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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Photography Tip: Adjust the Background to Spotlight Your Subject

Simple Step By Step Digital Photography Lessons. If You Cant Learn Photography From These Lessons Then You Cant Become Photographer Anymore

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Many times the emphasis you want to place on the subject of your photo can be improved by first focusing your attention on the background. Objects, colors and other elements in the background can often diminish from what would otherwise be a great photograph.

When you are composing your image through your camera's viewfinder or LCD monitor, take a moment to focus on what is appearing behind and around the main subject. Our minds filter out elements that we're not concentrating on, so it is quite easy to overlook telephone poles or other vertical objects that seem to "grow out of the head" of your subject. Other people or things in the background may also seem to be attached to your subject because of their alignment. Colorful signs, bright colors, and other unusual objects in the background can vie for your viewer's attention.

If you notice that the background is affecting your photograph in a detracting way, the easiest solution may be to simply change position. A slightly different angle or perspective can make a huge difference in the final shot. The zoom feature of many cameras can be used to crop the edges of the photo; simply zoom in and out until extraneous objects are cut out and the ideal composition is found.

While a simple, plain background will help your subject stand out without much effort, patterned or colorful background elements do not necessarily have to be avoided. By adjusting the aperture and shutter speed of your camera manually, the focal length of the photo can be shortened so that your subject remains in crystal clear focus while the entire background is transformed into a blend of abstract colors and distracting objects are blurred past recognition.

Daniel Kluz is an Internet marketing and I.T. professional who has personally helped dozens of companies increase their sales with Search Engine Optimization and other Internet marketing strategies. His interest in digital cameras has been reinforced by his work at http://www.RitzCamera.com, and he contributes frequently to the digital photography blog at CamerasOnly.com.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Digital Photography Art

Simple Step By Step Digital Photography Lessons. If You Cant Learn Photography From These Lessons Then You Cant Become Photographer Anymore

         >>  Digital Photography Secrets Revealed <<


Well we used to all go out and shoot images on our film cameras, run the film to the corner store or kiosk to get it developed and then once the prints were hand we tended to stick them away without much more than a few minutes notice. Those days are no more as digital photography has grabbed hold of the consumer marketplace. Now we have tons of images in our cameras, on our hard disks and the options of what to do with them are growing and growing every year.

Digital photography has now found its way into more than half of the homes in America. However most people still order out to get their images printed. Maybe it is not the corner film kiosk of the old days but there is still a very strong market for image printing. Nowadays you can take your images to Costco, the nearby photo store where they might have a digital printing kiosk in the store, or you can upload them to the various internet sites devoted to printing your images such as Shutterfly, Ofoto, and Snapfish to name a few.

Since the year 2000 the number of images converted into conventional prints has been steadily sliding down and could go 5% further this year. However due to the interesting rise of alternative ways to print your images the industry predicts that revenues will rise overall this year. Now why would that be?

Well it turns out that there are some very lucrative ways for companies to make money in the digital age including printing reproductions from digital photographs onto posters, stamps, postcards, T-shirts, chairs, wallpaper, and bronze plaques. Even ceramic tile is being used as a medium for digital printing as designers are using images to decorate them for spas, restaurants, and fireplace mantels.

We have now entered the era of functional art versus just decorative art. Now you can touch it and get a more personal feeling from your digital photography. In addition you can put these digital images on wood, stone, plastic, and metal as well as conventional paper of every type. Either through software on your own computer or through vendors consumers can print their images on birthday cards, calendars, and storytelling photo books that actually get used instead of being tucked away in a drawer like most of our albums of old.

The camera makers have done a fine job of selling digital cameras to the population, but now that they are so infused to the marketplace it will take some creativity to for them to make money off of these sales going forward beyond just getting us to upgrade our digital cameras every year or two.

That will require some new methods for organizing digital photos, new methods of displaying images (perhaps along the lines of the wireless digital display frames that have shown some promise of late) and the ability to print our own custom books using our own digital photographs. That is something that would stay out on display in my home!

Did you know that in the past ten years digital cameras have managed to be sold into over half the homes in the US? The prediction is that number could go as high as seventy per cent by the yearn 2009. Old line film companies like Kodak have had to scramble to move into the digital camera game, with a fair amount of success as they applied old film lessons to their line of digital cameras such as consumer simplicity first, but even they are still leaning on the sales of inks used to print images on computers to hold the profit line.

