Digital Photography

Sunday, April 30, 2006

What is raw?

When you shoot in tif or jpg - your camera processes your image and it comes out a picture. You can then tweak and play with the picture but there are limits to what you can tweak and how much you can tweak.

When you shoot raw the camera does no processing - the raw data goes to your computer. You then need a raw converter to process this raw data, it isn't a picture yet - it hasn't been told what exposure, saturation - etc to apply to this data. When you open in the converter, auto settings determined by the type of camera that took the picture bring up a picture but nothing is set - it needs processing or decisions made on the exposure, saturation etc. What was done by the camera in jpg now has to be done by the operater of the conversion software. Once the decisions are made the data is then saved as an image file - jpg or tif.

The raw data is easier to tweak and gives more range for tweaking - but if you took a bad, out of focus picture even raw won't make it a keeper. If you took a good or great photo, raw can give it just a bit more to make it even better.

Raw also captures way more data that can be processed into a jpg - there is 8 bit - 16 bit - and more bits and channels of color - which means raw can deliever way more colors as the bits go up. So for color prints raw gives exciting options 8 bit jpg can't. Raw is all about options - and CONTROL.

Kind of like going from an 8 crayon box to a 48 crayon box.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Zoom - Optical???? - Digital ????

Optical Zoom - moves you closer - you get more detail - think of 3x as 3 feet closer - 10x as 10 feet closer. Does 3 feet or 10 feet make a difference - sometimes 3' closer is too close - sometimes 10' closer won't be a drop in the bucket. If you are sitting on the couch and are trying to catch your cat or kid doing something cute across the room, 10 feet closer is great.

Digital zoom - forget you have it unless you know and want what it will do for you. It is what you get when you have your picture in the computer and use the litttle zoom thingy to enlarge the picture. You may see things you hadn't seen when it was littler but no detail has been added. Digital zoom crops in camera. Most of us would prefer to leave the space and crop in postprocess.

I've been ask to teach a digital photography class - help

I've been teaching Digital Photography Classes for Adult Ed now for a year. Some thoughts for you:

1 - An avg group would probably show up with P&S's they aren't comfortable with. The cameras may have manual but most won't be ready to go there.

2 - Unless you get a group of digi scrappers ( unlikely at your LSS ) most of them will be computer beginners. If they are comfortable with a computer they may be new to photo editing software.

3 - The eyes of non-computer people glaze over in about 15 minutes when you go to that subject.

4 - When you have a mixed levels class the beginners will glaze over while you answer the questions of the more advanced.

5 - A two hour class is stretching most peoples attention and comprehension limits.

6 - If you have them bring their photos - some won't know how to get them out of their cameras ( still on memory card ) - and every thing everyone says about their pictures better be positive ( hard to control in a mixed group ). I have those with cameras that have cables hook them up to the TV and SHOW us their pictures. No CC is given. If they ask about what they could've done different I try to answer.

A suggestion -

2 hour workshop to introduce the wonderful possibilities of digital photography and your own digital darkroom.

Then present the pluses:

Take lots of photos - no film
No extra pictures printed
Size the way you want.
Color the way you want.
Crop the way you want.
Save money doing your own special occasions.
Make money doing others sessions.
Go anywhere scrapping with laptop.

You get the idea.

Consider how many hours you will use to prepare to teach 2 hours. Time getting to the site and setting up. Time teaching. Time tearing it down, cleaning up and getting home. With the gas prices mileage can also be a consideration. What is your time worth and how much will the market bare.

Adult Ed here pays $12 an hour for the 2 hour class. After you figure in all the time spent it isn't high pay, but I'm enjoying it and having fun so it helps buy me more toys.

If your class goes over really well and you want to do more teaching it would maybe open the door for you to teach more specialized classes.

Next year I'm going to offer:

Intro to Digital cameras ( for those wanting to buy or who have a camera they know nothing about ). Lots of people are getting digital cameras as gifts and don't have clue one on what to do. 2 hrs.

Using your digital camera in auto and mode settings. Two nights - 2 hr classes

Using your digital camera in manual. Two nights - 2 hr classes

Using your computer as your digital darkroom. Three nights - 2 hr classes

Should I use re-writable CD's and DVD's ?

A digital data file has it's set amount of data - it is whatever it is. You can copy or move it forever and it doesn't change.

Jpg files compress data a bit ever time they are opened & SAVED - but if you don't open and SAVE them you can move them forever without them ever changing.

Now - when burning image files as data files you need to check that the whole file burned, if the whole file burned you are set.

The reason that rewritables aren't really considered great is that you could write over and loose the written over files - or say you have 300 images on the disc and go to add more and all of a sudden the disc corrupts.

