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Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light

Working with ISO in low light


From:

Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light

with Ben Long

Video: Working with ISO in low light

At the beginning of this chapter, we explored a technical definition of ISO and saw what happens inside your camera when you increase your ISO setting. Let's look now at some practical ISO concerns. When you meter, your camera measures the light in your scene and then calculate the shutter speed and aperture combination that should yield an image with good overall brightness. But then shows you these parameters in its viewfinder, once it's got them all locked in. At that point, you must take note of shutter speed and assess whether it's fast enough to handle motion, the way that you want, as well as being fast enough to prevent camera shake.
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  1. 2m 27s
    1. Welcome
      2m 27s
  2. 6m 20s
    1. What can you shoot in low light?
      2m 17s
    2. What you need for this course
      4m 3s
  3. 28m 54s
    1. Working with exposure parameters in low light
      1m 13s
    2. Working with image sensors in low light
      4m 35s
    3. Working with shutter speed in low light
      3m 3s
    4. Considering motion blur
      1m 14s
    5. Working with ISO in low light
      2m 29s
    6. Assessing your camera's high ISO capability
      4m 52s
    7. Working with in-camera noise reduction
      2m 4s
    8. Working with aperture in low light
      2m 10s
    9. Understanding dynamic range
      2m 2s
    10. Working with color temperature and white balance
      1m 11s
    11. Exposing to the right
      4m 1s
  4. 34m 39s
    1. Introduction
      1m 36s
    2. Talking with Steve Simon about low-light photography
      13m 46s
    3. Shooting by candlelight
      1m 55s
    4. Choosing a mode
      4m 34s
    5. Exploring the role of lens stabilization
      3m 1s
    6. White balance considerations
      3m 27s
    7. Flash considerations
      1m 18s
    8. Problem solving
      1m 35s
    9. Understanding aesthetics and composition
      3m 27s
  5. 30m 4s
    1. Introduction
      2m 20s
    2. Preparing for the shoot
      5m 25s
    3. Act I: adjusting to the light
      3m 48s
    4. Intermission: reviewing the strategy
      1m 53s
    5. Act II: moving to the back of the house
      2m 35s
    6. After the show: lessons learned
      1m 18s
    7. Reviewing the performance images
      12m 45s
  6. 19m 18s
    1. Shooting in the shade
      2m 55s
    2. Street shooting
      2m 52s
    3. Shooting flash portraits at night
      4m 5s
    4. Controlling flash color temperature
      2m 50s
    5. Adjusting exposure to preserve the mood
      2m 34s
    6. Dynamic range considerations
      4m 2s
  7. 41m 0s
    1. Shooting lingering sunsets
      1m 42s
    2. Exploring focusing strategies
      5m 17s
    3. Composing and focusing at night
      10m 42s
    4. Shooting the stars
      9m 27s
    5. Practicing low-light landscape shooting
      9m 55s
    6. Focusing on the horizon in low light
      3m 57s
  8. 13m 4s
    1. Light painting: behind the camera
      7m 34s
    2. Light painting: in front of the camera
      2m 13s
    3. Manipulating long shutter speeds
      3m 17s
  9. 1h 4m
    1. Correcting white balance
      8m 49s
    2. Correcting white balance with a gray card
      3m 50s
    3. Correcting white balance of JPEG images
      2m 0s
    4. Blending exposures with different white balances
      7m 13s
    5. Brightening shadows
      9m 8s
    6. Reducing noise
      7m 44s
    7. Sharpening
      9m 14s
    8. Correcting depth-of-field issues
      9m 32s
    9. Correcting night skies
      6m 39s
  10. 53s
    1. Goodbye
      53s

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Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light
4h 0m Intermediate Mar 29, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join photographer and teacher Ben Long as he describes the tools, creative options, and special considerations involved in shooting with a DSLR camera at night or in low-light conditions, such as sunset or candlelight. The course addresses exposure decisions such as choice of aperture and shutter speed and how they impact depth of field and the camera’s ability to freeze motion.

Ben also shows how to obtain accurate color balance in tungsten and fluorescent lighting situations, and how to postprocess the images in Photoshop to remove noise caused by higher ISO settings. He also demonstrates accessories that can greatly expand your low-light photography options.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how low light affects exposure, shutter speed, color temperature, and more
  • Preparing for a low-light shoot
  • Shooting in dimly lit rooms
  • Using the flash indoors
  • Shooting in the shade
  • Taking flash portraits at night
  • Controlling flash color temperature
  • Focusing in low light
  • Light painting
  • Manipulating long shutter speeds
  • Correcting white balance
  • Brightening shadows
  • Sharpening and noise reduction
Subjects:
Photography Photography Foundations Night + Low Light Lighting
Author:
Ben Long

Working with ISO in low light

At the beginning of this chapter, we explored a technical definition of ISO and saw what happens inside your camera when you increase your ISO setting. Let's look now at some practical ISO concerns. When you meter, your camera measures the light in your scene and then calculate the shutter speed and aperture combination that should yield an image with good overall brightness. But then shows you these parameters in its viewfinder, once it's got them all locked in. At that point, you must take note of shutter speed and assess whether it's fast enough to handle motion, the way that you want, as well as being fast enough to prevent camera shake.

If shutter speed is too low then your best option is to raise the ISO on your camera. Now, doubling the ISO setting will result in your shutter speed being cut in half, that is, if you increase ISO by one stop, then your shutter speed will decrease by one stop. It should be fairly intuitive. If the sensor is twice as sensitive to light, it can gather twice as much in the same amount of time. This means you only need half the shutter speed to gather the same amount of light that you were collecting before you changed ISO.

So raising ISO lets you speed up your shutter speed, and that gives you more motion-stopping power. To make it to the rest of this course, it's imperative that you understand where the ISO control is on your camera. Older cameras let you adjust ISO in whole-stop increments. So they might start a low ISO of, say, 100 and let you go up in full stops, 100 to 200 to 400 to 800, and so on. Newer cameras typically default altering ISO in one-third or one-half stop increments.

So you might get ISOs that go from 100 to 125 to 160 to 200. In this course, you will see that my ISO settings move in whole stops because I changed my camera's default behavior from one-third stops to whole stops. For low-light shooting, I don't typically find that the finer degree of ISO control really makes that much difference, and I like being able to think in terms of whole stops when I am altering ISO. Check your camera's manual to see if you can change your ISO increment. Now unfortunately, you can't just go changing your ISO willy-nilly, because of the issue of noise, which we discussed at the beginning of this chapter.

Therefore, to more intelligently use your particular camera's ISO, you need to better understand its specific ISO capabilities, and will be looking at how to do that in the next lesson.

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