Choose Photo Printer

The first kind of photo printer is the smallest of the bunch and they are dedicated snapshot printers. They really only have one function and that is to quickly and easily print 4 X 6 snapshots from your camera’s digital photo files. All you have to do is just hook your digital camera up by a cable and start printing. The output from these small printers is usually very good, and they have the advantage of not taking up much space in your home. The disadvantage is that you can only get snapshots from these printers, as enlargements are out of the question. They also cost quite a bit for their size. But for those who only like to print snapshots anyway and who have to be space conscious, they can be a great solution.

The next kind of photo printer is the full size inkjet printer that is commonly associated with printing documents. These larger printers can handle not only snapshots, but even enlargements as well, on up to 8 X 10 or even larger in some cases. They can also be very easy to use, many of them coming with the PictBridge feature that lets camera owners hook up their digital camera to the printer and print their photos without having to upload them to the computer first. But they can also be very versatile and accomplished too. Many of these type of photo printers can turn out excellent photos that easily rival or even surpass those from a photo lab. Of course, the higher quality image that you desire the more money you will have to pay, but for serious photographers, a high quality inkjet photo printer can be just what they need.

The third kind of photo printer available is the all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machine type of unit. These are incredibly versatile tools for a home business, and the photo printing output from many of these printers can be surprisingly good too. Their biggest drawback is their size, as they can get very large since so much is being asked of just one piece of equipment. But for those that need all of those kind of machines anyway, getting the photo printing option that comes along with it is just an added bonus that can be very useful.

So which kind of photo printer is right for you? That is only a decision that you can make taking into consideration your own photographic needs and equipment space considerations. But using the tips above should help you be able to narrow down your choice more easily.

Single Portait Light Challenge

A single portrait light must be at least three feet wide and tall in order to have the light wrap around the skin for a flattering look as well as to supply visible modeling to the features of the face. Obversely, a source of light that is too wide will erase any benefit from shadows and modeling. The soft box is an ideal source of portrait light because the direction of light rays emanate from all points on the surface of the diffuser equally. Skin lit by this light appears smooth, yet filled with detail.

In order to balance the single light with the correct amount of fill light, the walls should be painted a warm white. If there is a built in gobo or dark shade around the light, I recommend that it be removed so that the diffused light can reach the walls and ceiling with enough power. The ratio of main light to fill light can be adjusted by pulling the light back from the subject for more fill or moving it in closer for more modeling and a higher ratio. A soft ratio of two to one is beneficial for baby photography, high key portraits and flattering portraits of older people. A more normal ratio of three to one serves the average person well with good modeling and open shadows. People with handsome features often can take advantage of a four to one ration for a strongly modeled effect that makes a powerful photographic statement.

One tool that compliments the single light setup is the Hasselblad Softar I portrait filter. It’s dozen or so tiny surface lenses spread the highlights without affecting adversely the contrast. This smoothes the skin, emphasizes the highlights in the hair and gives life to the eyes. When all the factors come together, you will discover a new beauty in your portraiture.

Scanners Exposed

If you only need to grab some scans to send by email or put up on the Internet, then you can get the job done with a scanner in the $100 price range.

If you are a professional photographer, or you want to print your scans to photographic paper or use them in commercial printing processes, then you’re shopping in the $800 to $2,000 range.

Functionality and specialization are the two price-drivers for scanners. Your first step is to determine which of the three basic scanner types is best for you.

Flatbed Scanner

A flatbed scanner scans photographs, clippings, book pages, small 3-d articles, etc.

Film Scanners

Specially designed to scan negatives, slides, and transparencies.

Combination Scanners

Does the work of both a flatbed and a film scanner.

Some film scanners are highly specialized so make sure that the one you are considering supports your preferred film format.

The major quality determinator for any scanner is the optical resolution rating. Not only does the resolution dictate the quality of the scanned image’s appearance, but it determines the maximum size print that can be produced from the scan.

Optical resolution ranges from 300 Dots Per Inch (DPI) up to 4000 DPI and higher. Anything below 600 DPI is not worth considering at all and an optical resolution of 2700 or better should handle most projects that the average photographer will encounter.

Make sure that the scanner’s DPI rating is the true optical resolution rating and not the “interpolated DPI rating” which requires software to achieve. DPI is one of the features that drives up the cost of a scanner but it is a critical performance item for you so it is worth spending time on.

Color depth, a measurement of the number of colors that the scanner is able to process, is another performance measurement that’s worth understanding. In scanners color depth is measured in bits. A 24-bit scanner is OK but 30 bit is better. Pro photographers may want to consider 36 or 48-bit models.