They have over 75,000 in store kiosks installed throughout the country and are planning for new ones that can handle 900 prints per hour! Retail is strong for getting your digital prints as the big stores such as Wal-Mart and Costco battle it out for your business and in the on line market the field has been whittled down to the strongest. That means that the price per print that was once in the high twenties has now dropped to around 17 cents per print on line and 21 cents per print in store.

So where do you go for these art versions of your digital images? Be prepared to spend more for the experience but get a nice artistic version of your digital photography. Some of the spots to check out are Zazzle.com, Photopetgifts.com, and Matthewsbronze.com. For custom digital photo books you should check out Shutterfly. Imagine the look on your kids face when you give them storybook and it features images of them in the story!

Great Digital Cameras for your digital fix - great-digital-cameras.com

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Geraldine Allen - Fine Art Photographer, Creating Wondrous Images With Digital Photography Art

Simple Step By Step Digital Photography Lessons. If You Cant Learn Photography From These Lessons Then You Cant Become Photographer Anymore

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This is the first in a series of profiles of photographers from various parts of the imaging spectrum. In the future we will shine the light on news photographers, commercial photographers, nature photographers and so on in order to give you the digital photographer some valuable insights to help make your images better.

Geraldine Allen is our first subject artist in the spot light. Initially trained in art history and graphic design in the UK; Geraldine gained valuable experience in aesthetics and design principles. Later in life she undertook study of Psychology and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honors degree. However, Geraldine's long time interest and passion for photography drew her back. Enthused by the possibilities brought about by Adobe Photoshop in its early days of development, she was soon absorbed by experimenting with digitized photographic collages. It was then she decided to return to Salisbury College in the UK to formalize her experience and update her knowledge of the visual media industry.

Geraldine studied Creative Digital Arts to familiarize herself with industry standard multimedia software, and wishing to focus on still imaging, then chose to complete her BA (Honors) in PhotoMedia (Photography). Whilst computer manipulation was becoming increasingly popular, she chose to experiment [and now favors] "in camera" effects.

When did your ?aha? moment arrive; the time when you knew that your affinity for photography could take you further regarding your creative and professional career? ?I took a candid shot of my teenage son one day when I just happened to be at an elevated height; the combination of height, the long lens, and the way I had composed his posture in the frame brought an interesting result and I thought then that there are so many variables and I would never get bored if I did this for a living. I had always enjoyed photography but I didn't really learn much until digital came along. All of a sudden I learned so fast because the results were instant and I could relate which mistakes were associated with which controls.?

Do you prefer total control over your photographic subjects or do you sometimes shoot natural non-studio images? ?I don't have a preference. I am so passionate about photography and there are so many different aspects that I find it impossible to hold favoritism. I have to separate photography into genres and I take a different approach according to that genre. For example, creative photos are pre-conceived in the mind of the photographer/artist, so it does require the subject to be set up and controlled - to a degree. Although studio controlled images dominate my light painted portfolio, I often leave people as subjects to position themselves. The picture aims to portray a little essence of their natural character. I do help them with ideas if they are stuck though, usually by distracting them with conversation and saying "hold it there" when I think a particular posture, expression or mannerism would work well for the picture.

For nature pictures I rarely control anything except perhaps using a little fill flash or a reflector in conjunction with the available light. I make a conscious effort not to interfere with a natural scene as I wish to document it as real and naturally as possible. Having said that I must confess I can't help moving obtrusive litter, sticks or stones from the frame.?

Have you ever had a mentor who had an impact on your style and art? ?I received an awful lot of support from a wonderful tutor called Ian Smith at Salisbury College in the UK. Whilst I was given endless encouragement to experiment in whichever way I liked, I was also taught to question everything and to give that experimentation some decisive direction. I was to ask myself what my pictures were trying to communicate, and to plan them with specific intention and aims. In the final year at Salisbury College I reached the dreaded stage where I was forced to choose one field of specialization. God forbid, how was I to make a single choice when I loved all and sundry from traditional to completely abstract and contemporary? I remember actually struggling to hold back tears when it came to the point of my having to drop some genres. I was a cop-out really because I chose to stick with two fields instead of one; fine art and nature, and then I used a unifying concept to put them both in my final portfolio!

