Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Still learning

I find color and light in a shaded wood difficult to capture correctly, not to mention getting a crisp, sharp image at the same time. I'm still learning with my new DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera and I think I'm getting better at close-ups. But long shots in low light are proving more of a challenge. This is a shot of the woods that Callie and I walk through very often; it's a path that goes north from our house down the hill into the river valley.

You can see how grainy the image is (especially if you click on it to make it bigger).

After looking at this photo for while and considering the camera settings, I have an idea about why it's a bit grainy rather than sharp: it may be the ISO setting. I normally shoot in Av mode (aperture priority). I select the f-stop and the camera chooses the shutter speed and ISO. In this case, I wanted a small aperture for good depth of field, but I couldn't get smaller than f/9 without needing a tripod. At f/9, the shutter set itself at 1/40 second (very close to the limit for hand-held photos) with an ISO of 1600.

Using a tripod, I would have been able to reset the ISO to 200 for a crisper photo and not worry about a slower shutter speed. But carrying a tripod around on my walks is not something I normally do (although I have a time or two). I think I'll try my monopod next time. That may let me use slower shutter speeds, but it won't eliminate camera shake altogether.

Of course, I could be totally off-base here. There are so many factors to consider. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I just have to keep experimenting and evaluating the results. Retirement is a full-time job!

There are several neat things about digital photography, not the least of which is the fact that the pictures are virtually free and you can see your results instantly. Also, the camera records its settings for each image so you always have the details about your photos handy.


  1. An ISO of 100 or 200 will give you beautiful images, but you'd really need a tripod and a cable release, or a bright sunny day without any trees and shade! It's the woe of the landscape photographer! You can get some quite nice walking canes/photography poles, or lean on a tree.

  2. I think it's a beautiful, light-filled image anyway!

  3. You're not the only one Walt who finds a challenge in taking photos of woodland. I've never quite mastered it. I have a mental block when it comes to ISO settings. I have to get over that hurdle. Good luck!

  4. ladyjustine, I do have a monopod as you'll see in Wednesday's post.

    pollygarter, thanks!

    ron, I used to use 400 and 100 film back in the day. But you had to choose one or the other then shoot the whole roll. Now you can choose the ISO setting for each individual photo, of course. So much to think about!


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