Noise

I’ve not been very evident in here of late but have been working!  A roadshow but landscape photographer David Noton, which I will write about separately and a 1/2 day workshop and the International Centre for Birds of Prey, have kept me busy amongst other things.  But on to noise….

Getting down to this exercise hasn’t been too easy because I was asked to find a picture situation that included daylight indoors photography.  Fat chance, the only day when it would have been possible to take pictures indoors in daylight was the day of my Birds of Prey workshop, which I’m not complaining about but it does mean that if I’ll for crack on with this I needed to compromise.

I started by looking at the ‘key resources’ images and I must say that I thought that the mottling on the tweed jacket was noise and that this was less acceptable than the noise on the dancer’s which is quite a busy image and my attention was taken up by the action.

Noise ISO 100

When it came to the images I took for the exercise, I used a daylight desk lamp to give me enough light to take the photographs but even then the shutter speed was very slow on quite a number of them and as pointed out in the text, this brings with it its own kind og noise.  The subject  I chose to photograph was an orchid against a pale background.  I set the camera on a tripod so that all of the images would be identical except for the noise and set the aperture at f16 as I wanted the flower to be sharp throughout.  Even with the lamp and in aperture priority mode those images where the ISO was low (below 500) were underexposed and have all have had exposure adjusted in Lightroom before being uploaded.  Even at ISO 300 the noise is evident when you zoom right in and at anything more than ISO 500 it can be easily seen at normal viewing size.I reflected in my post about the landscape photography workshop I did that I was picked up on a breaking wave image which was shot at ISO 1250 on a very dull day.  That was the only way I was going to get that shot and ok, the message may well be go back and take it again in better weather.

Noise ISO 500

At the bird of prey centre, the only way we could get flying shots was with a very fast shutter speed and even on the lovely day we had, that meant pushing the ISO up higher than we would normally use. Even static shots, later in the day when the light levels were starting to drop, meant that we needed a higher ISO to got anything remotely sharp.

Noise ISO 1250

The text suggests that the decision as to whether noise is acceptable in any image should lie with the author.  For me, I guess that would depend, not only on the subject but also on what I wanted to do with the picture.  The clean, simple lines of a flower would be spoiled, I think by noise.  In the case of the orchid, these is quite a lot of texture in the petals and bud that would be lost in a noisy image.

Noise ISO 3200

Noise on the other hand it might not  be such a problem in a busier subject, or it might be the only way you were going to get a picture. The following are some examples of what I mean.  If the image was to be displayed digitally as a projected image on a big screen, say for a camera club competition, the noise would be much more obvious than if it were to printed in say A4.

Noise ISO 6400

To test this further, I have printed one of the images with middle range ISO, in this case ISO5oo, to judge the effect and will submit this as a sample of printed work with the assignment for this module.  I think I just about get away with it as an A4 print but even on my computer display, the noise is obvious distracting. Having reflected on all of these images, the one thing I would do if I shot them again was adjust the composition so that the centre of the main flower is not dead centre in the frame.

Some of my other noisy pictures mentioned above.  Whilst I feel that the noise in the owl images is acceptable, the colours in the wave are much more similar and the noise very noticable and distracting.  I will make a print of one of the owl images and the wave to submit with my assignment for this module.

Owl landing ISO 320

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About Anne Bryson

I live in Gloucestershire with my husband Iain and West Highland Terrier, Isla. I enjoy golf, photography and my grandchildren, not necessarily in that order! Having completed a 10 week digital photography course with the Open University in 2010, I decided I wanted to take my photography further and enrolled for the Open College of the Arts BA (Hons) starting with 'The Art of Photography' which I enjoyed so much that I went gone on to do Digital Photographic Practice and People and Place. In April 2016 I enrolled on my fourth OCA photography course, Documentary. This blog is my Learning Log for this course.
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