Learn about your ISO setting

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  • If you missed the Photography series you can start here:

    1. Basics to Photography
    2. Aperture Photography
    3. Learn about your ISO setting
    4. Shutter Speed Photography
    5. The Exposure Triangle
    6. Photo Composition
    7. Capturing the every day moments
    8. 10 Photography tips to help you edit your pictures
    9. Some more  Photography tips
    10. My Photography Tips

    Hello new friends! My name is Kristen Duke and I’m a photographer in Austin, Texas with a blog that has a little bit of just about everything. Today, I’m happy to chat with you all about the ISO setting on your camera.
    ISO setting

    First of all, I’m a BIG advocate of turning that camera dial from AUTO to Manual. If you’ve paid a chunk of money for a big fancy camera, you’ve got to use it properly! But I realize, it can be very intimidating…I know, I’ve been there, too! But I love teaching people about photography, and seeing the lightbulbs go off…so lets begin!

    What does ISO stand for? International Standards Organization….huh? Yeah, doesn’t really pertain to you understanding your camera, but it is an interesting fact to know.
    What does ISO have to do with photography? ISO is the term originally associated with the type of film you placed into your camera, also known as the film speed. ISO measures the sensitivity to light.
    Those of you that remember using film know that you put in 200 or 400 or 800 film speed and shot the whole roll on that speed. Well, with digital camera’s, we have the option to change that film speed, or sensitivity to light as often as we want–excellent, right?
    How do I know what ISO to set my camera for different situations? Oh yes, my friends…the good part. It changes as you move from a bright situation to a darker situation. If you are in full su n, set your ISO to 100. Overcast day under a tree, start your ISO at 800. Photography is always keeping you on your toes!
    When do I set my ISO? I say that once you have decided where you will take a picture, set your ISO first. First ask yourself, “Where is the sun” and that will help you determine your ISO.
    I’ve actually written a little book called Say NO to Auto, and today for the first time, I’m going to reveal a page that seems to get a great “Ah HA!” from the masses all about ISO. It is a list of 13 lighting conditions, and what you’d set your ISO at to begin.
    learning iso

    Full sun and open shade, are two very common types of light, and here is another page from my book that gives photo examples and my settings of the available light.

    iso example
    I have lots of emails asking me about taking natural light pictures in their homes. You will have to crank your ISO up inside, no matter what. Try to position your subject facing the window. In the image below, this was inside on a fairly sunny day, but I still had my ISO on 1250. You will notice a bit of the grain in the bottom right corner on the wood (speckled dots that come from low light and higher ISO than you camera can handle). Doesn’t affect the overall image in this case, but there nonetheless.
    learn iso

    When you set your ISO, you can also set your White Balance. This is the color tempurature of an image and often referred to as “cool” (blue/green hues) or “warm” (redish/yellow hues). Some photographers keep their White Balance set to AUTO and tweak in post processing if needed. I keep mine on the shade setting, because the majority of my photography is in the shade. Look for the WB on your camera, and change your white balance by pressing that button (or going into your menu options) to change it. If you still aren’t sure, google your camera body adn white balance and you should find it.
    Something to think about: I am oftend asked if beginner level camera bodies are “good enough,” and my first answer is, yes! You don’t need to start with a high end $2k camera body….BUT they do handle higher ISO’s better. Though the Canon Rebel can shoot at 1000 ISO, it may turn out grainy. Whereas a Canon 5D (pro body) will have a much clearer image at 1000 ISO.
    I’d love for you to come on over to my blog, and check out my Decorating with Portraits series this month February (Jamielyn was my guest on Monday). Once that’s over in March, I’ll be back to sharing peeks of my portrait sessions, home projects, recipes, and tidbits of my life. If you’d like to know more about my photography books: Say NO to Auto and Get Focused, visit the links. In addition, I travel a bit and hold beginner photography workshops and skype mentoring sesssions because I LOVE to help others understand photography, and have those “ah ha” moments! I also regularly share thoughts, pictures, questions and freebie’s on my facebook page, so come find me there.

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