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Category Archives: Photography

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)

About Creating Portraits

Props should be kept to a minimum. Allowable is anything which will support the mood and which will not detract from the main subject. A high key portrait can be enhanced with a white wicker chair, a loose white flower arrangement out of focus in the background or a high-keyed landscape judiciously placed off center, blending with the other background tones. A large, dark sculptured bowl of red apples, a black poodle, or a dark-toned piece of furniture in the background would contrast too sharply with the generally light toned subject and background. Attention diverted to these items due to their strong intrusion in the composition is lost to the main subject and detracts from the ambiance.

Attention should be paid to the lines created by the subject and other components in the composition. Lines leading strongly out of the picture should be avoided. Rather use curves to bring the eye back to the main subject. Moveable items in the composition can be place to complete gap in a leading line so as to facilitate the eye in its movement around the work. Invisible paths of light can be created with the use of similar colors, a repeated pattern or item, or the play of light and shadow along an edge. Where possible choose components with care, preferring meaningful items which play a part in the life of the subject, rather than an object chosen solely for its shape and color. For instance, if the subject is a potter, choose an attractive urn instead of, say, an antique doll which has no place in the subject’s interests.

The light that falls on the subject can be used to support the mood. Natural window light suggests an old master genre and the sharp golden rays of a small source of light created the highlights necessary for a mood with a positive spin. Any available light can create a beautiful portrait if the direction and ration of light to dark is controlled. Reflectors add light to a dark, shadowed area, scrims or shades can tone down a too-strong source. The direction or the main source of light should enhance the features by sending light into the eyes, outlining the jaw and cheek, and finding the proper areas to highlight. Additional highlights are supplied with back or side-back rays of light, as long as their effect does not invent unwanted facial highlights or block up needed detail. Pure rim lighting is fairly safe if used with care.

About Under Water Digital Camera

It is the best way to capture underwater scenery, corals, fish schools, and anything that catches your eye that you wish to preserve. With an underwater digital camera you can share that special moment forever. You can shoot until you run out of air instead of film. Printing or publishing the pictures on the Internet is very simple, as you need to just connect the camera to a computer and transfer the image files.

Digital underwater cameras allow you to compose the image on the LCD monitor and with a better depth technology, focusing is very easy. Different varieties are available to suit every need. The depth at which the cameras can be used is important. Economical ones can be used up to 5 meters while professional ones can be used at depths of 150 meters or more. Other important factors are: the image resolution, memory, number of pictures you can store, exposure, type of lens, zoom features and many more.

Shooting on land and underwater is different however. At greater depths, the available light becomes faint, diffused and is refracted. Light sources like built-in and external flash allow you to take pictures in faint light. These cameras can be operated in 3 modes – land, sea and external flash mode, which helps take pictures in any under water conditions.

By using external flash you can remove problems like the ‘white snow effect’ in which light reflects off planktons and sand to create a white fog. It takes some time to master underwater digital photography but since there is no film, you can practice as much as you need. These cameras also have the light balance feature that provides colors, which are better recognized by the human eye. It is possible to pack a digital camera in special, waterproof packs and shoot but this should be done only in case of an emergency.

Info of High Key Photography

White curtains blowing in the breeze, white birches tufted with cotton snow, or a feather storm of a pillow fight are qualifiers for a high key photo. The center of interest benefits from a darker tone, contrasting with the light tones of the surrounding environment and bringing the eye to the action. Subtle shades of white and gray enhance the colors or darker tones of the main subject.

Often, a white vignetting filter can be used judiciously, blending the portion of the subject with the background. To make a vignetting filter, cut a four inch square from some colorless, pliable, and translucent material. In the center cut a small (one half by three quarter inch) hole with a nail scissors. Place the vignetter in about one half inch in front of the lens. Extra light may be aimed at the vignetter for a whiter effect. Vignetting can also be achieved with the computer. In your photo editor, choose the airbrush set at 300 pixels wide and 50% strength. Pass the brush repeatedly around the edges of the image, creating the fade out effect. When making the original exposure set the camera to overexpose the subject one f stop. The reason for this is that the camera light sensor will try to expose whites as light gray, underexposing the image.

In printing, care should be taken to insure a proper ratio of white, near white and deeper tones. If the photo is printed too dark, the high key effect is lost, and if printed too light, no detail will be discernible in the near-white tones. For a water color effect, leave lots of room around the edges (white) and mat carefully using white, black, or delicate pastel colors. A water color filter will further enhance the high key effect. If you have children, make a list of the white clothes available for a magical white on white shoot. They’ll all come out like angels.

