Custom vs Stock Photos

A question to ask early on in a project is, “Who has the rights?” Copyright law protects images as property of the photographer, with specific rights as defined by contract. These usually relate to time frame, types of use, and use in photographer’s promotional materials.

“For example, if you’re shooting an ad campaign, you may want to purchase rights for a year. If you extend the campaign, however, you need to renegotiate your purchase agreement with the photographer,” notes Kim Cobb, team leader at The AVS Group. “Any models, professional or not, used in pictures, should also sign releases, and you should be aware of any time or usage restriction that may be included in the release.”

“At AVS, you have rights to use images we shoot for you for as long as you want, in any type of media. There is no additional charge for these rights,” says Cobb. On the other hand, rights for stock images vary depending on the purchase agreement. Usually stock image firms allow the user free use of an image to present a concept or rough. If the user wants to use the image in a project, though, the image must be purchased.

Purchased images generally come in two types: traditional and royalty-free. The traditional license purchase is based on a full gamut of contract specifics and should be carefully reviewed. The second type, royalty free, typically allows the buyer to use the image with very few restrictions. Usually they are purchased for a one-time flat fee and altered to create new, unique works by the graphic designer.

“We’re often asked to provide the stock images that have been used in the creative execution of client’s project, but that is usually expressly prohibited in the license,” says Cobb.

As a rule, licenses state that the images may not be sublicensed, resold, or otherwise redistributed. Nor can they be detached from a product or Web page. Clients can receive the digital media as part of the product, but not separately.

Yes. Having a disk of useable imagery at your fingertips is convenient, plus you can always add more.

“You might want to consider having commonly used images of your products or services compiled on a CD in formats you can use,” notes Cobb.

Some variables to consider would include how you plan to use the images (PowerPoint® presentations, Web use, printing, etc.) and color format (CMYK for print and RGB for electronic delivery).

It is important to understand that the information in this article is intended to highlight general issues and is not legal advice or a solution to individual problems. If you do have further questions or problems, seek competent legal counsel before relying on this or any information. It is your responsibility to ensure that you comply with all laws regarding your use of an image. The penalties can be severe.

Online Photo Development

Even for a computer novice, online photo development is simple. First, find a website that does online printing and access their uploading page. First-time users of a website will probably have to download some software, which is a fairly quick process. After downloading the software, the uploading of the pictures can begin. Simply navigate the desired digital pictures into the upload box and send them. When the upload is complete, proceed to the ordering page, which allows a user to select options like the size and amount of pictures that will be ordered. Enter billing and shipping information and you’re ready to receive some pictures! While some websites differ slightly in their approach to online photo printing, this is the basic process.

The process for online photo printing isn’t the only thing that companies differ in as shipping rates and photo development prices often vary. One online photo printing company may charge 12¢ per print while another may charge 29¢. Some places might bill a customer 99¢ to ship 10 photos and another will bill them a flat rate of $2.99 no matter how many pictures are shipped. There are many factors that may play into these discrepancies such as quality of pictures produced, what type of paper is used, what the main focus of the website is, membership offers, and the location of the company. However, despite the variations between sites, getting digital photos printed online still remains a very affordable option for those wanting to keep the images on their computer in some way or just turn them into picture form.

Lens Madness

On the other side of the coin, my father has a lens for his film SLR that he bought over 30 years ago. It is ragged, chipped and squeaks a bit. But he won’t part with it. It was cheap(ish) but it lacks some of the functionality of my friend’s DSLR lens.

My friend’s lens is huge. I can see him coming in the distance simply because he had a large photo-rucksack on his back to hold all his equipment. It is a splendid piece of glass but requires a tripod or monopod for all but the brightest of conditions.

The lens is also white. It stands out and says to everyone “I am a lens to look at”. My friend loves it and gives him added impetus to get out there and take pictures.

My father, however, gets the same results – and has been doing for 30 years – with his rag-bag of assorted accessories, some of which are nearing the end of their useful life. His lens, although tatty, produces excellent results and gets HIM out in the field taking shots, just like my friend’s does for him.

My father’s lens doesn’t choose the subject for him, compose the scene and tells him at which point to release the shutter…

…. nor does my friends.

And therein lies the reason why my father is a successful champion of many camera club competitions where my friend has yet to win one

Beauty of Nature Photography

Nature photography is the photography of these things. There is a wide spectrum that is included in nature photography. Pictures of sunsets, sunrises and ocean waves lapping at the shore are all nature photography. So are the trees in the forest and beautiful flowers growing in an open field.

