photography basics

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What is color temperature in photography?

The color temperature one of the most important things in photography. I would say it also part of photography multiplication table, something all photographers know and use all the time.

Definition of the color temperature
Well, technically speaking color temperature is one of the many characteristics of the visible light. Each light source has it own color temperature.  Take a look at this table:
Temperature Source
1,700 K Match flame, low-pressure sodium lamps (LPS/SOX)
1,850 K Candle flame, sunset/sunrise
2,700–3,300 K Incandescent lamps
3,000 K Soft (or Warm) White compact fluorescent lamps
3,200 K Studio lamps, photofloods, etc.
3,350 K Studio “CP” light
4,100–4,150 K Moonlight
5,000 K Horizon daylight
5,000 K Tubular fluorescent lamps orcool white/daylight compact fluorescent lamps (CFL)
5,500–6,000 K Vertical daylight, electronic flash
6,200 K Xenon short-arc lamp
6,500 K Daylight, overcast
6,500–10,500 K LCD or CRT screen
15,000–27,000 K Clear blue poleward sky

The color temperature measured in Kelvin (K). As it visible from the current table the light temperature varies from reddish to bluish tints. Natural daylight is usually between 5500 to 6000 K but in the “magic hours” it became as warm as 2000K as well. Light below 5000 K (1,700 – 5000K) considered as warm colors and the light above  daylight (5000-27000K) referred to cool colors.

Color temperature and White Balance

In photography, the color temperature is always used along with term “white balance”. To create correct white balance photographer need to understand with what color temperature he deal with and adjust camera settings accordingly.

Find more about White Balance Here

What does ISO in a camera

What is ISO? Sometimes it refers to the International Standard Organisation. But in photography, it’s an important setting related to the sensitivity of the film or sensor of your camera.

Definition of ISO

In the analog or film photography, ISO indicates the sensitivity of the film. The lesser sensitivity, the lesser is the noise. This way you could probably use 800 ISO film for the night shoot. For the bright day, something like 50 ISO is apt. When I was shooting, the most versatile was 200 ISO as it was possible to use it for the various light conditions.
In the digital cameras, it works in a similar way but it also indicates the sensitivity of the image sensor. And if you like to achieve the noiseless image for commercial usage, you may like to use ISO – 100.

How ISO works?
ISO is not the only setting which you can change to click the image in a poor light condition. It usually works along with the Settings of Shutter Speed and Aperture. The excessive noise created by the large ISO numbers sometimes can be reduced during post processing. But as a result, the image loses its sharpness. Concerning the fact that the image may lose its quality, it’s better to use other settings to create conditions for a better ISO numbers. However, if the light conditions during the focusing were not perfect, you may get an extra noise even with ISO 100. Surprisingly in this situation, you may need to change ISO for the higher number like 200.

What does ISO in a camera


It also important if your subject moves or you are shooting handheld. In such a situation, ISO is usually increased to get a sharp picture. Higher ISO numbers such as 600 or even 1600 (depends on the quality of your camera) are often used for street photography. However, basic DSLRs have smaller sensors so the amount of noise on 600 ISO may destroy the picture.
What does ISO in a cameraConclusion
To decide what ISO range to be used, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is that enough of light?
  • Do you like to have visible noise in your picture?
  • Are you using the tripod or handheld?
  • Is your subject static or moving?

P.S To find more about the Exposure Triangle – read about Aperture and Shutter speed.