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‘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?
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?
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?
Photography is a skill, and Night photography requires finesse! When it’s done well, it brings out the best. Here are top 10 common mistakes photographers make at night and how to overcome them:
Negligence of White balance:
Proper white balance is indispensible for fine photographs. For consistent results, best set the white balance to manual. Cloudy or Tungsten settings provide the best way to warm up (more orange) or cool down (more blue) your scenes respectively.
Even with higher ISO settings, shutter speeds would be significantly slow at night. Therefore, a tripod is crucial for sharp images. Resting the camera on a flat surface is a good alternative.
Lack of Planning:
It’s always essential to plan before venturing out in the night! Plan well to choose great locations, great lights, great architecture and safest position.
Narrow lens aperture:
In low light, the sensor requires more light on it. Therefore, a wider lens aperture is critical. Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II offers great features for night photography!
Wrong ISO setting:
High ISO amplifies light signals after they are received by the pixels. However, amplified background signals create noise. Canon compact digital cameras with the HS System lower noise levels by 60%. Also, customize the ISO setting based on your shot.
Most photographers abstain from flashlight at night. But use it to lighten up an important part of the foreground that’s dark or to draw attention to something.
Almost everyone avoids capturing people in scenic shots. However, including them at night can make some scenes alive. Shooting at a fast speed can keep a figure recognizable. Creatively blurring them by varying the shutter speed often looks beautiful.
Use of UV Filters:
UV filters create internal reflections. Instead, use a lens hood to protect the lens and block out other light.
Touching the Camera:
While taking long exposures at night even pressing the shutter button can blur the images. Therefore, use the self-timer. Avoid holding on to the tripod. Using Mirror-lock avoids slightest movement.
Improper compositional considerations
The scenes must be carefully studied to make the best compositional considerations before clicking. Zooming in on the most photogenic areas helps in moving closer to the subject!
Night photography is always a tricky puzzle. One question that commonly arises is about going auto mode or manual mode for night photos. Though amateurs like to go with auto mode, manual mode is in fact, the best. There are several reasons why you should opt for manual mode. Its agreeable manual mode requires too much work, but it’s equally rewarding as well. Auto mode photographs are easier, but look amateurish. For instance compare it with a bot driven car. The humanly feelings in settings can’t be outdone. Manual settings grant the liberty to manipulate, enhance and master applications.
A better understand of various aspects of your camera would help you understand how to make amazing photographs. Manual mode gives you the space for optimal creativity. Night photography is a peculiar art. The backgrounds are often mere distractions in night photos. Backgrounds not enhanced are always annoyances. You might want to blur the background and isolate a particular subject. Your auto mode is never going to serve that purpose. Another major reason to prefer manual mode is the need for multiple exposure. Auto mode doesn’t provide that.
You might feel the light sources at night are overly exposed whereas things that lay at bottom are not. A remedy is not going to come via single exposure technique. Consistency is another issue with auto mode. If amazing photos are taken repeatedly through auto mode, chances are you never went out of similar conditions. Light colours in night photos can do badly at night metering. Colours like white are thrown out of focus very quickly. When camera senses low light settings, it tends to bump up iso and turn flash on. Auto mode can’t recognize your tripod is set up and no flash is required.
Auto mode doesn’t do help with choosing your preferred focal point. Most possibly, it is going to focus the wrong spot. Depth of the picture can get hap hazardous as a result. Most conditions fool auto mode’s light and depth meter. Finally, learning photography is not going to happen in auto mode. Amateurs learn a lot with their trial and error methods.