Setting Your ISO
This post will discuss how to utilize the ISO settings on your camera. ISO refers to the light sensitivity of your camera in digital cameras, or the sensitivity of the film if using film cameras.
The ISO is one of three parts to controlling the exposure of photographs you take.
1. Aperture, also known as f/stop (Read about Aperture here)
2. Shutter Speed
ISO has a unique quality to it that Aperture and Shutter speed does not, it controls the grain, or noise, in your image. The image below is a cheat sheet for ISO settings to noise/grain level in an image, but please note that this is not an exact cheat sheet and that sensitivity differs between cameras.
Grain/noise mean the same thing and refer to the speckles/dots you see in images. Grain is a term typically used with film photography, whereas noise is typically used referring to digital images.
Grain/noise is typically unwanted in professional photography services, but sometimes you can't help but to have some ISO in darker conditions. It is also good to note that if you only adjust ISO to increase your exposure, you will also lose detail due to the grain/noise.
So how do you increase your exposure without risking losing detail and without adding grain/noise? You adjust your aperture and shutter speeds! Open up your aperture (make the f/stop number smaller) and slow down your shutter speed. You can also utilize a flash, of course, just make sure to have a soft box over the flash, or another way to diffuse the light to avoid harsh shadows.
Grain/noise can be used purposefully in photography, for example, to make an image look more vintage.
I would highly recommend not avoiding grain/noise at all costs. I would recommend playing with your ISO settings on your camera and see at which setting you find the ISO to be acceptable or too much, and then think of the grain/noise with a creative mindset.
Photography is a science in ways, and in others, it's an art! Don't be afraid to experiment with camera settings.
REPOST: This trip to the The Butterfly Pavilion took place in 2016.
It was time for an adventure to the Butterfly Pavilion!
When I arrived there were a bunch of parents with tiny humans walking into the building. I laughed, and I hoped there would be enough interesting stuff for "big kids". There was.
I walked in, and this friendly elderly lady admitted me in, and told me there would be a release of new butterflies in about 5 minutes, so off I went to the part of the building with the butterflies. Don't let the name fool you, by the way. The Butterfly Pavilion has way more than butterflies. They have a plethora of bugs, arachnids, small sea creatures, and plants.
When you first walk in the door, there is this case that holds a bunch of cocoons, some of which were hatching.
The first type of butterfly I saw was the Owl Butterfly. It is super cool, and of course, looks like an owl. If you had two owl butterflies together, you could almost get a whole owl face made out of the butterfly's wings. How does nature come up with these designs? I'm incredibly fascinated.
After the initial tree where I saw this Owl Butterfly, there was a canopied tunnel that included all sorts of beautiful flowers. Namely these Angel's Trumpets:
There were a lot of butterflies flying way above me, and I only brought my standard lens so I had to stick to photographing the butterflies that landed somewhat near me. I have several other photographs on my external drive from this trip of butterflies from further away, but per usual, I will just be sharing the best ones here ;).
While the two butterfly friends were bigger bugs, there were little guys flying around too. By the time I made it to this little butterfly, I was over half-way around the loop. Check out this adorable Zebra Longwing Butterfly and it's little purple flower:
This bromeliad was one of the last things I took a photograph of before leaving the butterfly room. I was attracted to it because of its bright colors, and I love the bead of water it holds in the center.
Using Aperture Settings
How to adjust aperture using an automatic lens (Note: Automatic lens, not automatic shoot settings): Find the button on the body of your camera that has the aperture symbol. It will usually look a lot like the f/11 image on the first cheat sheet to the left. My aperture button is up by my shutter button, as it is a setting that is adjusted often. To adjust my aperture, I have to push the aperture button down, and click the adjustment dial (see images to the left).
To adjust your aperture on a manual lens, there is a dial close to where your lens meets your camera. The dial should have f/numbers on it, and all you have to do is spin the dial to the aperture number you wish to use.
This picnic was my first taste at photography beyond funny pictures with friends or random photographs of walks around town.
Gerrard-Hoeschler, a company my mother used to work for, would host these annual customer appreciation picnics. True to Wisconsin style there was beer available, as well as food and other beverages more suitable for those under 21.
The man in the picture directly below is Steve Noffke, the man I refer to as my Fairy Godfather. I had shown up to this picnic as a guest, just there tagging along with my mom, when Steve saw me taking photographs with my old Fujifilm Finepix compact camera. He handed over his Nikon D50 to me and gave me a few photography tips:
1. Get to know your camera. Though I didn't learn manual settings that day, he told me to get to know how to use the camera for what it is, a beautiful, complex tool.
2. Try to take photographs of people when they are not looking.
The second point was related to the event we were at, as Gerrard-Hoeschler wanted photographs of their guests partaking in the activities at the picnic.
You will see in the following photographs that I tried to follow his secondary advice. I took photographs of the children playing games, of families eating food together, of the caricature artist creating portraits, and my favorite one, the little girl using a creative alternative method to drink the water from the fountain she could not otherwise reach.
There won't be much text with this blog post, as quite honestly, this event was over a decade ago and my memory of it is quite limited. I hope you can enjoy the photographs as I do. I always look back at this event as the door that opened my photography career.
Here's a throwback!
I was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Hawaii in 2007 with my grandmother to visit my brother, his wife, and their eldest daughter, Natalie.
Of course, attending a luau was on the agenda for this trip. My brother and his wife took my grandmother and I to Germaine's Luau in Kapolei. Of course, baby Natalie was also in attendance.
My grandma was very good at entertaining Natalie.
The luau is not just performance entertainment, as one may suspect. They also serve kalua pig: pork roasted in an underground oven called an imu. Several men come out to light the torches and to lift the beat out of the imu, and the guests of the luau get to witness the entire process.
The luau was a wonderful experience, and as previously stated, the location just made it all the better. I remember snapping the photograph below, thinking that it looked like an older Window's computer screensaver.
Just in case you are interested in learning more about Germaine's Luau, here is their website: https://www.germainesluau.com/
Please note that I am not in any way receiving monetary gifts/rewards for this blog post and for mentioning Germaine's Luau. I simply write these blog posts to share my personal experiences and travels.
Photographer, visual artist, mother to four fur-babies, and travel enthusiast.