Rise Of Amateur Photographer

Then the digital revolution took place. Suddenly, getting a good shot became a whole lot easier. Of course, a good deal of skill, attention to detail and technical knowledge is still required to capture a shot that might be worth money, but often it’s about being in the right place at the right time, and the cost of getting a good picture has dramatically fallen.

No longer do photographers have to shell out on rolls and rolls of film, only to get a couple of good shots. Nowadays, photographers can snap away without having to worry about money. With memory cards of several gigabytes that can hold thousands of pictures at a time, which can then be deleted and new shots recorded for free, the editing of shots is now of an equal importance to taking them.

With millions more images being captured now, compared to a few years ago, we needed a place to store them and share them, and new websites such as flickr appeared, which allowed the tagging of images and the subsequent searching and browsing. Many armatures photographers have sold pictures after their work was found through such sites.

The web has also created a massive market for photography. Whereas previously, print publications were the main outlet for pictures, the thousand of new blogs, forums and online publications also need pictures, and though the money involved is normally much less than for a print publication, there’s still revenue to be generated.

Another area where digital photography has exploded is in the industry of photo products. It is now possible to get your favourite shots printed onto hundreds of products, creating interesting and quirky gifts, and even sellable merchandise for some entrepreneurial photographers. Indeed, one of the most stylish and popular things seen decorating bedrooms bars and lounges are canvas prints canvas prints where a photo is blown up and then printed on to a large stretched canvas.

But it’s not just wall hangings anymore, the range of photo products is massive; from mouse mats to men’s watches, stationary to stickers, pillow cases to pendants – if you want to put a picture on it, you probably can.

All about Under Water Photography

The underwater world needs to be captured up close unlike wildlife photography for example. Since the water refracts and distorts images, the closer you are to your photography subject, the less distortion you will have. A great deal of patience is required for under water photography. You may be trying to take a photo a fish or dolphin, but than they suddenly swim away before you get a chance to. Also, water contains many particles like plankton that can cause the image to lose contrast and sharpness.

Using an underwater flash, or strobe, will help provide the proper lighting necessary for taking a great picture. Therefore, it is essential to use an underwater camera with a flash. This will help to bring in other colors and contrast them with the colors of the subject. A medium sized strobe is all that is necessary as a large strobe can end up getting in the way.

Composition is extremely important. The same basic rules apply as in regular photography, but you should shoot at an upward angle towards the subject. Because of the camouflage technique of most sea life, they tend to blend into their habitats. Since they do not stand out like this, they do not make good photographs. The key is to always try to get a clear shot whenever the subject blends into the ocean background.

If you are looking to improve your under water photography skills, you will first need to work on your photography on land. When you get to the point where you are taking great photos on land, than you can move into the more advanced world of underwater photography, where taking great pictures takes more patience and skill. Photography under water brings sea life to the surface which gives us more information about the mysterious marine world. If you are just beginning to have an interest in under water photography you should consider taking an underwater photography course to learn proper technique.

Capturing Photos for HDR Processing

First and foremost, let’s talk about what HDR images are. Because this is a fairly new subject in photography, the term may not be known to you yet; however, the concept behind it is rather old. Dynamic Range simply put, is a measure of how many levels of light an image capture device, such as your digital camera, or film can capture. Think about shooting a bright sunrise. Why is it that when the sun is exposed properly, the rest of the image appears dark and underexposed? Simple, because the camera used to capture the image has less Dynamic Range than the scene being captured. A sunrise is a high-contrast situation. The rising sun and the surrounding sky are hundreds of times brighter, than other elements in the image. While digital sensors are extremely sophisticated, and so are film emulsions, some scenes are still too much for them to render for bright highlights, and deep shadows. This is where the concept of an HDR image comes in. You know that if you shoot a sunrise, and meter for the sun, the rest of the scene will be dark, likewise if you meter for the rest of the scene, the sun and the sky will turn into a sheet of white. What if you could bracket your exposures, but later take properly exposed portions of each exposure of a particular scene, and put them all together into a single beautifully exposed image? That’s what an HDR image is.

Using special software, Photomatix is what I find to be best, you merge the exposures together, let the software generate a 48bit image, and you then tone map the image, or in plain English, you adjust the image to make sure that both highlights and shadows are represented correctly.

