Eclass 5

“I find the light and work it, work it, work it.” – Janice Dickinson

How will this lesson help you?

Following these easy steps will help you to control light and expose your photos correctly by using the best settings for ISO and White Balance.

Ways of controlling light are;

  • Aperture
  • Shutter speed
  • ISO and
  • White balance

In this lesson we will learn about ISO and White Balance.

Part 1 ISO


The ISO setting controls the sensitivity of the sensor to light. The term goes back to the days of film when different emulsions were put on the film to make it more or less light sensitive and the International Standards Organization set the standard for the different emulsions so they were the same world wide.

This has now been transferred to digital capture.

The starting point for most digital cameras is usually ISO 200 although you can find some cameras that go lower than this.

Check your camera’s instruction book to see the setting it recommends. Remember you can ‘Google’ the instruction book by entering the name and model number of your camera if you have misplaced the book.

ISO settings double as they go up (200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 etc.) In the days of film to make an emulsion more light sensitive the grain had to be bigger and so the higher the ISO setting the more ‘grain’ which means that the photo was not as ‘sharp’ and when you enlarged the photo it was not as ‘smooth’.In most cameras once you get past ISO 800 you can start to notice the grain when you enlarge your file up to 100%. But if you have the choice of a little grain because you have a high ISO or blurry photos because your shutter speed is too slow to hand hold then it is better to increase your ISO.

Of course using a tripod gets rid of the need to increase your ISO setting but you do not always have a tripod with you.

In This Lesson You Will;

  • Find the place in your camera’s menu where you set the ISO
  • Experiment with different ISO settings to see what difference they make to your photo
  • Print your photos and put into your Photo Journal
  • Write a comment about any discoveries you have made about ISO settings.
  • Find the place in your camera’s settings where you set the White Balance
  • Experiment with the different White Balance settings.

This lesson should take about 30 minutes but remember the more time you spend the better you get.


Before you do this lesson make sure you have printed and put into your Photography Journal the photos from Eclass 1, 2, 3 and 4. You are building a wonderful reference for yourself.

Equipment needed;

  1. A Smart Phone Camera OR a Compact Camera OR an SLR camera with a medium telephoto lens.
  2. Your camera’s instruction book

To Do

  • Remember your learning from Eclass 1 and make sure you have turned on the grid and use it in all the following photos, Eclass 2 check your settings for resolution and camera modes, Eclass 3 check your aperture settings, Eclass 4 check your shutter speed settings.
  • Use your camera’s instruction book to check how to set the ISO and practice changing it.
  • Put your camera into portrait mode (smart phones or compact camera users) or  F5.6 (SLR users) and set your ISO to 200
  • Go out into the garden and find a plant or flower to photograph
  • Frame your subject using the grid.
  • Take your photo
  • Take the same photo on the same settings using ISO 400, ISO 800 and ISO 1600.
  • Repeat this at different times, 7a.m, 11 a.m. 3p.m. 6p.m. and take note of any changes in the photos.
  • Print off your photos and place them in your photo journal

Image1 Notice The ISO setting for this photo was 3200 and if enlarged you can see the grain.
Image2 Notice. The ISO setting for this photo was 125 and the grain when the photo is enlarged is much less visible.

Part 2. White Balance


  • All light has a color temperature.
  • Your eyes adjust automatically for this.
  • Your camera sensor is not as smart and so you need to fine-tune what it does by using the White Balance settings to compensate for different lighting conditions.
  • You can see the difference in the colorcast in the photos if you don’t use White Balance settings e.g. deep shade and rainforest give a blue cast,
  • Most cameras have an automatic White Balance setting

Some of the White Balance settings found in cameras are;


This is where the camera works out what it thinks the setting should be. It is better than having no setting at all but it is not always as accurate as the individual settings.


These are the normal lighting conditions.


Shade gives a slightly blue color cast.

This White Balance setting gives a slightly warmer color


This changes the cooler blue look to a slightly warmer one.


Is normally shown as a small light bulb and is used for indoor photography, especially when the bulb lights are turned on.


Fluorescent light is slightly redder than daylight.


Bright Flash light is cooler than daylight and needs to have the White balance setting adjusted.

All cameras are slightly different so the best way to find out how your camera uses these settings is to experiment with them in a controlled way so that you know the results to expect when you use them.

To Do

  1. Find a subject, either a still life or a model.
  2. In your camera’s instruction book find how to change the White Balance Settings for SLRs, compacts and smart phones.
  3. From the same position indoors take photos of your subject using all the different white balance settings.
  4. Take your subject outdoors, place it in direct sunlight and take photos using the different White Balance settings.
  5. Place your subject in shade and take photos using all the White balance settings.


  1. Download and Print off your photos.
  2. Paste the photos you have taken on a sheet of A4 paper and place them in your folder.
  3. Under each photo write a comment, do you like the result? What is it about the photo you like? What will you do differently next time?

Photo Speak – Special photography words used in this lesson

grain – is the effect of using high ISO settings, when your photo is enlarged to 100% you can see a ,roughness,
ISO – the setting controlling how light sensitive the sensor is.
Sharp- clear, well defined focus, the opposite of soft
soft- not in focus properly, the opposite of sharp
White Balance – this is the setting controlling the color temperature

Congratulations on finishing Lesson !!! Give Yourself A Treat!
You Can Now Use ISO and White Balance settings

This is the next step in your Photographic Journey to Success. Paste your photos on the page below and comment on your results.
To keep following this path set aside a regular time slot in your week so you can get the best results for your efforts.

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