Welcome to part three of our photography mini series. Learning the photography puzzle can have it’s challenges, but the rewards are great! If you are joining us for the first time today, I encourage you to check out the first two posts of our series:
Photography Mini Series Part 1: Six Reasons to Learn to Shoot in Manual Mode
Photography Mini Series Part 2: Aperture: How to get that Blurry Background in Pictures
Photography Mini Series Part 4: Shutter Speed and Metering: How to take Bright Pictures
Photography Mini Series Part 5: What is the Best Lighting for taking Pictures?
Photography Mini Series Part 6: The Benefits of Shooting in RAW
Photography Mini Series Part 7: Where to Focus when Taking Pictures
Photography Mini Series Part 8: How to take your own Family Pictures for your Christmas Card
Here you will find a basic tutorial on adjusting your ISO to achieve your best quality images. Knowing how to use ISO properly can raise your image quality and brighten your images to create a fresh modern look.
Like I have said before, I am offering this short series in hopes of teaching others like myself who want to get great pictures of everyday life.
What do I mean by people like myself? I want good pictures of my kids, good pictures for my blog, and candid pictures of life. I do not want to start a photography business nor hire myself out for family pictures.
This mini series is meant for amateurs like myself who just want to capture life’s moments.
If you are among the thousands who own a DSLR, but you don’t know how to shoot in manual mode, I highly encourage you to try to learn. This is a great place to start.
Last week we learned about aperture. Today we are learning about ISO. Next week we will learn about Shutter speed. Those are the three pillars essential to learning to shoot in manual mode. If you come back next week, this post and last week’s post will make much more sense. Then we’ll go on to talk about good lighting and a few other tips I have learned in the three years I have shot in manual mode.
When I want to take a picture, I set my desired aperture first on my camera. Then I adjust my ISO depending on the lighting in the room or outside. Think of your ISO as a digital sensor inside your camera that can be adjusted depending on how bright or dark you want your pictures. When you set your ISO, you are adjusting the sensitivity of your camera’s response to the light you are letting in. (You determine how much light you are letting in depending on how you set your aperture and shutter speed.) The more light you let into your camera, the lower ISO you need.
For example, we already talked about aperture. The lower the aperture number you use, the more light that comes into the camera. Therefore, your ISO number will be lower as well.
In case you were curious about what ISO stands for, I can’t really answer that question for you. I looked it up myself, and it appears it is a highly debated topic with no real conclusion.
I’ll stop trying to explain with words, let’s look at some pictures:
Take a look at some of the images below to see what happens when I adjusted the ISO. You can see that I left my shutter speed and aperture the same for every image. All I did was adjust the ISO. As I took each picture, I heightened my camera’s sensitivity to the light I had already chosen to let inside the camera.
For my preferences, the above image is a little too dark. It’s a bit too moody for me. This is great for some situations and styles, but I like a bright and fresh look.
The above is getting better, but I tend to err on the brighter side.
The above is just about perfect.
Depending on the situation, I like the above. It’s bright. It’s soft. It’s a bit overexposed, but I’m okay with that. If I were to choose one image off this page to use, the above is my favorite. I like it’s balance. You may pick a different image as your favorite.
Now we are getting too overexposed. We are losing too many details in the image.
Yep, too much light.
And, obviously, the above image is entirely blown out.
After reading some of my comments above, you may disagree with what makes the perfect image. You will soon discover a good photographer is only a good photographer in the eyes of the beholder. If you are looking for a dark dreamy, underexposed, and moody look, I can’t help you much with that. I love a bright, crisp, and fresh look in my pictures.
Another item to note: The lower your ISO, the better quality photo you will have. This is in regard to processing. If you choose to set your ISO at 3200 or 6400, you may start to see grain in your image. This reduces the quality of your photo and is usually only used if you are taking pictures in low lighting.
Just for kicks, I flipped my camera into auto mode to see the image. Here’s what I got:
I see a bit of a difference. 😉
What are your thoughts on ISO? What have you learned when shooting in manual mode?