Opportunities of Digital Photography

When shopping for a digital camera a good idea is to keep in mind what the camera will be used for and what level of skill or experience the photographer has. There are very advanced digital cameras on the market that literally have hundreds of different adjustments and settings, accessories and add-on features. Most hobbyists do not need this level of technology and refinement to create beautiful images using digital photography. Generally a good basic digital camera will have:

  • Adjustable resolution – this determines the overall quality of the picture when photographs are increased in size. The higher the resolution rating, the larger the photograph can be made without sacrificing picture quality.
  • Glass lens – a glass lens will give a clearer image than a plastic lens. It does require some additional care to avoid scratching but is worth the added cost over the long run unless you are planning to replace your camera frequently.
  • Various modes – most digital cameras will have a close up mode and a distant or landscape mode. This is a great feature and will automatically keep pictures clear when used in the correct setting.
  • Manual exposure feature – if you want to work on lighting and creating new and unique pictures, consider choosing a digital camera with a manual exposure feature.

In addition to the features offered by the digital camera, there is also the consideration with regards to cost. There are many very basic digital cameras available on the market that work very well, however there are just as many low-cost digital cameras that simply don’t. Be sure to complete some online research, read product reviews, as well as talk to friends and others interested in digital photography to get an idea of the brands and models that they prefer. On the other hand, some of the very expensive cameras are often complicated to use and can make learning digital photography more challenging than it needs to be.

Vintage Photo Albums

One day I found an old photograph at a local flea market from around 1900 of a train wreck. It was so cool seeing all the men wearing bolo hats and looking on at the pile of twisted metal that I just had to have it. Little did I know that that one image would get me started on a collection of photographs that has since blossomed to include; Photo Albums, Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, Tintypes, Negatives, 35mm Slides, Stereoviews, and a whole host of photographic mediums.

Back to the photo album of the trip to India. I was not so hot on photo albums back when I first started collecting photos but my whole perception changed when I opened that photo album. The very first image was of 2 men and 2 women at an opulent 1930s bar with the bar tender standing on. The men and women were all decked out in 1930s attire, the women in gorgeous gowns and the men in tuxedos. They were all turned towards and toasting the camera with martinis in hand, and the caption read “The night before our trip to India 1938”. The image reminded me of The Shining when Jack Nicholson was in the barroom full of ghosts how cool is that?

I discovered page after page of interesting photos, and I discovered that the album was telling a great story. The second page started the trip with a cool image from the deck of the steamship. The photographer was looking down at a dock full of people wishing a happy Bo voyage. As the album progressed there were some more images of New Jersey from the ship as it steamed towards India, and other images of the deck of the ship, but that’s not the interesting part of this story, I’ll get to that shortly.

Those people visited many areas in and around India but when they got to Bombay with old two wheeled carts being pulled by the native population, a snake charmer, a Swami, the hotel where they were staying, and all kinds of other people and places, things started to really get interesting. As I turned the pages I could see that the album layout was well thought out and was telling a story.

As I carefully turned the pages, I turned to a page with one of the women all decked out in a Pith helmet, Safari pants and shirt, and holding a big gun. I stopped in my tracks and had to take a second look. She was standing over a rather large dead tiger, and with one foot resting on it in triumphant victory! There were native Indians and elephants moving around in the background and the whole image had an air of excitement. Now I don’t condone the killing of animals just for the pleasure of doing it, but that image conjured images of Teddy Roosevelt charging off on some great Safari of his own, and represented the values of another far off time.

Choosing Photographer for Pregnancy Pictures

  • Look for a pregnancy photographer who understands the essence of pregnancy. Don’t consider gender or marital status as an indication that your photographer understands what pregnancy means. Having kids doesn’t quite make the cut either. Understanding the essence of pregnancy, seeing the beauty of it and recognizing the glow of pregnant women is primarily dependent on the individual’s perspective of pregnancy regardless of who he is.

If you don’t see the same happiness you feel with your pregnancy in your photographer’s eyes then you better move on to the next one.

  • Experience is very important. Although it’s okay to good new and first-timers a try, getting your photo taken while you’re pregnant is not an entirely convenient process so it’s best that you work with a photographer with lots of experience photographing pregnant subjects. A photographer with the desired expertise won’t waste your time committing various mistakes that a first-timer could do.

Ask for the photographer’s portfolio and exact samples of pregnancy photos to know whether he has the requisite experience or not. Ask for the number of years he’s in the business and referrals.

  • Look for a pregnancy photographer with a style that matches your preferences. If you’re in love with sepia tone photographers, you won’t fall in love with the works of a photographer specializing in colored photos even if he had accepted numerous awards for his works. It’s all about style and since you’re the client, it’s your preferences that matter.

Again, ask for the photographer’s portfolio to get an idea if he can meet your expectations or not. Of course, make sure you inform him what you want as well because he could be willing to try something new in your case.

  • Although pregnant women are often described as glowing, this doesn’t mean they’re walking on sunshine all the time. Pregnancy can be an agonizing process: the added weight is unfamiliar and burdensome. There are also various pains and aches that pregnant women are exposed to during this time. As such, make sure that your photographer is willing to adapt to certain stipulations your condition could require.

If nausea often hits you during the day, you might prefer to have your photos taken at night. Will the photographer be able to do so? What if you’re confined to your home for the rest of your pregnancy? Is the photographer willing to conduct home sessions?

  • In the event that you’re willing to have your pregnancy photo taken in the studio, make sure that you look for the studio best equipped for pregnant clients like you. Look for the studio with the right service and supplies.

Enjoy Digital Pics Without Computer

With a Digital Picture Frame you don’t need a PC or Mac to enjoy your photos, you don’t have to give your precious memory card to a pricey photo lab to print them out and you don’t have to print them out on your own inkjet printer, wasting lots of expensive ink cartridges.

They allow you to enjoy your snapshots almost instantly. Just take your memory card out of your digital camera, insert it into your frame, turn it on and – presto! – here they are, displayed in vivid colour on your frame’s crisp and crystal clear high resolution screen.

You can showcase your pictures as a never-ending slideshow with intervals of 5 seconds or up to one hour between pictures or you can choose to only display one picture at a time. Most Digital Photo Frames also feature multiple transition effects in between pictures.

Some Digital Picture Frames do not just show photos, they can also display video files and play MP3s, so you can enjoy your favourite pictures while listening to your favourite tunes at the same time.

Most frames display your photos directly from your cameras memory card, other, more expensive models have built-in memory and you can upload pictures via USB connection.

They come in an assortment of sizes, styles, materials and colours. Some frameworks are even made of old-fashioned wood!

You can display any kind of picture on your Digital Photo Frame: Snapshots of your hols in Alaska, your wedding photos, the thousands of digital photos that were buried on the hard drive of your computer, pictures you would never ever give to a photo lab, stuff you downloaded from the internet or even scans of your grandparents’ old-fashioned black and white photos from before World War 2.

Put one on your desk at work and look at portraits of your loved ones or your next holiday destination while waiting for lunch break.
Insert a memory card with your best family photos into a Digital Picture Frame and give it to your parents as a personalised Christmas gift. They will be choked with emotion the moment they turn it on.

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.