There are 3 basic components you need to master when photographing in manual mode: Shutter speed, aperture (f/stop) and ISO. I'm going to talk a little about ISO and why it is important.
WHAT IS ISO? ISO stands for International Standards Organization. That doesn't really help us a lot here, but just so you know... that's what it stands for. ISO is basically telling your camera how sensitive it should be to light. When setting up a shot, I always set my ISO first (which isn't necessarily the "right" way... but it's what I usually do first). Let's say your camera has a minimum ISO of 100 and a maximum of 3200. If you're outside on a bright sunny day you would have plenty of light. You can use a LOW ISO (say, ISO100). If you're photographing your son in his bedroom in the evening, it's going to be much darker so you will need a HIGH ISO (say, ISO3200).
-As you can see here, in the first image I was outside on a bright sunny day. In the second image it was night time and there was almost no light at all.-
Cool, so why don't I just always shoot on ISO3200 then? That way I have lots of light coming into my camera!
Not so fast.
The higher your ISO the more noise/grain you will get in the image. In traditional film photography, "noise" was described as "film grain." Let me show you an example.
Again, this image was shot on a bright day and I chose ISO100.
When cropped in 100% you can see the image is smooth and crisp at ISO100. The next image was taken in a very dimly lit room. I had to use a much higher ISO to get the image exposed properly. Because I used ISO 3200, we can expect to see some noise.
When cropped in 100% you can definitely see the noise in the image.
Can you see the difference? Can you see how much noise & grain we have in the ISO 3200 image?
In a perfect world, you want to keep your ISO at it's base level (ISO100 for most cameras) for the best quality photo, but you need to determine what the best ISO is for your lighting situation and use it to your advantage.
I hope this helps you have a better basic understanding of ISO and how it can help you photograph in manual.
WEEK 3 CHALLENGE: So, this week will be our last week focusing on manual mode, next week we will be moving on to a new subject. So, hopefully, you are getting the hang of it! Continue focusing on getting good exposure and using your aperture to really control your images (and stay in manual!!). This week your challenge is to shoot some high ISO images! Most people love to stay in the safe zone of outdoor good lighting, but we want you to step out of that comfort zone. So, this week, practice taking more low light images! A little tip, when using ISO, if you just ever so slightly overexpose your image, you will have less noise. Go like the Kensie M Photography Facebook Page and post your favorites from the week there! We can't wait to see what you are working on. And remember we love questions, so feel free to post them in the comments section!
Tavia Redburn is the owner of Tavia Redburn Photography based out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She specializes in newborn, maternity, and birth photography. Her passion for photography comes from a love of preserving special moments. She loves helping people capture THIS MOMENT in time to reflect on for the rest of their lives. She is a natural light, on location photographer and she loves natural poses & neutral tones. She enjoys catching emotion and real life in her portraits! Tavia is also a wife married to her high school sweetheart, an avid Crossfitter, a follower of Christ, and a mom to three beautiful children. You can check out her website at www.taviaredburnphotography.com and be sure and go "like" her Facebook page here.