Guide to Hand Coloring

“This is beautiful”, she praised, “What color lab to you use?”
I avoided her question, answering, “That’s medium oil, not natural color”. Well, if she had a magnifying glass, she would have used it.

There are several problems inherent in trying to turn a black and white photograph into color. The color added to a normal image will look too dark and will also diminish the clarity of the highlights. White and cool colors are easy to produce on a black and white image, but warm colors appear subdued. The former problem is solved by printing the image two tones lighter than normal, but retaining the full spectrum of tones. If the latter problem is a concern, partial toning is recommended. In this process, the areas that will be cool colors is masked off with a waterproof removable medium, allowing only the to-be-warm areas to tone brown (sepia). The same effect can be done digitally.

A lightly textured surface is preferred like Ektalure G or Canvas, however, any luster surfaced paper will do. If an inkjet paper is used, use a heavy weight (90 lb.) matte surfaced paper. A protective coat of matte lacquer will be needed for color oil application. Apply Marshall’s Oils Flesh 2 to the lighter areas of the face and Flesh 3 to the shadow areas. Work from the center of the area using a ball of long fiber cotton. Blend and wipe until an even coat covers the skin. Lightly rub out the highlights with a fresh ball of cotton. Do not get any oil color on the other areas. If you do, go over the line, use extender to clean off the error. Clean out the eyes with extender on a cotton tipped stick and apply the eye color. Add a small dot of cheek to the corner of the eye and a little blue to the whites. A light coating of black suffices for the pupil. Clean out the highlights.

Apply cheek color using a patting motion. Delicately blend the color without removing the under layer of flesh. Apply lip color with a pint of cotton on a stick in a heavy layer. Wipe down with fresh cotton starting from the corner of the mouth toward the center. Use a pointed fresh cotton stick with extender to clean out the highlights. A soft ended stick without extender creates the nose highlights and a cotton ball the forehead, cheeks and chin.

Next, color the hair using blends of Verona Brown, Ochre, and Flesh2. The darker the hair, the more Verona Brow, the blonder the hair, use more ochre. Clean out the highlights only about 80%.

Add color to the background, blending carefully into the hair and overlapping into the clothing areas. Clean out and rub dry the areas of clothing that received some background color. Color the clothing last. If rich color is indicated, use the intense variety of Marshall’s Oils. Work quickly to achieve an even coat, wiping out the lighter areas with fresh cotton balls.

Taking Panoramic Landscapes

Panoramas have a reputation of being hard to take. There are dedicated panorama cameras available but unless you’ve got at least a thousand dollars to spare, you probably can’t afford one! But you can take panoramas with any kind of camera.

All a panorama is, is a sequence of images where you turn slightly for each different frame. In the old days, before PCs and the likes of Photoshop were around, you’d take your prints (there wasn’t much point in shooting panoramas on slide film, for obvious reasons), lay them out on a table and position them over each other where they overlapped. A bit of sticky tape held them together. [As a side note, this technique was used by NASA to build up mosaic pictures of the planets and satellites their spaceprobes visited, up till the late ’70s/early 80s when computers were introduced to make the process less laborious].

Now that PCs and image manipulation packages are easy to come by, high-quality panoramas can now be created by anyone. If you’re shooting slide or negative film, you will need to have your images scanned before you do anything else.

DIY Panoramas

The idea behind taking panoramas with SLR cameras is that the camera is rotated around its nodal point during each successive exposure. What’s the Nodal Point? It’s the point inside your camera where the light rays converge and flip over. It’s different for different focal lengths (on zoom lenses) and for different prime lenses (fixed focal length lenses like a standard 50mm lens). It’s important to rotate about this point to eliminate image mismatches due to changes in parallax. Parallax is the apparent shift of an object against a background due to a change in observer position.

Just to be clear, the Nodal Point is not the same as the film/sensor plane. Generally, for most SLR cameras and lenses, the Nodal Point is located somewhere towards the center of the lens barrel and lies in front of the image/sensor plane.

The Problem With Parallax

Parallax is easily demonstrated by a simple experiment. Hold up your finger about 1 foot in front of your face and alternately open and close your left and right eyes. You’ll notice that your finger shifts left and right with respect to the background depending on which eye is open. Try another experiment: With your finger still raised, close one eye and turn your head from side to side. Notice how your finger moves with respect to the background. This relative movement is due to the fact that you’re not rotating your head around your eye’s nodal point, which is somewhere in the center of your eyeball. Instead, you’re rotating about your spine which is several inches to the rear and off to one side. It is this relative side-to-side motion that we try to eliminate when setting up a camera for panoramas. [If you want to read up more about parallax,¬†Wikipedia have a good explanatory article.]