Use Old Snapshots

  • Assess your collection of pictures. Do you have several dozen of your spouse or significant other? Your parents? Your children? Grandparents? A friend? A beloved pet? Decide which person would like to receive these pictures and divide them into groups accordingly.
  • Buy a picture frame with glass (either 5×7 or 8×10) for each collage you are going to make. Department stores sometimes have sales on picture frames, and you can often purchase a suitable frame for $5 or less.
  • Cut a sheet of paper (use cardstock, 24# paper or light cardboard) to match the size of the opening on the picture frame.
  • Cut out the background of the pictures, leaving just the people (or pets). Cut out enough pictures to cover the sheet of paper.
  • Arrange the cut-out pictures on the paper. Mix and match and experiment. Try placing the pictures at different angles.
  • After you have an idea of how you would like to arrange the pictures, glue them to the paper. (Check the label to make sure that you can use the glue with photographs.) Cover the entire sheet of paper with pictures.
  • When the glue is dry, insert the paper into the frame.

Influence of Digital Technology

When light strikes the CCD surface, it frees electrons to move around and those electrons accumulate in capacitors. Those electrons are “counted” at regular intervals by a circuit which dumps the electrons from each point on the CCD surface. When all of these measurements are combined, a picture can be instantly reproduced as a “virtual mosaic” of the individual point measurements. This is the picture we see. The more points of measurement found on the CCD, the higher the “resolution” of the resulting picture.

When building a highly specialized camera, digital technology such as this opens new doors which are not possible with film based technology.

In dentistry, an X-ray machine can be converted to a digital camera with a CCD which is sensitive to the photons that make up the X-ray spectrum. Instead of imprinting an image of X-ray on film, developing the film and finally reviewing the tiny film image, modern X-ray cameras can instantly display an X-ray image on a computer screen as the CCD processes the array of photon measurements. This not only saves time, but also produces no waste in the form of exposed film and development chemicals. So with this frequently used, specialized camera, digital technology creates improvements in a dentist’s practice and protects the environment.

Another specialized camera that benefits from digital technology is the telescope. Traditional cameras, mounted to telescopes collect points of light and expose the film. This can provide more sensitivity than the human eye to faint points of light, but brighter points of light can also obscure fainter ones by “washing out” the image. With the application of digital technology the film camera is replaced by a digital camera using a CCD. The CCD can continue to receive and measure photons indefinitely. This means the process is a continuous measurement in contrast to the more simple exposure of a piece of film. Computers can then electronically filter out brighter sources of light making possible the detection of very faint points of light in the sky and even the study of celestial objects by the detection of the shadows they cast instead of the light they give off. By comparing the light collected over time, digital technology also allows this digital camera to detect distant objects by inferring their presence.

About Room Show Off

A twenty-four millimeter wide angle lens sees an angle of eighty-four degrees, sufficiently wide for our purposes. A wider angle lens starts to show too much distortion through foreshortening and a less wide lens will make the room seem smaller. A second choice of a twenty-eight millimeter lens with an angle of view of seventy-five degrees is acceptable. A trick I have used to increase the width of view is to shoot through a doorway, just missing the sides of the opening. Unless you own an expensive perspective correcting lens, a distance of four feet from the floor is ideal to prevent convergence (when the walls appear to tilt in). If you own a digital camera with a 28mm lens, perspective can be corrected digitally with software from Adobe Image Ready or the equivalent. Most wide angle lenses share the fault of barrel distortion. This can be corrected with software from radcor.com.

Walk around the room and choose a view that includes the best look for most of the furniture. Two different views may be necessary to tell the whole story. For a spacious look, shoot into a corner, slightly to the right or left of dead center. Pictures taken at right angles to a wall look constricted and less spacious. Interesting table tops will look better from a higher angle. Be sure to light all lamps in the rooom.

Another method of presenting a whole room in one picture is to use the stitch method. First find the center of the lens node. This is a point halfway between the front element and the sensor chip. Place the camera on a tripod, attached at the node point. Level the camera, set the lens on 50mm* (equivalent) and take several slightly overlapping pictures. The images may be stitched manually or helped with software for that purpose. Be sure to smooth any indications of joining.

While flash on the camera is safe and will render the whole scene in accurate color, too much is lost in the way of depth, highlight and shadow detail and in attaining an interesting look. Flash on the camera flattens the scene, reflects unnaturally off flat surfaces and introduces a dark shadow around every object in the room. A better lighting includes a single bright light in a large reflector and a second light bounced off the back wall not appearing in the picture. Items of a dark nature like a dark stained cabinets need an additional spotlight in order to balance the tones in the picture. Night time pictures avoid the problem of overly lit windows, but if the window treatment only looks good with light coming through the window, time your photos at dawn or at dusk. The bluish light entering the window at these times while not matching in color temperature is quite dramatic and attractive. This blue light can be corrected later in the computer.