Tag: ISO

Introduction to Basic Camera Terms and Functions

10262131_10152702684934471_9033575469495657319_nI have been a Photographer for over 35 years. I have used Polaroid’s, Early Point and Shoot Film and Single Lens Reflex, Digital Point and Shoots, Cell Phones and now Full Frame DSLR’s. I have taken classes, researched, read books, and most of all, experimented and taken millions of photos. I have taken really crappy photos and some amazing photos and I have learned from each of them, and I am still learning.

So now it seems like everyone is using camera’s in the paranormal for either pre investigation or during the actual investigations. There are also those that take random pictures and see things in them that they cannot explain. Getting to know your camera, a Cell Camera, Point and Shoot or DSLR is an important part of determining what is going on with your pictures. It’s good to start with basic operation so that your photos will come out less blurry, with more vivid colors and little to no artifacting. I know I like my pictures to be as perfect as possible, under any condition, but remember, it’s not always possible for every picture to be perfect. Many natural things around you affect your shots, but you do have control over them to a certain extent.

The majority of people tend to use the Automatic setting on their camera, which is great for most shooting conditions, but will not always provide the best picture from your camera. It can be fooled, so sometimes it’s better to delve into the manual settings to get the best possible shot.

Just remember, on Auto Mode, these can all change from shot to shot, depending on what your camera senses when it tries to focus. Not all cameras are created equal; you may have more control of each of these from camera to camera in the Manual Mode. There are many other settings so I would suggest reading your owner’s manual or just researching on the internet or investing in a good book on photography. The big three in camera settings and the ones you’ll hear referred to the most are as follows.

ISO: What is ISO, in film photography is how sensitive film is to light. It is measured in numbers such as 100, 200, 400, 800 etc. The lower the number, the lower the sensitivity of the film to the light and the finer the grain in the shots you’re taking. In Digital Photography ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor to the surrounding light. The same idea as in film photography, the lower the number, the less sensitive the senor is to light, but you will get a much clearer picture as a result (Less Noise), especially when enlarged. So shooting at ISO 100 will give a much crisper image when enlarged than say ISO 400.

The ISO is also referred to as the film speed, the higher the ISO, the easier it is to capture moving objects, so an ISO of 800 would be used when photographing fast moving sporting events for instance, to get a nice stop action shot with little motion blur.

Again, this is something your camera will adjust for when in Auto Mode, so depending on the amount of light, this could change drastically, created blurred shots in very low light perhaps if it does not adjust with a higher ISO.

When shooting in low light, and on manual, the higher the ISO and the higher the Aperture and longer shutter speed, the better the shot will be. It’s possible you may not need a tripod (Although I would always recommend one unless you have Anti-Shake technology and a very high ISO capability). This does not mean you can take a shot with no light, handheld, but you can with a tripod and a very long shutter speed.

Aperture/F Stop: This is the opening in the lens. When you press your shutter release, a hole opens up in the lens, the wider the hole; the more light is let in. This hole is measured in F-Stops, for example f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 etc. These numbers may be a bit confusing though, since the smaller the number, the wider the aperture, or more light is let in.

The biggest result of changes in aperture is Depth of Field (DOF). What this means is that with a larger aperture, say f/22, more of the shot will be in focus, both objects up close and objects in the distance. Small Depth of Field means that only part of the image will be in focus, as in a flower shot, where most of the flower will be in focus (depending on how close the flower is) and the rest of the shot will be out of focus. When thinking about this in the paranormal world, and when shooting in Auto Mode, this could mean only certain objects will be in focus.

Shutter Speed: Shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter is open, thereby letting in more light. It is measured in seconds, such as 1/100, 1/1000, 1 etc. This is one of the main items we talk about when looking at paranormal photo’s, as normally most shots will be in low light and the camera will be on Auto Mode. Under these circumstances, the camera will try to leave the shutter open longer, to let in more light. Unfortunately, what this will create is a blurry photo when not using a tripod. Even if the “Click” seems fast to you, the shutter is open long enough to feel the effects of hand movement, wind etc, which will cause a slight movement of the image on the sensor, thereby blurring the picture. It could be anything from a slight blur to a blur so bad as to cause the shot to be unrecognizable.