Now, if you consider a camera held up to your face – it will suffer even greater parallax errors as it’s farther from your spine (the point of rotation of your head) than your eye. It’s surprisingly common for people to take panoramas in this fashion and then find the individual pictures don’t match up.

So use a tripod and rotate the camera on the tripod. The parallax errors will be significantly smaller but there will still be some error involved. However, the images will match up better than with the head rotation method.

Mechanical Contraptions

What perfectionists strive for is to have the camera rotate about the nodal point. There are brackets and contraptions available that will let you offset your camera from the tripod’s axis of rotation and with a little experimentation and trial and error, you can position your camera so that its nodal point is directly over the axis of rotation of the bracket. Getting this spot-on means your images should line up perfectly.

A few months ago I bought such a bracket – the Kaidan Kiwi. This comes in two halves which produce an L-shaped bracket. Its instruction manual explains how to set it up and find the nodal point for your camera and lens. However, you have to get your tripod perfectly level before using it, otherwise you end up with a curved panorama rather than a straight one.

I’ve had good success using this bracket, but it is large and heavy and certainly a bit too cumbersome to be carrying on long walks or while away on vacation.

AutoStitch To The Rescue

Then I recently came across a free bit of software called AutoStitch. Written by a couple of students at the University of Columbia, this takes all of the heartache out of creating panoramas. All you do is select the size of the final image and tell it what images you want it to stitch. It then goes off and produces your panorama.

It really is that simple. Unless successive images are radically different in exposure (i.e. one image to too light or dark compared to another), it seamlessly blends them. It performs all the warping of the images necessary to get them to align (other software I’ve used can cause ghosting in the overlap areas where it hasn’t quite aligned the images). It also aligns multiple rows of images rather than just a single strip.

Even better, it doesn’t require you to set up your camera to rotate about its nodal point. When I was in Crete last year, I tried shooting a few panoramas with my Canon EOS 300D held up to my eye (I didn’t have a tripod with me). When I got home, I tried stitching the pictures together using various bits of software (including software dedicated to stitching images together) and didn’t get satisfactory results. I knew, though, that it was because I’d swivelled the camera about my spine. But I tried these images with AutoStitch and they came out perfectly.¬†See for yourself here.

I went walking up the Wicklow mountains in Ireland no too long ago and up to a high point called Djouce which offers a view over the rolling hills south of Dublin. As an experiment, I shot 8 frames while rotating my head about the scene (camera to eye as per normal). I wanted to see if the Crete photos were a fluke as the panoramas from there were composed of, at most, 3 frames each (sometimes 2).

Disposable Underwater Cameras

Many people often fear the risk of damaging their regular cameras. This is where disposable underwater cameras step in. It is fun and easy to take great pictures with them. The cameras can be used to capture the action underwater, in bright as well as dim light.

There are many types of disposable cameras. The purchase of disposable cameras is always affordable. An underwater disposable camera is also called an all-weather camera, since it is ready for a rough use. It is ideal for shooting outdoors in wet and even snowy conditions. It is waterproof, besides being weatherproof, enabling people to get great shots. It can be used in the rain, on slopes, in a boat or in the ocean. People like to use them while snorkeling, skiing, fishing, boarding and surfing.

The disposable underwater cameras are designed to be durable. They provide a good grip and enable people to take pictures, even with their gloves on. There are some cameras that fit into the pocket, beach bag and purse. Most of the cameras are pre-loaded with speed films. They include a shock resistant, heavy-duty housing that floats. Many retailers provide them at cheap rates when purchased in bulk.

Photo Editing Software

Manage and Edit Pictures

Our friends at Google have a handy free software program called Picasa(TM) that makes photo management a snap. It will quickly find, organize and label every picture on your computer. Basic edit tools clean up and enhance photos. Share photos, create movies and slideshows and more with this easy to use editing program.

Another popular photo editor is Preclick. It has many of the same features as Picasa with free and $20 upgrade versions. For photo file management and basic editing tools, these two software programs deserve a close look.

