Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sharper Images.

Step 1: Use low ISO
If you want the highest possible degree of sharpness from your photographs, you’re going to have to start by removing anything that gets in the way of being able to extract as much detail out of your photos as possible.
This is to ensure that your pictures are recorded with the least possible amount of noise. To do this, set your camera to the lowest ISO setting – most cameras have 100; some have 80 as the lowest setting.
How does this help?
At higher ISO, you can get photos with faster shutter times, but the trade-off is extra digital noise. Which we don’t want.
Step 2: Stop down your lens
In more readable English, ‘stopping down your lens’ means to not take your photos at wide-open apertures. You don’t have to take photos at f/22, but the sweet spot for most lenses is at between f/8 and f/11.
How does this help?
At a wide aperture (say, f/2.8 or f/3.5), your lens lets as much light into the camera as possible. “That’s good”, I hear you say but that’s not always the case: you’d be surprised how much fuzzier lenses can be fully open compared to being stopped down slightly. This is doubly true for consumer-grade lenses, such as the lenses that are sold in body-and-lens kits.
Stop down your lens to f/8 to get as much sharpness from it as you can.
Step 3: Get rid of vibrations
Now that the camera itself doesn’t degrade the image quality by adding extra noise, and your lens is operating at its very best, suddenly you, the photographer, are the issue. Try to make your subjects stand as still as possible, and use a good, sturdy tripod. Use as fast a shutter time as you can too – this counteracts the effects of any camera shake
If you’re shooting in particularly low light, you may even consider using a remote control or the self-timer to ensure that you don’t inadvertently shake the camera when you trip the shutter.
How does this help?
Any vibrations that are transferred through you to the camera cause a very slight blur. Sometimes, you can’t tell it’s actually blurry, but trust me – it will affect the crispness of your photos this is why studio photographers use tripods a lot of the time. Trust me, use a tripod.
Step 4: Get enough light
All the tips so far are incredibly useful, but you’ll notice that they all ruin your light: The combination of low ISO, small aperture and high shutter speed mean that you need an ungodly amount of light. Shoot out-doors, use studio strobes, invest in a flashgun and a reflector, set off a nuclear bomb – do whatever you have to get as much light as you can.
Step 5: Always shoot in RAW
To maximise the amount of data you have to work with later on, when the time comes to edit your photos, shoot in RAW format.
How does this help?
We didn’t just spend all that effort just to let your camera screw up the photos by throwing away a lot of information and compressing it – which is what happens when you shoot in JPG.
RAW format gives you a load more flexibility, more data to work with, and is an overall better way to work with digital photos.
Step 6: Watch your exposure
It is positively amazing how much data an imaging chip actually captures – there is so much information in a photograph that you’re never likely to even look at. The secret lies in that all this information is in the shadow parties.
Obviously, it is always better to try and expose your photographs perfectly If you have to hedge your bets, it’s always better to underexpose slightly than to over-expose: You can work with underexposure in Photoshop or one of the many other programs, but an over-exposed image (with areas that appear ‘burned out’ or completely white) is a write-off, unfortunately.
Having said all that, you lose definition if you have to fiddle too much with a photograph – so do your best to get your exposure as good as possible.
Step 7: Think about your workflow

Ideally, you want to treat your photos in this order:
  1. Take the photo
  2. Copy it to your computer
  3. Make any adjustments to colour and exposure on the RAW file
  4. Make any other adjustments in Photoshop
  5. Resize the image for your target medium ( the web, an e-mail, a photographic print etc.)
  6. Sharpen your photo (but don’t over-do it)
  7. Save it down at the highest possible quality
Step 8: Sharpen your photos for the right medium
Now that you’ve done everything right, you can think about sharpening your photos...

