Photo Assignment #2: Relationship Between ISO & Shutter Speed

Our second assignment is all about ISO and its relationship with shutter speed.

From my understanding, ISO is the digital equivalent to film speed. By increasing the ISO, you are better able to shoot in lower light situations. But also, as you increase the ISO, you begin to see more noise or graininess in the images. Though it may produce poorer quality prints, I think that there are some who like the effect. It also gives your images a bit more of a film feel. Now, being a newbie to all of this, what I’ve just written may not make any sense at all… but I’ll learn.

The assignment…

  1. Set the camera to program mode (this allows you to have control over the ISO, while the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed
  2. Set the camera to its lowest ISO (for me, that’s 200)
  3. Take a pic and note the shutter speed
  4. Double the ISO, take a pic and note the shutter speed… And repeat

ISO 200…


f/9, 1/1250 (at 31mm)

ISO 400…


f/10, 1/1600 (at 31mm)

ISO 800…


f/13, 1/2500 (at 31mm)

ISO 1600…


f/14, 1/3200 (at 31mm)

ISO 3200…


f/18, 1/4000 (at 31mm)

ISO 6400…


f/25, 1/4000 (at 31mm)

ISO 12800…


f/25, 1/4000 (31mm)

I know, it’s a bench. Not a very exciting photo set. Stick with me though, the photos will get better eventually.

Final thoughts…

As you can see, for each increase in ISO, the camera compensated by increasing the shutter speed, and reducing the aperture. Again, a higher ISO lets more light hit the sensor, so the camera balanced that by quickening the shutter and reducing the size of the aperture.

Wow, I just learned a little more about the relationship between the three elements – ISO, shutter, and aperture.

Now, because my camera is not a pro grade camera, my max shutter speed is 1/4000. At this point, the photos began to look blown out (or over exposed) and gradually lost detail. On reflection, I guess this exercise was also a good way to help me understand the limitations of my equipment.

Ok, I’m off to tackle assignment #3… depth of field. I love the look of photos with blurry backgrounds so I’m really excited about this one.


My Journey Into Photography

I like photography, no, I love photography! My father was… is… was a photographer. Is it possible to ever stop being a photographer? Who knows, I’m not a real photographer. I visited an Ansel Adams exhibit a couple years ago and was completely blown away. Perhaps this was the birth of my new found passion.

I have always loved photographs but never knew how to properly take one. It had always seemed like a simple concept to me. See something you like, aim your camera, take the picture… done! Not so. What about lighting? What about composition? How do you keep your kids from appearing as a blur in your photos? How do you take a picture in low light without having the harsh flash take over the scene? Well, I wasn’t able to answer any of these questions until I stumbled upon an amazing photography blog series called 31 Days to a Better Photo.

In this series, Darcy walks her readers through the basics of photography with the aim of having them feel comfortable shooting in manual mode at the end of the thirty one day tutorial. She begins by explaining the technical basics, understanding the relationships between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, and ends with discussions about post production (I think. I haven’t actually read the whole series yet).

Now, as a father of two young boys, 3 ½ and 1 ½, and a husband to a super amazing wife, I have some motivation for taking better pictures. Last summer I purchased my first real camera, a Sony NEX f3 with 18-55mm kit lens. It’s extremely compact, easy to use, and takes great pictures. I have everything I need – the subjects, the equipment, and the tal… um ya. This is where Darcy’s blog comes in.

I am going to follow her amazing wisdom and document my progress here. I’ll briefly discuss the various assignments Darcy gives us, share my successes and failures via photos, and give my thoughts on the process. I know it takes much longer than thirty one days to become a true photographer, but I think that this is a solid first step to truly enjoying photography, and hopefully taking better pictures along the way.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.


Father & son in Kensington Market, Toronto 2012