Digital Photography and Photographic Editing -...
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Digital Photography and Photographic EditingObjectivesAfter completing this chapter, the student should be able to: Select a digital camera for the needs of an individual or of an FFA chapter. Identify key terms in digital photography. Compose/frame a good photograph. Identify key terms in digital photo editing. Explain the difference between RGB and CMYK color formats. Explain the difference of JPG, TIFF, and RAW fi le formats.
IntroductionThe old saying goes, A picture is worth a thousand words. That may very well be true. Seeing an image of someone winning an award, for example, can be more exciting than reading about it in an accompanying news story. And since it seems that almost everyone has access to a digital camera either with an actual digital camera or with a cell phone that takes pictures everyone thinks they are photographic experts. But just owning a camera does not make someone an expert. It takes practice to be able to take photographs that tell great stories. In fact, the word photography means writing with light.
This chapter will help you be better able to write with light. But because not everyone will have the same type of camera, this chapter focuses on general techniques, rather than specifi cs on how to operate a certain digital camera. This chapter will introduce you to some of the basics of digital photography and photographic editing so you can take great photos.
How Digital Photography WorksDigital cameras have almost replaced fi lm cameras. Digital cameras provide users with options that fi lm cameras did not. There are several other advantages to digital cameras and digital photography over fi lm. With digital cameras, you can immediately view shots that you have taken. You can take many, many photos and then decide which ones to keep and which ones to delete, while looking at them in your camera. You can share the photo fi les easily over e-mail or on Web, Facebook, and MySpace pages. You can print just the photos you want, and, because the photos are digital fi les, they can be stored easily on CDs, hard drives, or other storage devices where the fi les will not degrade. In the photo editing process, a digital photo image can be modifi ed and manipulated much easier and faster than with traditional fi lm negatives.
One disadvantage to digital cameras is that they drain batteries quickly. Also, because digital cameras are so small, they are easily dropped. Because they are inexpensive, it is usually more cost-effective to buy a new one than to get a broken one repaired.
Digital cameras store images in the form of millions of tiny picture elements called pixels, short for picture elements. A pixel, simply put, is a single point of light on the screen of a monitor. You may have heard of the term megapixels in connection with digital cameras. Megapixel means one million pixels (picture elements). So a camera that shoots photographs of 6.2 megapixels means that each digital image has roughly 6.2 million pixels.
Learning the basics of digital photography will help you can take great photos for your personal use.
Many cameras allow you to take photos many megapixels in size, and these cameras can be expensive. If you plan to mainly use your camera to take photographs that are about 4-by-6 inches, a 3- or 4-megapixel camera is probably all you need. If you want to take 8-by-10-inch photos, you will need a camera of at least 5 megapixels. For advanced photography, you may need a camera that takes photos of 8 or more megapixels. Most cell phone cameras take 1- to 2-megapixel photographs. If all of the images will be placed on the Web, a camera with fewer than 3 megapixels may be all you need. But if the images will be for publications, get a camera of at least 5 megapixels or more.
the viewfi nder shows the same area as your cameras zoom lens, so you will be able to capture the same area that you see in your viewfi nder.
A tripod or monopod should be part of your camera equipment. Also, it is a good idea to have a camera bag packed with extra batteries for your camera and the storage media (CDs, DVDs, Flash cards, xD cards, etc.) that your camera needs to save the images on. The camera bag also can carry extra camera lenses.
Resolution and CompressionDigital camera resolution is usually measured in megapixels, a raw counting of the number of pixels in the digital image created by the camera. Although the photographs taken with low-resolution cameras (1- to 2-megapixels) are fi ne for photographs that will be viewed only on television or computer screens, such as on Web pages, they do not work well for print documents. You would need to use cameras with higher resolution (preferably 5 megapixels or more) for print publications.
Many standard digital cameras allow you to save your picture at varying levels of resolution. Some use such options as Basic, Fine, and Superfi ne or possibly Good, Better, and Best. Your camera manual should describe exactly how you change the resolution and how many pixels you get with each setting. When recorded, high-resolution images take up more space on your cameras memory card. High-resolution photographs have low compression rates, which result in larger fi le sizes and better-looking images.
