Turn Down That Noise
Posted June 5, 2015on:
Welcome again to this little blog hop. I hope you all had fun with it last month and are looking forward to joining in again. If you missed out on what the First Friday Photo is, let me fill you in.
I wanted to give myself an incentive to get back into photography, something I’ve enjoyed for a few years now but always set aside for “more important” things much the way I’ve often done for my writing. Since I found bloghops helped inspire me to get more words on the page, I figured “why not make a photoblog hop?”
So I did.
I wanted to start small since I was coming back after months of not even using my camera. And… I’ve started taking pictures almost every day since. I’ve even gotten my son involved, as today’s post demonstrates.
If you’d like to join in with us, here are our rules:
- post a photo (one you took, please don’t post other people’s work) on your blog
- include a link to the linky (so visitors can visit each other’s work)
- add the link to your post to the above linky (so we can find your work)
- visit other people’s posts
And now to the photos…
I have four pictures today. All three were taken near the NYS Capitol around midnight (the metadata on the images lists the times as a bit off, since another shot we took of the Albany City Hall carrilon tower shows midnight but the metadata lists the time as 11:17pm. Guess I need to fix that in the camera… later.
Anyway, to summarize things, this was an experiment. Why? Because I’ve only taken a few night photos before, and none of them using long exposures or in RAW mode. My hands shake pretty bad for even normal daytime shots (“essential tremor” runs in my family… though I don’t know what made it so essential for us to have!!), so long exposure shots even bracing the camera usually result in wild blurs.
However, there’s a lot a tripod and a timer can compensate for:
This shot almost looks like it was taken during the day (I did do some post processing, but not as much as I thought I’d have to… a bit of white balance adjustment; a bit of trying to remove the glare from the lights of the Capitol). I posted a larger copy of the image to Flickr if you’d like to see more detail.
I have an old Canon Powershot G5 that gives a “mostly manual” mode that I’ve used. In auto mode, these shots would have been close to impossible. Yes, the camera does allow a decent shutter length (15 seconds), but it doesn’t have anti-shake, and it can’t handle an ISO over 400. Correction… it can’t handle an ISO over 100 well. The image above and the image below we shot at ISO 200, and… well, they’re very noisy images. No amount of Adobe Photoshop can fix that, it seems.
Not that I don’t like these images. They’re great. This one my son took. He set all the settings himself, he picked his target (we could barely see the statue in the dark with the way the lights were aimed—in fact, he took the picture in part to see what it was a statue of), and I think it’s a great photo. It’s just not a “great” photo in that it came from a mediocre camera. And I’ll show you why….
See all that speckling in this crop of the larger image? That’s noise. There are ways to reduce the amount of noise in a picture. One, especially with our camera, is to cut the ISO (the camera’s sensitivity to light). Simply by reducing the ISO from 200 to 100 I was able to affect this change in a different shot (the full-sized image is here on Flickr if you’d like to see it):
This image is actually of a smaller piece than the one above, but the details are clearer. If I’d wanted to increase my exposure time (this was 6 seconds) I probably could have gotten even less noise out of the shot by going down to ISO 50, but there’s no guarantee of that. The same amount of light was going to hit the sensor either way…
Still, noise or not, I look at these images and I remember a wonderful evening after writing group where my son and I just had fun exploring the city a bit. We stopped (because he wanted to read) every single historical landmark post, we chatted, and we both tried something new. I can’t wait to try it again.