Noise in a photograph can make or break it. Remember from last month, noise in a digital photo is the same concept as grain in a film photograph.
In the first photograph to the left, the grain works really well with the photo. It gives it a mysterious, mesmerizing quality. He even developed this film photo to have a vignette, which helps center the focus on the tree in the middle.
The second photograph to the left overuses grain. It blurs the photograph and takes necessary details out of the image needed to communicate the message the photographer was trying to convey.
Both of these photographs discussed thus far are film photographs. Now let's look at how digital "noise" effects photographs.
The first photograph shows very strong noise. Makes the photograph appear very aged, and doesn't make for a very strong photograph in general in terms of execution and communication. Click on the image to see more of Todd Klassy's amazing works.
The second photograph is a better use of noise. It gives the image a surreal feeling, which goes with the late at night shot.
So how does one control the noise, or grain, in their photographs? You control the ISO. For certain types of film, the packaging will have a recommended ISO setting for you to use. On film cameras, there will be a dial on top of your camera to adjust the ISO settings.
For digital cameras, you'll have to go into your menu to change your ISO. In the image below, you can see that my ISO is set at 100. To adjust this on my Nikon D3300, I press the i button, scroll over to ISO with my navigation pad, press my OK button in the middle of the navigation pad, then scroll through to the ISO I desire to use and click OK again (see the last image to the right). The higher your ISO, the more noise/grain there will be in your images.