Red Light Camera Solution

The cost of traffic tickets and the rate of being ticketed are both rising. A big reasons for the increase in the number of traffic tickets being issued is the proliferation of red light cameras. These red light cameras are there to take pictures of the license plates of vehicles that pass through an intersection after the light has turned red. Somewhere between two weeks and two months later a ticket is mail to the offender, often with his or her picture attached. The tickets can range anywhere from $30 to over $300. The private companies that supply and operate these red light cameras share the revenues with the municipalities where the cameras are located.

We’re told that these cameras are placed at intersections for our own good, and not for the financial windfall. The fact is there has been over 1 billion dollars in traffic fines issued to date because of these red light cameras. There are even people who swear that some of the traffic lights are calibrated to increase the number of red light tickets.

There are three huge flaws in this photographic ticketing system.

First, there is the obvious one of a camera malfunctioning and photographing a vehicle when the light has not yet turned red. How do you successfully argue such a case?

Secondly, what if there was a legitimate reason for being in an intersection when the light turned red. Maybe there was a pedestrian straggling through the crosswalk. Or maybe late, oncoming traffic prevented an intersection committed driver from making a left turn before the light turned red. Perhaps there was some obstruction in the road that caused a driver to have to slow down, and thus get caught in the intersection when the light turned red. These type of mitigating circumstances could be explained to and verified by a police officer who could then decide not to issue a ticket. But how do you explain anything to a camera?

Thirdly, there’s the problem of the time lag between the traffic infraction and the actual receiving of the ticket. It can be as short as two weeks or as long as two months. How is someone to fight a ticket for an infraction that he can’t remember, or didn’t even know he committed?

The case against the use of red light traffic cameras has gone to court and in some municipalities there have been moratoriums placed on their use. But, despite these little victories, there use continues to spread.

While the law wrestles with the legality of the red light cameras, the people have decided to fight back. The resistance is two-pronged: legal and creative.

Exposure Compensation

Looking at different digital cameras, even temperately costing digital cameras have arrangements for exposure compensation settings. To explain in a bit detail, the exposure compensation allows the users to control the amount of light entering the lens. And thereby the illumination of the photograph is decided. Exposure compensation can be altered manually or by the help of a digital camera’s exposure compensation setting that lets one override the metered exposure set inside the digital camera itself. Strictly speaking, the exposure values provide an expedient line of attack to put a figure on the available light intensity and therefore exposure.

As per general norms of the users of digital cameras, certain standards exist for selecting such values. These values are specifically known as Exposure Values (EV). Selecting an up to standard Exposure Values (EV) helps maintain the details contained in dark areas of a photo, or diminish the more than usually bright areas. Again, looking from technical point of view, the Exposure Values are numbers that refer to an assortment of combinations of apertures of lenses and shutter speed respectively. They have a selective range of values, ranging between -2 to +2 Exposure Values (EV). As a general rule positive exposure settings are used for cases where bulky areas of a scene are especially bright such as taking pictures of a snow scene and also during times of photographing when the background is a good deal brighter than the focal area under consideration. Also, negative exposure settings are used for cases where bulky areas of a scene are especially dark and also during times of photographing when the background is a good deal darker than the fore area under consideration.

One point that is worth noting is that light meters cannot see color. They deliver every scene as 18% middle gray and become accustomed to the exposure accordingly. And most digital cameras will allows a photographer to compensate the exposure by 1 to 2 EV plus or minus in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments. A very important realization for any photographer is that the right exposure is only “correct” in the eye of the photographer; Exposure Value compensation can also be used as a creative tool.

