Download - Photography 2: Progressing With Digital Photography


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Photography 2: Progressing with Digital PhotographyWritten by Michael Freeman

Open College of the Arts

Open College of the Arts Michael Young Arts Centre Redbrook Business Park Wilthorpe Road Barnsley S75 1JN

Telephone: 0800 731 2116 E-mail: [email protected]

Copyright OCA 2004; revised 2006 Document Control Number: Ph2pwdp_121108.doc

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise - without prior permission of the publisher (Open College of the Arts)OCA is a company limited by guarantee and registered in England under number 2125674. Registered Office, Open College of the Arts, Michael Young Arts Centre, Unit 1B, Redbrook Business Park, Wilthorpe Road, Barnsley, S75 1JN, United Kingdom

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About the author

Michael Freeman is one of the worlds most highly respected professional photographers. He is widely published, with more than 80 books to his credit including the classic 35mm handbook (over 1.5 million copies sold). His publications include Spirit of Asia, Angkor: Cities and Temples (both Thames and Hudson), Japan Modern and The Modern Japanese Garden (both Mitchell Beazley). Michael has also produced a unique series of guide books for the digital photographer and this is published by ILEX, who are digital media specialists. He has worked on commissions for many well-known publishing clients, including Time-Life, Readers Digest, Cond Nast Traveller and GEO. He is also the principle photographer for the Smithsonian Magazine.

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ContentsYou and your courseBackground A photographic revolution Whats in your course pack Basic minimum equipment and software The course Starting the course Your portfolio Your logbook Student profile On completing the course About printing Project and tutorial plan


Full colour controlDynamic range Project 1: dynamic range Measuring the image qualities Project 2: understanding the histogram Project 3: a variety of lighting conditions Working with colour Project 4: your cameras colour performance Project 5: a personal range of colours Memory colours Project 6: measuring colour Fine-tuning colour Project 7: altering colour with levels Project 8: altering colour with hue/saturation Assignment 1: seasonal colour changes

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Image combinationEnlarging and reducing images Project 9: resizing Combining layers Project 10: blending modes Same scene, different light Project 11: high density range Project 12: changing light Selection Project 13: selecting an object Project 14: adding an object Project 15: adding a new sky Assignment 2: a day in the life of


Photo-realistic retouchingBrushwork Project 16: extending an image Project 17: retouching a face Project 18: gradient filter Project 19: focus blur Shadows Project 20: adding shadows Assignment 3: a critical review


Degrees of alterationEnhancing colour Project 21: a stormy sky Project 22: an improvement in the weather Changing shape Project 23: facial distortion Project 24: extreme distortion Surrealist images Project 25: blending body parts Assignment 4: a linking theme

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New worlds of imagingSequence in time Project 26: a sequence in one image Immersive imaging Project 27: a 360 panorama Cubism and mosaics Project 28: digital mosaic Project 29: a composite, multi-facetted view Unreal colour Project 30: strange food Assignment 5: in the style of your chosen theme

Your portfolio At the end of your course Appendix A: if you plan to submit your work for formal assessment Appendix B: information concerning the proper use of materials and equipment Appendix C: OCA colour chart Further reading

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You and your course

BackgroundSome of you will already have a background in traditional film photography, and naturally will want to make comparisons, particularly in image quality. Others will be coming fresh to photography, un-influenced by experience with negatives and slides. In either case, its important to remember that the technology of digital cameras is new. It is also evolving.

A photographic revolutionAt a mechanical and operational level, there is a lot to learn, but once you have become familiar with the principles of digital imaging, the techniques and procedures will quickly fall into place. One of the things I want to stress in this course is that if you understand the basics - which include pixels, how a sensor captures an image, and how digital colour works - then the jargon used by camera manufacturers and software suppliers will become recognisable, and the apparent brand differences will disappear. Above all, you need to become completely familiar with the capabilities and limitations of your digital camera, and appreciate what it is capable of. This will give you the confidence to get the most out of digital photography. There is a strong element of convenience in digital photography, and one of its most obvious attractions is that the images you shoot are available to use and print cleanly and instantly. The middle step of processing is removed, which saves time, money and the risk of the film being damaged or misplaced. Ultimately, however, the exciting opportunity that digital cameras offer is that they can allow you to improve your photography and to explore new kinds of imagery.

