Black Bear Creates Digital Noise
One of the nice things about living in the middle of the woods is that your house can act as a very large blind. Here it's springtime, and black bears are up and about once again. Tonight, this individual came plodding down one of our back lot trails at a leisurely pace only to find himself walking across the front lawn...
He finally made his way back into the woods, but only after first meandering down the gravel drive towards the road. As it was 7:40PM EST, it was dark and difficult to obtain focus and sufficient shutter speed on these shots. Auto focus was racking wildly back and forth in the poor light and confusing brush, so I flipped over to manual and tried my best through the viewfinder. These were all shot handheld, through our home's double-pane windows with a Canon 5D III, 300mm f/4 IS, at ISO 25600. Lightroom's color noise reduction feature subsequently did a very nice job with the mess a camera sensor can create when set to such a lofty ISO. A higher ISO setting in essence amplifies a camera sensor's light sensitivity. This gain in sensitivity increases the signal (i.e. light) but also elevates noise. Dark areas in a digital image, like a black bear's fur at dusk, can be particularly noisy due to a weaker signal hitting the camera sensor. This results in a lower signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and an ugly raw image coming directly off of the camera. Thankfully, there are clever post-processing algorithms out there that can discern noise from signal and turn noise into more visually pleasing image data.
Lastly, Tara also took some moving image footage of the encounter with her Samsung Galaxy S6 camera phone. I'm glad the bear didn't mess with my woodshed that I've just finished filling up for a summer's worth of seasoning.