Digital Submissions

  • If you can get any Internet connection faster than dialup, get it! You’ll save much time and frustration.
  • Calibrate your monitor — that is, adjust your screen as close to a set standard as possible, so that your photobuyers view your images in the same way you do. Shareware programs are available, or you can buy off-the-shelf software such as the Spyder line by ColorVision (see the PhotoStockNotes article.
  • Learn to take advantage of all the basic Photoshop features. (While there are other imaging software programs, Photoshop is the industry standard. It even comes in a “lite” version, known as Elements).
  • For a great resource for learning Photoshop, I highly recommend joining NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals – you don’t have to be one in order to join!). For $99/year, you get their bi-monthly magazine Photoshop User, discounts on books, workshops and seminars, and access to online video tutorials to guide you step-by-step through virtually all the things you’ll need to know how to do in Photoshop, as well as the best ways to accomplish them. http://www.photoshopuser.com.
  • Examine your images at 100% to find and eliminate dust and scratches. Adjust levels or curves (the darkness and lightness of your image). Color-correct your images. If an image is a preview (usually sent as 4×6″ or 5×7-1/2″), SHARPEN the image. If it’s the hi-res version a buyer has requested for publication, keep the above corrections MINIMAL, and DON’T SHARPEN the image at all!

In the editorial field, such as magazine and textbook publishers, most of your pictures will be used at the quarter-page size. This is an advantage to entry-level photographers still learning Photoshop.

Once an image is accepted, it gets passed on to a “designer,” who has the job of making any technical improvements to your digital submission. However, if you consistently submit images whose technical quality is not high, your name will soon drop to the bottom of the photobuyer’s/designer’s list. They are not overjoyed when they have to put extra time into your digital images.

It’s no small task to learn this medium of digital photography. Reading the instructions for a scanner, or especially for your new digital camera, can mean wrestling with an English translation of Japanese “engineer-speak”! It ain’t easy. I recommend three courses of action:

  • Attend a local workshop on the product you’re interested in, presented by the manufacturer’s own reps. Large local camera shops often host these for a nominal entry fee (about $10).
  • Buy or rent a video produced either by Nikon School or Blue Crane. They are available at retailers such as http://www.bhphotovideo.com. It will cover all the basic controls and features in an hour. A great advantage is that you can watch with your digital camera in your hands, pausing and repeating sections as often as you need. There’s even one for Nikon scanners!
  • Buy a “Magic Lantern Guide “ for your particular digital camera or flash. They are written in English, by photographers, produced by Lark Books and available at Amazon.com.
    A final reminder, which bears repeating: Make previews you’re sending to photobuyers look as perfect as you can, but when asked for a hi-res “final” image, keep necessary corrections minimal, and don’t sharpen it.

Camera Bags

If you are in the market for a new camera bag, you should know that there are a lot of different options to choose from. When shopping you may have a hard time deciding which bag is just right for you. Many photographers find that they actually need two different bags: one bag for when they will be out and about and need many lenses and a smaller bag when they will just be shooting for fun and won’t need to carry as many lenses with them.

When you are shopping you need to consider how easily you can access your camera at any one time. If you are on the go and you need to be able to grab your camera with ease, you should look into a shoulder bag. A shoulder bag will give you the fast access that you need. If you don’t need to access the camera quickly and you don’t want to deal with a bag that swings to and fro when you walk, you may want to consider a backpack.

A backpack is a great option because it is on your back, will protect and transport, but will not get in the way of you walking and will not swing around. Many people feel that this is simply a much more comfortable way to carry their camera and other items because it is accessible but very stable.

If you know which style of bag appeals to you the most, you also need to consider how much storage space the bag has. If you will be carrying many lenses with you, you need to consider if the bag will be able to house your lenses, as well. Another important consideration should be if the bag can house extra memory, batteries, flashes and the like. A bag is only as good as its ability to hold all of the items that you need to be the best photographer that you can possibly be.

If the bag cannot house all of your lenses, you may want to look into lens bags. These are bags that are meant just to transport and store your lenses. Lenses are very costly, so you shouldn’t force them to fit into a camera bag if they cannot fit the way they should. It would be better to simply purchase another bag meant specifically for your lenses.

Great Landscape Shots

Capturing the moment

Photography is about freezing a moment in time. You must make the most of the time that you have whilst you are out taking photos. If the weather is not right, use the time to explore the area, assess good viewpoints and work out what time of day will work best for the shot. Using a compass is invaluable in determining where the sun sets or rises, but remember that this changes with the seasons. Preparation and planning will help you to capture a successful photograph.