If you are moving files from one computer to another the disc can quit working or refuse to work in one computer but still work in another. Once in awhile computers get a hair and just do something - like decide to reformat your disc - there goes your data.

I don't have my computers networked so I used to use rewrite CD's to move files from one to the other. It worked most of the time but sometimes I'd get messages about corrupted partitions.

Now I burn my originals to CD's so I just open what I want on the computer I want it on. If you burn and check a regular CD - you either have the data or you don't - not to say that it won't corrupt sometime down the road.

If you and your computer(s) are really good at rewritables you may never have a problem.

Now you have a new DSLR - where to start

The more computer literate you are the easier it is to "get" digital. These are computers and have a lot of computer characteristics. If you screw it up royal in the menus and settings - turn it off to reset the defaults - or if you somehow changed some defaults you can go back in and reset to defaults and start over.

Most of the terms and actions that have their roots in film photography will come easy to you. Computerized film photography. If you plan to go to raw shooting you need to postprocess - the digital darkroom - PSE4 and PSCS2 both have raw converters - Then you don't need to install the software that came with your camera.

The raw files from the XT have the file extension .CR2 - or you can shoot in jpg - or jpg + raw. You have lots of choices. Just go one choice at a time and you will get there.

You are now digital - you aren't wasting film or developing - take lots of pictures - then you can use the cable that comes with your camera and look at your pictures on the TV if you don't want to load them to the computer to look at. You can see a lot more about the picture when it is bigger.

CAUTION: Always have the camera turned off when you connect or disconnect it from the computer, or TV. Never pop it open and pop out the memory card while it is on. Any of these actions can corrupt your card.

You are starting a great adventure - enjoy the journey. Lots of us are in the same boat with you or are only a month or so ahead of you. Lots of us are new to DSLR's - Canon - Nikon - and Olympus so we are all kind of learning from those up ahead. Welcome.

Organizing Digital Images

My pictures all have file names like:

1956 - 2 - 17 - 1
1998 - 11 - 2 - 10
2001 - 3 - 4 - 005
2006 - 4 - 15 - 001
year - month - day - individual #

I use the XP Scanner and Camera Wizzard which does most of this for me.
I then burn to CD or DVD

When I want pictures I pop in the CD and skim through the thumnails to find what I want to work on - drag the images to a project folder - pop out the CD. When I have PS'd a project then burn a project CD. I only have projects I'm working on on the computer. And multiple CD's of all my originals.

Harddrives live give or take 5 years. Internal and external. Auto backups - when your HD crashes is when you find out if it is still working. I think Lisa Bearnson was the one that lost a couple years worth of photos that way.

I went through the computer died - have I lost everything - a couple times before I arrived at this method.

The organizers are nice - but are they changing your file extensions?? - Will you be able to upgrade to a new software and organizer with your present system? Will your system work when we move on from XP or to the next generation of MAC?? That's why I'm staying with simple short file names and jpg extensions for now.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Backing up Images to CD or DVD

Scott Kelby suggestes in a book of his that I have that you burn a CD at the time you are downloading to the computer - you don't save to the hard drive - you then use the CD to access pictures you want to PS.

By pulling the pictures off the CD you know that it burned and that it works. Burn a 2nd CD of the worked over images. If you start doing that you won't have the harddrive filled up - and if you figure out how to organize your current images this way, then going back and burning your other images to CD or DVD will be easy.

Some will burn 2 CD's of each - and make sure they have 2 different brands of CD. ( So if they run into a bad run of CD's they still have images on a different brand of CD ) There are cheapy - to expensive CD's - some sold as archival and guarenteed.

After burning a CD it is a good idea to make sure it reads - by opening it in a computer - a different computer than it was burned on is a good idea.

What file type to save in: JPG - is pretty universal and will open in the most applications. - BUT - it is a compression file and does a bit of compressing every time you save. TIF - Doesn't compress - widely used. Other file types - may be propritary - will only open in the same software they were generated by. Raw files may have different file extensions - saving files in their raw format is desirable but keep the propritary thing in mind - especially as the years go by and technology changes.

Then there are the how to mark CD's questions - Sharpie just came out with a special CD marker - I number my CD's on the clear circle around the middle hole. I store mine in the slim cases (marked on the hinge with the same id as on the disc ) in a box that holds them standing up.

Some store the second copy at work, bank, with family in another location. With all these CD's how do you find a certain picture when you need it? I file by date - but some people file by event - Whatever works for you. Some people print contact sheets - but I found that combersome so now I usually have a pretty good sense of the date so I just pop in the CD and look through the thumbnails.

The best thing is to come up with a workflow that works for you - AND THEN DO IT. It's sad when a harddrive crashes - or a backup system fails and someone looses a year or two's worth of photos.