Photographing an Eclipse
I've done a lot of night photography, and been known to shoot the moon, literally, but was taken with the idea, in an article, of photographing a solar eclipse
. Personally, were I readying myself to head to Siberia or the North Pole (where the viewing is supposed to be particularly good), I'd probably set up both digital and
film cameras to get all the advantage I could. As the author says, the only way to really get a good image, and not just glare behind a black disk, is to use mathematical modeling, which is similar to what the human vision does in registering differences in illumination and then turning that, via the brain, into an image.
The article's author is an academic who has done a lot of research and whose web site has some astoundingly good eclipse photos
Labels: astrophotography, digital, film
Two Freebies from O'Reilly
O'Reilly Media, a publisher of technical books and, more recently, titles on photography, has two free offerings. One is a webcast on Thursday, June 26, 2008
, with photographer Rick Sammon, who will discuss "10 Key Ingredients for Cookin' Digital Photographs." Pre-registration is necessary and space is limited.
The other is a video podcast - 101 Photoshop Tips in 5 Minutes
- by Deke McClelland, who does a fast-paced short music video that literally is about Photoshop tips. Some people will do almost anything as marketing. The link is supposed to be here
, but when I tried, I got an error message that the site was "unable to forward this request at this time." Maybe their server was taking five after sweatin' to the oldies...
UPDATE: Here's a link that works
Labels: digital, Photoshop, podcast, webcast
Boingboing posted about $100 remote controlled 1.3 megapixel camera
that fits onto a regular pair of glasses. It's going to get hard to keep people from snapping pictures in all sorts of restricted areas.
Labels: digital, equipment
Strategies for Safe Photo Storage
If you want to be sure that your digital photos don't suddenly disappear in a hard drive meltdown, you might want to check an article I wrote recently for PopPhoto.com
. It discusses starting with a naming convention and then finding the right storage configuration and practices for your specific needs.
Labels: digital, storage
Technique: Turn Your Camera Into a Scanner
There may be times you need copies of materials you're researching for business or school, but you don't want to carry photocopies with you afterward. Here's a trick I've used: employ your digital camera. If possible, bring a page-sized sheet of clear plastic. Put it on top of a page you need and, making sure no lights are reflecting off it, take a high resolution picture of the page. You now have the page stored as an image that you can eventually download to a computer and print out, or even email to someone.
Labels: digital, technique
Think Like a Film Shooter
When I was first learning photography, it was with ancient cameras and roll film that I developed at home. I was a kid without a large allowance, so I couldn't be extravagant in my use of film. Instead, I'd look for the shots I really wanted.
Digital photography opens some great doors: low cost per image, quick gratification, and ability to manipulate images, whether b&w or color. But one thing people today are missing is visual discipline. You can take hundreds of images without thinking about whether you have enough film. When you are limited, you have to be judicious; you learn to get by with only a handful of shots that must count.
It's a good discipline worth trying. Go out to take pictures and limit yourself to 24 or 36 shots - and add a twist by using only a normal lens and make your eyes get creative.
Labels: composition, digital, film
Dealing with Latency
Ever push the shutter button on your digital camera and find yourself waiting ... and waiting? That time between pressing and snapping is called latency, and it's a bigger problem than you might realize. You're fine if having a friend or family member stand in front of Grant's Tomb and taking a snapshot, because chances are the person won't be going anywhere until you're done.
When things are moving quickly, though, you can find that the picture you wanted it gone by the time the shutter gets around to opening and closing. Newer models of cameras, particularly DSLRs, keep shaving the latency time. But you don't want to buy a new camera every year, so here are two strategies.
One is to experiment with your camera and get a feel for how much time passes after you press the button before it actually takes the picture. Then you have to anticipate the rhythm of events and take a picture so that things are just where you wanted when the shutter opens.
The other approach works when your camera supports a number of frames a second - the so-called burst rate. Make sure you set the camera to continuous shooting (if you need to do that). You start shooting just before the key moment you expect and stop just after it's done. There's no absolutely guarantee that you'll get what you wanted, but you stand a much better chance that at least one of the frames will get it.