But nature photography can go even deeper than that, showing us parts of the world that we may not be able to see otherwise. If you live in the south, you may not see snow-capped mountains if it wasn’t for nature photography. You may not be able to see a deep canyon, a volcano, or a beautiful beach if it were not for photographs of these places.

The photographers that bring us pictures of these places give us an image of something we may never see. It’s truly an amazing gift to give.

But what if you are one of the people taking these pictures? What if you are the nature loving photographer that gives this fantastic gift to someone else? You are giving a gift to other people. But you are also doing something you love. Nature photography can only be achieved by someone who has a love for nature and sees its beauty and can capture it in a photograph so others can view it and have a touch of the same experience.

So how do you take great nature photography? The first step is to have an eye for these beautiful images. The second step is to have a camera. That’s really all it takes. But as you grow as a photographer, you will learn how to take the best pictures and capture the image in a way that others can view it as the amazing sight that you saw. You will learn about lighting and backgrounds and focus and you will take better pictures.

Nature photography is a rewarding experience for the photographer and also for the people who get to view the results. You have taken a piece of nature that may otherwise go unnoticed such as a rainbow, and you capture it permanently in an image that you can look at any time you choose. This is a pleasing and rewarding part of photography. In nature photography, you are able to take two things that you love and combine them in a beautiful and artistic way.

Color in CCD

First of all, why can’t a CCD detect colors? What happens inside a CDD is rather simple: when a photon hits the CCD’s substrate, it “generates” electrons. More precisely, the photon transmits its energy to an electron in the valence band, making it pass to the conduction band. At least, this happens if the photon has sufficient energy. So, there is a threshold of energy above which each incoming photon can generate electrons. Energy is strictly correlated to the wavelength and so to the “color” of the photon. So electrons are generated regardless of the color of the incident light. For this reason, CCD is said to be “panchromatic”, although it is usually improperly referred to as “monochromatic”.

So, how come we obtain colored pictures from an inherently panchromatic sensor? The trick consists of covering the photosensitive area with a color filter array (CFA), so that each pixel is covered with a colored glass according to a certain pattern. The most used pattern is the “Bayer CFA pattern”, which consists of a 2×2 matrix repeated both horizontally and vertically:



where R=red, G=green, B=blue. The repeated pattern yields:





We are getting to the gist. As an example let us consider a pixel covered with a blue filter. It has only the information of the intensity of the blue light hitting it. However, it is surrounded by 4 green pixels and 4 red pixels. Hence, although the blue pixel under consideration has no information about neither green nor red light hitting it, it can be guessed by interpolation, exploiting the neighboring pixels.

This is done off-chip: the sensor just outputs the sequence GRGR… and BGBG… alternately. This output is known as “sequential RGB” (sRGB).

Note that by covering all the pixels with a color filter array (CFA), letting just a fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum pass through, we reduce the light received by each pixel by about 1/3. That’s why in low-light applications (e.g. astronomy) panchromatic sensors are used, resulting in black and white images.

The off-chip interpolation is not trivial at all for many reasons.

First of all, it is inherently inaccurate, because it can only be a (sound) guess. And it is even more so where edges or fine details are present, that is where color in the original image changes abruptly compared to the filter pattern. Moreover, interpolation cannot be a simple linear average. Indeed, each of the colored pixels is affected by glass transmission (different for different colors) and by the quantum efficiency (again, different for different colors). Besides, humans’ eyes do not see colors as a sensor does. So a further correction is needed.

Zeroing in on Flash

The proper position of the flash is directly over the lens. This will ensure that any shadows from the flash will occur behind the head and body and not to one side. Of course, when shooting square format like Hasselblad, the flash can be fixed in that one position. For shooting with a rectangular format like Bronica ETR or Canon DSLR, the flash must be mounted on a swinging bar so that the flash can be positioned over the lens in either a horizontal or vertical shot.

I have determined through many tests that the ideal distance of the flash head above the lens is twelve inches. There are many advantages to using this distance. First, the unavoidable reflections on the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin are conducive to making the subject look good. The forehead reflection is positioned higher on the forehead, almost into the hair line and much diminished in strength. This leaves the flat portion of the forehead reflection free and retaining the natural color of the skin.