Composition

Keeping it simple and not cluttering the shot with too many elements is a good rule. By removing distractions from your photographs will help bring more prominence to your subject. It is also important to include some form of foreground interest, which may be your subject or it could be used to draw the eye towards the subject.

There is also a rule that will aid you in creating good composition, which is called the Rule Of Thirds. In photography, using this The Rule of Thirds keeps the main subject off centre, away from the middle of the frame. As a result, a photo looks more dynamic and interesting. Imagine your image divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. Placing your subject where any of the lines intersect will help in producing a well-balanced image. But sometimes rules are there to be broken as well!

Focal Point

Without focal point the eye can sometimes wander around the frame unsure of where to look. The focal point is what drew your attention to the shot. It could be a tree, hill, building or boat but should hold the whole composition together. By giving your photograph a point of interest it will also help create a sense of scale.

Time of Day

The quality of light changes considerably during the day. At sunrise there are weak shadows and pastel colours. Atmospheric haze and pollution are also at their lowest.

After shooting sunrise the light becomes harsher and more contrasting. Colours are fully saturated and can be enhanced further by using a polarizing filter. Shooting with the sun behind you or to one side will usually work best for maximum colour.

By late afternoon or sunset the sunlight will create much warmer colours and subjects will benefit from strong side lighting.
Shooting into the sun as it moves towards the horizon can also create stunning silhouettes. Making a silhouette with a sunset couldn’t be easier. Your foreground subject will usually automatically come out black in these conditions because the camera’s meter will underexpose when you are shooting towards a bright light source. Silhouettes can produce very strong eye catching images that will look great when blown up big and hanging on your wall.

Taking Great Pictures

  • Get a little closer, do not be shy. One of the biggest mistakes most beginning photographers make is shooting from so far away. They leave too much distance between themselves and their subjects. Instead, get up close and personal. Fill up as much of the camera frame, with your subject, as you can. You can always reshape, trim, and resize a good quality shot. But you cannot continue to blow up a distant subject and hope that it will come into focus. It just won’t happen.
  • Focus your shot on only one subject. Determine what the main subject of the photo will be, and catch that image. Try and find the one key subject, person, or event that accurately portrays the feeling you are trying to capture.
  • In addition to getting one subject, in your photos, you will want to make the background of the photo as simple as possible. Busy, distracting backgrounds pull the attention away from the central theme of your photo. The subject of your photo is absolutely the most important element, and anything that detracts from the subject can ruin your shot.
  • Subject placement. Most people place the subject at the exact center of the frame. There is nothing wrong with this. However this often leads to a bland and uninteresting picture. You may use a method called the rule of thirds. Imagine having a camera lens split into 9 equal sized boxes, 3 across and 3 down (like having a tic tac toe game printed right on your camera lens). Where those “tic tac toe” lines cross, should become the focusing point of your subject, when you are arranging to take your photo.

Based on this tip, every time you compose a shot, the main subject of your photo should be located primarily on one of these “third” lines.

Creating Great Panoramas

  • Graphics editing software that lets you stitch photos together to create a panoramic photo will save you time and can create great results. You can use Adobe Photoshop Elements Photomerge tool to create a panorama.
  • Mark the point where the sequence of photos begins and ends. This is helpful to do especially if your camera does not have a mode for taking digital photos for panoramic images.
  • Use the wide-angle setting of your lens. Remember to use the same focal setting for each shot, as changing the setting by zooming in can ruin the effect, and try and shoot from the same position.
  • Use the same exposure for each shot. If you use the manual mode on your digital camera you can set the aperture and shutter speed ensuring it will maintain consistency between shots. Some cameras also have a panorama mode, which will lock these settings for you.
  • Focus your digital camera on the edge of the scene that you want to include in your panorama. This is the photo that will be the first photo that is used in your panorama.
  • Taking shots for panoramas becomes much easier if you use a tripod with a spirit level. The tripod keeps the shots straight and allows you to make more precise alignments rather than handholding the camera. Use a spirit level to help keep the camera angle consistent as you rotate it on the tripod.
  • Take between four and eight shots of your subject. Make sure each picture overlaps the next by 20% or more. This will allow the software to produce a soft transition between shots and it makes it easier for you to align the images. This technique will work well with cityscapes or landscapes.