The Best Image Editing Software

The standard and industry leader in editing software is Adobe PhotoShop CS. It will do just about anything you could want or imagine. But for the average user there are two problems. The first is cost. At around $600 it ain’t cheap. The second is its complexity. Quite simply, learning how to use PhotoShop isn’t easy.

Many experts feel Jasc Paint Shop Pro has nearly the same functionality as PhotoShop and is easier to use. For about $130 they throw in Corel Photo Album to manage and share photos. For those who like the Windows look and feel, Microsoft Digital Image is a close runner up for under $100.

Free Photo Editing Software

GIMP is open-source software with features similar to PhotoShop. Free and shareware software programs that feature painting as well as photo edit functions include Ultimate Paint, VicMan and Pixia.

Digital cameras information from A to Z: camera types & features, how they work, accessories, photo printers, comparisons and more – plus digital photo processing tips and info at A-Z Digital [], Your Complete A-Z Resource for Digital Cameras, Accessories and Information.

Baby Portrait Photography


Babies at this age are not active (other than being a little squirmy), so it is a good idea to focus on close ups. Don’t limit yourself to just the face, but make sure to get shots of the feet, hands, ears, etc. These make a great collage and are beautiful as stand-alone pictures, too. Also, use the baby’s mom and/or dad as a prop! A newborn resting in the arms of a parent makes for a beautiful portrait, even if the face of the parent isn’t showing.

Older babies

Once babies get more active, you have the opportunity to capture some great expressions and smiles. Usually, mom or dad knows exactly what will make the baby smile. Let them stand behind you to make that special funny face or noise. Another idea is to let mom or dad be close enough to tickle baby, then quickly move their hand out of the frame for you to take the shot. You will have to be quick and ready at all times! For this reason I never use a tripod when photographing children. I get down on the floor with them and hand-hold my camera.


Toddlers can be the trickiest of all to photograph, but also the most photogenic! Toddlers have the most angelic faces and beautiful, genuine expressions. Have some child-sized furniture on hand. Toddlers love little tables and chairs that are “just their size.” Other props such as rocking horses are good (just make sure they are safe and sturdy) because they allow the child to play while staying in one spot. Using games such as peek-a-boo or telling the child to blow a feather off of your head are good ways to get smiles (just be ready to quickly press the shutter!). If possible, get the toddler outside and capture some natural shots of them at play. After all, that’s what they do best!

Make sure to be patient and allow enough time when photographing babies and toddlers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • The room should be comfortably on the warm side, especially if you are doing any shots of the baby without clothes or just a diaper.
  • Allow for frequent breaks for the baby to rest, eat, or just play
  • Clothing changes are okay, but limit them to just 2 or 3… most babies get fussy if their clothes are changed
  • Don’t force it. If the baby is crying, just let mom or dad cuddle them and take a break from shooting
  • Leave the baby on the floor. Tables are dangerous…don’t take any chances on the baby falling. If the floor is too hard, place some padding underneath your background (such as a carpet pad or soft blanket)
  • An infant car seat makes a great place for baby to sit/lay for their portrait. Purchase some nice fabric (I like the silky, gauzy or tulle type fabric for a dreamy effect – a fuzzy blanket is good, too) to cover the car seat so that it won’t show
  • Keep toys on hand for babies of all ages. Things that light up and make noise are best (and don’t forget the power of bubbles!)
  • Don’t pick up any baby or child without the consent of the parents!!! It is better to instruct the parents on how you want the baby placed and let them do it
  • Always get a model release. You never know when you’ll want to use one of the images in your advertising!
  • Don’t be afraid to engage the baby by playing and being silly!

Pinhole Photography

At its simplest, a pinhole camera is just a light tight cardboard box with a piece of aluminium pie dish containing a pinhole to expose the film or photographic paper.

Of course you need to design a shutter, (your thumb will do), some way to hold the film in place and a system to seal up the opening where you put the film in the pinhole camera.

There is no viewfinder; you just point the pinhole camera in the right direction. You can draw some lines on top of the camera to indicate the field of view.

Exposure times for pinhole photography are usually measured in minutes.

Work out your exposure by the hit and miss method, also known as exposure determination by experimentation. This is where you say “Ooooh. I reckon about two minutes.” Then if it turns out ok, well and good. But if it’s not right, you either double it or halve it for the next exposure, depending on your assessment. Nothing wrong with that method for pinhole photography.

