Hey hey! It’s #TravelTuesday again here on ScottKelby.com and that means it’s time for this weeks #HybridDaveTuesdays post! This week I want to talk to you about my prior aversions to auto-ISO and how I overcame them.
ISO stands for International Standards Organisation, and it’s a standardised scale for measuring sensitivity to light. That’s boring though. It pertains in todays world to how sensitive a sensor is, but was obviously used in its same scale for measuring the sensitivity of film. It’s one of the three elements of exposure, alongside Aperture and Shutter Speed, but although these two are commonly understood it seems that ISO is the link in the chain which causes the most confusion.
I won’t make this a lesson on ISO, more of a glimpse of why I have switched to auto-ISO. And it was a bit of a big deal for me because I like to retain absolute control with my camera and basically not let it think for itself….. here’s what happened:-
ISO at higher sensitivity always used to mean grainy exposures. Noisy images and a lack of quality. Well looking at recent developments in the quality of higher ISO performance it’s certainly fair to say that it’s no longer as relevant as it used to be. I’ve shot fully manual for as long as I can remember, but it’s because of one situation very recently that I realised that perhaps auto-ISO is the way forward. Here’s the shot:-
So I was hunting for candid portraits all day in Marrakech with Scott, his brother Jeff, and good friend Mike. We found one thing universally characteristic of Moroccans – the aversion to having their photo taken! Finding our candids was no easy task so everything had to be set up exactly right for the moments which presented themselves, which were not at all prevalent. To get this shot which I’d seen from the minivan we were cruising Marrakech in I had to ask the driver to go around (which I wasn’t doing for the first time that day) to get another glimpse through the open door into this mechanics garage. Upon stepping, at the 200mm end of my lens, across to shoot this the old gent raised his hands and lowered his head. It was a split second, but knowing exactly what I wanted from my shutter and my aperture I was able to use auto ISO to get the right exposure.
What I’ve discovered is that contrary to my previous fear of raising the ISO, I’ve now swung the other way and would much rather have a well exposed image even if it does have a little grain. Nobody ever really looked at a well exposed and well composed image and turned their nose up at the noise caused by a high ISO. In fact there are many, many tutorials telling you how to add noise to your images. Furthermore, removing a thought process and giving the camera the decision with regards to ISO makes the whole process a whole lot easier unless there’s a specific reason why I need to retake control. I’ve found it a really rewarding experience to concentrate more on the image and less on the settings, particularly when I can’t afford so much time on a shot.
So in essence I’m telling you this:-
Have a read of your camera manual, learn about auto ISO (and what I’ll call semi-auto, whereby you set limits) and give it a try. You might love it just as much as I do.
(By the way, the picture I’ve shown you is actually two photos. The old man’s reactions were far quicker than mine – they really don’t like having their photo taken! One shot has a clear view of his face with a huge chunk of trailer in the way blocking parts of the workshop. If you think you can spot the major changes feel free to get in touch and I’ll tell you if you’re right! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram)
Timing of this writing is perfect. I’ve switched to Auto ISO myself just a couple of weeks ago. I decided to try it at an Airshow and it worked perfectly! I agree that once you push yourself over that psychological barrier of having to control every single setting, you can focus more on composition and better enjoy taking the shot. As per the noise, well, I never had an issue with it. I think it adds “character” to the right shot. Better a noisy shot than a blurry one. Happy shooting, Dave!
Sorry for such a late reply Luis, I’ve been a bit busy! It’s great to hear other people feel the same way – with the progression of the tech we carry it’s far more of a forgiving option than it once was. I have to admit I’m a bit of a plane geek too! Great to hear from you! :)
I believe the man with face averted shows significantly more dignity than the photographer who insists on infringing upon his privacy.