Focusing Digital Camera on Moving Objects

  • manually or automatically to infinite. As long as the moving objects stay within the infinite focus range the photo will be sharp and clear. Although this is applicable in some scenarios it is not useful in many others such as shooting sport events or air shows.
  • Manually correcting the focus: Using this method the digital camera is put into manual focus mode. Focus corrections are done manually by moving a focus ring n the lens or pressing focus in and out buttons. When the objects move and change their distance from the camera the photographer manually corrects the focus as needed. This is good in some scenarios where the objects are moving relatively slow and their movement is predictable. Manually correcting the focus for objects that move very fast or move unpredictably is not practical.
  • Single focus mode: When using this method the digital camera is put into single focus mode. The camera will automatically focus on the object when the shutter button is pressed. This method can be combined with the manual focus method. The photographer manually focuses on the object and the camera is executing the final focus fixes when the shutter is pressed and the photo is taken. This method is limited to either slow moving objects or high end fast focusing cameras. Focusing is a mechanical process and takes time. If the camera takes too long to focus by the time it is focused on a fast moving object the object will move and the photo will not be in focus anymore.
  • Continuous auto focus: In this method the camera is put into continuous focus mode. Once the shutter button is pressed and as long as it is held half way down the camera continuously focuses on the objects in the photo. In this method the camera continuously corrects the focus as the objects distance from the camera changes. This method is very useful. Even if the object is moving fast the camera can track its movement and continuously correct the focus. By holding the shutter button half way down and continuously moving the camera to follow the moving object the camera will continuously keep the object in focus. When you are ready to shoot the photo simply press the shutter button all the way down. One drawback of this method is high power consumption as the camera continuously corrects the focus it uses the power hungry motors in the lens in order to move the optical components.

Taking good photos of moving objects is not easy. It requires practice and experience. In addition to making sure that the objects are in focus you have to continuously consider the composition, the changing lighting conditions, shutter speed to freeze or capture movement, the changing zoon and more. Go and practice shooting a lot of moving objects photos. By shooting a lot of photos in different situations you will grow the instincts that will make all these processes and considerations an unconscious automatic process.

Restoring Old Photographs

As time passes and our photographs age, oxidize, and scratch, we have the ability to personally reformat all of our old, priceless family keepsake photographs. After restoring your images in Photoshop CS and reprinting them, it is best to store them in acid-free albums. Since the deterioration process is ongoing, the photographs will continue to deteriorate beyond repair. Without intervention, the photographs will fade away right along with the memories of our beloved ancestors.

I not only have some of my ancestor’s wedding photographs, I have some of their cameras too! Call me sentimental, but I think some of these old-dated items create great home accents and can complement a warm family atmosphere. Restored family photographs are fun to work with too. Depending on the paper used to print them, old family photographs can be decoupaged to a chest or keepsake box or wall papered onto end tables or table tops.

Framing Fine Art Photographs

When framing your artwork, decide if you want a contemporary or traditional moulding. With fine art photography, you can never go wrong with a classic black frame, especially high quality gallery frames made from solid wood.

There are many other beautiful frames to choose from, so it’s worth bringing the image into a frame shop and playing around with the moulding corner samples. Maple and oak frames in black, natural or white and high-end aluminum frames are worth looking into for photographs. Even ornate gold leaf and silver leaf period frames that tend to be used with other kinds of art can work beautifully with photographs. Just make sure the frame and the photograph complement each other.

When looking at frames and mouldings, experiment with different frame widths and depths. Small photographs look great with big thick frames while large photographs can often look better with thinner, simpler frames.

And always remember to pay just as much attention to picking the proper mat. Matting and framing work together.

In addition to frame shops, flea markets and auction houses are great sources for one-of-a-kind frames. You can match subject with frame – a photograph of a country barn, for example, might look beautiful in a rustic, old peeling frame. Again, just be careful that the frame doesn’t overpower the image and that they work together as a unit.