Another performance item is the scanner’s density range rating. Density range refers to the tonal quality that a scanner is capable of capturing. The higher the range the better the image quality. A good scanner will have at least a 3.2 rating. Ratings of 3.4, 3.6 and higher are even better.

Although you also need to consider hardware compatibility and bundled software issues, the last of the most important performance items is scan time speed which is measured in pages per minute or PPM.

About Photographing Birds

You don’t need to be an experienced birder to enjoy photographing birds,but you need to know your subjects – study birds and know their biology,travel patterns,habits, and behavior.

The best way to start photographing birds is to begin in your backyard with subjects that are easily accessible.To attract birds – set up a feeding station in your backyard. Choose some location with a non-distracting background. Set up a blind close to the feeder and shoot.Or,you can shoot through an open window.

Also, you may have some of your best luck with photographing birds at bird sanctuaries.

Begin photographing from a distance, and with a wider angle lens, and photograph birds in a larger context.Wide-angle lenses and short zoom lenses are useful for some of the more creative aspects of bird photography.

For bird photography you’ll want to own the absolute best quality lenses you can afford.A 400 mm lens is usually considered the minimum acceptable focal length for serious bird photography – a quality 500mm f/4 telephoto lens is ideal.

Alternatively,use extension tubes.They move the film plane further away from the lens resulting in magnification of your subject.However,extension tubes reduce the amount of light reaching the film.

Some form of camera support is required for bird photography. A tripod is recommended since you’ll use a long focal-length telephoto lens. When photographing birds from a vehicle in a game park, a good window support is useful.And,for photographing birds in flight,the shoulder stock is very helpful.

Use the slowest film possible for the conditions you are shooting under.If the light is low, go with film in the ISO 200 and above range.On bright sunny days,you can use slower films such as ISO 50.

When photographing birds, study their reactions.If they become agitated – back off.Never put their safety into question. Avoid photographing nesting birds and also be sure not to stress a bird for the sake of a photograph.

High Dynamic Range Imaging

Think of all the situations where you as a photographer face a little dilemma. Your shot has both a very bright and a very dark portion in it. An example of this might be when your subject is backlit: the subject is dark and the backdrop bright. You cannot accommodate a correct exposure of both the subject and the background. Another example might be a landscape picture with a very bright sky. Again, you cannot render properly the fine details in the white clouds and simultaneously the shadowy details of the landscape.

A beginner might underestimate the problems posed by situations like these, because human eye adapts itself automatically (by changing the pupils diameter) to any lighting condition. So, when we look at something dark, our pupils dilate, allowing us to see it clearly; whilst when looking at something bright our pupils shrink, letting less light thorough, permitting an optimal vision, as well. This is not the case when taking a picture. The equivalent of pupils in our camera is the diaphragm. For a given photograph, we must choose a certain fixed diaphragm (aperture) setting. Therefore, when photographing in situations like these, we must choose one of the following:
– Sacrifice the brightest parts by exposing correctly only the darkest ones. This way, we loose all the details in the brightest parts, which will be completely overexposed, but retain the details in the dark parts.
– The opposite of the above, with obvious advantages and disadvantages.
– Compromise, trying to average the exposition, but this will yield a loss of details both in the brightest and in the darkest parts, even though at a lesser degree.

From a technical point of view, this problem arises because the image sensor -be it an electronic CCD or a standard film- has a finite brightness resolution. For instance, a CCD has typically a maximum of 12 bits per RGB channel. If the differences in brightness within a specific scene need more than 12 bits, the sensor cannot accommodate the entire range in brightness. This leads to the technique we want to describe: the High Dynamic Range Imaging.

The dynamic range is defined as the brightness ratio between the brightest and the darkest point in an image. For a given photograph, our sensor gives us -let’s say- a maximum of 12 bits dynamic range. What about taking more than one picture of the same subject with different settings and then combining such pictures together? In one picture, we set the correct exposure for the shadows and, in another one, we set the correct exposure for the highlights. Therefore, all the details in our scene are clearly visible in at least one of the photos, regardless of their brightness. We can combine these pictures together so that all the details are visible in a unique image.

It may sound simple, but a huge problem arises: how do we combine them? We cannot simply erase in the single pictures the over- or under-exposed parts and then overlay the two images one over the other. The result would be unrealistic and unnatural. Anyone could say there is something wrong in an image obtained in such a naive manner. The only case where this can be done is where the outline between the highlights and the lowlights is clear-cut and they lie at different distances. An example might be a close shadowy subject and a distant brilliant backdrop. The effect will be equivalent to using a fill-in flash technique.

