Digital Photography 101: Some tips for nonprofessionals Bill Hackett, Cheshire Cat Photo

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  • 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

  • Equipment

    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

  • The lens

    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!

  • Platforms

    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.

  • Software

    Adobe Photoshop and Bridge, Adobe LightroomAdobe Photoshop ElementsApple iPhoto and Aperture

  • Photographs

    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

  • Workflow

    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

  • Workflow Tips

    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)

  • Organization

    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

  • Shooting

    PhilosophyLightComposition: framing and cropping, settings, exposure, focus, and depth-of-field

  • Philosophy

    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.

  • Light

    Photography literally means painting with lightDull light = dull photographs, regardless of subject matterLight has a direction, a character, and a color

  • Light direction

    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

  • Light character

    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

  • Light color

    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

  • Composition

    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

    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!

  • Presentation

    Digital: cell phones, Internet email, Facebook, Web sites, Digital framesPrints, photo gifts, CDs and DVDsDigital slideshows

  • Digital

    PortabilityWorldwide reachJust-in-Time production of prints and gifts, on demand

  • Physical

    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.

  • Questions?