I was also privileged enough to work with landscape photographer Charlie Waite in his studio for some months. Although practicalities of work and business dominated our concerns, I observed his attitudes toward his projects and indeed within his natural day-to-day practicalities. If I had to choose one primary point that I will always remember, it would be how he would look at the sky and all around whenever he stepped outdoors. He would immediately and instinctively study the light and how it fell upon subjects in his immediate surroundings, no matter where he was or what he was doing. You could say he was obsessed with light! So, he taught me the most valuable lesson of all; to study the natural laws of light, how it naturally affected the world around and how different it looked according to the various conditions.?

Your best advice for budding digital photographers? ?Experiment, and then experiment some more! Make full use of manual controls instead of sticking with the safe Auto mode. Don't just refer to the manual when you are stuck on how to operate a basic control, but read it all from front to back and then test out each and every advanced control. That way you get to know your camera thoroughly, and you may happen upon some interesting effects. Try different levels of fill flash, use the white balance, and test the effects of speed/aperture on depth of field. Oh, and look at possible uses for any mistakes! I have been known to use prior unintentional mistakes, as deliberate controlled effects at a later date.?

What kind of digital camera gear do you favor? ?Predominantly, I am a digital SLR user of the Canon variety. I just like the look, the feel and the performance of Canon. A Canon feels right in my hand so what more can I say?

Currently I am shooting with a Canon D60, which I was very happy to own when they were first released. Unfortunately 6 months down the line the 10D was released with a substantial drop in price to boot. Now of course there is the 20D too! Such are the agonies of being a die-hard techie fiend. I use only fixed focal length lenses, having found the 'ever-practical' zoom to let me down with zoom creep on long exposures.?

Currently Geraldine is using four lenses: a 15mm f/2.8 fisheye, a 35mm f/2, a 100m f/2.8 Macro, and a 200mm f/2.8 L - all Canon EF. Of course using these lenses on a DSLR mean the focal length is longer than using on a film SLR due to the size of the sensor, which is why the fisheye is not truly 'fisheye' but just very wide, and the 35mm is used as the standard workhorse lens - the equivalent of a 50mm. Shooting an awful lot of nature pictures, her 100mm macro lens has proved a wise investment, allowing her to gain that extra close distance both for macro work and longer distance shots.

Geraldine says ?I have never had much desire to shoot very long distance. I tried a 300mm 'L' glass once, but sold it within a fortnight. The thing was a monster, and at f5.6 widest aperture, it was just not fast enough coupled with the focal length and weight of the thing. I simply could not achieve sharp enough pictures. Rather than bring faraway subjects close to me, I prefer bringing tiny things into my visual plane, so that I can study each tiny little detail. I therefore have a natural affinity for Macro photography and Photomicrography. I use an IMXZ Microscope with a zoom factor from x10 - x40 for real tiny subjects, or when I want to reveal what the eye cannot normally see, but with an aperture of f0, I am inevitably dissatisfied with the lack of sharpness throughout. Quite often I will just use the 'sweet spot' area and crop down afterward. I also have a bellows for an FD lens but I rarely achieve a satisfactory result owing to the lack of mobility and adaptability. I would really enjoy the more mobile MP-E65 but unfortunately it's not within the budget at the present time.

I missed the medium format experience altogether, but what a great discovery it was to find out I could afford a large format system! I ended up with a 4x5 Toyo View camera with a monorail extension, dark cloth, lots of double dark slides, an Schneider Symmar-S 150mm f5.6, and two boxes of Fuji Provia RDP II, all for ?400!!! The film and processing costs have been adding up since, and the results still look plainly 'LF novice'. ?

The only other shooting equipment I have are two strobes, a 1000 watt halogen lamp, a Canon Speedlite 550EX, softbox, reflectors and stands. These are not used very often, but are on standby for the odd studio request. Generally though I prefer natural light and natural settings.