A simple solution would be to extend the number of bits per RGB channel as much as necessary. In standard jpeg images, for instance, each RGB channel has just 8 bits. But there is nothing to prevent us from setting up another standard using, for instance, 256 bits per channel. Actually, there are different standards letting 16 bits per channel, and they are rather common. There are other standards, too, letting more than that. This is done in scientific fields such as astronomy, where quantitative precise measurements must be done.

Therefore, the conceptual and practical solution to the high dynamic range imaging could be just like that: increase the bits per channel as necessary. However, another massive problem arises: how can we watch these images? The problem here is the limitation posed by both monitors and printers, as well. Video terminals and printers have no more than -let’s say- 10 bits per channel. They can’t show us more than that. If we look at the same image coded at 8 or 16 bits on our video terminal, we won’t probably spot any difference, but it is our terminal’s fault. The same holds true if we print those images.

This is the real problem today. How can we see with a 10 bit device a picture coded with 16 bits or even more? The discipline tackling this problem is named tone mapping and many research centers around the world are working hard on it. Scaling down the number of bits per channel used in an image to the number of bits per channel allowed by our monitors or printers is a very challenging theoretical topic. The cutting edge of the research takes into account even the human vision perception, far from being linear. A few software algorithms are already present and many others are continually proposed by research centers all over the world. In the next future, we should expect breaking technologies and sophisticated advances in this field of expertise.

Nude Digital Photography

Nude photography can be done showing either half or the entire body. This can be done in various poses and locations, which has made people perceive this to be pornography. There are no rules classifying one from the other and this will all depend on the opinion of the viewer.

Anyone can shoot a nude model using a camera. In order to save time, more professionals prefer to use a digital model so that an image can be taken again if the proper lighting was not achieved.

This also allows the specialist to shoot more than a hundred shots in one session without the need to change the film that was done conventionally in the past.

Point and shoot is the only way to get the desired image. First timers who want to get into the business of photography are advised to use digital cameras because the user an adjust the settings to get the right contract and color.

This will make the individual more focused in shooting at different angles instead of worrying how it will look when it is developed.

The key to getting the right nude photograph depends on three things. The first is a good digital camera. There are different brands out there and each of these can help start the artist’s career.

The second is the model. This person should be someone who is open and comfortable being nude in front of the camera. Some people have shot the woman with clothes on first before deciding to take it all off.

The location is not that hard to find compared to the first two. This is can be done anywhere such as the beach or the park because natural light can really bring out the skin color of the model.

Nude photography may have some erotic element every time someone sees it. This just proves that sex sells and magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse among others are making a lot of money from it.

SlideShow Software

Ease of Use

The slideshow software should be easy to master. WYSIWYG interface is most important. Do remember, we’re not experts in Flash. Our purpose is to make a slideshow as easily as possible.

Features

Transition effect is something attracting users most. Therefore, a large number of transitions are necessary, which make your slideshows more attractive. And software should have existing library, which means preset photos, music, background pictures, template, clipart, etc. are included. The software should also allow users to drag and drop photos from outside source, and control the duration. It’s better if the program allows editing the photos to suit your slideshow, importing music or adding narration. Last but not least, the ability to preview before publishing.

Output Format

Basically, the slideshow can be published as SWF format. Some software provides publishing as exe, html, screensaver or online album as well.

Support

Good software manufacturers should at least provide tutorials or manual that guides a user how to create a slideshow step by step. FAQ is needed, too. That brings convenience on only to users, but also to the manufacturer. Of course, if possible, we also need phone, fax or online support.

About Low Light and Night Photography

Well, you will need a camera as well as charged batteries, that’s for sure. Also, a tripod is invaluable for exposures lasting greater than 1/30th second (1/60th in some cases). A torch, a decent lens and think about a remote shutter release – using long shutter speeds means the potential for camera shake and blurred images is even greater than usual (the alternative is to use a self timing mechanism to trip the shutter).

Night time often means scenes lit with artificial light. This will inevitably give a colour cast to your shots although this can be pleasing sometimes. There are many types of lighting (tungsten, halogen, fluorescent) and they will all come out with different colour casts – live with it! Try different white balance settings to see what effect it has on the final image.

This can be difficult. But with modern digital cameras you can see the results immediately and therefore make any adjustments straight away. Your meter may lie! Be ready to change the settings (and give a longer exposure). Night time shots can be very contrasty (bright lights and deep shadows) – the camera won’t be able to cope with the extremities of exposure so just change the settings yourself until you are happy with the results! You may need to use the “B” or “Bulb” setting to hold your shutter open for long periods.

