Here are some of my favorite photography links:
Eventually, you will need to develop Photoshop skills as they can really enhance your photos.† Iíll be putting out some information on how things that I have learned.† I know how much more there is to goÖ† In the meantime, Iíve added a link to timgrey.com.† Itís a great site for Photoshop tips.† I recommend that you add yourself to Tim Grey's Digital Darkroom Questions mailing list for great tips on how to use Photoshop.† I learned that the ďFit ImageĒ command will adjust the size of your photo to the correct size whether itís horizontal or vertical.
If you need detailed information on what type of camera to get there is excellent in-depth reviews at www.dpreview.com.† This is the best place to go to find out what is good about the camera you are planning to buy and what compromises you will need to make for cost and weight.
Check out my camera bag here.† Iíve also included information on tripods and other general information.
I belong to the Fox Valley Camera Club that meets during the school year on the second Tuesday of the month. Here are some links to the web sites of photographers in the camera club.† I'm also a member of the Photographic Society of America.
Check out my eclectic collection of art prints that are the photographs that I best.† I also like to take panorama photographs and had a show at the Appleton Public Library from November to December 2009.† You can see pictures of the show and the photos themselves.† Thanks to Photo World for the great printing job they did.
Travel is a great opportunity to take pictures. Visit my picture gallery.
I talk a lot about my equipment in my camera bag, but here are some tips for getting the most out of your digital camera.† If you already had a film camera in the past most of the principles are the same with the added benefit of instant feedback:
∑ Auto everything and program mode.† Most digital cameras (unless you get into the high end models) have an ďAutoĒ mode that lets you take good pictures without taking a lot of time to figure out your camera.† The biggest problem with Auto mode is that is chooses the ASA for you and in low light conditions uses a high ISO with a lot of grain.† Auto mode also does automatic white balance which is generally not too much of a problem.† I far prefer Program mode or ďPĒ as it usually appears in the camera.† This still has a reasonable amount of automation.† The program part means that the aperture and shutter speed follow a set combination based on the amount of light which is good.† You need to select the ASA and white balance mode (I suggest flash always.)† Program mode also opens up a lot of new features which I will discuss below.
∑ Use the luminosity profile.† This is a feature you can see after you take a picture using an SLR digital camera or you can see live on a point and shoot camera.† The profile tells is a count of the pixels at each level of brightness.† The far left is jet black and the far right is pure white.† Each bar is one stop or double of half the light depending on which way you are going.† If you look at the luminosity profile often you will start to see how it should look and be able to adjust your exposure.† If you take a picture of a gray card that is properly exposed you will have one line up the center of the profile.† For example, if you take a picture with a lot of snow in it, the camera will underexpose and try to make the snow darker.† This will appear as a large lump towards the center of the profile when you know that the snow should be about 1-Ĺ stops higher.† The luminosity profile will also tell you if you are overexposed or underexposed.† Look for bars at the left of right side edge.† Sometimes this is unavoidable and you have to choose whether it is better to lose definition in the dark or light areas.
∑ Look for blown out areas.† These are areas that are overexposed more than 2 stops so they are pure white.† Most cameras have a feature that will show blown out areas as flashing parts of the image.† If it is important to have these exposed correctly, underexpose and take the picture again.† See below.† Sometimes it is of no importance such as if it is a light bulb or stray reflection from the sun that is naturally blown out anyway.
∑ Find the exposure compensation button.† This is usually shown as a +/- on your camera.† If you find that the exposure is not correct on the luminosity profile you can adjust the exposure and take the picture again until you are satisfied.† With a digital camera you can always get the exact exposure with some practice.† Digital cameras donít have the same exposure latitude as film so it is important to work on this.† You will find that every camera has its own quirks.† On my Nikon D200 I generally leave the exposure compensation button at +0.3 or +0.7 stops as my camera tends to underexpose a bit.
∑ Make sure you are in focus.† After you get the exposure you can zoom in on your picture to see if the focus is correct.† I check the eyes for portraits.† Use the marker in your viewfinder to focus on what you want to be in focus and then compose the picture.† It also helps to use a tripod or the vibration reduction feature in your photos.
∑ Look at your photos.† I really like the instant feedback that a digital camera gives me.† Checking the luminosity profile and focus are a great start to getting good images.
∑ Take your camera with you.† I take a lot of ribbing for taking my camera with me when I go out, but I have found out the hard way that itís very difficult to take a picture if you donít have your camera with you!
∑ Take lots of shots.† Try all kinds of things out.† The nice thing is that you can immediately delete the ones you donít like.† Practice really helps you know where all the buttons are and get to be fast with your camera.
The basic theme is take control of your camera and you will take better shotsÖ† Another important are to work on is to accept that you will have to learn to use some photo processing software.† The good news is that software will help to make your great pictures even better.† I use Adobe Photoshop CS3 and I probably only use about ľ of the features that it has to offer, but it is really great at working in camera RAW format and at stitching panoramic photographs together.† Photoshop 5.0, 6.0 and so on also have most of the photo editing features of CS3 and CS4 and they work really well too.† Here are some great things you can do with Photoshop and other software like it:
∑ Fix red eye.
∑ Adjust your color balance.† Correct for white balance.
∑ Sharpen your image.† Most images can use sharpening.
∑ Remove† blemishes.
∑ Fine tune exposure.† This also means adjusting dark and light areas to improve the tonal quality of your pictures.