Noisy Shots – Shooting High ISO

Melbourne from the Evan Walker Bridge

This isn't a 'normal' photo for me. High ISO and hand-held in low-light aren't really my thing. But sometimes, it's a noisy-shot or no shot. What does that mean? To get a shot, you need light. You've three components of collecting light in a photo.

Cruising up the Yarra River on a beautiful Friday night in Melbourne

Each component has individual settings, and each setting has trade-offs depending which way you go. Knowing what creative outcome you are looking for, there’s a time and a place for going both-ways on these settings. High to low, fast to slow.

I’m a big fan of long-exposures, but sometimes they just aren’t possible with the outcome I’m looking for. In this example – a 10 second photo wasn’t possible. 1) The boat would be a ghosted blur – not what I want. 2) The bridge was rocking around – the entire environment would be a blurred mess. So, in this, I bumped the ISO up high (3200) meaning I could snap a hand-held shot that’s sharp and ‘still’.

  1. Shutter speed
    • The time the iris of the lens is open for
    • The longer the shutter speed, the more light comes in
    • A fast shutter speed – 1/1000th for example – will ensure most movement is sharp, but requires lots of light
    • A slow shutter speed – 1/10th for example – will ensure much more light comes in, but requires elements within the shot to be still
  2. Aperture f-Stop
    • The size of the iris (or pupil), measured in a f-number
    • The bigger the iris (and the smaller the f-stop number), the more light comes in
    • A large f2.8, for example, allows more light than f8
    • A large f-stop (smaller number) will have a shallow depth of field (as in blurred background, foreground and sharp middle-ground)
    • A small f-stop (bigger number) will have a deeper depth of field (as in, more of the foreground to background can be sharp)
  3. ISO
    • The sensitivity of the sensor
    • The higher the number (e.g. ISO 1600), the more light is accepted by means of higher sensitivity
    • The lower the number (i.e. ISO 100), the less light is accepted
    • The lower the ISO, the less noise is collected. Noise is the grain that get’s picked up, and it’s generally seen as a negative-factor. Often, but not always.

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And in conclusion - a photo before the edit

That's a little more of the technical side of a shot. And just to wrap it up, here's the image as-shot, along with a couple of close ups for detail. Not a massive amount of edits, but a bit of 'punching up'.

No edits here, this is straight up, as shot
When there's good light, noise from a high ISO doesn't tend to present as much. It's really obvious in the dark areas, but this is okay for me.
Looking up close, we can see there's a bit of noise.

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