDOORS

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ISO 3200

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ISO 6400

As you can see, the higher the ISO the photo started to become grainy, but a lower ISO creates a dark photo.  The last photo is not as bright as I would like it to be, but I didn’t adjust any other settings in the camera such as the shutter speed or f-stop to demonstrate  how just changing the ISO can change the exposure.

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With a quick exposure adjustment in an editing program you can have a properly exposed photo.

Newer cameras have the capability of using a higher ISO as the quality has been highly improved in digital cameras.  If you have an older camera you may not have access to a high ISO.

Shutter speed and f-stop are the creative decisions you will make and ISO is there to help out.  That is the beauty of manual photography.  YOU now control the light in your camera!

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