Let’s talk about the details of capturing an HDR image. First and foremost, unless you can shoot very still, and at a fairly high rate of speed, a tripod is a very necessary device. Most serious photographers already use a tripod despite having fast lenses, often with optical image stabilization, so take them as an example. Second, while shooting a completely static scene is the most common method, dynamic scenes will produce beautiful HDR images, when shot correctly. The most important part of producing a good HDR image is spacing exposures correctly. I wish I could say: “Always bracket by 1.5 stops and you will have an excellent sequence!” That would be easy. Unfortunately, the spacing between exposures will vary, based on the scene. There is no limit, other than your computer’s memory to how many exposures of the scene you use. Realistically, most situations will be covered by three exposures. Unless I can see that a scene has extreme variations in contrast, I will space the images 1½ or use a one-third stop if the camera offers it. I ALWAYS shoot RAW. Using RAW, I cheat at times, and underexpose or over expose a copy of one of the images in an HDR sequence. I then use this under, or overexposed image along with other “Real” photos to generate my final HDR composite image. Some cameras offer a custom setting, which you could program with any settings. With my 5D I have a custom switch on a thumb wheel, which I use for my HDR shoots. I have this custom switch pre-configured with Bracketed exposures, and an ISO setting of 50. I can always change the ISO, but I try to keep it at 50 to reduce noise. Remember, as you combine exposures, you also increase noise. Your choice of software will vary, and every image will look best at different settings. There is no one silver bullet here, you will have to use a lot of trial and error.

Take Fabulous Photos

First of all, it’s important to hold the camera still so your pictures aren’t blurry. Here are some tips:

  • Hold your breath while you snap the picture.
  • Squeeze the shutter gently – don’t jab or punch it with a jerky motion.
  • Keep your arms against your sides. Don’t let your elbows stick out.
  • Lean against a tree or building.
  • Lean your camera on a fence, table, or something else solid.

In order to take good photographs, you need to know something about light and how to control it. Here are some pointers:

  • The best times to take pictures are early morning and late afternoon or early evening. The worst time is between 10 AM and 2:00 PM. Bright sunlight makes people squint and casts dark shadows on the people or objects you’re photographing.
  • A cloudy day often produces better pictures than a sunny day, as colors are more pleasing. Bright overcast is ideal.
  • The sun doesn’t need to be right behind you, but don’t aim your camera directly at it or you’ll end up with lens flare – small dots of light on the picture.

The most important part of photography is seeing and composing good photographs. Your photos can be clear and sharp, with good color, and still be as boring as a dried-out hamburger. Learn to look around you for interesting scenes. Walk around and look at your subject from different angles. Keep these things in mind when composing a shot:

  • Don’t always put the most interesting object in the center. Imagine lines dividing your viewfinder into nine parts, like a tic-tac-toe diagram. The four places where the lines cross are the most pleasing places for your main subject to appear. This is known as the rule of thirds.
  • Framing your subject sometimes makes a more interesting photo. Use something in the foreground, such as a tree, a fence or a doorway to frame your subject.
  • Turn the camera sideways to get a vertical shot when the subject is taller than it is wide, such as a tree, a person standing, or a lighthouse.
  • Look very carefully at everything in the viewfinder. You will be concentrating on your subject, but the camera will record everything that’s there. Don’t include overflowing trash cans, trees growing out of people’s heads, or cluttered countertops.
  • If the object is moving, leave more space in front of it than behind, so it doesn’t look as if it’s moving out of the picture.
  • Get close to your subject so it appears large in the viewfinder.

Take Great Pet Photos

Outdoor lighting is the best, ideally on an overcast day. Why overcast? Because if you shoot in bright sunlight, you will get harsh shadows and if your camera isn’t set properly – washed out areas! Especially if your pet’s coat has light colors like beige, light tan, light grey etc.

If you can’t get your pet outside, try and take your photo next to a large window where you have plenty of light coming in. Try to have the light at your back or side as you face your pet. Most cameras today have automatic functions and I highly recommend them. Unless you’re a seasoned photographer, there’s just too much messing around using the manual camera settings. And the fact is, you can get pretty good shots on auto! Certainly good enough if you’re planning to turn your photos into a stunning portrait.

If possible, avoid using a flash. It can cause red-eye and alter the natural coloring of your pet. However, if your pet’s coat is black, a flash or bright sunlight will actually bring out the shading and textures which could be lost on an overcast day. If you must use a flash, don’t be too worried about red-eye since most digital photo labs can remove that!

Most pets, especially those that are well trained, can pose and give you a great photo. Most pets, however, can make it difficult to get that elusive shot. I suggest having several things handy to help you out.