Labels: digital, latency, shutter
Book Review: 40 Digital Photo Retouching Techniques with Photoshop Elements
I had received a review copy of 40 Digital Photo Retouching Techniques with Photoshop Elements
(published by Young Jin) from the US distributor, O'Reilly Media. It's thin as such guides go - 208 pages - but if you haven't yet gone beyond taking a digital picture into actually manipulating images, this a good introduction.
It's based around Photoshop Elements - a "lite" version of Photoshop that I've mentioned before
- and even comes with a trial version on an accompanying CD. This isn't a comprehensive title on the subject of digital retouching; you can literally read a number of books on the subject and still not know everything about it. But as a way of getting your feet wet, it's solid.
Instead of learning one general technique after another, the book guides you through, as the title says, 40 different things you might want to do, incorporating what you need to know for each one. It's actually not all retouching in the classic sense of fixing a visual problem, though there is plenty of that. You start with learning how to correct contrast, move into gaining control over the colors in a photo, then get to a chapter called Enhancing Portraits, with some tricks I haven't seen before, like adding eye shadow to the image of a woman who wasn't wearing makeup. The book finally moves into general editing, adding special effects, and even such topics as adding motion blur and making greeting cards and web banners.
Of course, you can't expect to have all the information you would get in a larger volume. For example, they show one technique for creating high contrast black and white images from color ones, but there are at least three ways I can think of to also create black and white results, but with even more control. However, for someone new to photo manipulation - or someone, like me, who knows a fair amount but is always looking for new things to learn - this is a good book, particularly at a U.S. list price of $16.99.
Labels: digital, elements, manipulation, photo hosting, Photoshop, retouching, techniques
Camera Phones Start Getting Serious
Technology analyst firm Strategy Analytics is predicting
that camera phones are going to become increasingly more serious devices as people come to expect at least 1 megapixel resolution as standard and vendors try to differentiate themselves with higher resolution, better optics. Starting next year, expect such features as zoom, flash, and autofocus to become the rage. So you can bet over the next few years that the camera phone will move from being a gimmick to a more serious tool. In fact, many people may abandon having both devices.
That raises the question, though, of how you take a good picture with your camera phone. How do you brace it, incorporate a viewfinder to get a steadier image
,and get control over exposure and white balance? The features may be alluring, but getting a really good picture will still require technique. I think that will require a lot more experimentation. There are books devoted to making the best use of 35mm film SLRs, large format cameras, and digital SLRs, among others. Each device has specific handling requirements. Start looking for the camera phone books to hit the market some time soon.
Labels: camera phones, cell phones, digital
Easiest Improvement for Digital Photos
There is a big flaw the way most people use their digital cameras - and an easy fix. When you see people using a digital camera, notice that they often hold them away from their faces and watch the LCD screen on the back for the shot they want. They moment they do, they inject tiny motions and shaking that they don't even notice. But look at those pictures in a larger size and everything will look fuzzy, because they ended up burring the results by those small movements.
The fix is to always look through the viewfinder
, and not at the screen. You can then hold the camera up to your face and brace it underneath, resulting in better focus and sharper pictures. An added benefit is that you can leave the screen off, except to preview what you just did, and that saves battery life.
Labels: blur, cameras, digital, focus
Technique: Shooting Fireworks
On the Fourth of July, fireworks are in order. With an easy technique, you can get professional-looking shots of the bursts. You'll need a tripod, camera that allows manual adjustments, and a cable release (to avoid jarring the camera). This will work with either film or digital cameras:Place the camera on the tripod. Watch at least one firework explosion to see where in the sky they take place.
Set the aperture to f/5.6.
Attach a remote release. (This isn't absolutely necessary, but you do run the risk of adding blur to the final image if you're pressing the button on the camera.)
Set the shutter so that it will stay open until you release it. Depending on the camera and setting, this could mean that you either press the remote release twice, with the second time closing the shutter, or you press and hold it to keep the shutter open and release it to close the shutter.
Listen for the sound of the next firework going up. When you hear it, open the shutter and keep it open until the burst is complete.
Close the shutter.
Make sure that the lens you're using covers the area in the sky with a little room to spare, because you probably don't want to cut off parts of the image.
Labels: digital, film, fireworks, technique