New York City and Auto-ISO

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Back in April I traveled to New York City for a very last minute and impulsive weekend getaway.  A spot had opened up on a weekend photography workshop in the city, and my entire family was out of town in different states and directions.  So I packed my bags and headed to New York to meet up with our group.

We met at the Majestic Deli on 7th Ave and 50th Street in Manhattan to kick things off.  After a lengthy lunch we set off through Times Square (my least favorite part of the city) and then through Bryant Park on our way to Grand Central. Lots of photo ops, and lots of the typical photo-geek speak amoung the participants in the workshop and Steve and Dave, the leaders.  Day one ended with a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, dinner in Dumbo, and some night photography of lower Manhattan.  Day two was a spectacular walk through Central Park and a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty.  I could have spent the entire day in Central Park.

One topic discussed was the AUTO-ISO setting on our cameras.  Honestly, I had seen the selection on my Olympus OMD-E-M10-MII but had never used the funtion.  Bascially AUTO-ISO would be the equivilent to shutter or aperture prioroty settings on your camera. However, AUTO-ISO, in Manual Mode, you determine your desired shutter and aperture, but the camera would adjust the ISO to acheive proper exposure. The advantage here would be if you knew you wanted a shallow depth of field and you needed to also stop motion with the shutter, but..  you were shooting in varying light (i.e. city streets and inside buildings), AUTO-ISO can help you get properly exposed photos without having to adjust shutter or aperture as conditions change.

So immediately we all switched over to AUTO-ISO and started firing away.  Initially, I thought it was great, but in looking back at the images some of my favorites aren’t necessarily keepers. There were situations where my camera reverted to ISO 1600 in situations where adjusting shutter or aperture would have produced a better photo.  All in all, I spent time focused on getting shots, but in some cases it came at the price of quality.  But, let’s not toot my own horn too much here, I most likely would have forgotten to change settings each time conditions changed, and would have missed shots when I did remember, rendering the same number unusual in the end.

So, the moral of the story is, for me at least.  Use Manual if on a tripod, Shutter priority when I want to stop or blur motion, and use Aperture prioity when I need to control the depth of field.  Auto-ISO, well use will be limited, but probably in street photography, or general snapshots where I am looking to “get the shot” more than “make a photograph”.  The real takeaway here is go take a spontaneous weekend photography workshop.  It will change your outlook of photographyr, or, in my case, rekindle my love for the camera.

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