Tag Archives: Processing

Counting the true cost of a photo

The cost of a photo is not just the memory card it was taken on, nor is it just the cost of the model of camera and lens you are using. The true cost of a photo is more about the story behind the photo, the setup, the taking of it and the inevitable processing.

01 Cost Of Photo experienceBoat on Brienzsee, Ringgenberg; using a wide angle lens gives the mountain’s behind the boat some perspective.

If you were on a holiday, the cost of a picture could include the cost of the trip, added to the cost of the camera and so on. But what about your experience? By experience I am not meaning your holiday experience I am meaning the experience you have behind the camera – your abilities as a photographer.

02 Cost Of Photo experienceFlying Scotsman, Paris; the RAW processing of this image was made to look like it was taken in the same period that the car would have been new.

My experience is in motor sport photography, and my experience in that genre has made me aware of where incidents may happen or places that would make a great new angle. This allowed me to capture images that were different to the normal and would tell a different story, or show a facet of the sport that people had not seen before.

03 Cost Of Photo experiencePimlico Tube Station, London; by taking this photo at 1/8th of a second, the train moving out of the station has been accentuated. By using the right balance of ISO and shutter speed I was able to hand hold the camera for this shot.

Over the years I have tried other genres of photography and I have come to the conclusion that a photographer that is good at their genre usually is an expert in that genre too. A surf photographer will be able to pick waves that a board rider will take, and know which surfer to follow as they have the best wave.

A landscape photographer will know what time of the year the best cloud formations appear over their subject and the placing of the sun to maximise the lighting, as you can’t move the mountains but the sun does shift over summer / winter.

Likewise a macro photographer will know that a dragonfly will come back to a perch it has sat on if it flies away, as long as you’re patient enough.

04 Cost Of Photo experienceBoats for hire, Lake Como; by using a tripod and a long shutter speed I have made the headlights of the cars drag.

So this knowledge is part of what makes up the cost of a photo. The other part of the cost, is knowing which lens to choose, which aperture to use, what the shutter speed will do to the mood of the image and so on, as you have seen from the examples above there is more to the picture than just pushing the shutter button.

05 Cost Of Photo experienceFlower bokeh, Rothenburg; by using a very small number aperture I have made the different flowers behind this poppy blend into the photo.

06 Cost Of Photo experienceSpiral staircase, Arc de Triomphe; by using a fisheye lens, the spiral of the staircase has been exaggerated.

07 Cost Of Photo experienceDole Reflections, Dole, France; by using a HDR technique I have been able to capture all the detail in this scene.

This is what we are here to teach you! Our next Learning to crawl beginners class is on the 30th of August book now.

 

File Organisation

Subject

Tips for file organisation and backing up your photos

What is it?

Basically it’s a system that you develop that works for you. As I started organising and filing images before programs like Adobe Lightroom (which extracts images off your memory card and catalogues the files for you), I had to develop my own system that would let me catalogue my images so I could easily order and find them.

When I photograph an event I usually use two cameras. This introduces the risk that the two cameras may be shooting and recording the same number file. When I download those photos to the computer, I have to be sure that one set does not overwrite the other. You can now set up your camera to change the file number so that this won’t happen, but 10 years ago when it first happened to me, this function was not available on my cameras.

My step-by-step file organisation process

My first step is to upload the files to my computer and put them into a folder that has the following structure.

YYMMDD <<Descriptive Words>>, where “Descriptive Words” is two words about the shoot. If I was shooting a wedding it would be the Bride and the Groom’s names. I do this using the Windows import. So for example, if I photographed Greg and Mary’s wedding today the folder name would be:

140511 Greg Mary

Each photo would have its own unique number – I do not keep the original camera file names. So each photo would have a unique file name like: 140511 Greg Mary 001.jpg

Once I have retouched and edited the images, I do a backup of those images – one backup to an internal drive on my computer and another backup to an external drive.

The day I do the backup, I create a folder with the following structure:

2014 05 11 Photos

This is the folder I copy to the two drives for storage. This folder is stored in a top level folder named 2014.

This is MY procedure and it’s what works for me. I am not suggesting abandoning your procedure; just make sure that you have one, and that it makes sense to you, as the folder structure really needs to suit you.

Examples

File Organisation 01This is my external drive structure. Each folder contains backups. My backups are manual and I usually backup after a major event or shoot.

File Organisation 02This is what the 2011 folder looks like. Each folder is named as per the day I did the backup.

File Organisation 03As you can see this folder has five shoots in it.

File Organisation 04If I open the 110528 Ripley Lake folder I will find the following jpgs each with the same file naming convention. And the RAW files are in the CR2 folder.

Try This

Have a good look at your folders and files and if you don’t have a system of your own, I recommend you start one. If you overwrite a file or lose it, there is no way of getting the files back.





What is White Balance?

What is it?

It’s a technical term that measures the colour of the light we are seeing. As always, our eyes and brain change to our surroundings and make adjustments to what we see without our knowledge. As a result of this, we don’t see the difference between light from a candle and light from the sun. The light from a candle is very yellow (warm) and the light from the direct sun is quite blue (cool). These are two very opposite ends of the scale in colour balance. This is the reason why, when you take a photo indoors without the flash, the pictures can look very yellow.

How do I use it on my camera?

There is a button or menu for the white balance. Generally the camera defaults to AWB (Auto White Balance), which in truth, gets it right most of the time. If you are shooting jpg only, and the white balance is incorrect, there is little you can do to correct it. So it needs to be right 100% of the time. To achieve this, you need to set it yourself.