In addition to determining how many megapixels your camera should have, you also need to determine if you need a camera that has interchangeable lenses (zoom, telephoto, and wide-angle lenses) or a camera-mounted zoom lens. Cameras with interchangeable lenses cost more, but you can get just the right lens for just the right photo. If you are going to take standard photos, a point-and-shoot model, with the camera-mounted zoom lens, may be all you need. Almost all digital cameras have built-in fl ashes, too.
LCD monitors are small color screens built into most cameras. Most have brightness adjustments that you can change manually, or which the camera will adjust automatically. These screens range between one to four inches. Viewfi nders are smaller monitors built into a digital camera. An advantage to using a viewfi nder, instead of a monitor, is that a viewfi nder does not draw battery power, so your camera batteries will last longer. Another advantage is that
The camera on the left has interchangeable lenses. The one on the right has one zoom lens.
This picture shows two types of tripods and a monopod (right).
The basic rule is that if you know you are going to use the photographs for print documents, save at the highest resolution possible. In the photographic editing process, you can always lower the resolution of a high-resolution image. You can never increase the resolution of an image that was saved at a low resolution without the image looking distorted. If the images will only be viewed on computer screens such as for Web, Facebook, or MySpace pages, you can shoot photographs at a lower resolution.
When you output the fi nished photograph, you will need to set the output resolution. This is done in pixels per inch or ppi. For printed materials (publications or actual photo prints), your photograph needs to be output at no less than 300 ppi. If the photograph is going to be placed on the Web or e-mailed, the resolution can be as low as 72 ppi. A discussion on resolution is provided later in the chapter in the section titled Resolution and Resampling.
Also keep in mind that a digital cameras aspect ratio may be different than a traditional fi lm camera. A fi lm cameras aspect ratio is 3:2, which means the image is three units wide by two units tall. That is why the 4-by-6-inch print emerged as a standard size. Many but not all digital cameras have an aspect ratio of 4:3, which means the image is four units wide by three units tall, just like a traditional computer monitor. To get a 4-by-6-inch image from a digital camera with a 4:3 aspect ratio, you will need to crop the photograph in the photo editing stage.
Pixels Per InchSave your photographs at the following resolution settings (in pixels per inch) for print and the Web:For the Web or video 72-100 ppiBlack and white photos 150 ppiFull-color photos 300 ppi
Selecting a File FormatYour camera may offer a choice of fi le formats for your saved images. The format you select determines how the camera records and stores all of the bits of data that make up a digital photo. Many formats have been developed for digital images, but the most popular for digital camera manufacturers are JPG, TIFF, and RAW. JPG (pronounced JAY-peg) is short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the organization that developed this fi le format. JPG is the leading camera format because it takes Web-friendly photos; all Web browsers and e-mail programs can display a JPG image. JPGs also are smaller in fi le size than other formats. The disadvantage of JPG images is that the images are saved with a process that eliminates, or compresses, some image data. If you record your images as JPGs, you should try to save the image at the highest resolution possible to minimize the compression.
TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format. TIFF fi les are much larger than JPGs because TIFFs do not compress fi les much. TIFFs cannot be displayed on most Web browsers. You usually have to open a
Noti ce in these two photos that the size of the two photos is not exactly the same. The photograph on the left was shot with a standard fi lm cameras aspect rati o of 3:2. The photograph on the right is a regular digital cameras aspect rati o of 4:3.
TIFF fi le in a photo editing program and convert it to a JPG before the image can be shared. TIFF is for photographers who are concerned with losing image quality. For most amateur photographers, though, TIFFs are not used that much.
The last image format is RAW. The letters RAW are not initials for other words. RAW is just a word. RAW is not a standard format, such as JPGs and TIFFs. Each camera manufacturer uses different specifi cations for its RAW format. A RAW fi le records data straight from the cameras sensor, just the way it looks on the sensor, onto the cameras data card. The fi les are also uncompressed, meaning they are larger than JPG fi les. Professional photographers tend to use the RAW format.
