TAOP Part 4: Light – Ex 2: Higher and lower sensitivity (Project – The Intensity of Light)

Part 4 : Light

 Project – The Intensity of Light

Exercise 2 : Higher and lower sensitivity

The first two images were taken with my Ricoh GDR 3 compact camera on a day with an overcast sky. I went to a small shopping centre  in a village near to where I live.

No. 1: ISO 200 f/5 at 1/500

No. 2: ISO 800 f/7.1 at 1/1000

At 100% there was obviously much more noise/graininess at ISO 800 particularly on the CCTV cameras; car number plates and the Waitrose sign in the distance. This is a small camera which produces a jpeg at approximately 15” x 11”. Noise would be very noticeable at ISO 800 if the jpeg was expanded.

The next ten photographs were taken with my Canon 500D DSLR, using my 15-85mm EFS lens. Again it was a cloudy day.

No. 3: f/11 ISO 100 at 1/250 –  lens at 24mm focal length

No. 4: f/11 ISO 800 at 1/20000

I chose this roundabout because of the mix of dark and light tones and moving cars. At ISO 800 there is very noticeable graininess at 100% but I had to look much harder to see this at 25%. At ISO 100 the shutter speed was still sufficient to freeze the motion of the car but I can see some motion blur on the bonnet.

No. 5: f/11 ISO 100 @ 1/25 lens at 70mm

No. 6: f/11 ISO 800 @ 1/250 lens at 70mm

There seems to be more depth of colour in No. 6 but the foliage in the background looks more blurred and I can see the noise on the road particularly.. The shutter speed of No. 5 is decidedly low for the size of the lens when handheld, which it was.

No. 7: f/11 ISO 100 @1/100 Lens at 63mm

No. 8: f11 ISO 800 @ 1/800 Lens at 63mm

I can’t see a large difference at 100% between the two here

No. 9: f/11 ISO 100 @ 1/100 Lens at 44mm

No. 10: f/11 ISO 80@ 1/800 Lens 44mm

Looking hard, at 100% , I can see that the wording is less clear on No. 10.

No. 11: f/8 ISO 100 @ 1/800 Lens at 19mm

No. 12: f/8 ISO 800 Lens at 19mm

I can’t really see any difference in texture between these two.

Canon DSLR with EF135mm F/2L USM lens

I decided to do something different, and more interesting to me this time.  I don’t know why but, even though, we’re told to be as creative as we would like, I always seem to descend into ordinariness when I’m doing these exercises. Maybe I’m hoping that some magic will occur as a result of completing them and what was banal will turn into something beautiful.

I have this new lens (bought via Ebay) which can be wonderfully sharp.  However, it’s quite heavy handheld and does not have image stabilization. Both these factors mean that I do have to keep up the shutter speed if I hand-hold but it’s been another technical challenge to me to work out the different combinations of shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

It was a beautiful, sunny day so I thought I’d take the lens a walk along with our two dogs and off we went to the Common.  Sun and trees mean shadows and dappled light.  Add to that two dogs who have creamy coats and black muzzles and rarely stay still (except with heads down) searching out pine cones, bits of bark and other fascinating objects!

No. 13: f/5 @1/50 ISO 400

Dora standing still!  I used evaluative metering, hoping that this would cope the best with the cream, black and brown.The aperture was right but, even though I increased the ISO to 400, the speed was too slow and this shows in her face. There was some improvement through sharpening etc but her face is still slightly blurred.

No. 14: f/3.2 @1/200 ISO 400

I used centre-=weighted metering on Digby. To see if it would cope with the contrasts better than evaluative.  Auto exposure mode gave a shutter speed at 1/200 and ISO at 400. On preview I could see flashing on Digby’s coat so I reduced the exposure by -0.33. His head was in shadow so there is less definition but I was able to improve this somewhat in editing.

No. 15: f/2.2 @1/200 ISO 100

Lady in red walking through the dappled light. Auto exposure gave a fast enough speed with a low ISO setting but, again, exposure was reduced by -0.33 to take account of her hair.  There was still highlight clipping on her dog though.


A higher ISO setting does lead to marked graininess, even with a small size image,  when using a smaller compact camera.  On the whole, I need a higher ISO setting to give a suitable shutter speed when I use my 135mm lens hand-held. That applies with dappled light/shade but would be less necessary with a more even brightness.

I need to inject more creativity into my exercises because when I do I feel more pleased with the results.

10th October 2011

4 Comments on “TAOP Part 4: Light – Ex 2: Higher and lower sensitivity (Project – The Intensity of Light)”

  1. John Umney says:

    Hello Catherine, I read your entry with interest – not specifically in respect of the exercise, which I am sure you will complete with confidence, but rather your comments concerning creativity as I am having a mini crisis of my own in that regard. I currently feel (and this may be completely misplaced) quite confident in the execution of the exercises, the technical aspect of the requirements and, to a significant extent, I can foresee the outcome and naturally I subconsciously shoot for effect. Consequently I am dissatisfied with my efforts which, to echo your point (which I may not necessarily agree with, in respect to yor images), seem ordinary. Thinking about this over the past couple of weeks I am coming to the conclusion that perhaps I should settle on a subject and work with that subject to understand it, to develop ideas around it, to allow it to develop into a discourse i.e. not take a camera out randomly with the intent to complete an exercise, but rather to go to a specific subject – whatever that might be – to develop it’s possibilities and allow IT to contribute to the creative and narrative process. Does any of this resonate with you? John

    • Hello John. You have much more experience as a photographer than I do and, consequently, I’m assuming that you find the exercises even more mundane. Up to now I’ve often gone out, even on an everyday photography outing, with the idea in the back of my head of doing some of the exercises. To that aim I also have a small index card with me noting what needs to be done. It’s my attitude that gets in my way and I think that part of the problem is knowing I’m going to have to write everything up afterwards and that can sometimes seem so tedious. It really cheered me up going off with my new lens and approaching it all a different way. In that sense I’ve made a small step towards making the exercises much more meaningful.
      Your idea is much more creative though – to make the subject the focus rather than the exercise and so have an alternative perspective. Thanks for your interest and your comment which has taken me another step forward. Catherine

  2. Hi Cathereine,
    I have found it difficult to let go of concentrating on the structure focus of the exercise and have lost sight of the subject that I am photographing! I consequently take really dull images from the subject interest point of view which seems to be contrary to why I subscribed. I have faith though that, in the end, all will come together – it’s probably like a birthing process: restricting and painful in many respects – I look forward to seeing the light!

    • Hi Anna, thanks for your comment. It seems that many of us go through this same process so it must be part of a ‘normal’ learning curve. I hope so anyway. I’ve now decided to work through the exercises in the best way I can but then to take some more shots and evaluate how I’m doing things differently. If I look at it that way then I can see how I am absorbing the learning. I just need to see if I can change my attitude. I’ll be interested to hear more as to how you’re getting around the problem as time goes on.


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