ISO Hunt

So last week, we learned about ISO settings. Basically, telling the camera how to react to the light. A low ISO setting (ISO 80, 100, 200) tells the camera “There’s plenty of light, so don’t worry about it”, while a higher ISO setting (ISO 600, 800, 1600) tells the camera “There’s not much light, so try to be speedy about taking the pic”.

Unlike Aperture, which will let in more or less light through the camera lens, ISO simply tricks the camera into reacting much quicker. There are pros and cons to this, and choosing which one to play with is a science that I’m only just starting to understand.

Our assignment was to take three different ISO shots in two different light settings. I took a few shots at a local aquarium shop (Riverscape Aquiarium) and a few more in a park not too far from home with some friends.

ISO pro:

Bumping up the ISO to get more light maintains a quicker shutter speed (the time it take to actually take the picture), making it possible to capture your kid’s dance recital without using your flash (which isn’t allowed anyway). The fact that the picture is still taken quickly means that what you on the picture is a kid dancing; not a fuzzy blur. In my case, I got pictures of fish, not grey blurs on blue backgrounds…

IMG_2136 IMG_2143IMG_2142

Above are the difference between a slow speed/low ISO shot, a high speed/high ISO (800) shot and a high speed/higher ISO (1600) shot. Of course, these can be worked with to get a better looking fish, but these initial shots are untouched.


This is the middle shot, but retouched to get fishie’s true colour… I’ll get those as original shots soon enough… And when I’m “allowed” to use my flash!
ISO cons:

Having a very high ISO tends to give grainy pictures. The camera is trying to react so quickly to light that it gets periodically confused and may add a few colourful pixels or smudges where they don’t belong. Works wonders to make portraits look like their subjects have really weird and patchy skin tones… Or make my fish models (seen below) look like it’s emanating light.


This is a high speed, high ISO shot (1600) with a lot for the camera to take in… As you can see, the background colour gets grainy around the bottom fish and substrate… A lower ISO would’ve gotten a much more crisp shot; but sadly, the light condition wouldn’t really allow for that, especially without my flash.

I’ll get there eventually… For now, I’m just glad the fish look like fish and not blurry messes!


Remain calm and step awaaaay from the presets!

babyfaceLast week, we learned about the Program AE, shutter speed, aperture and manual settings. On my camera, they’re shown as P, Tv, Av and M. Basically, we were shown how to play around with white balance, and control how much light comes into the shot or how fast the shot is taken (he used the example of a helicopter… “Do you want a static looking image where it the blades are perfectly visible, as if it’s falling out of the sky? Or do you want a slight blur to show they’re moving?”. I’m not ready to go full-manual yet, but it’s to know I at least have the lingo down!

Our assignment this week was to play with white balance in whichever settings we chose between the four mentioned above. I went with the easy P setting, and let the camera choose my shutter speed and aperture setting. I tried to shoot my very active baby and got a bunch of half-blurred shots. I also wanted to see how other colours would look (instead of just white)… So I put a few bright and high contrast toys together and told them to smile.

So, my camera offers 8 different options -well, 7 if you don’t count Custom: Auto, Day Light, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H and Flash. Depending where you’re shooting, some options are best (obviously). In my case, in my livingroom, at night, under a warm light (slightly yellow) these options are the difference between a clean bus, rosy piggy and happy panda:


(shot with the Tungsten setting)

…and a vintage bus, pig-from-the-land-of-Cheetos and jaundiced panda:


(shot with the Cloudy setting)

I also learned that shots taken in these non-presets are analyzed by my camera, who then suggests the best cropping options for a general shot or a close up! Thanks, camera, it’s awesome to know you got my back! ❤

Intro to my photography class

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS

I decided to blog about what I’m learning in my photography class, while I get to know my Canon PowerShot SX1 IS. I’ve had the camera for years, but I never knew how to go beyond the presets…

This class, Beyond the Point and Shoot, is pretty darn awesome so far and I invite you to tag along while I geek out over my classes.

This being said, there’s a fine line between telling you what I’m learning and telling you what the teacher is teaching. I’m not going to give you summaries of his classes, since I feel that would be like pirating his brain. I’m not big on that.

SO! Without further ado… Let’s get blogging! 😀