Light, Colors, and White BalanceYou can adjust your digital camera for different types of light. Light sensitivity is measured using a scale called ISO, for International Standards Organization. Most digital cameras provide a choice of ISO
values, usually 100, 200, 400, and so on. Higher-end cameras give you even more choices. As the ISO value increases, the camera becomes more light sensitive. However, you do not want to record images at really high ISO values (800 and 1600) all the time. Higher ISO values produce images that look grainier than images shot at lower ISOs. Use higher ISOs in low-light situations. Most cameras automatic-ISO feature will yield good results.
In addition to paying attention to the amount of light, you also should consider the light source. Different kinds of light have different color qualities, commonly called color temperature. This is a way of saying that the light sources contain different amounts of red, green, and blue light. For example, sunlight tends to be blue, a regular light bulb (incandescent) tends to be more yellow, and a fl uorescent bulb tends to be green. Your eyes adjust to changes in color temperature so the colors with different light sources look the same, but digital cameras do not adjust so easily. A camera must be
white balanced to correct color temperature problems.
White balancing tells the camera what combination of red, green, and blue light it should perceive as white, given a particular lighting condition. Most cameras have auto-white balance features, but this feature can sometimes get confused, particularly if you are shooting a scene that features a single dominant color or includes different types of light (sunlight streaming into a room lit with fl uorescent light). In this situation, you may need to adjust the white balance manually. Most cameras include white balance presets for normal types of light: daylight, daylight with clouds, incandescent, fl uorescent, and fl ash. If your camera does not offer white balance adjustments, you can remove unwanted colors in the photo editing stage.
Digital Photography Composition TechniquesNow that you understand some of the technical components of digital photography, it is time to take some pictures. Composition is organizing the subject
Photo File Formats Many fi le formats have been developed for digital images, but the most popular for digital camera manufacturers are JPG, TIFF, and RAW. JPG: Joint Photographic Experts GroupSmaller fi lesWeb-friendly photosLeading camera formatCompressed fi le format
TIFF: Tagged Image File FormatLarge fi lesNot compressed muchCannot be displayed on most Web browsers.Used for photos in high-end document design.
RAW: does not stand for anythingRAW is just a word, not a standard format.Each camera manufacturer uses different specifi cations for its RAW format. Records data straight from the cameras sensor, just the way it looks on the sensor, onto the cameras data card. Files are uncompressed.Extremely large fi les. Used mainly by professional photographers.
the person or object you want to photograph through the viewfi nder. Practice these composition techniques, and your photos will look much better. Start with holding the camera properly.
Holding the Camera The quickest and surest way to get a sharp, clear picture is to hold your camera correctly. Blurred pictures are caused most frequently by moving your camera as you press the shutter button. Stand comfortably, with your legs slightly apart, or lean against a tree or wall. Hold your elbows to your side to minimize shaking. Breathe at a slow, steady pace as you get ready to take the shot, then hold your breath as you slowly press the shutter button.
The fl ash setting that the camera chooses when the automatic fl ash is selected, by pressing the shutter button halfway, is not always correct. The automatic fl ash does not choose the best image, just one that is neither too dark nor too bright. Take a picture with the automatic fl ash, but if you do not like the results, use one of the other fl ash settings. It is also recommended that you stand no closer than four feet away from your subject and no farther than 10 feet away to get the best fl ash lighting. When taking people pictures on sunny days, you may want to turn on your fl ash. A fl ash may help eliminate the harsh shadows produced by the sun.
AnglesOne of the best ways to create interest in your photographs is to vary the angles, while framing your shot well. An unusual angle or viewpoint can add a great deal of interest to an ordinary object. While it is appropriate to shoot eye level with the object or person, varying the camera angle from time to time will add a little extra excitement to your photograph. For example, photographed from below, someone looks strong and dominating. From above, a person appears meek, even childlike.
Camera angles refer to the different angles you can hold a camera, in reference to the object of interest. Refer to the photographs shown in Video and Audio Production to see examples of these camera angles.
An eye-level shot looks the subject right in the eye. Some photographers call it the bulls-eye effect when the eye-level shot is coupled with placing the person directly in the middle of the picture, creating a bulls eye.A low-angle shot looks up at the object of interest. This angle creates a dramatic look, where everything looks magnifi ed. Holding the camera high and shooting down is called a high-angle shot, where everything in the shot looks minimized or diminished.
