Tag Archives: night photography

Take out your phone!

Beirut, Zaytouna Bay, Lebanon


I have been in Beirut for the last few days working on a project. Last night, I had an opportunity to explore ‘DT’ or Downtown. We had dinner and no evening is complete without a visit to a cafe. Keeping my camera at my hip at all times, I carried on as per usual and we ended the night with a walk along the marina. A moments inspiration, with the background, technology abound we used out phones as the lightsource to create this image. After a few failed attempts, letter blunders and with the help of two passers-by, we finally got this shot!

What has image quality got to do with ISO?


‘ISO’ index stands for ‘International Standards Organisation’ which is a System which categorises sensitivity of light. Depending on your camera, most ISO settings go from 100 to 3200 or in some cases depending on make can go even higher. The ISO rating corresponds directly with the film ISO so an ISO 100 on a digital camera will be the same sensitivity on a 100 ISO film.

What are the benefits of ISO?

The benefits of being able to change ISO are that you can choose the light sensitivity of your sensor. So if you are in a dark condition/environment then you can increase interior light by increasing ISO. Hence as a general rule of thumb you want to have ISO above 3200 to be able to take some great pictures at night. Generally however below are the ISO the higher the quality of your image will be in terms of sharpness and colour. The moment you start increasing the ISO the more noisier the image will start to become. So you will need to think about what message you are trying to portray through your photography. Having a grainier image maybe style you prefer so increasing the ISO may not be such bad thing.

What are some of the problems with ISO?

Luminance vs Chroma Noise

Luminance vs Chroma Noise

If you are manually adjusting your ISO you will may notice increased levels of noise (depending on your ISO setting). The two main types of noise you may find are known as ‘Chromatic’ and ‘Luminance’. Chromatic or ‘chroma’ noise is recognised by its multicoloured patter.  Luminance noise can appear as black dots scattered across your image. Generally this is harder to reduce as it’s blends in with the real detail of the subject being photographed. You can get around noise problems by using Photoshop or other specialist software such as Noise Ninja of Dfine without losing the quality of your image.

What ISO setting should I put my camera on?

ISO Exposure

ISO Exposure

50-200 ISO – for a very bright sunny days

400 ISO- suitable for a overcast situations or if you need a faster shutter speed

800 ISO- generally for indoor photography or its situations of low light outdoors or if you want to avoid using flash

1600 ISO- generally for my shooting all lowlights indoors.

3200 ISO- same as above and be prepared for more noise on your images.

12800 ISO- Low light Wildlife photography

51200 ISO – You can shoot things which you can’t even see!

Next up – What’s the difference between JPEG, TIFF & RAW?

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