Drew Faber Photography

Photography Tips
How to take better pictures!

#28. Scanning Prints
Here are some tips on how to get the best scans possible.
● Read your scanner's instructions.
● If you have a good scanner, scanning now is better than waiting. Your old prints aren't getting any younger!
● Use canned air to dust off your prints and your scanner
● Clean the print gently and carefully. Be careful how you handle old prints. Do not touch the face of the print with your fingers. Only use special photographic cleaning materials. If you are going to be scanning many, I suggest you use Photographic Solutions PEC-12, Photographic Emulsion Cleaner and Photographic Solutions Pec*Pad Photowipes for Photographic Emulsions. These are safe to use on old photographs, but you still might want to test the solution on a throw-away print first. Also, scan the "dirty" print before you start to clean it, just in case you damage it in any way.
● Clean your scanner's glass and the cover
● Scan at 600 dpi or more, if possible.
● Scan one print at a time so your scanner will optimize its settings for each individual print.
● Scan in color mode regardless of the print you are scanning. You may ultimately prefer your black and white print with a touch of color in it. You can always convert to grayscale later.
● Save the original scan in tiff format -- without compression – before doing any touching up. Once you start restoring, save as a new file name. This way you can always go back to the original scan without rescanning the print.
● You might want to create a text file that identifies who or what is in each picture.
● Use your image editing software to adjust the contrast by adjusting the black point and the white point. Use your software's help feature to look up "levels." You will also want to look up "heal" and "clone" while you are at it.
● After doing any touchups -- crop, resize, and save for Web using a new name. I suggest image sizes of 600 to 800 pixels in their longest dimension and jpeg at a minimal compression setting.
● Also use the last best restored version to make prints by cropping and resizing and saving a copy specifically for printing. Don't upsize and try to downsize to around 300 dpi, anything higher would generate an unnecessarily large file.
● Archive all versions of these images on DVD or CD! In fact, make more than one copy of each and send the copies to relatives.

#28. Shooting RAW
In most cases, when you take a picture, the camera crunches the data from the imaging sensor and records a real digital image in JPEG format. Under good lighting conditions, this originally produced JPEG image is just fine for almost every use. High-end camera models provide the ability to record the original raw unprocessed data or a JPEG version. RAW is the generic term used to describe the unprocessed image recorded by your camera's imaging sensor. Examples of RAW image file formats include: .CR2, .NEF, and .NRW RAW files can be six to twelve times the size of some JPEG versions.
Advantages of RAW:
● Preserves your options for processing the image later. The RAW version of the image contains way more information than any JPEG can possible contain. This means a wider range of colors and brightness levels. You can often rescue detail in the shadows or washed-out highlights that didn't quite make it in the original JPEG.
● It is always possible to produce a better image starting from RAW than you can by starting with the original JPEG.
Disadvantages of RAW:
● Large file size impacts: how many shots you can record on a given memory card, how large a hard drive you will need, and archiving media.
● Post processing is required. This means both time and effort are needed to produce an image from the RAW file. This can be the RAW converter software that came with your camera or from a third party.
I have my camera set to record both the RAW version and a JPEG version of each image. For event shoots, the vast majority of my online gallery images are produced starting with the original JPEG. For difficult images, I go back to the RAW file. I always go back to the RAW file whenever I need to make a print. For Web use and emailing, the original JPEG version is a good enough starting point.

#27. Preparing an image for emailing

1. Open the image with your image editing software.
2. Use your program's help feature to lookup "crop," "resize," and "zoom" if needed.
2. Crop the image to exclude unnecessary distractions.
3. Resize the image. Make sure to "maintain the aspect ratio" and just type in the desired longest dimension. For emailing, anywhere from 450 to 800 is good, depending on what you need. Pay attention to the number of pixels in the width and height.
4. View the final result by changing your view zoom setting to "actual size" or "100%."
5. SAVE AS {New-Name} or add a "-a" to the tail of it. When I produce a specific size of an image for a special purpose, I include the long dimension in the new file name. e.g. filename-720.jpg. The jpeg compression numbers will depend on the software you are using. In general, a compression level of around 70% is fine for most casual emailing purposes.

