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...

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