Post shoot editing of course requires a digital darkroom. I use a fast processor Dell PC with tons of RAM, a Mac Powerbook G4, an Olympus Camedia Dye Sub printer, a Canon S9000 inkjet, and an Epson Perfection 4870 scanner for my 4x5 film. Let's also not forget that king of king piece of software - Adobe Photoshop. I just upgraded to CS and I'm not disappointed. ooops... I forgot to mention my trusty set of three halogen torches for light painting.... nothing special or expensive, just normal household torches of various strength." Says Ms Allen.

Geraldine has always been intrigued by the magical, unique and otherworldly qualities found in the work of photographers like Robert Damachy, Julia Margaret Cameron, Diane Arbus, and Sarah Moon. Specific influences on her photographic development with her light painting have been Berthold Steinhilber, Jorg Grundler, and Diana Thorneycroft.

If you visit her site you will see some of the wonderful macro photography Geraldine captures. Many of those are floral based subject matter. She says "for floral macros, I like to use extremely limited depth of field. This means I inevitably make use of a longer focal length [100mm], the closest shooting distance possible and a wide aperture [often f2]. This usually means the shutter speed is quite fast because there is plenty of light entering the lens. But, that does not mean I do not need a tripod in a natural setting. Often I like to have only the tiniest element in focus, which means handheld shooting is a definite no-no, as the plane of focus can slip at the slightest movement [in the camera or subject]. If the element to be focused on is flat, then generally it is easier to achieve sharpness where I want it. However if it is curved or rounded I try to make sure the camera is positioned at such an angle as to allow the element to be parallel with the back of the camera so that as much of the element as possible is on the same plane as the sensor or film back."

You can see the portfolio of her fine art photography at her web site: www.photo-art-gallery.com

Kevin Rockwell fuels his passion for digital cameras at Great Digital Cameras - great-digital-cameras.com

Here are some her favorite resources for photography:

<www.photo.net ?has been a brilliant resource for me. The forums cover just about everything photographic, new and old, technical and creative, you name it and you can find some information on it! You can also receive valuable feedback on your photos if you post them for critique.?

?My favorite magazine in the UK is 'Digital Photographer' published by Highbury Entertainment Ltd. It's relatively new to the market, but I was relieved to find more advanced equipment reviews and technical workshops than other magazines, and they appeal to the professional high-end consumer as well as the amateur. They have in-depth interviews and articles about the work of successful photographers and photo-artists, and they speak to working professionals to find out how they handle particular situations and conditions. Of course they also have the practical workshops and keep you up-to-date on the industry's news as well.?

Technical books are a matter of your particular field of interest, but for inspiration I would recommend any of the "AAPPLY Yearbook of Photography and Imaging" volumes, "The Photography Book" by Phaidon Press [ISBN 0714836346], or "Blink" by Phaidon Press [ISBN 0714841994].

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Photography Equipment for Beginners and Pros

Simple Step By Step Digital Photography Lessons. If You Cant Learn Photography From These Lessons Then You Cant Become Photographer Anymore

         >>  Digital Photography Secrets Revealed <<


Whether you're a professional or an amateur photographers having the correct photography equipment to accomplish the job is a must. Whether it's vacation shots or weddings on weekends you always want your photos to come out looking their best. Of course a pro will need more photography equipment then someone who just considers photography a hobby, how ever the more you want to accomplish with your camera the more equipment you'll need.

We all need a camera that supplies clear, crisp photos, but not every camera suits every type of photo you might find yourself taking. A regular camera often needs some assistance when taking a close up or far away shot. It's situations like these that the wide variety of photography equipment available can help. If you're serious about photography then purchasing an SLR camera with a detachable lens is probably your best bet. This will allow you to purchase the lenses you need for different scenarios. The cameras will vary in price, and depending on how many features you want available in the camera body will dictate how much you spend.

Of course it's not just accessories that attach directly to the camera that you might need. Other photography equipment such as a tripod, or steady cam are important for still shots. Also additional sources of light are a common piece of equipment as you become more advanced. Depending on what type of photographs you specialize in i.e. Landscapes or portraits there are pieces of equipment that go along with it. A good camera bag to hold all of your equipment, cleaning supplies and accessories is also a worth while purchase.