5 Skills For You The Photographer

The modern camera should, at least in theory, make creating great images an easier process than it used to be – with all these exposure modes, focussing tools, picture styles and such, camera manufacturers would like you to believe that it’s just a matter of squeezing the shutter and hey presto you’ve nailed it. Getting the business of exposure right has become more straightforward for the photographer – you really don’t need to know much to get some passable shots but what about if you want to take your photography further?
Photography is very different from that of even ten years ago. Good modern photographers need to be able to do so much more than compose and frame a shot, a whole set of new techniques are needed if you want to develop your photography to a really high standard. Here are five key ways to make your photography shine:
1. Know Your Software
Practice your ‘developing’ skills to where you can take an image and get the very best out of it in your digital darkroom. This is vital whether you want to be primarily a ‘photographer’ or an ‘image-maker’ and allows you to have greater control over your work so it’s the very best that it can be. This means choosing a solid piece of editing software and learning how to use it to its full potential. You have to choose a program that best suits your interests and needs. Be prepared to change your mind.
2. Get the Basics Right
You need to know composition, exposure and how to utilise your camera to get the most out of it. It doesn’t matter much what camera you’re using, if you don’t really know how to point it then you’re going to struggle to get anything good out of it. Read your manual and learn what your camera can (and can’t) do. Study and understand options like depth of field, focal planes and shutter speeds. This can get confusing and a bit dull at times but it will help you to understand how to produce a particular effect or look when you start to frame in your mind what you want an image to look like in its final form.
3. Be Flexible
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut taking the same kind of shots and processing them in the same way over and over again. Or just adopting one set of tools and failing to implement new ones, when they become available. Developing your work means that you do need to develop the way you work. Being conscious of issues such as workflow and how they impact on your ability to produce good images. If you fail to understand you won’t survive and will fail to keep your interest in photography in general, you also need to be able to innovate and change if you’re really going to produce some impressive images.
4. Study Others’ Work
Art rarely is in isolation, the work of other people can be helpful for you to develop your own style, hone your skills and increase your knowledge. Spend time every day looking at the work of others, thinking about how they created a specific look or effect and work out how you could replicate it. An important tool for the modern photographer is networking with other photographers on-line or in real life. On-line communities such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are a great way to get your work ‘out there’ but are an even better resource for inspiration and discussion. They even allow you to engage in projects which will boost your skills and experience. In real life, you should check out your local camera club or photo-walk group. Interacting with other photographers in the flesh is a great way to learn new things and increase your engagement with photography overall, it might give you access to new shooting opportunities and equipment and will certainly challenge the way you see your own photography.
5. Practice
Enough cannot be said on this subject, you can read all the books, internet sites or magazine articles you like but there’s no substitute for actually picking up your camera and using it. Passion for photography comes from the feeling of having created something unique and interesting with your camera – it may be a single image, a small portfolio or an entire body of work. There is just no substitute for picking your camera up and pointing it at things in earnest, and ideally you should be using your camera as a portal to show others something you are passionate about. Having the ability to show something you love in a new and visually exciting way comes with practice and so practice is the thing that more than anything else will make your photographs stand out from the crowd.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Odd Numbers

Odd numbers are better than Even ones in photography.”
I first heard about this ‘odd rule’ many years ago at my local Camera Club, and decided to experiment with it to see if it would work for me. I’m not really sure why it works, but it does. Perhaps it’s about the balance that odd numbers create. I find that three objects in a shot are particularly good.
Five, Seven or more can work but you run the risk of clutter in your image.
Give it a try and you will be pleasantly surprised on how it works!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Don't wait for the smile

Taking photos of your baby/children in whatever situation they’re in, whether they are being serious, curious, grumpy, sleepy, silly or sad.
For truer lifestyle photo’s, shooting how people are naturally is what makes photography truly editorial and photojournalistic. These are the kinds of images that will tell a story or show an emotion. Don’t just wait for a smile.
Remember, be respectful if they have just fallen and are in pain, for instance. It may not be a good idea to be in their face with your camera. But if you can discreetly snap a shot with a zoom lens, then by all means go for it.
From that shot, you can capture mum soothing her baby or dad kissing his little one, which are moments to be treasured.
Too often photographers wait for the “perfect” timing to snap a shot, when baby is smiling, or when the child is looking straight into the camera, when they stop playing to look up.
Capture the natural moments and you will capture personalities and stories behind the faces.
Remember to relax and enjoy your photography