Let’s say you’re using 4″x5″ photographic paper. The diagonal of your paper is about 160mm. If you make the distance from the pinhole to the paper about 50mm to 80mm this will be ok. Length of about half the diagonal of the film. You could make the length 20mm to 50mm giving quite a wide angle. There’s nothing to stop you building your pinhole camera around a four foot length of drainpipe giving you a 1200mm telephoto pinhole camera, except that the exposure time might be in the order of several hours or all day.

My best pinhole cameras have used 8″x10″ film and have a length of 50mm to 70mm. Everything is in focus from 250mm to infinity. Angle of view is around 135 degrees.The light runs off at the edges of the image.

Note: 100mm = about 4″

There is much more technical stuff that can be studied but that’s all you really need to know to get started. So empty the breakfast cerial packet and build a pinhole camera.

You can use pretty much anything light tight to make a pinhole camera: biscuit tin, breakfast cerial packet, 20 litre oil drum, golden syrup tin, jam tin, match box, black ice cream container etc. etc. Would you believe you can even use your mouth?

Yes, in the darkroom put a short piece of 35mm film in your mouth and close it. Go outside and press the aluminium with the pinhole firmly against your lips, then open your lips for about 10 seconds keeping your head still. Reverse the procedure. You can work out the rest for yourself.

Consider whether it will be better/easier to use the end or side of your tin/box.

If you use a jam tin you can use alfoil and a rubber band for a lid.

Use black paint inside a shiny tin if you have some handy.

Invent a shutter. Black plastic and masking tape will do.

If you decide on a jam tin or golden syrup tin with the pinhole in the side, consider using a baffle that springs tight against the sides of the tin to fasten your film too. A piece of plastic milk bottle will do.

Handy items to have around are: breakfast cerial packet, masking tape, blue tack, plastic milk bottles, rubber bands, alfoil, scissors, knife, glue.

Your pinhole camera will give a negative image on your photographic paper. In this modern, computer age it will be possible to scan, change to a positive and computer print.

An SLR camera can be used for a pinhole camera simply by removing the lens and attaching a pinhole with black sticky tape.

If you are making a pinhole, look for the smallest needle in the set.

It’s important to have a smooth, burr free pinhole for the sharpest possible image. Ideally, push the tapered section of the needle through in several stages, gently removing the burr with fine wet and dry paper between actions. Rest the foil on cardboard as you push the needle through so you don’t stretch the foil.

Retake Photo

You could retake the photo. Find the same location and similar subject and add something more to it – the particulars of what you add is up to your own inspirational abilities, of course. But, you might want to add a variation on the viewpoint. Or perhaps, compose the subject a bit differently. Or even use warm up filters, different lenses or different lighting.

You could change the background to reduce clutter or unsightly objects. Or maybe add something that wasn’t there previously – like another person or part of the landscape. The choices are endless.

Having taken the first photo, it can sometimes give you inspiration. When you look at your final image, you may feel disappointed that it didn’t turn out as you had intended. Returning to retake the image can pay dividends. And it’s a great learning experience as well. There is hardly nothing more satisfying in photography than producing the perfect image.

And this is where keeping all those poor images can reap rewards. If you don’t trash anything then you can return to the subject at a later date for an even better image.

So, if you are a bit disappointed with some of your images – don’t despair. Plan to retake.

Enhancing Photos in Photoshop

Photoshop is the same photo editing software program being used by professionals in the entertainment industry to make movie stars look younger, slimmer and better. They have been doing it for years and now you can achieve the same results with a little training and practice using Photoshop for some of these same photo enhancements.

You can learn to make amazing enhancements to any photograph using the tools and functions available in Photoshop. The following are just a few of the improvements you can make to people pictures.

  • Whiten stained teeth
  • Remove unsightly scars
  • Smooth age wrinkles
  • Clear up acne
  • Remove blemishes
  • Double chin removal
  • Fill in bald spots by adding hair
  • Open closed eyes
  • Remove tattoos
  • Hide body piercings
  • Change eye color

With Photoshop you can easily make yourself or anyone look better. You can even change the colors of the clothing people are wearing. You will be amazed by the results you can achieve with Photoshop. You will not only be able to improve the appearance of people but you will be able to completely remove people from the photograph, add people from other photos or change the background.

Master these Photoshop techniques and you will be in demand for photo editing and graphic design projects. People with these types of skills are in needed for photo retouching, web design work, logo design, advertising, and more. Not only can you have fun touching up your own photos but you could start a business doing photo enhancements.

