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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Photography Tips for Beginners

As a new photographer, these are some of the ideas that have helped get me going.

1. Don’t go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away.

It’s possible to get very nice photos with an inexpensive point and shoot. See these examples on Flickr. The more photos you take, the more you’ll know about what kind of camera to get when it’s time to upgrade.

2. Consider a tripod.

On the other hand, an inexpensive tripod is worth getting, especially if you have shaky hands like mine. When I got a tripod, my satisfaction with my shots skyrocketed. For even more stability, use your camera’s timer function with a tripod (read our introduction to tripods).

3. Keep your camera with you all the time.

Photo ops often come when you least expect it. If you can keep your equipment relatively simple – just a small camera bag and a tripod – you might be able to take advantage of some of those unexpected opportunities. Or, if your phone has a camera, use it to take “notes” on scenes you’d like to return to with your regular camera.

4. Make a list of shots you’d like to get.

For those times you can’t carry your camera around, keep a small notebook to jot down places you’d like to come back and photograph. Make sure to note any important details, like the lighting, so you can come back at the same time of day or when the weather’s right. If you don’t want to carry a notebook, send yourself an email using your cell phone with Jott.com.

5. Don’t overlook mundane subjects for photography.

You might not see anything interesting to photograph in your living room or your backyard, but try looking at familiar surroundings with fresh eyes. You might catch an interesting trick of the light or find some unexpected wildflowers in your yard. Often a simple subject makes the best shot.

6. Enjoy the learning process.

The best part of having a hobby like photography is never running out of things to learn. Inspiration is all around you. Look at everything with the eyes of a photographer and you’ll see opportunities you never noticed before.

7. Take advantage of free resources to learn.

Browse through Flickr or websites like the Digital Photography School Forum for inspiration and tips. Also, your local library probably has a wealth of books on all types of photography. If you’re interested in learning about post-processing, give free software like the GIMP a try.

8. Experiment with your camera’s settings.

Your point and shoot may be more flexible and powerful than you know. Read the manual for help deciphering all those little symbols. As you explore, try shooting your subjects with multiple settings to learn what effects you like. When you’re looking at your photos on a computer, you can check the EXIF data (usually in the file’s properties) to recall the settings you used.

9. Learn the basic rules.

The amount of information about photography online can be overwhelming. Start with a few articles on composition. Be open to what more experienced photographers have to say about technique. You have to know the rules before you can break them.

10. Take photos regularly.

Try to photograph something every day. If you can’t do that, make sure you take time to practice regularly, so you don’t forget what you’ve learned. An excellent way to motivate yourself is by doing the weekly assignments in the DPS Forum.

11. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

If you’re using a digital camera, the cost of errors is free. Go crazy – you might end up with something you like. You’ll certainly learn a lot in the process.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Object removal . . .

Each day in my business of restoring old photographs at www.BestPhotoRepair.com , I encounter all kinds of photo manipulation requests, from simple digital retouching to more complex restoration work. But my favorite type of request is object removal.

I guess I enjoy it, because I really get to use my imagination. When you remove an object, especially an object in the foreground of a photograph, you must replace it with something, otherwise you are left with an unsightly blank space.

And that's where real imagination and creativity come in, because it is usually left up to the restoration artist to determine "what's missing", once an object as been removed from an image.

Although there are a lot of different ways to remove an object from an image, I decided to focus on the "Patch Aware Fill" method.

Below you will find a quick step by step guide on how to best fill that blank space, leaving a flawless image behind.

Open an image with an object you need to remove, like this sign posts in the image above.
If you're working with a single-layered document, duplicate it by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J).
If you have multiple layers, activate the topmost layer and create a copy of all visible layers by pressing Shift-Alt-Ctrl-E (on a PC). Double-click the duplicated layer's name and rename it.
Select the Patch tool. Once you've selected the patch tool, make sure you selected "source" from the menu at the top.
Click-and-drag to "paint" a selection onto the object you wish to remove from the image.
Once you have the object selected, move the selection over an area in the image that looks very similar to the area from which you are removing the object.
(For example, if you are removing an object from in front of a bush, select a similar looking area of the bush to fill in the space over the object you are removing.)
The patch tool will give you an idea of what you are capturing in the selection.
Once you find an area of the image you want to "paste" over the object, drop the selection. I say drop, because I use a Wacom table and pen, so all I need to do is release the selection over the new area and the patch tool will take that area and blend it into the area you are filling, or in this case, it will blend it over the object you are removing.
Obviously this method does not work on every image nor every object, but it's a great place to get started.
Hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tips for scanning your images to be restored . . .

