The following shots are with a small white light throwing "emergency light" on a height of one and a half forearms.

I used 3 candles on left side and 1 candle on the right.

3 candles to the left, 1 to the right

Used 3 candles on right side.

3 candles on the right

Used 1 candle in the center, and 3 candles somewhat far on a stool.

1 candle center, 3 candles far

Where to place how many candles to avoid noise?

The shots are from Nikon D3100, with ISO 200 at F1.8.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not really seeing any noticeable noise in any of the shots. At least not anything to be concerned about I don't think. Are you just asking as a general question? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2012 at 17:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Vian: see also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/21338/… \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 26, 2012 at 17:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, I would try not worrying about the noise too much. All shots are going to have noise, it just sort of a degree of how much. And even then, it's really just a matter of whether it interferes with what you want as a final photograph. I think it was @dpollit that just refereed to it as "grain". Definitely gets rid of the negative connotation of "noise." You clearly have the creative mind for photography, and if I were you, I would just keep going with that. In my opinion, that's the most important part of photography. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2012 at 17:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Take a look at this photo which was on the front page of 1x.com, where I think you're getting a lot of the "too much noise" feedback. Notice that there's a lot of noise in the sky, and yet there it is featured on the site. Just sayin'. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 26, 2012 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm In these particular photographs I myself noticed too much noise, hence asked. Haven't submitted this to 1x yet. Secondly, I dislike 1x's selected photos too much, I have even stoped looking at them. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27, 2012 at 1:04

1 Answer 1


I don't think these pictures are particularly noisy, although there is some in the shadow areas. While digital noise isn't as attractive as film grain, I think that in many ways it adds to the aesthetic appeal of this kind of low-light photograph. It's part of the vocabulary of photography, and we expect to see some.

If you do want to make the image as noise free as possible, as Matt Grum often tells us, don't be afraid of high ISO. This will give you a better signal-to-noise ratio for the same image exposure value.

Also, one of the reasons digital noise is less attractive than film grain is that it tends to produce colored speckles. That's one of the reasons I suggest converting to black and white in my answer to Is it practical to shoot portraits by only candlelight?. However, I don't think chroma noise is a big problem in your photograph, so if you like the black and white, it might be largely for other reasons:

b&w conversion

That loses some of the warmth of the color version, though.

As an aside, I think you've focused a bit too closely in this image; I'd rather see more of the candle in focus. If you increase the ISO, you may want to also consider stopping down a bit for greater depth of field, although that's clearly a stylistic choice. I'd also really like to see more detail in the flame and in the area right around the flame — but that's off topic for this question and right back to Is it practical to shoot portraits by only candlelight? (or maybe a separate new question on candle flames themselves).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could Photoshop's "Reduce Color Noise" lessen the effect of the colored speckles or am I misunderstanding that noise reduction feature? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2012 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can see the noise near the flame. it is too much noise. anyway, I'll ask the focus question seperately. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27, 2012 at 1:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Anisha: can you identify very specifically the noise that concerns you here? Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 27, 2012 at 2:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, exactly, the area which has been brightened by the flame in the last photograph. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27, 2012 at 3:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ and what was that thanks for? you were being sarcastic? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27, 2012 at 4:45

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