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Monthly Archives: September 2018

About Taking Pictures in Bad Weather

Rain is wet, but it brings forth opportunities for great photos. Reflections, highlights and the beautiful glistening of water on plants. Puddles, bloated rivers and people in raincoats and holding umbrellas. Don’t forget the chances of seeing dramatic skies and cloud formations and wait for the sun to burst through an overcast sky spreading light onto the wet world below.

There are ways to keep your equipment dry – but staying in shouldn’t be one of them! Umbrellas are effective but difficult to hold. However, if you have a rucksack then you can slide the handle in-between the rucksack and your back. You might feel silly but it will enable you to use both hands to get some great pictures. Even a plastic bag is effective and if you want to spend a fortune, you can get customised waterproof covers for your model of camera. Look, also, for shelter – shop fronts, bus shelters, buildings, trees etc. But don’t forget, it is unlikely that your equipment will suffer any lasting damage just because you have got a few drops of rain on it. One tip I picked up just recently is to always have an elastic band handy so that you can attach things to your equipment to protect it.

Have a good look around as you will see many opportunities for a good picture. Rain reflects light – look in puddles and other standing areas of water. In towns and cities you will find shops, statues and just about every other object look different in the wet and, more importantly, reflect off standing water or moist paths and roads. Carl lights can create pleasing reflections on damp or wet roads.

Printing Great Photos at Home

1. It’ll seem like a lot of money at first but spend the money to get a good printer. Six color at least. Ink jets are wonderful for printing snapshots. You won’t need more than that. Also look around at the computer brands that sell computer packages for digital printing, the printer that they recommend is perfect for printing photos at home.

2. Buy some photo editing software. There are lots of brands out there many of them for pros but you can easily find software under one hundred dollars that will have lots more options than you will ever use. Look for software that has automatic settings so that the computer can automatically color correct, auto focus, brighten, or darken, etc. At least until you learn number 3.

3. Learn your equipment. Take the time play with the settings. Don’t try to print perfect photos right away. Most people with a little time and practice can learn to do basic photo special effects. Give yourself the time to learn.

4. There is one place that you are going to have to spend some money and it’s on paper. You can have a great image but unfortunately you cannot skimp on paper. Get the nice thick glossy paper, it’s worth it. I’ve tried the cheaper paper, which is good for test prints, but you need the high quality stuff for good prints.

5. DPI, dots per inch. Depending on your printer and your software you may be able to print up to 1200 dpi which is probably unnecessary for what you’re doing. For up to a 4 by 6 inch print you only need about 300 dpi. Most people cannot see the difference between a 300 dpi an a 600 dpi at 4 by 6 inches. For 5 by 7 or 8 by 10 you can go up to 600 dpi.

Disposable Cameras

Disposable cameras are also called “single-use” or “one-time” cameras. You can get both digital and film disposable cameras. They’re available almost everywhere, from your local camera store to the grocery store. These cameras take all the work, worry and fuss out of picture taking and leave pure enjoyment. The photo quality is often quite good, and the point-and-shoot nature of almost all disposable cameras mean that you can capture those moments that are missed as you fiddle with all the buttons and wires and the 100+ pages of detailed instructions in your expensive camera’s owner’s manual. Additionally, when you point a little plastic camera at someone, the reaction you get will likely be very different; people are disarmed, more casual and open.

There are a wide variety of Disposable Cameras on the market — and many uses for them, too. Most models come with a rear monitor to view images. They are fully automatic, including the flash (if they have one), usually have a self-timer, and occasionally have an image-delete function. Prices for a camera with the capability for 25 or 27 pictures range from $9 to $19. These prices may or may not include processing, which adds around $10. You can get cheaper prices if you buy in wholesale in quantity or buy without a flash. They can be as inexpensive as $2.00 each!

Most models will yield an image of sufficient quality that it can be blown up to an 8 X 10 inch print, but not all. Some models that are under $10 create overexposed flash images when used with the camera’s short flash range (only 4 feet to 8 feet). Another drawback with some of the cheaper models especially is that the viewfinder can be difficult to see through. Typically, even the more expensive versions make you wait between flashes, limiting how many pictures you can take in a given period of time.

Many disposable cameras have a rear monitor that lets you delete the image you just took. However, on most of these, you cannot scroll through the photos you have taken, or use the screen to frame a photo. On some of the less expensive models, the delete function is useless because there is no rear monitor to see what you are deleting.

Both the film disposable camera and the digital disposable camera are convenient and fun, but if you are looking for professional results or a variety of options, stick with the higher end film or digital cameras. And if you shoot photos on a regular basis, it’s cheaper in the long run to purchase a regular, non-disposable camera even if you pay to process the prints.

Digital Image Files

DPI – Dots Per Inch

The most common question I get on this topic is, “My client / boss / nephew has asked me to send an image at a size of 300 dpi. What does that mean”?

The answer: Not much.

You see, DPI stands for Dots Per Inch. It’s a useful measure of image resolution (in other words, how much information is resolved in the picture). But if you don’t know the image size in inches (or feet, miles, centimetres, millimitres, or some other measure of size), then the amount of dots per inch doesn’t mean much.

Using DPI to measure size is like using km/h to measure distance: “How far is it from here to the beach?”
“Oh, about 60 miles per hour”. For this to make sense the answer would need to be “about 10 minutes at 60 miles per hour”.

Likewise, the size of an image needs to be expressed as, say, “six by six inches at 300dpi”.

Different resolutions are used for different purposes. The most common are 72 or 75 dpi for screen viewing (Web use or PowerPoint presentations) and 300 dpi for printing.

OK, so to give an example – 1 inch by 1 inch, 300 dpi image would be 300 pixels by 300 pixels in size. A 2 by 2 inch image at 300 dpi would be 600 by 600 pixels in size. Here’s where megapixels and megabytes come into it. Mega!

Megapixels

The term megapixels is usually used to describe the output size of digital camera images. For example, the Canon Ixus 50 produces images which are 2592 x 1944 pixels in size. Multiply these numbers together and you get 5,038,848 – just over 5 million. Hence this is described as a “5 megapixel” camera.

The last byte

On a couple of occasions, I’ve sent an image of a certain size to someone and they’ve said, “that’s no good, we need a 10 megabyte file”. Now, this I’m sure they were well-intentioned but they were also a little misguided.

The size in bytes (or megabytes – millions of bytes) represents how much storage the image takes up on your computer. This depends on all sorts of things, mainly the bit depth of the image and the file format – for example TIFF or JPEG.

So what should I do?

To avoid confusion, when specifying the file size you need, use pixels.

How do you work out how many pixels you need? Well, that’s why I started this discussion with DPI. Work out the largest size you’re going to want to reproduce the image, in inches; and the resolution – for example 72 dpi for or 300dpi for most print applications. Then just multiply the size in inches by the DPI figure you came up with.

Example: I want to reproduce the image A4 size in a printed magazine. A4 is 210mm x 297mm, or about 8.3 x 11.7 inches. The magazine needs artwork at 300dpi, so:

8.3 x 300 = 2490 and 11.7 x 300 = 3510 so I need an image sized about 2490 x 3510 pixels (about 8.7 megapixels)