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There are many exotic techniques that you can apply to images, most of them coming under the heading of Special Effects, and it is arguable that there is nothing in principle inferior or false about doing this. Indeed, this course looks in detail at some of the most interesting of these. Being able to alter and manipulate photographs blurs the distinctions between photography and painterly art, and while this does not please traditionalists, it opens up broad new avenues for creative expression. Nevertheless, there is so much to learn about the digital approach to regular photography that these more unusual procedures should be a second step. The job here in this course is to become thoroughly proficient with taking images of the real world, and doing so with a level of mastery over the quality, colour, tone and even the geometry of the view that has never before been possible. Even within straight photography, digital techniques open up wonderful possibilities. You can, for instance, achieve exactly the colours that you would like, perhaps enhancing the green of a plant, or muting the hues in a landscape for a gentle, pastel effect. More than this, to my mind, digital photography makes it possible to undertake shots that you might otherwise not have attempted. Lighting conditions, particularly indoors or at night, may be so dim or unpredictable that with a film camera you might simply not bother. Digital cameras are far more adaptable. For instance, if you enjoy reportage photography - people behaving naturally, un-posed and going about their normal activities - the choice of sensitivity and colour balance in a digital camera extends the occasions on which you can shoot. Also, any uncertain picture situation, whether because of light, fast action or the unpredictability of what is happening, can now be checked and tested. The results are instantly viewable, and you can adapt your technique for the next shot if you need to. For me, this extra capacity for making images is the most valuable feature of a digital camera. Quite simply, it can help you to take a vast range of images, irrespective of the conditions. This surely is what a creative tool ought to do.

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Whats in your course pack

This home study manual CD-ROM

The CD contains sample digital images that are referred to in the manual, and which you can copy and use on your own computer. The folders in which these images lie are organised in the same order as the course and projects.

Basic minimum equipment and softwareTo meet the needs of this course, a certain amount of equipment and software is needed. Digital camera This should have at least 3 megapixels and the capacity for different focal lengths (meaning either a fixed zoom lens or an SLR with zoom or wide-angle to telephoto lenses). The actual range of focal lengths is not particularly important. Memory card(s) One or more cards with sufficient capacity for at least 20 large, highest quality images (the size of these will depend on your camera). Camera-computer connection The means to transfer images from camera to computer - either a connecting cable (usually USB) or a card reader that plugs into the computer. Tripod Used to keep the camera steady during long exposures, or to aid horizontal panning when creating a panoramic image (to maintain a level horizon).

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Desktop computer with monitor, or laptopThis should be to the following minimum specifications: Windows

Intel Pentium processor Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000 or Windows XP 64 MB of RAM 125 MB of available hard disk space colour monitor with video card supporting 16.7 million colours (that is, 8 bits per channel, which is 24 bits in total) monitor resolution of 800 x 600 or greater CD-ROM drive (and CD-R writer, otherwise a separate unit - see below).


PowerPC processor Mac OS software versions 8.5 or later (including OS 9 and OS X) 64 MB of RAM 125 MB of available hard disk space colour monitor supporting 16.7 million colours (that is, 8 bits per channel, which is 24 bits in total) monitor resolution of 800 x 600 or greater CD-ROM drive (and CD-R writer, otherwise a separate unit - see below).

A CD writerEither built-in or separate, with the appropriate software.

Desktop inkjet printerThe basic quality of inkjet printers is sufficient for this course, so that while a high-quality model, with 6 or more inks, would be ideal, it is not essential.

