Using ISO to Brighten Your Photos

Last week we talked about the importance of finding “good light” and how to find it in your home. Today I want to introduce you to a setting on your camera that can help you control the light once you find it. If you’ve dabbled at all in shooting in manual mode, I’m sure you’ve heard of the big 3: aperture, shutter speed, ISO. 

If you haven’t already, go back and see these posts about aperture & shutter speed: 


Shutter Speed

After you’ve mastered aperture and shutter speed, you’ll want to practice adjusting your ISO. ISO essentially controls how sensitive your camera is to light. 

Some cameras allow you to crank up your ISO to a really high number with lots of options in between. Other cameras are more limited in how high of an ISO you’re allowed and you’ll likely find it’s tied to the cost of the camera. 

ISO is a pretty simple concept….the higher the number, the more sensitive to light my camera will be. So when I’m in a dark room, I can turn my ISO up higher to make my image brighter. 

Why not crank it all the way up?

Well, there’s good reason. While you can crank it up really high, it doesn’t mean that you should. A high ISO can introduce noise to your image and cause it to appear “grainy”. Take a look at these examples below:

For this reason, I always try my best to first find the best light. If possible, I open up the blinds as far as they go and sometimes lift the curtains completely off the brackets. Next, I rely on my aperture & shutter speed to let in as much light as possible. Lastly, I turn to ISO. If my image could still use a little more light, I crank my ISO up a little at a time. If I don’t need to add in light, I keep it set as low as I can.

Try it out. Play around with the ISO setting on your camera and see if you can tell the difference between an image with a lot or a little grain or noise. 

If you’ve been wanting to dust off your fancy DSLR camera or take it out of auto mode, I’ve put together a FREE Starter’s Kit: Getting to Know Your DSLR Camera just for you. Grab it below. 

Until Next Time,

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