Attacking That ISO Setting//Tip for Low-Light Shooting

Kansas City Photographer

If you follow along with me on Instagram, you probably saw my poll about touching on this subject.

Well…Here I am doing just that!

Hi, Friends! Happy Friday!

I’m going to give you a crash course on how to tackle your ISO Settings with a step-by-step post.

First, Let’s get back to the basics—

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What is ISO?
To get real with it, I’ll share this excerpt from the Digital Trends page.

ISO simply stands for the International Organization of Standardization, which is the main governing body that standardizes sensitivity ratings for camera sensors (among many other things). The term was carried over from film, when the ISO rating was known as the“film speed” and “ASA.”

What this means is that it’s making your image sensor less (or more) sensitive to light. The higher your ISO, the more light sensitive your sensor is.
What does a high ISO also mean?
That’s right, peeps. If you’re a beginner photographer and you’re noticing that your images look a little “grainy” and not as sharp as they should? Turn down that ISO! :) The less amount of light sensitivity you give to the sensor, the less grain you will have.

When should you have a higher ISO Setting?

Usually, in any low-lit conditions. Just remember that the higher your ISO increases, the more you’re sacrificing the quality of your image. Below, I’ll show you my process for determining the amount of light I let in. Check out my tips below!

Determine your shutter speed and aperture first!

Simply put, if you want a more “artistic vision” focus with a shallow depth of field, you’re going to put your aperture as wide open as it can get (somewhere around f/1.8 as an example). If you know you’re going to want more of your image in focus, you’ll set it higher (this usually applies to things like group photos, or portraits that are shot from far distances). Make sure your ISO is at the lowest possible setting (around 100 or so) unless you already know you’ll need to be a little bit higher (if you’re shooting sunset hours or indoors). From here, adjust your shutter speed until your light meter reaches the center of your gauge just like this.

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I have my camera set the way I want, but my meter isn’t even CLOSE to centered!

Don’t you worry your little heart. I gotchu, and this is where our tricky ISO Setting comes in:
Crank up that ISO!
Okay…I shouldn’t say “CRANK” if you’re just starting out, but take it up one step..Maybe from 100-200 and watch your light meter get just a little bit closer to that center point! Maybe this is already enough, but if it still hasn’t reached the center point, take it up again until you notice your light meter is where you want it to be.

With all of this being said, there are times where I will lower my shutter speed as much as possible, but this is a good starter guide for anyone that may be confused on HOW IN THE HECK you operate this setting.
Don’t ever let your shutter speed get lower than twice the amount of your lens focal distance. <— WAIT, WHAT?
Yeah…Sorry that was probably confusing, but it’s the only way I can describe it with my fingers on a keyboard right now.

See that 50mm lens you’re shooting with? ……Or whatever lens you choose, of course!
Make sure your shutter speed never goes lower than 1/100 to avoid blur. This will also help when determining your ISO settings. If you’re shooting with an 85mm, never let that shutter speed go lower than 1/180 or so. Trust me on this. It’s a good rule of thumb :).

That’s all of the crazy rambling I have for today’s post!
Please comment below if this helped you out or if you have any questions! I’m here to help!