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Project 11: high density rangeOne common situation in digital photography is when the dynamic range of the scene exceeds that of the cameras sensor. We looked at this in some detail in 1: Full colour control; Dynamic range. It may be that there is no single exposure that will preserve both shadows and highlights. In a situation like this, provided that you can fix the camera so that it does not move between shots, there is a solution that involves combining 2 exposures 2 frames, in fact. The reason that the camera has to be motionless is so that the 2 exposures can be combined in perfect register, hence a tripod. Look at these 2 images (they are also available digitally on the CD-ROM in the folder goldlotus).

This art object has been gilded and painted, and the gold reflections make it very contrasty under the single studio light. Not only that, but the intention of the artist, Yukako Shibata, is to exploit the reflected light from the shadowed area underneath. Hence it is important to preserve the entire tonal range. One image has been taken with an exposure that preserves the highlights but leaves the shadows too dark. The second preserves shadows but loses highlights. We can combine the best parts of each.

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The simplest, hands-on way of doing this is as follows (try this for yourself with the digital images). Paste one image onto the other, then use a soft, large Eraser Tool to remove the unwanted parts of the top layer. Put the lighter on top of the darker, then brush away the highlights, in other words. There are complex software algorithms for achieving this, available as specialist software (such as Photomatix), but this is an easy start. Now find a situation for photographing that has a too-high range of contrast. It could be, for instance, an interior in daylight, with a view through an open window. Take 2 exposures. One should look right for the shadow areas, the other should hold the highlights (no clipping warning in the cameras LCD). Use a tripod to keep the shots identically framed. Then, in Photoshop, combine them in the way described above. Experiment with degrees of size, opacity and softness for the Eraser Tool.

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Project 12: changing lightOther possibilities suggest themselves, all legitimate in the sense that they stay within the realm of photography without intruding on illustration and special effects. For example, photographing the identical scene under different lighting conditions. With just a pair of shots, sunlit and cloudy, you can create any combination of the 2. Superimpose one over the other in perfect register, as 2 layers in an image editing program, and use a Paintbrush or Eraser Tool to create the effect of a burst of sunlight illuminating just a part of the subject. With more images in register, the choices are increased. In the example below, 2 shots of Cadbury Castle were taken during the morning, one before sunrise, the other after. I thought it would be more interesting to have the sun appear to strike just the hill rather than the entire landscape.




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Again, the images are available digitally for you to experiment with, in the folder cadburycastle. The pre-dawn shot was pasted on top of the sunlit shot. Then, the Eraser Tool was applied to those areas in which I wanted the sunlight to appear. Very simple, very effective. Now find, an outdoor scene that you can photograph under 2 different kinds of lighting. It could be sunlit and cloudy as in the example above, or daylit and night-time lighting. Do the equivalent of the procedure just described. When you have finished, flatten the image (that is, reduce 2 layers to one).

SelectionCentral to image editing, and often the first step after making simple global corrections, is selecting the area that you are going to manipulate. The 2 most valuable in Photoshop Elements are the Magic Wand Tool and the Selection Brush Tool. You should familiarise yourself with these before continuing. You can use the 2 together, for instance by beginning with the Magic Wand Tool, then fine-tuning the edges at 100% magnification with a small Selection Brush Tool. Remember that the size of the brush is variable, as is the hardness or softness of its edge, and what you choose depends on the subject. If you are using the Magic Wand Tool, the Tolerance determines how widely the tool searches for similar pixels. Always keep Anti-aliased ticked this reduces jagged steps along diagonal edges of a selection.

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A good place for experiment is an area of clear sky in a photograph. Typically, this shades from one part of the image to another: say, from a darker blue above to a paler colour near the horizon. If you click on the bluest area with the Magic Wand Tool, it will probably choose some, but not all, of the sky. If you start again with a broader setting, the selection will cover more of the sky. Then add to selection by Shift-clicking in the darker and lighter areas (see following project). Finally, use the Similar command to add gaps between leaves.

The danger here is that you may pick up areas that you do not want, and in a large image file you may not notice without a close, zoomed-in inspection.

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