Another night shot – I have a bit of a thing for heading out with my camera and tripod at night, these days.
I arrived early, way before the sun went down, and positioned myself on a pedestrian bridge over the N2 at Woodstock in Cape Town. Getting there early meant that I could record the changing light, and be ready when those few minutes of perfect light smile down on photographers – you know, that light that floods the world while you’re either sitting in the office, or driving in your car, cooking dinner … anything but taking pictures. I took a lot of pics that evening; once I start, I find it hard to stop. Lost track of time, kind of lost track of where I live – i.e. in a place where what belongs to you also belongs to those who want it.
This pic is one of my favourites, though.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case I haven’t – I generally keep my ISO at 100 when I take low light pics. I know, I know … you’ve been told to up the ISO to make the sensor more sensitive to light so that you can take pictures in the dark. And, yes, this is true. But: the camera is being kept nice and steady on a tripod, and I want a slow shutter speed. So why, then, would I want to crank up the ISO? Sure, if I had no tripod and had to hold the camera steady in my hands, I would have to increase the ISO as much as possible. Try as much as you like, but there’s no way you can keep a camera steady for seconds at a time. The higher ISO would mean a faster shutter speed, which, in turn, would mean shorter light trails. A different picture entirely, in that case.
Similarly, if I wanted to photograph a person in low light, and didn’t want to use flash, I would have to increase the ISO. Why? Because the person would not be able to keep perfectly still for a few seconds, and would end up blurred – even if I had the camera mounted on a tripod.
So, unless I want a fast shutter speed so that I can freeze motion and/or avoid camera shake, I do not need a high ISO when taking photographs in low light.