I have done some more research, this time moving onto what are known as the “three pillars of photography”; ISO, aperture and shutter speed. The first one I spent some time covering is ISO and I will do my best to explain what I have learnt below.
ISO is an acronym standing for International Standards Organization, which as far as I am concerned, is a piece of knowledge that can now be forgotten. ISO is a scale used to measure the image sensors’(the sensor inside the lens on the second path, remember, that actually records the picture) sensitivity to light. The numbers on this scale generally start at 50 or 100, and can go up to 6400. Each increment effectively doubles the sensitivity to light. Decreasing the ISO number will reduce the sensitivity to light whilst increasing it will in turn, increase the sensitivity to light.
These ISO values also correspond to the amount of time needed to capture the image. For example, if at ISO 100 your camera took 1 second to take the image, at ISO 200 it would take ½ a second, 400 ¼ of a second, 800 1/8 of a second and so on.
Utilising the ISO feature of your camera instead of relying on the auto settings will give you more freedom over the exposure of your image, especially when paired with manipulating the shutter speed and aperture. What is exposure you ask? I am sure you have played around in AT LEAST Instagram with the image editing settings and you remember there being one which if the strength bar was pulled all the way to the right the image went white, and all the way to the left the image went black. That is exposure and you are changing it. Wikipedia, a source I hold close to my heart, defines it has “the amount of light per unit area reaching… the image sensor…” (Wikipedia, 2017). “The exposure of the image will determine how light or dark an image will appear” (Cambridgeincolour, 2017).
Your cameras auto ISO setting can still be utilised and slightly managed as you should be able to set a limit on it for the highest ISO setting. Photography life, recommended ISO800 as a good max and I would recommend checking out their article for further reading. Using the auto setting would be good for beginning though I believe playing with the ISO yourself will further enhance your knowledge and capabilities.
Not only does the ISO effect the exposure of the image, but the quality too. A higher ISO will cause the images to become noisy which may be the desired effect so go for gold, however often this is not the case. As a rule of thumb, stick to the lowest ISO you can as the grain will look finer. What low ISO should you use? The base ISO, which is the lowest ISO value for which the sensor can produce a high-quality, non-grainy image and still expose the shot well is the one you want, it is the lowest ISO value your camera will go.
Using the lowest ISO is not always possible and that occurs when we use this feature for its main purpose; manipulating the image sensors sensitivity so images can be correctly exposed when natural light, or artificial, is not working in our favour. In low-light environments, a high ISO can be used to take an image without having to use flash.
Knowing that ISO can also affect the speed an image is taken, we can understand that if we are trying to take photos of someone running, a higher ISO will be desired to really capture THAT moment. In dark settings, a high ISO would also be preferred as the faster shutter speed associated with it will ensure the image is not blurred. At times when the camera is on a tripod and/or the subject is not in motion, a lower ISO will be fine as speed is not an issue.
While I was reading certain articles on the topic, it was as if the penny finally dropped as I made the link between “sport-mode” settings on cameras, which must take pictures quickly so that no motion blur is seen so I now expect they use a higher ISO setting. In scenes like waterfalls though, you want (Well, personally I think they look cool) the water to look as if its moving thus a lower ISO would be used.
Thank you for reading I hope you can make some sense of this! I’m going to try and get out either this afternoon or on the weekend so I can have a play around with the ISO and hopefully some other settings I can learn about beforehand.
Also, sorry about my lack of images, currently spending most of my spare time studying but that is no excuse, my goal from this point on wards is an hour of photography a day, whether that be research or actually getting out and taking photos.
Some articles I found very helpful: