Fun with Photography (ISO)

Here’s is another installment from my travel photography course at Matador U. This time the assignment is practicing with ISO. I’ll be honest. I don’t mess with ISO much. I often forget to adjust it and if I have a tripod on hand I don’t find many opportunities to change ISO. Today I have an opportunity to share some ISO photo samples.

Note: I’ve reduced the resolution on all of these photos for faster webpage loading; otherwise, no other edits have been made to these photos. And, yes, I know that these could use some editing, but for the purpose of this exercise I wanted to keep them as is. If I was going to use any of these photos in a story I would have done additional editing.

Purpose of ISO

From Matador U’s travel photography course:

The letters ISO on your digital camera refer to the “film” speed. Even though your digital camera doesn’t use traditional camera film, the ISO setting still has the same function as on older film cameras, in the sense that it determines the image sensor’s sensitivity to light.  The most common ISO range is from 100-800, but some go as low as 50 and as high as 6400. Unlike the confusing aperture numbers, the ISO numbers are easier to remember: the lower the number, the slower the speed; the higher the number, the faster the speed.  Setting the film speed before you take a photo is of the utmost importance. In bright or sunny conditions, a low ISO is generally used — 50, 100, or 200.  If the sky is overcast or it’s late evening, then the 400-800 bracket is best. During night or in cases of low light (such as at an indoor concert or outside during twilight), selecting a higher ISO setting will increase your options in terms of setting the shutter speed and / or aperture.  Be aware, though, that there’s a price to pay for using higher speeds: it’s called “noise” or “grain.”

The Scenario

I want a shutter speed of 1/6 second to capture the water to my preference.  I also need a large aperture so that most/all of the photo is clear.  However, the sun hasn’t quite risen above nearby Mount Index.  My only choice is to change the ISO.  I started with the lowest ISO of 100 and shot the same composition at every ISO setting my camera is capable of shooting.  The photos start underexposed at ISO 100 and end overexposed at ISO HI 2.  Which is your favorite?  I’ve noted my favorite at the end of this post.


My Favorite

ISO 800
ISO 800

Fun with Shutter Speed and Aperture

4 thoughts on “Fun with Photography (ISO)

  1. Mmm interesting. I remember learning about ISO years back but never really tinkered around with it. I think I will have to now. BTW I actually like 1600 myself 😉

    • I went back and forth between 400, 800, and 1600. I think any of them, with some editing, would work. I forget often, but I need to remember ISO during those times I forget my tripod. It would be easier to change the ISO than trying to find a surface to steady my camera. I can’t quite figure out why it always escapes me to use it. I always remember afterwards when I have a bunch of crappy photos. Maybe now that I’ve written about it, it will sink in.

  2. In this one, I quite like the 400 one too though it does leave the background a tiny bit dark. What aperture did you use, out of interest??

    • Thanks for your comments. I actually liked the 400 as well and maybe with some post processing it could be lightened up. The only reason I didn’t choose it was because it was so dark. I shot all of these at f32. I’m not sure that would have been my decision had I not been specifically attempting to get ISO samples for this assignment.