#26. Fall Foliage

Fall is one of nature's most beautiful times. Hopefully these tips will help you capture the season's colors.
The light at sunrise and sunset is best. At daybreak, don't forget to look down. You may find a pretty dew speckled leaf.
If you find yourself in a forest, shooting at midday should be fine, but avoid wide shots that encompass both direct sunlight and  shadows in the same picture. Also, consider shooting directly up at the leaves when they are back lit by the sun.
Take advantage of water. Streams add a nice visual element. Fall colors reflecting off a lake or pond can be spectacular.
Take advantage of breaks in bad weather to add dramatic skies to your images.
Look for contrasting colors; red leaves against evergreens.
Backlighting and side lighting can be very nice. So, be sure to look all the way around so you can see all the possibilities.
Bring your polarizer and use it when you have bright sunlight.
Experiment: Try long shutter speeds of moving water. Try panning the camera as you shoot a long exposure.
Suggested Website: US Forest Service Fall Colors

#25. ƒ-stops Explained

Before we get into the details, first remember that aperture is the size of the opening that lets light into the camera. One thing you need to remember is that a small opening -- think pinhole camera -- allows little light in, but nearly everything is in focus. A wide opening allows a lot of light in, but only a narrow plane will be in focus. The lens opening is described in stops, steps, or ƒ-stops -- all of these are the same thing.
Now for the part that you need to remember: Large apertures translate into small ƒ-stops. Small apertures translate into large ƒ-stops. Before the advent of automatic cameras, full ƒ-stops were typically (from largest opening to smallest) ... 1.0, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32,.... In the digital age, automatic cameras select continuous values between stops for the best exposure for the situation.
Now for the part that you can forget: Why are ƒ-numbers so screwed up? The ƒ-number is the focal length divided by the effective aperture diameter. The ƒ-number is a ratio that is a measure of the lens speed. And that's why the ƒ-numbers are so strange.

#24. Panoramas

There are three ways to shoot a panorama:
i. Use a wide angle lens or zoom out and crop the excess top and bottom later in your image editing software.
ii. Without a tripod, shoot many shots carefully and assemble later into a single composite panorama
iii. Using a tripod, shoot many shots and assemble later.

I'm going to address the second way – shooting multiple shots without a tripod and assembling them later. (If you're using a point and shoot camera, check to see if it has a panorama mode. Read the instructions on how to take advantage of it.)
First, you will need a nice location. I will leave that step up to you. Next, you will need to determine how much of the landscape you want to take in and how to best shoot it with your camera. Is it possible to shoot it with a single image? Will you get the final resolution you desire? If not, you will need to shoot multiple frames. Consider shooting multiple frames vertically -- yes vertically. Overlap shots 25% on each side.

Switch to manual color control. Select either cloudy or sunny day depending on which is closer to what you are about to shoot. Determine the brightest area of your panorama and lock in that exposure by switching to manual. Focus and then switch to manual focus. Shoot all of the panorama's shots using the same exposure, color, zoom, and focus.

When shooting the panorama, try to rotate around the camera. Do not just pivot on your feet. Keep the camera as level as possible. Avoid moving subjects especially in the overlapping areas.

Now for the really hard part – post-production. Selecting software and aligning the shots: First, check to see what software came with your camera. Then check to see what software is already on your computer. (This is one capability that search has neglected… finding software for a particular purpose that is already on your computer!)

Free Software:
● Canon users: Canon Photostitch
     > Select "Digital Cameras"
     > Your product type
     > Your model
     > Click "go"
     > Under "Drivers / Software Selection," select your operating system
     > Under Software, click on the .exe below "PhotoStitch 3.1.20"
● Windows users: Image Composite Editor
● Windows users: Pos Panorama Pro
● Windows, Mac OS X, & Linux users: Hugin: Panorama Photo Stitcher

I suggest you shoot a test panorama to work out the details before you go out and shoot something that you really don't want to mess up. Keep notes. Write it up so you can do it again when you need to.

