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.
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.
Something I see being discussed constantly in photo groups and wedding groups I'm in is... how does one choose a location for a photo session?
The most important thing for every photographer is that our clients are happy! So of COURSE we are going to want to know what you envision for your pictures. Do you want a body of water included in your images? Mountains? Flowers? a Meadow? All of my clients receive a free consultation to discuss these details.
Once I know what my client wants in their pictures, the hunt for the perfect spot begins. I typically give my clients 3-4 location options to choose from, also letting them know that if they think of a better location that we can do that too!
We decided to go with the graffiti wall since there is also a bit of nature surrounding the Kennedy Soccer Fields that we were able to utilize for nice, neutral portraits. He was SO excited to be able to get portraits done in front of the graffiti wall, and after his mom saw how colorful and fun it was, she loved it too! We just had to make sure that no inappropriate language or images were included in the background.
They informed me they were staying in Denver, but would not mind traveling a bit to go to the right location. So, I sent them the following four options, two that were further away, and two that were closer:
I also sent them images I had taken of the locations along with the google image pages to help them decide. They ended up selecting Chautauqua Park, and I absolutely love how the images turned out - but more importantly, they do too!
This moment was captured right after she almost slipped off the bars she was sitting on. He, of course, caught her, but they both burst into laughter, creating this beautiful moment. Always have to be trigger-ready as a photographer!
Consulting with a photographer is SO important to ensure you get what you want out of your photo shoot, and don't let the photographer lead you astray either! I find it to be very important to listen to what my clients want and work with it! If I truly don't feel that what they want will look right in photos, I will bring back up plans, just in case.
It also helps to speak with your photographer about potential props you want to use, or ideas you have - some of us keep props from other shoots or random items we would love to use in a future shoot, so it doesn't hurt to ask!
Photographer, visual artist, mother to four fur-babies, and travel enthusiast.