Below are the icons. Its best to pick the light that you are taking pictures in, with the exception of “Custom” as this is used when taking pictures with studio flash lighting. There is also “K” that is where you select a number, that and “Custom” will be another blog post.

White Balance 01

What does it do to my pictures?

If you pick the wrong white balance your pictures with either look too yellow or too blue. Generally, skin tones will not look right, making people look like they have a fake tan. It can make sunsets look more vibrant or yellow, which could be what you’re looking for too.  So picking the right white balance is best done before you take the picture.

The screen on the back of the camera is a great guide to see what you have taken looks like what you are seeing. The RBG histogram is another way, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

Examples

The images below were taken in a RAW format and were processed to show how the white balance changes will affect the result. The icon in the bottom corner of each photo shows what white balance it was processed with.

White Balance 02Sunset clouds; taken at about 5.30pm, the light is coming from the sun and there are clouds so “Cloudy” was used.

White Balance 03Joey in the diner; this image was an ambient light shot with a very little amount of flash. The accurate white balance is closer to “Fluorescent” than it is to “Flash”. You can see though that “Sunny” white balance gives the skin a just tanned look.

White Balance 04Olympic lifting outdoors; This shot was lit by the street lights. As you can see with using “Sunny”, the skin tone is wrong. The correct white balance is “Incandescent”

White Balance 05Christmas lights; As there are so many light sources in this photo, which includes the moon, the white balance was hard to get right. It is somewhere between “Fluorescent” and “Incandescent”. The grass in the “Sunny” setting looks too yellow and the sky has a brown yellow cast.

Try This

Take the same picture with each of the white balance settings, and see which one you think is the closest to the light you are taking pictures in. If you have any interesting findings, feel free to post your comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

RAW

What is it?

RAW is the digital equivalent of slide or negative film. It’s a format that allows you to process the image after you have taken it to suit your liking, or to process it a very different way altogether. In short, it’s like the roll of film you used to take to be developed, and then go back to get your prints. With RAW, you do the developing.

How do I use it on my camera?

Usually your camera is set to take photos in .jpg format. This format gives you a processed picture that is ready to share or print. Depending on the make and model of your camera, you may have a dedicated button for selecting the RAW option or you may have to change it through the menu system. Your camera may be able to take both a .jpg and RAW image at the same time, or just one format. This function may allow you to choose different .jpg and RAW sizes as well. Please note: shooting RAW will produce large file sizes and will slow down your camera’s burst mode (ie, how many pictures you can take quickly in a row.)

What does it do to my pictures?

Shooting RAW gives you much flexibility when processing your images. It allows you to adjust every facet of your image, from brightness, colour, contrast, sharpness and lots more. Newer versions of Photoshop Camera Raw Editor even allow you to apply a graduated filter effect, remove dust spots and other unwanted elements in the image. Basically, you can manipulate your picture to your hearts content.

You may be thinking, “we can already do that with editing software for our .jpg files”. Yes you can! BUT, like slide film, any change made to a RAW file is just a tweak to the file. It is not destructive, which means that any change can be reversed, or improved with more changes. You can always revert to the original RAW file. Even cropping the image does not destroy the remainder of the picture, not to mention that in the future, there may be better software or you may have a better understanding of processing that could give you a better result.

Once you have made your adjustments to the RAW file, simply save as a .jpg for printing / sharing.

While you may not be able to process a RAW file now, it is worth shooting in RAW, because at some point you may be able to, or you may want to change the feel of a shot. Processing software will improve over time and will allow you to produce a better result!

The following examples show images that I took years ago, and have been able to re-process because I kept the RAW files.

Example 1

RAW Pics 1.jpgI took the picture above in 2004 on a then new Canon 300D (using a 18-55 kit lens). The picture settings were F16 (aperture), 60 seconds (shutter speed), and ISO 100. I processed the image with the Canon Raw editing software supplied with the camera.

RAW Pics 2.jpgI can now process that file with the latest Adobe Camera Raw Editor. You can see the many sliders and variables that can be used to adjust the look of the image. Please note that when you open the file, all the sliders are set to 0.

RAW Pics 3.jpgIn this image, I have moved the sliders, and the image has changed:

  • Moved white balance – toned down the yellow cast

  • Increased exposure – increased the overall brightness

  • Increased contrast – blacks are blacker and whites are whiter

  • Decreased the highlights – which remove some of the extreme white light around the street lights

  • Increased clarity – which sharpens the image

 

RAW Pics 4.jpgHere is newly reprocessed image. If I had not taken this picture in RAW in 2004, these edits would not have been possible.

Example 2

The photo on the left was taken on a Canon 1000D. The settings were F2.8, 1/750th shutter speed and ISO 100. The photo on the left was as shot, you can see that it is quite overexposed, as this image was taken in RAW i am able to repair the image and bring it back.

  • Decreased the exposure –  to darken the overall image

  • Increased contrast – blacks are blacker and whites are whiter

  • Increased the highlights – as they needed a little

  • Increased the shadows  – to highlight the flower

  • Reduced the whites – to remove the harshness on the lake

  • Increased the clarity – to sharpen the image

If this was a jpg image out of the camera, these adjustments would not have been possible.

Try This

Take a picture in RAW and have a go at processing it yourself with the sliders, moving each one at a time and seeing the results. Watch how the histogram moves left to right and how the peaks rise and fall.