Digital Photography 101:Some tips for nonprofessionalsBill Hackett, Cheshire Cat Photo
3 Things to decide
JPG or RAWTripod, monopod, or handheldMultiple exposures with bracketing or single exposures
Cameras and lensesTripods and monopodsComputers and software
Cameras (and camera backs)
Canon - Excellent lenses, leads in electronics, prompt repairNikon - Excellent lenses, durable bodies, premium pricesOthers - Choose on basis of lens and image processor
Length - 50mm normal lens, 70-200mm telephoto zoom, 10mm wide-angleSpeed - f/1.4, f/2.8, f/4-5.6 (higher numbers = slower lenses)Quality (Chromatic aberration, sharpness, etc.)
Tripods and monopods
Tripods are more stable than monopods (3 points determine a plane)Monopods are convenient and can be better than nothing (handheld)Choose a heavy (and tall enough!) tripod with fewer leg segments, flip-lever (rather than turning ring) locking, and quick-release head. Use a cable release or infrared (IR) device to trip shutter!
Macintosh - Choice for security, stability, and scalability, since UNIX-based. Most viruses are not written for Macintosh, but you should STILL use firewall and antivirusWindows PC - Use Windows 7 and the best antivirus and firewall package available.Others (Android, iPhone, iPad) - Screen size is limiting for the phones. Excellent camera in iPhone. iPads might be an option for processing.
Adobe Photoshop and Bridge, Adobe LightroomAdobe Photoshop ElementsApple iPhoto and Aperture
Kinds (and Sizes!) of filesWorkflowStorage and Backup
Photographs: Kinds of Files
JPG and PNG - JPG is destructive (lossycompression); PNG is losslessTIF (TIFF) - uncompressed and L-A-R-G-EcRAW and DNG - camera RAW and Adobe Digital Negative
Dictated by your end-product - What are you trying to produce?Must fit your needs - KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid! :-) ) MethodologyMust make sense - Retain all of the picture information that you need
Never lose photo information - store a file that has everything youll need laterAdjust exposure, white balance, and sharpness of RAW files first, then colorThe Level and Cropping Tool are your friends!
Storage and backup
Store photos on >1 PHYSICAL device (no single point of failure)Back up your work regularly and as frequently as makes senseBack up important work at >1 physical LOCATION (e.g. at home and office; at home and online storage)
Computer Folders (Directories) by date and mnemonic nameSpreadsheets - Excel, othersData bases - I use Filemaker, the #1 data base for Mac and the #2 for PC
PhilosophyLightComposition: framing and cropping, settings, exposure, focus, and depth-of-field
Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? That depends a good deal on where you want to get to, said the Cat.What is there to DISCOVER? (NOT: What is there to photograph?)In photography, we order the chaos around us, emphasizing one aspect of the world, ignoring all others, representing that subject in a way that shows how it has engaged us emotionally.
Photography literally means painting with lightDull light = dull photographs, regardless of subject matterLight has a direction, a character, and a color
Frontlighting - Wipes out any shadows; WORST for landscapes and BEST for tight shots of birds and animalsSidelighting - Shadows emphasize shape and texture; early morning and late afternoon sidelighting for landscapesBacklighting - Outlines shapes by creating glowing halos or even silhouettes
Hard or SoftHard = Direct bright sunlight or head-on camera flash; Produce sharp-edged black shadows from point source of light; Sensor (and film) cannot capture the RANGE of exposureSoft = Low-contrast lighting; Great for closeups and delicate color; Shadows disappear or are diffused, depth perception is limited, colors saturate
Warm reds and oranges early and late in the dayCooler blues at middayOvercast makes lighting cooler; Cool light can emphasize snow and frost but you may need to filter (or digitally adjust white balance [light temperature degrees Kelvin!]) for brightly colored subjects
SLOW DOWN! Take your time. The light on your subject is changing constantly!Vertical or Horizontal (Portrait or Landscape)Framing and Placement (keep in mind aspect ratios of later frame sizes); Yet another reason for using a tripod; Avoid cutting off the subject with the edge of the frame; Zoom lenses; Rule of thirds
Adobe Bridge showing Histogram, White Balance, Exposure, and Saturation for cropped DNG image of surfer, Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz
Exposure is the major problem facing all photographers. - John ShawExposure of RAW images can be adjusted, so... it is not as big a problem!Correct exposure means that tonal values turn out the way that YOU wanted
Aperture and Shutter Speed
Aperture = the size of the hole: f/1, f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16Shutter Speed = time the hole is open (in seconds): 2, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000With Aperature-priority, you size the hole, and the camera picks the speed; With Shutter Speed-priority, you pick the speed, and the camera sizes the hole; With Full Auto, the camera picks both (and the cameras brain is SMALLER than OURS! :-) )
Focus and depth-of-field
Focus is the region of sharpest definitionDepth-of-field is the depth of this regionAperture-priority: large holes = shallow depth of field, small holes = greater depth of field
Good Vibrations?Only in the heart.... All other vibrations are BAD for Photography!
Digital: cell phones, Internet email, Facebook, Web sites, Digital framesPrints, photo gifts, CDs and DVDsDigital slideshows
PortabilityWorldwide reachJust-in-Time production of prints and gifts, on demand
Prints - Wallet sized to large posters, canvas, metal, etc.Disks - CDs are approximately 700 MB; DVDs are approximately 4.7 GB; thumb drives (USB sticks) come in a variety of sizes, use solid-state storageGifts - playing cards, puzzles, keepsake boxes, coasters, tiles, clothing, etc.
Bear Gulch Trail (Eastern Pinnacles); Fungi, Muir Woods; Bridalveil Fall rainbow
Muir Woods: Bohemian Grove, Cathedral Grove, Understory
Muir Woods Redwoods
Bermuda Buttercup (Sunset State Beach)
Arbor, Mission San Luis Obispo
Are YOU serious? :-)
Shoot ONLY cRAW (Camera RAW)Use a tripod whenever reasonableShoot multiple exposures per setting and bracket your settings (... and prepare to spend HOURS and DAYS at the computer with your work.)
The Road Not Taken - There is always more to discover!
All right, said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.