Manual Settings: So, with all that said, Auto Mode is great for shooting outdoors, in high light situations with most cell phones and point and shoots as well as Standard DSLR’s. But when it comes to low light, even with a flash, Auto can create many issues, due to the setting the camera decides to use. The best way to decide what manual settings to use is to experiment. Know your camera; know what settings work best under what conditions.

My personal preference is to only shoot pre investigation shots, to document the location and hopefully get some cool artsy shots as well. Due to all the issues explained above, I won’t shoot anything during the investigation, as it is usually in low light to no light. If you insist on doing so, always use a flash and a tripod at a minimum.

Day 1 – Shutter speed & Light Streaks


I am going to start out today’s discussion borrowing from a great post by Anna Hill who shared some information borrowed from www.talkparanormal.com.  Her text is below along with a link to the original site if you want to check out the other comments made.

“We often see, or are asked our opinions of photos that people suspect, are the products of paranormal activity…when in fact are easily explainable by someone with even mediocre photography experience.  While we understand that many people do not understand the “how’s or why’s” of the strange anomalies in photographs, we wish to educate the public and paranormal community.  With a little research, we can all recognize these occurrences.  Instead of typing this all out, I find this all worded perfectly here at the blog, www.talkparanormal.com.  Please read on.

“It’s easy to use a wrong camera setting.  Your ISO for example in low light or darkness should be 400 or higher like 800 to 1600 if you have over a 12 mega pixel camera.  You can use a 100 ISO only if you’re shooting off a tripod in these conditions.  If you aren’t, you’ll get a longer shutter and movement.  You can also have your camera on automatic which causes your camera to struggle focusing in the low light and will give a blur.

“Now with the right ISO you still need to have the correct shutter speed or once again you will get movement and brighter objects will appear to be moving.  I suggest setting your camera to manual and adjust it for the average distance you’ll be shooting and keep it there.

“Shutter speeds; you can’t expect great shots when your shutter is open two seconds or longer:

  • 1/8000 will stop any motion
  • 1/4000 high enough speed to take pictures while walking
  • 1/2000 will stop most motion
  • 1/1000 will stop bicyclists and runners
  • 1/500 will freeze a person jumping in the air
  • 1/250 will stop some motion
  • 1/125 to avoid camera shake

“Speeds that blur motion; use a tripod for these speeds:

  • 1/60 slight blurring of motion
  • 1/30 very good speed to show a bit of blur when photographing dancers
  • 1/15 the blurring of motion becomes clearly evident
  • 1/8 the blurring motion becomes more pronounced
  • 1/4 the blurring of motion becomes extreme
  • 1/2 high speed motion begins to become invisible

This is when you start seeing see-thru figures

  • 1 medium speed motion begins to become invisible
  • 2 all motion begins to become invisible
  • 4 more motion begins to become invisible
  • 8 motion develops a fog-like quality
  • B this one allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you want

“Camera movement – this is a huge problem with paranormal photographers.  At night when your camera is set wrong you must listen closely to make sure your shutter opens and closes.  Just because the flash goes off doesn’t mean the picture is done.  Your shutter may remain open and when you move, add shadows and strange blurs to your shot.

“Dust or moisture – when dust or moisture is present expect to capture orbs.  These aren’t paranormal and have been shown you can eliminate them by moving your flash further from your lens, or by adding a shroud around the outside of your lens.

“EXIF information – digital cameras have what is called EXIF information on every picture.  If you have pictures not turning out then check your EXIF – this will give you the settings you are using.  Experiment with your camera and when you find EXIF settings that are perfect, write them down and use them all the time.

“By following a few small suggestions you can take better paranormal shots.  Also now if you catch something then we will be more apt to believe it when you have the correct settings.”

Original post located at:  http://www.talkparanormal.com/thread-8503.html.

To learn more about camera shutter speed, check out this article:  http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-shutter-speed.htm

Here are a few samples showing controlled shutter speed to make artistic pictures that I found while searching on the internet.  Take a look at some of your pictures and see if you see anything similar.  If you do, chances are it was due to slow shutter speed and not something paranormal.