Use your imagination to fi nd different angles or perspectives for your photographs. You might try lying down or crouching in front of an object, climbing above it, or putting the camera on the ground.
Rule of ThirdsPerhaps the most well known principle of photographic composition is the rule of thirds. The
This woman is holding a camera correctly. Holding a camera correctly is the best way to to get a sharp, clear picture.
Focus and FlashMost cameras automatic mode does an excellent job of auto-focusing for you. Pressing the shutter button halfway lets the camera calculate the focus, white balance, and the amount of light. You can manually set the focus, as well. Manual focus is used on digital cameras to emphasize one element in focus while deemphasizing another, which is out of focus.
Digital cameras also have several fl ash modes. Most allow you to select a fl ash, a red-eye reduction fl ash (also called a fl utter fl ash), or no fl ash.
basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds horizontally and vertical so that you have nine parts. Position the main subject elements where the dividing lines intersect. This means not placing your subject right in the center of the frame. For example, frame the shot so that the subjects eyes are on the line dividing the upper third from the middle third. For landscapes, position the horizon along one of the horizontal lines instead of directly in the center of the picture. If you do not take a photograph with the rule of thirds in mind, you can edit your photograph later to crop or reframe the image so that it fi ts the rule.
images depth by suggesting perspective or depth, and they can also add a sense of action to an image.
These photos show the rule of thirds in acti on. In each shot, the major impact or acti on takes place at intersecti ons of the nine secti ons of the screen.
Example of diagonal lines. (Photo by Erica Der)
Example of verti cal lines.
LinesUsing lines can be a very effective way of drawing the viewers eye into the focal point of an image. Lines can be the shape of a path, a line of trees, a fence, or any feature in an image. As you get ready to frame your shot, determine what lines are in front of you and how they might add interest to your shot.
Diagonal lines are used to draw the viewers eye through the photograph. Diagonal lines give
Vertical lines convey a variety of different moods in a photograph, ranging from power and strength, such as photographs of skyscrapers, to growth, such as photographs of trees. Horizontal lines convey a message of stability or rest, such as photographs of horizons, oceans, and even sleeping people. Landscape horizons are the most common horizontal lines in photographs. Generally, horizons should not be placed in the middle of the frame. A much more effective technique is to place the horizon in the upper or lower third of the frame, following the rule of thirds.
the amount of light that is allowed into the camera. Aperture settings are measured in f-stops or f-numbers.
The easiest way to remember f-stop settings is this; the larger the f-stop, the smaller the aperture opening. The smaller the f-stop, the bigger the aperture opening. For example, an f-stop of f-1.7 (small) means the aperture is open, where an f-stop of f-16 (large number) means the aperture is almost completely closed. An aperture with a small opening (large f-stop) will produce a longer depth of fi eld,
Short (or narrow) depth of fi eld.
Short (or narrow) depth of fi eld.
Long depth of fi eld. Example of converging lines. (Photo by Hyunji Lee)
Example of horizontal lines. (Photo by Kati e Wimberly)
Converging lines occur when two or more lines come from different parts of an image to a single point. Converging lines act as a sort of funnel for the viewers eyes, directing the viewers gaze to a point in the photograph. A good example of converging lines is a set of railroad tracks that converge on a horizon.
Depth of FieldDepth of fi eld refers to the portion of the scene in focus in the camera. Depth of fi eld can be long or short. Depth of fi eld that has a lot of the scene in focus has a long depth of fi eld. When only a small zone is in focus, with much of the background out of focus, depth of fi eld is short or shallow. Depth of fi eld is dependent on several factors, but one of the primary factors is the cameras aperture setting.
Aperture is the iris of the camera, like your eye. The aperture is the opening in the lens through which light passes to the camera sensor; it controls
while an aperture with a large opening (small f-stop) will produce a short or shallow depth of fi eld. You can play with the depth of fi eld to get an entire fi eld of fl owers in focus (long depth of fi eld), or just a few fl owers in focus while all of the rest of the fl owers are blurred (shallow depth of fi eld).