Do you have old faded or torn photos that you'd like to give a facelift? Have you been meaning to take that box of old photos from Grandma and scan them onto a CD? Learning to create and edit digital photos is fairly easy and very worthwhile. Digitally restored photos can be used to create digital scrapbooks, posted to Web sites, shared through email, and printed for gift-giving or display.

You don't have to be a technology whiz or a graphic designer to become proficient at photo restoration, but you will need a computer, a scanner, and a good (not necessarily expensive) graphics program.

Scanning Tips for Digital Photos
1) Check your photos for dirt, lint, or smudges. Gently remove surface dust and dirt with a soft brush or lint-free photowipe. Canned air, available at most office supply stores, helps to blast away dust and lint from photographic slides, but is not recommended for heirloom print photos.
2) Check the scanner glass for lint, hair, fingerprints, or smudges. Use a lint-free pad or wipe to thoroughly clean the glass (basically anything which is sold as safe for cleaning camera lenses will also work for your scanner). Household glass cleaner can be used to clean your scanner glass, as long as you're careful to spray it directly on the cloth before wiping, not directly on the glass surface. When using your scanner or handling photographs, it is best to wear clean white cotton gloves (available from photo stores and hardware stores) to avoid leaving skin oils on your scanner or photos.
3) Specify the type of scan. If you're scanning photos, you have a basic choice of color photo vs. black and white. When scanning family photos, it is usually best to scan in color, even if the source photo is black & white. You'll have more manipulation options, and you can change a color photo to black & white (greyscale), but not the other way around.
4) Determine the best scan resolution to assure the quality and usefulness of your digital photos. The optimal resolution depends on how the image will be printed, saved, or displayed. A good rule of thumb is to scan your photos at a minimum of 300dpi (Dots Per Inch) to assure decent quality for enhancement and restoration techniques. 600dpi or greater is even better if you plan to eventually store these photos on CD or DVD, and have the space on your computer harddrive to handle such large images short-term.
5) Carefully position your photo on the scanner face down on the glass, just like on a photocopy machine. Then hit "prescan" or "preview." The scanner will take a quick pass of the image and display a rough version on your screen. Check to see that it's straight, that no part of the photo has been cut off, and that the photo appears free of dust and lint.
6) Crop the previewed image to include only the original photo. For archival purposes you should not crop only a portion of the photo at this point (you can do that later if you want a cropped photo for a specific purpose), but you should make sure that all you are scanning is the actual photograph. Some scanners and software will do this step for you automatically.
7) Avoid corrections while scanning. After scanning, you'll be able to edit the image in a graphics software program which offers much more control. The order should be: 1. Scan a basic image, 2. Save it, 3. Play with it.
8) Check your file size to make sure that the resolution you have chosen isn't going to create a photo that is so large that it's going to crash your computer. Some computers have enough free memory to handle 34MB photo files, and some don't. If the file size is going to be larger than you thought, then adjust the scan resolution accordingly before making the file scan.
9) Scan the original image. This shouldn't take too long, but could take a few minutes if you're scanning at a very high resolution. Take a quick bathroom break, or get your next photo ready for scanning.


Monday, February 1, 2016

How to make people look slimmer in photographs . . .

It is the comment I get most often when I am taking pictures of women. "Make me look skinnier, OK?" Everybody wants to look their thinnest in their photographs and with a few simple tips, and it often seems that the camera does add 10 pounds, but, following a few simple rules can lose those camera pounds and make your subjects look their best.

1. Watch heads. People tend to do one of two things when you are shooting straight on, they either bring their heads up, exposing a lot of neck, or they bring them down too much giving themselves a double chin. Try to level  their heads to look at you straight on.

2. Suggest to your subject that they wear dark clothing. It is true, black is slimming. This is an especially good suggestion to make to brand new moms when you are shooting newborn photos. Their black shirt makes a great back drop to have them hold the baby against and it will make them look and feel thinner. 
3. Shoot from above. Get above your subjects and shoot looking down at them. This is one of the things you have the most control over and is very effective.

4. Twist. Having your subject twist sideways instead of facing the camera straight on will make them look thinner every time.

Using just a couple of these tips, you can make your subjects look their best and give them photographs you'll both love!