Why are my photos grainy?

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Caitlin Compton 3 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #24409

    Caitlin Compton
    Participant

    Hey!

    The other day there was a gorgeous sunset here in Australia. I hurriedly grabbed my camera and tripod and raced outside. 🙂 I was really excited hoping that I would have a great picture, but when I looked at the photo it was really grainy. I had my camera set up on a tripod using my Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens, a slow shutter speed with a 2 second timer to avoid motion blur, so that I could have an ISO of 100, and a narrow aperture, but it was still grainy. And so often that’s pretty much how all my sunrise or sunset pictures turn out. I’m curious as to why this is the case. Obviously professionals get amazing sunrise and sunset pictures, so I’m wondering what the secret is! 😀 Does anyone have any advice? I’m sure it’s something I’m doing wrong! 🙂 Thanks!

    #24415

    Ezra Morley
    Participant

    Could you post an example of the grain you’re seeing? That might help us analyze where it’s coming from. 🙂

    #24453

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Is it more grainy than this?

    This is a 100% crop of a shot taken at 100 IS0, f/11 (which shouldn’t have anything to do with grain) and 2.5sec (which usually isn’t long enough to introduce any long-exposure noise) after sunset when it was almost too dark to see.

    It has a slightly grainy appearance for sure, but nothing that is actually very noticeable when viewing at normal sizes (or that could be easily removed using Noise Reduction in Lightroom).

    Grant it, this shot was taken with a 5D Mark II. What camera are you shooting with?

    Attachments:
    #24498

    Caitlin Compton
    Participant

    Here it is @buddingphotographer! (as well as another picture)

    @jamesstaddon, I shoot with a Canon EOS 60D.

    So is it normal than to get noise when shooting sunset or sunrise shots? Or is there things you can do to avoid it? Just another question from what you said – Why do you get noise from long exposures?

    Attachments:
    #24690

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    So is it normal than to get noise when shooting sunset or sunrise shots?

    No, I don’t think it’s because it’s sunset or sunrise. It all depends on the sensor. It looks like the 60D’s sensor is very similar to what’s in the T2i, which doesn’t deal with ISO all that well, so that’s probably why you’re seeing grain, even at ISO 100. Thankfully it is better than the 7D (source).

    This would be a good thing to research though. At ISO 100, would a picture taken in bright sunlight have the same amount of grain as a picture taken at dusk (as long as the shutter speed wasn’t longer than a second or two)?

    The problem I always run into with grain in sunset pictures is that I almost always tend to brighten the photo in post-processing, which is where grain is definately introduced. I just need to make sure I get the right exposure in-camera so I don’t have to brighten it. 🙂 However, I sorta like the HDR look so tend to do quite a bit of brightening of dark areas in post.

    Why do you get noise from long exposures?

    Noise from long exposures is different than noise from ISO. I’m not sure the technical reasons, but I think PhotoFocus says it well: “When you do a long exposure, let’s say something longer than one second, your camera’s sensor is activated the whole time the shutter is open. As it’s working, it’s also generating heat, and that heat (as well as other stuff) can cause image noise. This noise may show up in your picture as colored flecks of red, green, and blue. These flecks of noise are aggravating, and may just ruin your the presentation of your photograph. Especially if you’re shooting long exposures at nighttime, these flecks may obscure or be mistaken for stars. You’ll usually see the noise in the dark areas of the picture; if there are bright areas, they probably won’t be as noisy looking.”

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by  James Staddon.
    #24691

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    This article may be helpful in reducing and removing noise in general: https://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-avoid-and-reduce-noise-in-your-images/

    I wouldn’t say that the picture you submitted as an example looked too noisy though.

    #24694

    Caitlin Compton
    Participant

    Thanks for that @jamesstaddon!

    It all depends on the sensor. It looks like the 60D’s sensor is very similar to what’s in the T2i, which doesn’t deal with ISO all that well, so that’s probably why you’re seeing grain, even at ISO100.

    Makes sense! It’s a shame though. . .

    This would be a good thing to research though. At ISO, would a picture taken in bright sunlight have the same amount of grain as a picture taken at dusk (as long as the shutter speed wasn’t longer than a second or two)?

    Hmmm. . . yes, that would be an interesting experiment to do. Now that you mention it, I’m pretty sure that there’s an amount of noise in all my photos. I’m going to try it out! Was there a particular ISO that you meant to say would be good for trying it out?

    That makes sense about getting noise from long exposures. The article by Digital Photography School was interesting. Thanks!

    #24726

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    I meant to say “ISO 100”. My bad. 🙂

    #24730

    Caitlin Compton
    Participant

    😀 No problem! Thanks

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