The shape of the nose is determined by the fall off of light along the sides and the position of the reflection on the bridge of the nose. When the flash is positioned closer to the lens, the bridge or indentation receives no highlight but rather the bony lower part of the nose is emphasized. The tip of the nose also benefits from the twelve inch distance of the flash head by appearing smaller and less intense.

Cheek reflections are considered acceptable when they are centered on the upper portion of the cheek. With a lower positioned flash head, the reflection highlight the unattractive line of muscle from the cheek to the nose. The twelve inch flash position also enhances the cheek bones. Chin reflections lower down on the point of the chin are unattractive and make the chin look wet. Alternatively, the twelve inch flash position just places a small crescent shaped highlight under the lip. An added benefit also occurs in the form of a more defined chin line and the placement of some double chins in shadow.

Those terrible eye glass reflections are greatly minimized with the twelve inch flash. The flash highlight now appears near the top of the eye glass, completely avoiding the area of the iris and pupil. The eyes are the most important feature of the face and ugly flash reflections can wipe out the eyes completely. An added benefit is a slight darkening at the bottom of the picture, enhancing the composition with a natural fade out.

Remember that since most natural light comes from a position over the horizon the most natural flash lighting will do the same for the face. Don’t let convenience prevent you from capturing your flash subjects in the most attractive light.

Outdoor Group Portraits

I want you to picture yourself and your family outside on a nice afternoon. It’s Thanksgiving, a great day for a family portrait. Unless it is a cloudy day, some nice shade will produce a flattering lighting ratio for your portrait. This means that the brightest part of the picture and the darkest part are not too far apart in value for the film or hard drive card to capture. Then choose a uniform background for you portrait. A stand of dark evergreens, a barn wall, a distant lawn, or a high hedge are all excellent backgrounds. The back of the house and patio, the driveway with the parked cars, or partially sunlit woods are too busy a background for your picture.

Next find something for people to sit on: a log, a small table from the patio, a picnic bench or a patio chair. The object is to have everyone’s head at a different level. Small children are, of course already low to the ground. Seat some people at chair height, others on the ground. Sitting like an Indian is not a viable pose. Try sitting the person down on the ground with their knees together, ankles crossed and to the side. Standing and leaning against something also provides a different height for your composition. Try to place the heads so that they do not line up either vertically or horizontally. Rather than presenting a square shoulder to the camera, a slight turn to the body is preferable. Eye glasses can be held in the hands or tilted down. Be creative in you grouping – two, threes and fours in a close grouping look better than one group of seventeen evenly spaced. Remember to overlap shoulders so that heads are closer together. One shoulder is all that is necessary to see.

Arms should never hang straight down. Instead, place some hands in pockets, around shoulders or holding hands. Diagonals in the composition increase the dynamic qualities of your portrait. Pay attention to the legs and feet. Natural looking positions include crossed ankles, placing the feet forty-five degrees apart (standing), and crossed knees. After the positioning everyone, stand back and squint at the effect with blurred eyes. Turn any straight on bodies and relocate any misplaced color or glaring whites for a more pleasing effect.

A broad, low light source is ideal for a flattering look to your portrait. An open sky overhead will result in dark eye shadowing. Reflecting light into the shadow areas or using fill flash will correct this situation. Take advantage of the light from a white building or a setting sun. A natural solution is to place your group under some overhanging branches.

Light Exposure

One of the first technical specifications you may encounter when you look at camera information is the aperture. (‘ap-&(r)-‘chur) The word aperture comes from the middle English aperture and Latin apertus. Apertus is the past participle of aperire, which means to open. And this is exactly what an aperture is.

Aperture refers to the size of the diameter (distance from one side of the opening to the other) of the iris when it is open at its largest point. Aperture is measured in the units F-stop. Try to remember that the smaller the F-stop, the larger the maximum lens opening on the camera. The sensitivity of the camera to light is controlled in part by the aperture.

If you are purchasing a new camera, you should look for product with an aperture range from F2.8 to F8, while advanced photographers may need a range closer to F1.8 to F16. A large aperture means that you have more leeway with lighting conditions when you are shooting. If you have a larger possible aperture, you will be more prepared for low-light conditions. To give you some perspective, the mid-range Z650 digital camera by Kodak offers both wide and telephoto options for aperture, which range from F2.8 to F8 and F3.7 to F8 respectively.