Virtually anything! The choices are almost limitless. We suggest you consider:

  • Buildings
  • Lights
  • Signs
  • Bridges
  • Cars / vehicles
  • Lit houses / pubs / shops
  • People (motion blur can be a useful effect)
  • Street illuminations
  • Fireworks
  • Bonfires
  • Fairgrounds
  • Reflections in lakes, pools

Look around for other ideas. Don’t forget if there is any light at all, it can be turned into an image.

To calculate exposures you can use a rule of thumb – see below for rough examples of exposure times. However, each circumstance will require a different approach so you can expect to adjust things frequently!

Night (assume f16 ISO 100)

  • Town / City 20 sec
  • Signs / Lights 2 secs
  • Streets 20 secs
  • Streets 20 secs
  • Churches 30 sec
  • Fairgrounds 10 – 15 secs
  • Candlelight 60 secs
  • Fireworks 1 – 60 secs

One interesting aspect of night photography is the recording of moving trails of light. Cars, buses, trains, bikes will have bright headlights and tail lights which will record as trails across your image if you shoot them whilst they are moving with a slow shutter speed of anything from 2 – 20 seconds. Try it! The same goes for fairground rides. And don’t forget that you can create your own trails with statically lit objects by zooming in or our during a long exposure or even panning the tripod head.

By taking a shot of a scene with, say, as stop of under exposure and a stop of over exposure, you will be more likely to capture an image that is correctly exposed. Bright lights tells the camera to underexpose. Many cameras will have automatic exposure bracketing to allow this to be done with minimal fuss! You are trying to record some detail in the shadows without burning out the highlights. If you take an image of a scene at 4 second exposure, take the same scene with 8 seconds and 2 seconds. In this way you will be likely to get the exposure you are looking for.

Night photography “feels” different. Different sights, different sounds, different locations and different camera settings. Nobody is an expert – we all have to experiment. With modern digital cameras this is something that can easily be achieved.

Avoid Skin Reflections in Portraits

Reflections from the skin of subjects can cause a good deal of bother and ruin the image for the photographer and model. Most times it is caused by harsh light falling on the subject and reflecting back to the camera. It can be made worse by certain skin tones and by types of make-up.

It is easy to reduce this reflection:

  • use bounced flash – bounce the flash off of the ceiling or use a diffuser card (if your flash is equipped with a swivel head)
  • take the flash off camera and hold it to one side or higher
  • use a diffuser lens over the flash head (you can make a simple diffuser using a small piece of white cloth or you can buy one)
  • tell the subject to move the angle of their head
  • for studio lighting, used diffusers or umbrellas compatible with your flash heads position the lighting further back to decrease the power hitting the subject
  • use theatre make up or ask the subject to change to less troublesome forms of make up
  • move the model to a different location (this can help to reduce stray light reflecting from windows etc

These simple measures should be enough to ensure that stray reflected light is kept to a bare minimum or eliminated completely.

Digital Art Made Easy

There are four basic levels of photo software. Freebee programs meant only to crop, change the color balance, and fix red eye in your pictures. A middle quality program uses a macro to change shapes, improve sharpness, and offer some filters for creating a few special effects, like crude oil paintings or black and white charcoal effects. The next step up often will cost $30.00 to $50.00, but will include all the basic tools you need to create a proud-to-display masterpiece. Micrografx (now Corel) Picture Publisher presents six sizes of paint brushes, an air brush, pastel chalks and colored pencils. You can change the size of your picture, crop it any way you want, and take advantage of dozens of filters which simulate real art textures like water color on parchment paper, palette knife paintings, etc. Turn white skies into blue skies with fleecy clouds, soften some of Grandma’s wrinkles or remove a garbage can from an otherwise perfect picture. A cloning tool permits the addition of outside elements, skin retouching, background cleaning and the filling in of empty spaces. A magic cropping knife can isolate a subject, move it onto another background and let you move the objects in your picture around at will, like decoppage, creating a whole new world of graphic manipulation.

The top of the line is Adobe Photoshop and its competitors. This program is considered professional software, costing $300 to $700. The basic tools are the same, but many more levels of manipulation are offered. The dozens of filter you used with Picture Publisher have multiplied but keep in mind that dozens of filters and effects can still be utilized by both programs through plug-in filter software. A two week course is recommended in order to learn how to use the Adobe program effectively while the Picture Publisher help boxes are considered sufficient instruction for most people.

Your finished artistic creations can be saved in computer albums against the time you need a nice graphic for decorating an article or for an artistic card. They can be put on tee shires, mugs, calendars, Holiday Cards, stationary, post cards and business cards.
Wall enlargements up to 13 x 19 are easily produce with a Hewlett Packard 1220 Deskjet printer or an Epson printer. Both are available with archival inks lasting over 60 years without fading. But the most of the enjoyment comes from the creating!