  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Helping Hands
  • Patience

A pet always listens better with food around. Hold your treat up next to the camera and just move it leading your pet’s eyes so you get the facial angle you’re looking for. Shoot three-quarter views as well as full facials when possible. You’ll have more variety to choose from. No treats handy? Try using a toy to guide your pet’s gaze.

It’s a bit tricky to shoot with one hand but it can be done… This may be a good time to get some helping hands to direct your pet’s eyes with some food or a toy. But how do you get those wonderful expressions?

Pets always have quizzical looks whenever they hear unusual sounds. Tell your pet dog the word “walk” or “outside” and the ears prop up… Give an uncharacteristic human growl or chirp and the head cocks to the side or the eyes brighten. Don’t be shy to get silly with your pet. It can really bring out their personality!

Is your pet stubborn? Consider getting some helping hands to hold your pet while you take your photo. Don’t worry, the background can always be removed afterwards.

Don’t plan to shoot photos of your pet unless you are in a mood to be patient. You’ll want to be relaxed and not give your pet any signals that would stress or make them anxious.

The best place to be when taking your pet photo, is at the level your pet’s head is at.

Got a small chihuahua? Get down to the ground and do your shooting there. If you’re a horse lover but shorter than your horse, stand tall to get that photo.

Head shots are always beautiful as portraits, but there’s nothing wrong with full body shots, as well. When shooting facial photos, try to use a zoom lens if possible, and take plenty of close up shots. Lighting and equipment aside, professional photographers always get that one great shot because they shoot so many!

Format Compact Flash Cards

Firstly I use only SanDisk or Lexar cards. SanDisk was the company that first introduced compact flash cards and is still an industry leader. Lexar has a reputation of being very high quality because of it’s professional line which has a lifetime warranty. I use both brands interchangeably, and both have been very reliable for me. I choose their faster cards which read and write faster and cost a bit more.

When choosing a card, buy the fastest one you can afford. Sandisk’s cards get faster with every ‘series’ they put out: Ultra II, Ultra III, Ultra IV. Lexar lists their speed as 80x, 133x, 300x, that is how fast they write compared to the original compact flash card specifications. Most cameras can’t use all of the speed the card can handle, but what if you upgrade your camera? Also cards that write faster usually can read faster, meaning that downloading your photos to your computer are faster as well.

Many people say that you should not delete photos from your card one at a time. I have never had any trouble, and I do it all the time. At baseball tournament I have to shoot the batter every time the ball is thrown, but he only swings every now and then, so I delete the others. This adds up to many many photos that I have deleted one at a time with ever having a problem with the card. So I would say not to worry about it.

The biggest thing you can do to keep your cards in good health is to always format your compact flash cards IN THE CAMERA, not in the computer, and to do it often. I format the card after each download of images to my computer. Formatting erases all the data on the card, and gives you a fresh start, so make sure all of your images are on your computer before you start. At some sporting events I will format my cards a dozen times a day, a bit of a pain, but worth the trouble if you don’t loose any images to card failures.

One last word of note: Be very careful to make sure you push the cards STRAIGHT into the slot. Although I have never had this problem, I have heard of many people that have bent the pins inside the camera.

Candlelight Photography

Candles can be used in a few ways: they can be a light source that lights an object in the photo but not appear in the photo themselves. They can be used as a light source and also participate as an object in the final photo or they can participate as the solo object in the photo (or in other words simply a candles photo).

Remember to eliminate other light sources: The goal of candlelight photos is to achieve an effect that is based on the unique characteristics that candlelight provides such as its warmth. In order to maximize this effect you should make sure that there are no other light sources that contaminate the scene. A simple test for that is to blow off all the candles and make sure that the scene is completely dark. It goes without saying that you should make sure that your digital camera’s flash is set to the off position. In some cases a small amount of additional light source can be used. After experimenting and gaining experience with candlelight photography you will get a sense of when allowing some other light to penetrate the scene makes sense and in which angles and intensities.

Candlelight is not as strong as other light sources. It is much weaker than your digital camera’s flash. For that reason candlelight photography will almost always result in low light slow shutter speed photography. Although it is recommended that you use a setup in which you maximize the aperture width and minimize the shutter speed it is likely that you will end up having to use slow shutter speeds. There are a few things you need to consider: Camera shakings – these can be eliminated by using a tripod or by placing the camera on a stable surface and using timer photography. Objects movements: if objects move during the period in which the shutter is open the photo will appear smudged. Make sure that the objects you are photographing do not move and that people do not blink. Another movement source is the movement of the light source itself. Candles tend to flicker – although it is hard to completely eliminate this phenomenon and some flicker is actually welcome in order to get a good candlelight effect – it is recommended that you prevent extreme flicker. This can be done for example by making sure that there is no wind blowing in the scene, that the candles are on stable surfaces and that they were lit for a while and burn consistently. Determining the right shutter speed is also hard. Since the candles light is bright on one and but on the other hand is concentrated in a small area and weak once farther from the candle most cameras ambient light measurements and automatic shutter speed settings will be wrong. Using the camera automatic setting is a good start. Try to take a few photos with slower and faster shutter speeds and explore the results.