Background DistractionsThe best advice, regarding backgrounds, is to use a simple, plain background, unless the background is part of the story. Avoid extremely light or dark backgrounds. The more distractions you remove from the background, the more attention you draw to your subject.
Types of PhotosRemember that the word photography means write with light, so let your photo tell a story. Try to shoot a photograph so that someone does not need to read a caption or an accompanying news story to get the idea of what the photograph is about.
News and Feature PhotosTo illustrate a news article, keep the news photograph simple, and get as close as possible to your subject. Try to avoid grip and grin photographs photos of people receiving awards where they shake hands and smile as they receive the honor. If you are doing a story on someone receiving an award, try taking a photograph of the recipient doing whatever the person did to earn the award, instead of a grip and grin. Arrange news photos to include as few people as possible. People want to see closer shots of peoples faces, not far-away shots of large groups.
The photo on the left is an example of a grip and grin, which are usually taken when someone receives an award. Instead of a grip and grin, try to take a photo of the person actually doing what the person did to receive the award, as shown in the photo on the right. An acti on shot is much more interesti ng than a handshake.
This graphic illustrates the f-numbers in a camera. The larger the number, the smaller the aperature.
A feature photograph is one photograph that is not tied to a news story. Many times, you will see a feature photograph with just a caption, which details what the photo is about. A photo series is a group of three to fi ve photographs on the same topic that tell an overall story. A caption, also known as a cutline, provides information that is necessary for the reader to understand the photograph. Usually a caption provides information on who is in the photograph, what is going on, where and when the action happened, and why the action is signifi cant. A caption is one to two sentences in length.
People PhotosMost of your photographs will have people in them. As noted previously, people looking at your photographs want to see people in them. Following are suggestions on how to get the best people pictures you can:
Take candid pictures to show people working, playing, or relaxing. Avoid posed shots. Do not force people to always pose staring at the camera. Get them doing something.Keep people busy. An interesting prop can give
the person being photographed something to work with and help creates a natural feeling. For example, you could have a rodeo cowboy hold a lasso as his prop.Move in close. Fill the cameras viewfi nder with your subject to create pictures with greater impact. Also, standing too far away, even when taking group shots, produces images that are harder to see and less interesting.Look your subject in the eye. For children, that means getting on their height level.
Animal PhotosTaking photographs of animals can be fun, but it can also be tiring because you can never control how an animal will react or cooperate with you as you take pictures. For photographs of small animals, such as dogs and cats, use many of the suggestions in the People Photos section. Move in close, get on the animals eye level, keep the animal busy, avoid posed shots, and take candid pictures. For larger animals cattle, pigs, horses, and other livestock use these tips:
Groom the animal. If it is a grand champion-type photograph, make sure the animal looks the best it can look. An effective livestock photo should show a good side view of the animal, so its markings, profi le, and general condition can be seen. Show the animal just as it is. Do not use photo editing software to doctor the picture. Choose an appropriate background that does not clutter the picture or distract the viewers attention from the animal. For example an open
fi eld as a backdrop is probably better than a dark barn. Position and pose the animal properly, generally, a full side view or a three-fourths view, when the animals head faces more toward the camera than the rest of the body. The animals head should be high.Use a fi ll fl ash, if possible. A fi ll fl ash will enhance the animals appearance by revealing shadow detail.
The previous tips were for animals that were not moving, but were posed in a controlled environment. Sometimes, though, you will need to take photos of moving animals, such as those in a rodeo. To get close to the action, use a telephoto lens and a fast shutter speed to stop the action for your photograph. Try to anticipate where the animal will be and follow the animal and rider. Give the animal plenty of lead room in your viewfi nder. If your camera allows you to take multiple rapid shots by holding down your shutter button, do so. You can pick out the best photo later. Try to fi nd varying angles to shoot from to get interesting photographs.
Photo EditingTo this point, you have learned several techniques to help you take good photographs. For the rest of this chapter, you will take the good photographs that you have shot and learn how to make them look even better through photo editing. Because there are so many photo editing programs on the market, this chapter will not focus on specifi c software programs, but instead discuss some general concepts to help your photos look better.