Aperture is related in part to shutter speed. Shutter speed on cameras can range from as short as one eight-thousandths of a second up to a full thirty seconds. This time refers to how long light is allowed in through the camera lens when you hit the shutter (picture capture) button. Today’s digital cameras generally offer both an automatic and manual shutter speed mode. For example, the new Kodak EasyShare Z650 has an automatic shutter speed range between 1/8th and 1/1700th seconds. The manual mode of the Kodak Z650 goes from eight to 1/1000th seconds.

It doesn’t hurt to pay attention to shutter speed when you’re picking out a new digital camera for yourself because there are some interesting techniques you can practice with a variable shutter speed. One example is using your camera to capture an object in motion. If you follow the object and have adjusted your shutter speed correctly, you can succeed in showing the object in perfect focus and yet a blurry moving background.

An interesting aspect to keep in mind as you look around for a digital camera is that aperture and shutter speed are related terms. These two aspects of a camera work together to control the amount of light that reaches your CCD, CMOS or other digital sensor. By shopping for a camera that offers you maximum aperture size and range of shutter speed, you will be giving yourself more options to shoot different kinds of photos.

Add Effects And Spice To Life

Photo effects can sometimes be funky like backgrounds, frames, borders, texts and animations. These effects are mainly found on photo effects websites or basic photo effects applications. But the more advanced effects are bundled in packs provided with expensive photo-editing software applications. In order to add effects to photos efficiently, one must know the wide variety of options available to him in terms of photo editing. Some of these advanced yet highly effective photo effects are the halftone effect, mosaic effect, stained glass effect, watercolor effect, blurred effect, displacement effect, silhouette effect and many more. It is difficult to imagine what proper effects can do to a photo. From creating rainbows on a clear blue sky to age-progression of a young woman up to her old age, photo editing can achieve any imaginable result.

Professional graphics designers will tell you that it is best not to tinker much with a beautiful photograph. Minimalist is the new trend. The aim of the photo-editor is to add photo effects as less as possible, so that the beauty of the original photo isn’t overshadowed. It should be kept in mind that editing is for enhancing the photograph, not overshadow it. Sometimes, a simple black-and-white color tone or a sepia effect is enough to achieve the desired output.

The purpose of photo editing can be diverse. A social network enthusiast may only be interested in creating a funny tagline on his/her friend’s photo to be shared on his/her social network profile. On the other hand, a fashion photographer may be trying to apply the final touches to the model’s face he had clicked. It is interesting to note that both the users are trying to add effects to photos, but their purpose and way of doing work are radically different. While an amateur just wants to add effects to photos for fun, a professional photo-editor wants to use the advanced special effects to create a stunning portrait or landscape.

One cannot help but wonder about the websites or applications that support functionalities of adding chosen effects to photos. As end-users we only see the front end and are concerned with the functionalities. But nobody cares about the thousands of lines of code that has been written or the hard work that has been put in, just to ensure that we can add effects to photos. Whenever one wants to add effects to photos, he/she should at least consider the intricate background mechanism going on behind this simple task.

Steady Cameras

Hold the Camera with Both Hands

Some people think it is cool to operate cameras with just one hand. I believe the manufacturers are doing you a favor by freeing up a hand not so you can use it to eat a candy bar, but so you can use it to steady the camera. Two hands are always better than one. It sounds obvious and simple yet every time I go to record a public event I always see folks holding the camcorder with just one hand. Stop acting like an amateur and hold the camera with both hands. Your audience will thank you, maybe not verbally, but will appreciate your effort.

The Correct Stance

People are lazy, especially during long shoots. If you have the job as videographer you had better not be leaning your weight on just one leg. Stand with your feet approximately shoulder length apart with your body weight balanced between both legs. This stance is proven to improve stability in all physical activity and it definitely applies in this case as well.

Electronic Stabilization

Once again, the manufacturers are trying to help you out. If you are shooting without the use of a tripod then turn the electronic stabilizer on, but be sure to turn it off when you put the camera back on the tripod. This technology has improved greatly in the last few years and makes a huge difference in the final shot.

Avoid Zooming, Get Closer

The wide angle is doubtlessly the most stable setting. Zooming make the camera much more reactive to the slightest movement. While holding the camera in your hands this includes up and down as well as side to side. Many zooms are digital now and I frown upon its use. Only use optical zoom! Digital zoom only enlarges existing shots which start to pixelate and the quality plunges. If you can get closer without zooming, this will keep the angle wide and will stabilize your shot.