The amount of light in the scene depends on the number of candles that are used. Since candles are not a strong light source you would usually need to use a few candles. Sometimes you would only like to have a small number of candles appear in the photo itself but you would still need to have more candlelight in the scene. In such cases you can use extra candles to light up the scene but keep those candles out of the composed photo. When you do that – make sure that the additional candles are placed in a way that make sense – for example – that they do not create shades that do not appear not normal in relation to the candles in the photo.

Lighting is an art. Using candlelight as a light source is an art by itself and requires experience. There are some basic rules for candle positioning. For example it is clear that the candles should be closer to the camera than the objects. Otherwise the result will be a silhouette of the objects. Different lighting angles create different shades and different effects. For example if you are photographing a person and the candles are placed in a low position relative to the person’s face – you will get a more scary effect. On the other hand – if the candles are placed at the same height as the person’s face you will get a warmer and softer effect. It is hard to provide candle positioning rules and such positioning greatly depends on the effect that you are looking for. More than one candle can be used with each at a different position to create more complicated effects and to eliminate unwanted shades. The best advice is to take many photos and experiment with different candle positions and angles.

Last but not least is white balancing. Digital cameras can be set to compensate for the specific light source that is used. Although most cameras can automatically detect and set their white balancing offset – it is better to manually set the white balance – most cameras include a candlelight source as an white balance option. It is also worth experimenting with setting the white balance to the wrong source on purpose. Set the white balance to different temperatures to achieve different effects, more reddish photos for example.

Take Beautiful Pictures of Cat

Create pleasant backgrounds. Pictures are best taken when the background is clean and uncluttered. Neutral backgrounds are best, such as plain white walls, or various single-colored backgrounds. Furniture such as bookcases, tables, chairs and such will interfere with the quality of the picture and the beauty of the photograph might be lost.

Put your children in the pictures as well. Children are photogenic, and they do not have the awkwardness as adults do when asking them to pose in a photo. Therefore your children and your cat are able to look natural in photographs, and being able to capture moments of happiness as your child play with the kitten is most heartwarming. Let your children play or tease the kitten with some toy, and take pictures during these times, as candid photographs are the perfect ones.

Take pictures outdoors. Sunlight provides a better lighting for taking prettier pictures. The early morning sun would be the best time to take photographs. Taking pictures in natural light will prevent the annoying ‘red eye’ that occurs sometimes in photographs. With your pet cat being in the outdoors, the pictures will turn out to be more natural, as that is where a cat belongs. Before you open the door to let your cat out, please ensure that the neighborhood is safe and there are no harmful creatures that will pounce on your cat.

About Image Data Bank

However when it comes to organizing the photographs we have taken with our digital camera we often let ourselves down by using a photo organization software program that is completely in adequate. Certainly for many people actually locating and then transferring their images from one folder to a digital photo album is not only confusing but can be very time consuming as well.

But there are now programs around such as RoboImport which allow you to organize all the images you have taken into an image databank. With this program it will help to locate each image that is held on your PC’s hard drive. Then once they have been located using it’s built in EXIF metadata program it collects them automatically and then places them into one central place on your PC.

Along with finding every single image on your PC’s hard drive and then putting them into a single folder this particular image data bank program carries out the following:-

  • It will organize your photos into chronological order which makes it much easier for you to search through the hundreds or even thousands of images that you have stored on your PC. Plus each image has a description of what it is with them.
  • As you download the images from the memory card or directly from your digital camera onto your PC it will automatically transfer them in to the required folder that has been set up previously. Then as it imports these images into the folder it provides them with a descriptive name and places them in to a designated folder. Which results in you being able to find your images much more easily when you need to.
  • RoboImport as well as providing you with a well organized image data bank can carry out some of the more tedious tasks revolving around digital image editing without too much hassle. It is able to fill in the IPTC data that is used by professional photographers in a language which can be easily recognized by various archiving and editing programs. So really this is a program that you will be able to trust and know will help you in getting all your images into a central location easily.