Cropping an ImageOne of the most powerful tools you have is the ability to crop images. Cropping removes unwanted parts of an image. Cropping a photo allows you to zero in on your subject and eliminate what is not needed, providing the viewer the opportunity to focus on what is most important in an image. You can also use cropping if your digital cameras aspect ratio is 4:3 and you want to produce 4-by-6-inch photographs.
Resolution and ResamplingYour photo editing program allows you to change the resolution of the original image, depending on what the photographs fi nal destination will be. Resolution
is a measure of how closely pixels are spaced. At 72 pixels per inch (ppi), a 1,600-by-1,200-pixel image the size of a typical photograph taken with a 2-megapixel camera will measure 22 by 16 inches. At 300 ppi, the same photograph measures 5 by 4 inches, because those same pixels are packed closer together. For a print publication, the photographs resolution needs to be set at 300 ppi or higher. If your image will be posted to the Web or sent via e-mail, the image needs to be saved at 72 to 100 ppi.
Changing a pictures pixel dimensions by adding or subtracting pixels from an original image is called resampling. Using the photo editing program to discard pixels from the original image is called downsampling, which is what happens when you take a very high-resolution photograph (1,200 ppi, for example) and lower the resolution from 300 ppi to 72 ppi. If you have an original image that was saved at a very low resolution (72 ppi) and want it to be bigger in actual size, you can try to upsample the image. Upsampling refers to when the photo editing program makes up new pixels by adding pixels that were not there to begin with. This can cause an image to look pixilated and blurry. Upsampling is strongly not recommended.
Retouching PhotosMost photo editing programs will allow you to retouch photographs color, brightness, contrast, and other aspects. The photo editing programs have automated one-step commands for adjusting these settings. The automated commands may not give you the best results, but they are a good place to start. Following are a few of the common retouching tools:
Brightness/contrast lightens or darkens an image.Cloning copies areas in one part of a photo to another part.Color adjustments adjust saturation the richness and intensity of the colors.Dodge and burn can lighten (dodge) or darken (burn) a part of an image.Drawing tools , such as lines, curves, and geometric shapes, can be added to your photograph.Levels adjust the highlights, midtones, and shadows of the image to the appropriate level.
Saving Your Edited PhotoOnce you have edited your photograph, you are
just about ready to save it so it can be used in a publication or on the Web. The last two things to consider as you save your photograph are the color format and the fi le format.
Color FormatsThe two color formats to save your image in are RGB and CMYK. You have the option in all higher-end photo editing programs to save your fi nal image in one of these two color formats.
RGB stands for red, green, blue. RGB is the color format used by televisions and computer monitors. If the fi nal destination for your photograph is the Web or a television monitor, the fi nal color format needs to be RGB. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, black. (Black is K, because B is blue in the RGB format.) CMYK is the color format for commercial color printing. Each letter is an ink color that makes up what is called four-ink color, also known as process color. If the fi nal destination of your photograph is a commercial printer for a publication, the fi nal color format needs to be CMYK.
File FormatsAfter you have selected a color format (RGB or CMYK), the last task is to choose a fi le format for the actual photograph. And just like the color format selection, choosing a fi le format depends on the fi nal destination of your photograph.
If you plan to e-mail your photograph, place it on the Web, or use it in a television program, you will need to save it as a JPG fi le. A JPG fi le works very well for photographic images with gradual color changes and no sharp edges, and is a relatively small fi le size.
If the photograph will be used in a high-end print publication, you should save it as a TIFF. A TIFF is considered by many as the best graphic fi le format for use in desktop publishing applications, because it is supported by virtually all desktop publishing applications.
Photo Releases Finally, if the photo is going to be used for-profi t, such as in an advertisement, it is a good idea to get a photo release form signed by everyone in the photograph. A photo release gives you permission to use the photograph in ways that you specify (in an advertisement, in an educational program). For persons under 18, a parent or guardian would need to sign the photo release form. You can use the example release form in Video and Audio Production for a photo release form.
SummaryThis chapter introduced you to the basic concepts of proper digital photography. You can take good photographs with almost any type of digital camera. Keep in mind that you should shoot at the highest resolution possible, especially if you plan to use the photographs in printed publications. Use the tips on proper composition, and you will be on your way to write with light.
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