A Note On ISO

 
This photo was meant to capture the light differentials in the Pantheon. But I had my camera on auto ISO and ended up with a grainy photo. Sigh….

This photo was meant to capture the light differentials in the Pantheon. But I had my camera on auto ISO and ended up with a grainy photo. Sigh….

If you take a photography lesson with me, I will not spend much time about talking about ISO.

Why is that?

The answer is pretty simple.

You only ever want ISO to be the lowest that it can go. This post will look at why.

ISO Is Not Essential

You may hear photographers talk about the exposure triangle: (1) aperture, (2) shutter speed, (3) ISO.

In other posts I’ve talked about how aperture can help you with selective focus, and shutter speed can allow you to show movement.

To quote my photography teacher, Andrew Shapiro, “ISO is only ever a compromise.”

This means that you use ISO when a scene is too dark, but you want to have more options when using your aperture or shutter speed.

But there is no positive aspect to a higher ISO. A Higher ISO means that your camera sensor will be less sensitive to light, and you are more likely to get grainy photos.

ISO Is Not A Historical Part Of A Camera

Do you remember back to the days when people still commonly used film in cameras? We had to buy film that had different levels of sensitivity.

Higher ISO film was for darker scenes and lower ISO film was for sunny days.

Aperture and shutter speed have always been functions of a camera to show light, depth of field, and movement in a scene.

ISO only came part of the camera with the recent digital revolution. Unfortunately this sometimes leads to confusion for younger photographers.

Do Not Use Auto ISO

In the case I have not convinced you yet to keep your ISO as low as possible, you may be tempted to use auto ISO on your camera.

Don’t do it!

It’s a bad idea, and look at the above photo to see why.

I was aiming to capture the light differentials of the Pantheon in the morning. I set my aperture and shutter speed to what I believed I needed. But I also had auto ISO turned on.

The resulting photo shows highlights that are over exposed and grays that are grainy.

I wanted to create a captivating photo. But the only reason I pull out this photo is to show people why they shouldn’t do what I did.

So, remember, when you use your nice digital camera, always keep the ISO as low as it can go.

Do you want to learn more?
Well, I teach photography!

 
better photosBryn Boninoc