A Photographer’s View – Old dogs and new tricks

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How old does a dog have to be to learn new tricks?

Question, if many hands make light work, but too many cooks spoil the broth, what’s the right number of chef’s for a kitchen? And just how old does a dog have to be before it can’t learn new tricks?

Now I’m hardly in the first flush of youth but even I, a relic of the film age, still find something in digital photography where I say, “ah…that’s useful”, rather than thinking it’s more solutions to problems I didn’t know about. I’m referring to Auto-ISO (International Standards Organisation).

Don’t let the “auto” put you off, used sensibly it’s a definite bonus. So what does it do?


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Photo taken by David Charles Mason Photography


In a digital camera, light is encoded into electrical signals. More light generates a stronger signal, less a weaker signal. These combined electrical signals are then decoded into a digital approximation of light and shade – a digital image. If you’re in a situation where there isn’t enough light to create an image, (electrical signals too small), then think of the ISO as a volume control. It amplifies the signals, making the camera behave as if it is more sensitive to light. It also amplifies background electrical noise as well, but unless you photograph black cats in coal cellars, it’s not that bad, and a grainy photograph is better than none at all.

If you’re a street, event or sports photographer, try setting your shutter speed/aperture combination manually for your preferred “look”, and let the camera balance the exposure as it automatically adjusts the ISO setting. You can then concentrate on the action as it unfolds in front of you.

Just don’t share the camera duties with a bunch of cook’s; they’ll probably not only spoil the broth but the picture as well. I’ll let you know when I’ve found the anti-chef function.

Written by D Charles Mason.

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