When we are out and about photographing, there are times when the light, or lack of it, can be challenging. You may find that really nice shot, probably indoors or under cover, that is just too dark to take without a tripod or flash, and you don’t have either. So, you walk on and leave that particular photograph behind.
However, with the technology of modern cameras there usually is no need to ignore that prize winning shot. The excuse I normally hear is one of not wanting to push the ISO too high for fear of the dreaded ‘N’ word.
This was certainly true 5 years or so ago. I would never have pushed my Olympus E-1 or E-30 above 800 ISO to get a shot. Any setting above that and the digital noise created in the photograph would not be able to be removed or reduced satisfactorily by any software. So I left shots untaken. That was a huge mistake. It is far better to take a photograph, even if it will suffer from noise, than not taking it all. Think about it. There is something in the scene that makes you want to record it, and which piques your creative curiosity. As a photographer and a creative, you owe it to yourself to take that picture. It may or may not turn out as the best image that you have produced, but it is still a valid affirmation of your visual creativity. Besides, noise can sometimes enhance an image.
Today the situation is different. Most digital cameras boast excellent results at very high ISO’s and so why not use them? I normally use my cameras on auto ISO with the maximum of the range set at 3200 ISO, but recently I have been thinking about those images that I may have missed because I thought that the required ISO setting was too extreme. So, I now have the ISO on my Fuji’s set to a maximum of 6400 and if a scene is dark and I want the picture, I take the shot even if the ISO is as high as its maximum. I have finally learned that it is better to take the picture than not take it at all. Let’s not forget that it is not only cameras that have advanced in the last few years, but digital photographic software is now excellent. Topaz DeNoise, Nik DFine and even the Lightroom noise reduction programs all work brilliantly to reduce noise in photographs.
So don’t ignore that urge to take a photograph even if the light is poor, take the shot.