There is a photography equipment store in most cities, you may be able to find all you'll need in a single trip. How ever if you're a bargain hunter like so many comparison shopping on the Internet might be a better choice. Because there are so many amateur and pro photographers upgrading equipment so often, ebay is often a good place to start looking for deals. Especially if you're only new to the world of cameras and equipment, you can acquire some wonderful startup gear for great prices. If you're more looking for the newest available take the time to review some product review websites, and then get down to the nitty gritty of searching out the best price at a store online.

To discover more about the world of photography, and read articles about differet photo styles and equipment visit our website at All Photography Tips

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lighting for Portrait Photography (Part 2): Controlling Exposure within the Camera

Simple Step By Step Digital Photography Lessons. If You Cant Learn Photography From These Lessons Then You Cant Become Photographer Anymore

         >>  Digital Photography Secrets Revealed <<


The term "photography" derives from the Greek "phos", meaning light, and "graphis", meaning to write or draw. If photography is defined as, the art and science of fixing images on a sensitive surface through the action of light, we see that at least some understanding of the nature of light and how to control it is fundamental to one's success as a photographer. In Part 1 of this article, the behavior of light as it concerns the portrait photographer is addressed. Now we shall begin to explore methods used by the portrait photographer to control the behavior of light in rendering artistic interpretations of their subject. There are many aspects involved in manipulating light for the purpose of portrait photography. One fundamental aspect is exposure. The degree of sensitivity to light (photosensitivity) of the surface on which an image is to be fixed, dictates the required length and intensity of exposure.

The aperture of the modern camera lens is designed to control the intensity of light falling on the film (or digital image sensor). In simple terms, the aperture is a hole or opening, through which the light reflected by the subject is admitted to the camera. The intensity of the reflected light being admitted to expose the film (or image sensor) is controlled by the size of this opening. The size of the aperture opening is commonly stated in "f/stops". F/stops may seem confusing at first. The f/stop value represents a fractional opening of the aperture, and therefore a decrease of one f/stop results in the intensity of light being admitted into the camera to approximately double, and an increase by one f/stop results in the intensity of light being cut by half. One may prematurely conclude, proper exposure is obtained simply by adjusting the size of the aperture until the intensity of light admitted is just right. However, the depth of field (range of distance in front of and behind the subject that is in focus) is also a function of the size of the aperture opening. In general, depth of field increases as the size of the aperture opening decreases.

Controlling exposure is also achieved by controlling the duration of the light striking the film (or image sensor). To control the duration of the exposure, modern cameras employ a shutter. The shutter may be thought of as a curtain with an opening or slit that passes in front of the film (image sensory) at a controlled duration or speed. Shutter speeds are expressed in seconds, and fractions of a second. A shutter speed of 1/100 allows twice the duration of exposure as a shutter speed of 1/200. The resolution of an image is partly determined by the duration of exposure in capturing the image. A typical approach in portrait photography is to set the size of the aperture to yield the desired depth of field, and set the shutter speed to achieve an acceptable exposure level.

A third fundamental parameter that is manipulated to control exposure when capturing an image is the film speed, commonly stated as an ISO/ASA number. Film speed is a quantitative description of the chemically derived photosensitivity of the material used in the film. The higher the ISO number, the more photosensitive the film is. Faster film speeds enable action shots and low light images to be easily captured. However, faster film speeds can also result in increased perceived graininess in an image and decreased sharpness and detail. Similarly, the ISO number on many modern digital cameras may be adjusted to control the sensitivity of the digital image sensor, with similar effect.

Light is controlled within the camera by manipulating the intensity and duration of exposure, and by selecting an appropriate speed of film for the light conditions, or adjusting the sensitivity of the digital image sensor. These methods work very well to control the average or overall exposure of the composition. A finer degree of control of the light to enhance specular highlights, falloff, and softness of shadows, is best achieved outside the camera. There are many methods employed to accomplish this. In Part 3 of this article, several such methods will be discussed. Until then, good day and happy clicking.

Steve Barnes is a professional portrait photographer, free lance writer, and co-owner of Hayley Barnes Photography, in League City, Texas. Please visit his website at: Hayley Barnes Photography. Elegant portrait photographer. Children, Families, High School Seniors, and Quincea?eras. "Custom Designed, Uniquely You"

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