Homework Assignment No. 1: Rule of Thirds and ISO Settings
The first homework assignment I give students is to take photos in Program Mode to explore ISO settings and to use the Rule of Thirds.
Rule Of Thirds
If you compose your image using the Rule of Thirds, vertical objects are placed one-third to the right or left and horizon lines and eyes are placed one-third up or down. In short, the Rule of Thirds says to compose your image so that items are not dead center.
In general, the Rule of Thirds is useful in compositions with strong horizontal and vertical elements. For example, paintings by Edward Hopper often had strong verticals and horizontals, as did abstract painters in the Color Field and other movements.
Do you see how I used the Rule of Thirds in the photo above? The face is on the 1/3 line to the left, and the eyes are aligned with the 1/3 line to the top. Actually, I rarely adhere so strictly to the Rule of Thirds. Other rules of composition come into play, or I leave them aside to do what looks best.
To learn more about the Rule of Thirds, do a Google search for “Rule of Thirds” and look at the images. Also, you might visit http://digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds/
ISO: Varying Your Camera’s Sensitivity To Light
In general, ISO can be adjusted manually in P, Tv or S, Av or A, and M modes. (In some cameras, ISO cannot be set in the Green Automatic mode. In that mode, everything stays automatic, including ISO. Also, in some Nikons, the Auto ISO has to be turned off and then the ISO can be adjusted, two separate operations.)
To test a camera’s ISO settings, start with the lowest ISO and double it each shot up to the maximum ISO setting. Then look at the images to see how they go bad as the ISO increases. QUESTION: What is the highest ISO setting that still produces acceptable results?
Increasing the ISO makes the camera’s sensor more sensitive to light. That means the camera can capture images in darker places. But noise increases as ISO increases. That means quality decreases, sometimes to the point that photos are as much noise as they are image.
Below are small portions of the photo of me at the gate. These are pixel-for-pixel, 100%, of photos taken in September, 2016, with a Nikon D800 camera. As ISO doubles, the noise becomes apparent. To my eye, noise really becomes apparent between ISO 1600 and ISO 3200. Also, further below, are photos of my bookshelves using the D800, clearly showing the Rule of Thirds.
Bookshelves showing Rule of Thirds.
Detail of bookshelves at ISO 100 using a D800 Nikon camera.
Detail of bookshelves at ISO 6400 using a D800 Nikon camera.
Detail of bookshelves at ISO 3200 using a D800 Nikon camera.