Creating Portraits

A somber, serious mood is enhanced by dark background tones, contemplative expressions, loose low-toned clothing, and deep, but open shadows. A happy, carefree atmosphere is set more convincingly with light, airy background tones, piquant expressions, pastel casual clothing and soft, ubiquitous lighting.

Props should be kept to a minimum. Allowable is anything which will support the mood and which will not detract from the main subject. A high key portrait can be enhanced with a white wicker chair, a loose white flower arrangement out of focus in the background or a high-keyed landscape judiciously placed off center, blending with the other background tones. A large, dark sculptured bowl of red apples, a black poodle, or a dark-toned piece of furniture in the background would contrast too sharply with the generally light toned subject and background. Attention diverted to these items due to their strong intrusion in the composition is lost to the main subject and detracts from the ambiance.

Attention should be paid to the lines created by the subject and other components in the composition. Lines leading strongly out of the picture should be avoided. Rather use curves to bring the eye back to the main subject. Moveable items in the composition can be place to complete gap in a leading line so as to facilitate the eye in its movement around the work. Invisible paths of light can be created with the use of similar colors, a repeated pattern or item, or the play of light and shadow along an edge. Where possible choose components with care, preferring meaningful items which play a part in the life of the subject, rather than an object chosen solely for its shape and color. For instance, if the subject is a potter, choose an attractive urn instead of, say, an antique doll which has no place in the subject’s interests.

The light that falls on the subject can be used to support the mood. Natural window light suggests an old master genre and the sharp golden rays of a small source of light created the highlights necessary for a mood with a positive spin. Any available light can create a beautiful portrait if the direction and ration of light to dark is controlled. Reflectors add light to a dark, shadowed area, scrims or shades can tone down a too-strong source. The direction or the main source of light should enhance the features by sending light into the eyes, outlining the jaw and cheek, and finding the proper areas to highlight. Additional highlights are supplied with back or side-back rays of light, as long as their effect does not invent unwanted facial highlights or block up needed detail. Pure rim lighting is fairly safe if used with care.

Digital Camera Basics contains an article by Gurevich, Karim, and Wilson that greatly simplifies an explanation of how digital cameras work. Very simply, they explain that CDs, mp3’s, and DVDs all share the same technology: they convert traditional analog “wave” data into digital data based upon “bits.” In so doing, this radical shift in technology has changed greatly – and forever – how we do things and what has become possible including digital “filmless” cameras. While film cameras depend upon chemical and mechanical processes, digital cameras contain a computer that records images electronically.

In 1994, Kodak and Apple developed and sold the first digital cameras. Today there are hundreds of models to choose from, depending upon the type of pictures you need, the complexity with which you’re comfortable, and what digital camera you can afford. For everyday use, most people prefer a “point and shoot” camera that isn’t complex, takes good quality pictures that can be loaded onto computers or printed for personal use and to send to friends, and is affordable. According to a number of consumer guides and customer reviews, the top ten digital cameras in the low, mid, and high price ranges are:

  • Nikon D300 (high)
  • Canon EOS 5D (high)
  • Canon EOS 40D (high)
  • HP Photosmart M547 (low, great value)
  • FujiFilm Finepix S700 (mid)
  • GE A730 (mid)
  • Nikon D200 (high)
  • Canon EOS Digital Rebel Xsi (high)
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 (mid)
  • Canon EOS 30D (high)

The point should be made that what constitutes a “great” digital camera is usually in the eye of the beholder. One person’s “top ten” list is almost certain to differ from another person’s. For example, a digital camera that is making devoted converts is the Casio Exilim series that sells in the mid-level price range, depending upon your digital camera photography needs. On the other end, Digital rates the Pentax Optio E-10 as “the worst digital camera ever.”

With all these differing opinions, what’s the best way to buy the digital camera that’s right for you? If you simply want to take personal pictures, choose a digital camera that has at least three megapixels. This will give you good quality pictures at a very affordable price. Remember that the higher the number of megapixels, the better quality your pictures will be, but the digital camera you choose will be more complex and more expensive. Also consider the size and shape of the camera; is it easy for you to carry in your purse or pocket? Finally, be sure your digital camera has at least 256-512 megabites of space on its memory card so you won’t have to buy additional memory cards. Taking all these factors into consideration will help you enjoy capturing treasured memories for years to come.