Further reading: Panoguide How to

#23. Internet Dating Pictures

The tips I'm going to list here apply to your primary picture on any given dating site. I would allow much more flexibility for additional pictures.
Make sure that the preview version of your primary picture looks good as a thumbnail. You want to catch the viewer's attention, not cause them to be puzzled and move on to the next person's picture. Keeping the background free of clutter will help quite a bit.
Vacation pictures in which you are a small portion of the entire picture are not recommended.
I personally, like to see a face. A dismembered body part as a primary picture does not work for me.
Use your self-timer or remote shutter release to take self-portraits. If you choose to take a picture in the mirror, turn off the flash, or position the camera so the flash doesn't throw off the exposure or obscure your face. For mirror shots, be sure to flip the image horizontally in your image editing software when you are done. You want to present yourself the way others see you, not the way you see yourself. This will also make sure any branding on your clothing isn't a distraction by being backwards.
Presenting yourself flat on to the camera is not very flattering. Try angling your body so one of your shoulders is closer than the other.
Try to be close to eye-level with the lens. Looking up or down at the camera tends not to be very flattering.
Save a copy of your picture as close to the size used by the given site as possible. This will limit the amount of automatic resizing done by the site's image hosting software and keep you in control of how the image is presented.

#22. Silhouettes

Normally when you take a photograph, you want the primary subject to govern both the focus and exposure. When you take a silhouette, you want the subject to be in focus, but not to determine the exposure. You want the subject to be dark. You want the highlights to govern the exposure.
This is one of the times when you want to make sure your flash is OFF.
Method 1:
Exposure Lock Button: If you have such a button, compose your picture and focus as usual and then lock the exposure in on a hot spot or the sky. If your focus changed during this step, continue holding down the exposure lock button and refocus and recompose.
Method 2:
Manual Focus: Focus on the person then turn off auto focus. Now you can lock the exposure on the highlights or the sky by pointing the camera and touching and holding down the shutter button. Then, recompose and shoot.
Method 3:
Manual: Determine the proper exposure for the highlights of your image. Now, switch the camera to manual mode and dial in that f-stop and shutter speed. Focus on the high contrast area of your subject and then turn your auto-focus OFF. Visually double check your focus before taking the picture.

Image 0678-25 from Archives Part II

A properly exposed silhouette can be manipulated in your image editing software to show a slight amount of detail in the shadows or none at all.

#21. Fireworks

Please order prints -- right click disabled

Fireworks over the Queen Mary in Long Beach

Position yourself so there is something interesting in the foreground. Give yourself lots of headroom - fireworks tend to vary in height. Make sure your flash is off. Both of the following setups tell you to turn off your auto focus. Make sure you turn it back on again when you are done.
Sans Tripod:
● Use manual settings:
     ▫ Auto focus off: manually focus at infinity
     ▫ Shutter speed: 1/30 - 1/15 -- stabilize yourself by leaning against something like a tree
     ▫ ISO 1000
     ▫ f/5.6
● Adjust the ISO and/or aperture after taking a couple of test shots. If too washed out:
      ▫ Lower ISO  or
      ▫ Smaller aperture (larger f number)
With Tripod:
● Use a tripod (read your camera/lens manual to determine if your image stabilization needs to be off when using a tripod)
● Use a remote shutter release (Hahnel remote shutter releases are available for Sony, Canon, Olympus, & Nikon DSLR's for just $30 online.)
●  Use manual settings:
     ▫ Auto focus off: manually focus at infinity
     ▫ Use "bulb" mode
     ▫ Use ISO of 100 - 200
     ▫ Use f/8 - f/11
     ▫ Leave the shutter open until a nice burst ends, then release and open again
     ▫ Adjust the exposure and change the ISO as needed
Test out your setup before you leave home.

Photography Tips Page 1

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