Canon EOS 60D Selecting the Proper ISO and White Balance

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We’ve already discussed setting your exposure and using a tripod; the next important factor to consider is the ISO. Since you’re already shooting with a slow shutter speed, you are free to shoot with a very low ISO, such as 100. By using a low ISO you’ll introduce very little digital noise into your images, thereby increasing the detail in your shots (Figures 5.4 and 5.5).

FIGURE 5.4 I used a long exposure to photograph star trails, and there was enough ambient light to capture the image at a low ISO.
FIGURE 5.4 I used a long exposure to photograph star trails, and there was enough ambient light to capture the image at a low ISO.
FIGURE 5.5 When zoomed in, there is some noticeable grain in this ISO 400 image, but it’s still a small amount when compared with a much higher ISO.
FIGURE 5.5 When zoomed in, there is some noticeable grain in this ISO 400 image, but it’s still a small amount when compared with a much higher ISO.

A high ISO will not only add noise to the image; you’ll also notice the colorful dots in the shadows. This is something you should generally try to avoid in order to create high-quality photographs (Figures 5.6 and 5.7).

FIGURE 5.6 I used a very high ISO in order to capture the stars at a fast exposure time and prevent creating star trails.
FIGURE 5.6 I used a very high ISO in order to capture the stars at a fast exposure time and prevent creating star trails.
FIGURE 5.7 The grain in this ISO 3200 image is very noticeable, detracting from the quality of the photograph.
FIGURE 5.7 The grain in this ISO 3200 image is very noticeable, detracting from the quality of the photograph.

You’re going to want to capture your image with a proper white balance, and with landscapes your options (such as the Daylight and Cloudy settings) are more straightforward than with some other types of photography. If you’re shooting in RAW, you have some leeway when selecting the white balance in-camera, because it’s easy to change it nondestructively after the fact. But my philosophy is that it’s always best to get things right in-camera.

Just because there is a “correct” white balance for each scene doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stick with that setting. Try experimenting with different white balance settings to give your landscape images new looks. Changing the white balance in an image can even give the feel of photographing a landscape at different times of day (Figures 5.8 and 5.9).

FIGURE 5.8 This image was photographed at sunset with the “proper” white balance—in this case, the Daylight setting.
FIGURE 5.8 This image was photographed at sunset with the “proper” white balance—in this case, the Daylight setting.
FIGURE 5.9 Switching the white balance to Fluorescent creates the impression that this image was taken in the early hours of the morning.
FIGURE 5.9 Switching the white balance to Fluorescent creates the impression that this image was taken in the early hours of the morning.

WARM AND COOL COLOR TEMPERATURES

These two terms are used to describe the overall colorcast of an image. Reds and yellows are said to be warm, which is the look that you usually get from the late afternoon sun. Blue is usually the predominant color when talking about a cool cast.