Pixel Perfect: Getting Results with Digital Photography John McCormick Linda Burcham Virginia Tech January 17, 2007
Session Outline • Help us help you – we need your photos! • The difference with digital • What makes a photograph “good”? • The technical side of things • Composition tips • Hands-on practice
The Difference with Digital • Storage issues – no more rolls of film to develop, but you need enough memory for what you’re shooting • Internal camera storage, memory cards, and sticks • No waiting to see what you took – and no disappointment! Also known as “How did that finger get in front of the lens?” • Slight lag when you press the shutter • Ability to e-mail, put on the web, or print • Principles of good photography still apply
What makes a photograph “good” • It tells a story, or • It illustrates a story that will be told in words • Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words • There is a main subject of the photo and it draws you in • Impact!
Basic Ideas • Always take your camera with you – don’t miss that great opportunity you weren’t expecting • Take more photos – you may think you’re taking plenty, but take a few more anyway! • Learn your camera and experiment with the settings • Critique your own work – look at your photos later and think about what would have made them better • Ask others what they think • Read your camera’s manual
The “Technical” Side • Digital terms to know • Exposure and lighting considerations • Avoiding red-eye • Focusing • Digital vs. Optical zoom
Terms to know • Memory card • A storage device used to store data, such as picture and movie files • Available in a range of sizes, such as 128 MB, 256 MB, and 512 MB
Terms to know • Pixels (PICture ELement) • The smallest element of a digital image • A small dot of light among the many dots that make up an image on a computer screen • Each pixel is made up of red, green, and blue
Terms to know • Megapixels • A unit equal to one million pixels • A digital camera with a 4 megapixel range can take a photo that contains a maximum of 4 million pixels • Generally, the more megapixels the better!
Terms to know • JPEG • A standardized format used by many digital cameras for storing images • Joint Photographic Experts Group, the group that established this file standard • One of the most widely used formats today • JPEG is a standardized image compression mechanism -- can damage image quality
Terms to know • DPI—Dots Per Inch • Number of dots a printer or device (like a monitor) can display per linear inch • For example, most laser printers have a resolution of 300 dpi; most monitors 72 dpi • Newspapers print photos between 180 and 200 dpi
Terms to know • Resolution • The number of pixels in an image • The higher the resolution, the higher the quality of the image • Set your camera to the largest file size (resolution) possible • You cannot add resolution to an image!
Terms to know • Resolution (continued) • Since monitors display 72 dpi, a 72 dpi image will display nicely, but will not print correctly • A 300 dpi image at print size will display the same as a 72 dpi image, but is of publication quality
5 x 7” At 72 dpi Monitor view
5 x 7” At 300 dpi print size Monitor view
5 x 7” 72 dpi Publication print size Printed at 300 dpi
Exposure and lighting considerations • Shadows – where are they? • Indoor -- check for lamps, overhead lights • Flash – how far does it reach? Using fill-in vs. auto mode • Where is the sun? • Is your subject squinting?
Avoiding red-eye • Check for a “red-eye” setting on your camera • Causes camera to use the pre-flash several times before actually taking the photograph • Can help to reduce red eye because it makes your subject’s pupils contract, meaning less light will be reflected back towards the camera lens • Or, move slightly off-center and have your subject look past you.
Digital vs. optical zoom • Optical zoom relies completely upon the lens’ optics to magnify or bring your subject closer • Digital zoom simply enlarges or expands pixels, which degrades image quality • Stick with optical zoom
Composition • The “rule of thirds” • Backgrounds • Angle of view • Get in close • Framing • Be a photo “director” • Group photos
Composition: The rule of thirds • Divide the viewfinder into thirds with vertical and horizontal lines • Put the subject of the photo where two of these lines intersect or in one of the thirds
Composition: the rule of thirds • Try moving the subject off-center • If the horizon is in the photo, keep it in the upper or lower third of the photo, not the center
Off-center focusing • You may want your subject away from the center of the photo • If you’re experimenting with the “rule of thirds” it may be on the right third, or the left third, and this could be a great photo • But, it can cause focusing problems because most cameras focus on the center of the picture
Off-center focusing solution • See if your camera has an “focus lock” feature • Position the subject in the center of the photo • Lock the focus by depressing the shutter button half-way and holding it there • Re-compose the picture by moving the subject to one side • Fully depress the shutter button
Composition: backgrounds • Avoid distracting backgrounds • Force yourself to look at what is behind your subject, not just the subject • Many photos become unusable to us because of the background
Composition: angle of view • Not everything should be shot from the eye-level of the average standing human! • Try getting at eye-level with your subject • Try tilting your camera, crouching, or standing on a chair • Don’t forget vertical shots • See what happens if you move your camera just a few feet left or right
Composition: angle of view • This photo was shot from above, rather than eye level • What happens to its impact?
Composition: angle of view • This photo was shot from below eye-level • What is emphasized?
Composition: get in close • If your subject is relatively small (like a person), take a few steps closer and see what happens to your photo. • Can you focus in on one person in the group?
Composition: framing • Look for natural frames within the foreground of your subject area • A tree branch, a window or doorway, a fence • Frames can create a sense of depth
Composition: be a “director” • Maximize the potential from the situation • “Direct” your subjects into doing something more interesting than just looking at the camera • When people are doing something, they appear more natural and relaxed • Let them show you what they are doing, or even talk to you about it while you’re shooting
Composition: group photos • Groups are challenging! • If a relatively small group, try having some people holding something or leaning on something to add variety • Be aware of your flash range if indoors • Get as close as you can • Try to arrange people in the minimum number of “rows”
Some examples to “critique” What would make this photo better?
Let’s Practice • Group photo • Rule of thirds • Angles • Framing • Backgrounds • Flash on/Flash off • Show us how you improved the photo -- keep everything you shoot • Be back in 15 minutes
Sources • The Communicator’s Handbook, Agricultural Communicators in Education (ACE), Maupin House, 1996. • Malektips, Computer Help and Tips: http://malektips.com/digital_cameras_help_and_tips.html • Basic Digital Photography: http://www.basic-digital-photography.com/digital-photography-tips.html • Photonhead: http://www.photonhead.com/ • BetterPhoto.com: http://www.betterphoto.com/ • Digital Photography: www.livingroom.org.au/photolog • Kodak: Top 10 Tips for Great Pictures: www.kodak.com • MacDevCenter: Top Ten Digital Photography Tips: www.macdevcenter.com
Contact info • John McCormick, (540) 231-6269, firstname.lastname@example.org • Linda Burcham, (540) 231-4310, email@example.com