30 Days of Photography Tips… Day 1

I’m so excited! I’m about to start a new short adventure with you. I’m ready to start 30 days of Photography Tips! The month of November has 30 days. And I will be sharing 30 tips during this month. So I hope you’re ready to learn, practice, play and get better with your camera. Ready? Here we go….

DAY #1!

TIP #1: When setting up your manual camera settings, set your ISO first.

ISO used to be the speed of film (in film days) and now it’s essentially the same thing on our digital cameras. It’s the ISO equivalent, or how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to the available light.

The same is still true now but it is much easier with our digital cameras. We can now select the ISO on our digital camera and change it as our lighting changes rather than waiting until we use up an entire roll of film. Most cameras have an ISO range of 100 to 1600 or 3200. Some professional cameras go even higher.

The higher the number of your ISO the more your camera will absorb the light. So you will want to raise the ISO to a higher number in low light situations. But whenever possible you want to shoot with the lowest ISO number that you can. The reason is because as the number of your ISO goes higher, your images will have more “noise” (or grainy texture) to them. So a lower ISO creates a clearer, cleaner image.

When I set my ISO I look around at the available light and set it. I usually don’t change my ISO again unless the lighting changes (sun sets, move to a different location, move from shade to sun, etc). So when you set your ISO first, you get to check that off your list and then move on to just dealing with aperture and shutter speed.

Here are some general settings or starting points for your ISO:

  • outdoor in the bright sun – ISO 100
  • outdoor in the shade – ISO 200 or 400
  • indoor near a window – ISO 800
  • indoor when it’s not real bright – ISO 1600 or higher
This image below was shot using an ISO of 250. I was in the shade of some large trees in the late morning.


  1. Wayfaring Wanderer on November 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    ISO is very important!

    Using an extremely low ISO at night is also fun when you have a tripod if you want to achieve some wonderful effects.


  2. Lisa on November 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    This is such a fun idea! Thanks for being so willing to share your knowledge with us!

  3. Jaymi on November 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    super cute photo! I’m excited for all your tips!

  4. shontay on December 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    thank you so much for all the info, I always find it very helpful.

  5. Missy on September 15, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Thanks for the photo tips! I enjoy taking photos and now am trying to earn money for my hobby.