How to take good photos: 10 simple ways to boost your hit rate

    | Photography Tips | 21/02/2014 00:01am

    How to take good photos: 07 Get your camera’s ISO settings right

    At its most basic, the ISO setting on your camera controls the sensitivity of the sensor to light: the higher the ISO, the more ‘sensitive’ the sensor, and the less light it will need to record an image.

    However, it’s important to realise that changing your ISO doesn’t physically change the sensor.

    More accurately, increasing the ISO amplifies the signal from the sensor; but, in addition to amplifying the image-forming part of this signal, it amplifies any non-image-forming elements as well.

    SEE MORE: ISO settings in low light – when and how to increase your camera’s sensitivity

    How to take good photos: 07 Get your camera's ISO settings right

    The classic comparison is with a record player or cassette deck, where turning up the volume makes any background crackles, pops and hissing more obvious.

    With a camera, this background interference results in a grain-like texture in your shots, referred to as ‘noise’: either chroma noise (coloured speckles) or luminosity noise (an overall texture).

    Depending on the camera and the way it processes images, noise can range from being totally imperceptible at lower ISO settings to being so prevalent at high ISOs that detail is lost to the coarse texture, although it’s always most noticeable in mid- to dark-toned areas.

    The simple rule of thumb is to use the lowest ISO setting you can. This will be determined by how much light you’ve got, what shutter speed and aperture combination you want to use, and whether you’re hand-holding the camera.

    If you want to use a fast shutter speed and small aperture in low light levels, 
for example, you would, through necessity, need a high ISO, while a static landscape with the camera mounted on a tripod could be taken using a low ISO.

    SEE MORE: Best photo editing software – 7 Photoshop alternatives tested and rated

    Using flash

    Image by Valentin Casarsa / iStock

    Using flash
    If you’re shooting in low light and don’t want to introduce excessive noise by cranking up the ISO, flash is a great solution, especially if used in conjunction with a slow shutter speed to record the ambient light.

    SEE MORE: Flash photography tips – external flash techniques anyone can understand

    Some cameras have scene modes specifically designed for this (Night Scene or similar), or you can shoot in Aperture Priority (Av) or Shutter Priority (Tv) – the majority of DSLRs will auto-balance the flash to the ambient light, so both your flash-lit subject and background are correctly exposed.

    Don’t forget that you can use flash in daylight too: popping up your camera’s built-in flash can add an instant sparkle to a day-lit portrait, lifting shadows and adding catch-lights to a subject’s eyes.

    How to take good photos: 01 Think about your shots
    How to take good photos: 02 Get composition spot-on every time
    How to take good photos: 03 Ensure your basic camera functions are set correctly
    How to take good photos: 04 Use aperture to control depth of field
    How to take good photos: 05 Use shutter speeds for creative effect
    How to take good photos: 06 Get the white balance right
    How to take good photos: 07 Get your camera’s ISO settings right
    How to take good photos: 08 Take control of focus
    How to take good photos: 09 Assess your shots in-camera
    How to take good photos: 10 Review and edit your images


    What is ISO: camera sensitivity settings (and the best way to use them)
    First camera crash course: simple solutions for mastering your new DSLR
    Night photography: how to set up your camera to shoot anything
    Black and white photography: what you need to know for perfect mono pictures

    Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014 at 12:01 am under Photography Tips.

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