Simone's Kitchen

How I took the shot – Indoor markets

I previously had a series on Scribbles and Notes which was all about how I took a certain photo or what I do in certain situation while traveling. And because I now have just the one blog I will continue the series here. It can be a travel photo or it can be a foodphoto or a situation. It kind of fits into the artificial light series as well… But this is more a how I did it series..

This time the tricky situation of an indoor foodmarket with bad lighting!

Genomen op ISO 6400. Diafragma f 4.5 sluitertijd 1/40s Lens 24-70mm f/2.8

Taken at ISO 6400. Aperture f 4.5 shutterspeed 1/40s
Lens 24-70mm f/2.8

When I am traveling I am always a bit more relaxed when it comes to which iso I shoot with. At home, I usually shoot food, which I use a tripod for so I can go as low as my camera allows (which is 50 iso) but like I said on travels it is a different story all together. Still, I am constantly checking and adjusting so I will go low when there is light enough. But what to do when you visit a place that is almost dark? In this particular case we visited a market in Laos that was indoor. Or maybe not so much indoor but covered. Some of the stuff they covered it with was horrible; orange, red and blue. The only way you can have pictures in that situation is to turn them into black and white. Seriously; they will be blue and orange and red otherwise.

ISO 2500 1/80s at f4.5

ISO 2500 1/80s at f4.5


When we visited this market it was early in the morning so the light outside was still low and going into the place it became quickly apparent that I needed to up the iso. I never use flash or almost never when I am on the road and in this case I didn’t even have a flash with me so I had to do with what I had (my camera doesn’t have a built-in flash in case you’re wondering)

So if you look at the above two photos; the first one was taken with an iso of no less than 6000! Now my camera (Canon EOS 5D mark III) is pretty good in low light, so it is bareable up to 3200 iso. I seldom take it further than that for the simple reason that they would not be up to my standard, but sometimes you just have to. And let’s face it; if you’re only going to use these for your blog only, no one is really going to notice that high iso.

The second photo was having a really unpleasant blue-ish cast; partially because of the low light and partially because of all the weird artificial lights and blue tents they had. Impossible to correct so I converted to black and white. Especially with people shots I usually find that quite ok. I love black and white in fact…

ISO 6400 Diafragma f3.2 sluitertijd 1/80s

ISO 6400 Diafragma f3.2 sluitertijd 1/80s

What you do notice when shooting so high in iso is that the colors almost seem to become a bit faded. It’s not as crisp as a photo taken in proper lighting conditions, but hey, a little lightroom magic goes a long way. Still it will not make a perfect picture but to be honest; in circumstances like this I worry more about capturing the scenes than I do about capturing the perfect shot. It’s after all my holiday… 😉


More about ISO settings here

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  1. Wow, I can’t believe the quality of that top image shot at 6400!!! I guess that’s what you pay for in a pro camera, mine would struggle to put out anything that sharp. It’s a great shot, and I really like the blown out faded colours of them all, feels summery and carefree.
    Great tip re the B&W too, shall remember that 🙂
    Janie x

    • Yes that is definitely partly why the price is so much higher in a pro camera, but also the newer your camera they better it will be in higher iso settings. You cannot compare an older camera like the 300D with – for instance – the 600D. it will be miles apart already!

  2. Before I read this post I wanted a new camera. Now I REALLY want a new camera. I am gobsmacked by the quality of that photo at 6400 ISO.

  3. Remember back in the film days when you could push some color films a couple of stops and get an effective ISO of 800 or maybe even 1600? Results weren’t good, but if you had no light, that’s what you had to do. Modern cameras are so amazing! I rarely go over ISO 800 when I’m casually shooting (and like you, when I shoot food it’s at base ISO) and I don’t like the results I get above 3200. But it’s loads better than that color film we had to push in development! Fun post — thanks.

    • O yes those good old film days! it was so much harder back then. Digital is amazing even though in the beginning I Thought it was ridiculous… I do try and limit the iso even when shooting casually; I guess it’s an inbuild mechanism!

  4. I still have my Rebel T4i and use it for travel but the 5D Mark III is my dream camera. I have to save to buy it. Looking at your pics I even want it more. I have 2 questions for you when you travel with your camera, do you find that the 5D is heavy and what lens do you bring when you travel. With the Rebel, after 5-6 hrs walking and taking photos it becomes heavy to carry at the end of the day. Again, gorgeous pictures.

    • O now here’s a tricky question Helene; yes the 5D is heavy and much more so than your Rebel I would think, but still I wouldn’t leave home without it. Having said that when I travel I always bring a photo backpack as that makes it easier to carry plus it is easier to convince Tom he needs to carry it for me.. lol… But seriously it is heavy and I sometimes curse the fact that I couldn’t resist taking it. So that is a definite minus. To counterbalance the weight of the 5D I do tend to bring less lenses. if I want to travel really light I might just go for the 50mm 1.4 which I love or the 85mm 1.8 which I love even more. Both are lightweight and makes the weight of the camera less annoying. When I am on a serious trip (aka a longer one) I do tend to bring at least 2 or 3 lenses. Definitely my 24-70mm, the 50 en the 85 and depending on the destination I might even bring the really heavy 100-400mm. But again I carry it around in the backpack. That is a lifesaver for me.

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