Gaining Grain

Gaining Grain

Gaining Grain Blog Taking pictures is something most of us do daily, just take a look at Instagram. 70 million photos and videos are being posted every day according to Instagram’s website. Many times these pictures are taken on our phones, our phone settings are the same as the ones on our cameras, only difference is we have more control over the settings in our DSLR cameras. Do you feel like your pictures are coming out grainy? There is a setting to help you adjust the amount of grain in your pictures. ISO (pronounced “EYE-so”) is represented by the International Organisation for Standards, and refers to – in simplest terms – how sensitive a particular film is to light or in a digital setting how sensitive your camera is to light.

Your camera’s ISO settings will most likely range between 100 and 1600+ and you should change it based on what your environment’s lighting is. For example, if you’re taking pictures outside on a bright and sunny day, your camera’s sensor doesn’t have to be as sensitive so it can be set to 100. On the flip side, if you’re taking pictures in a dark setting, outside at night or maybe in a museum, your sensor will need to be more sensitive to absorb more light and the ISO should be higher, say 1600.

Now, you may be wondering, “what exactly is this doing to my picture?” I’m glad you asked! Having your ISO setting higher, you’re telling the sensor to absorb more light. Since your picture is made up of millions of little pixels, each one of those pixels will become “brighter.” Doing this will start to make your picture look “grainy.” You may not notice the “graininess” on your camera’s LCD, because of it’s size, but it will become noticeable on your computer screen or when you print them.

Gaining Grain BlogNow, you may be scared to use a high ISO setting, but you shouldn’t be! You may be looking to give a picture a “nostalgic” or “antique” look and using a higher ISO setting than you actually need can help you achieve that. You would also want to to bump up your ISO when you want to “stop motion” or capture the night sky. To “stop motion”, your shutter speed would have to be greatly increased. Since the shutter is faster, your sensor needs to be more sensitive (higher ISO) to achieve the same exposure. To take a picture of the night sky, you have two choices. You can do a long exposure shot, which will give you a “shooting star” sky, or you can have a higher ISO setting to get a quick, star-filled sky.

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Professional head shot by Tonya Moken.

Professional head shot by Tonya Moken.

Tonya Moken is the owner of TLM Productions, LLC, a business focusing on you in South Jersey and Philadelphia. Please call TLM Productions’ Tonya Moken at 609.440.6176 or email her at for a project quote or photography lessons today!

This blog was written by Tonya Moken and Matthew Goswick.


Tonya Moken created TLM Productions, LLC because of her love of story telling through the mediums of videography and photography. Everyone has a story to tell, and Tonya wants to help you tell yours.

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