My Thoughts On Noise.

What’s the first thing you notice about the above image? Is it the wind blown snow, it’s seasonal quality with the holiday wreath?

Or is the fact the image is a little bit grainy because it was shot at ISO 3200?

How about this image of the Memorial Bridge linking downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine? Is the first thing you notice the noise in the sky?

Worry More About Making Great Pictures.

High ISO performance is all the rage these days. It seams that if a camera isn’t capable of capturing noise frees images of a pitch black scene at ISO 12,800, or higher it’s not even worth considering.

How did we get from enjoying the beautiful grain of film, in particular black and white film, to being so hung up on digital noise in an image that even the slightest hint of it can relegate the image file to the trash bin?I

“If a picture is so boring you notice the noise, you’ve got a boring picture.”     ~ Rick Sammon

Quite possibly my favorite photography quote of all, and something to think about the next time you’re out making pictures.

11 thoughts on “If The Picture Is So Boring You Notice The Noise…

  1. I’m with you on this one. I sit through many competitions in the Chicago suburbs and when the judges start talking about noise in a photograph they are also talking about many other problems with the image as well.

    1. In a competition, where the judges need to decide between two otherwise close images, I can almost see noise (or lack of) as being the deciding factor. But still, is a little bit of noise enough to ruin an otherwise excellent photo? Or for that matter, reason enough for the photographer to rush out and buy a new camera? Hardly. Good id good, a little noise none at all.

  2. A great quote and interesting thoughts on this topic, Jeff.
    Wishing you Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year!
    The Fab Four of Cley 🎄🎅🌿🤶🎄🤶🌿🤶🎄

  3. Phew!
    For a moment there I thought you were going to say there should be neither. I really like both photos, in part because of that beautiful wind-blown snow and the noise-filled sky.

    1. It seems to me that it’s so easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of the cameras that they lose sight of what really matters, the images they create. How many of photography’s greats have made images that weren’t tack sharp or had a lot of grain? Yet inexplicably those very same images went on to become iconic?

    1. Funny how things change isn’t it? Grain used to be a selling point for certain films, now with digital the idea of any sort of noise, grain if you will, in an image is the worst thing that could ever happen to an image.

Comments and thoughtful critiques are always welcome.

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