Living a dream as a photographer & filmmaker

Get The Most Out Of Your Camera (Part 2)

In part 1 of 'Get the most out of your camera', we looked at how to use the aperture and the creative uses of depth-of-field. In this part we’ll look at how to use the shutter button on your camera and how both the shutter and the aperture control exposure.

The shutter is a mechanical device that controls the length of time that light is allowed to act on the film. Most standard cameras allow us to use a range between 16 second and 1/1000 second. You might be wondering, why anyone would use a long shutter time of 16 seconds: I’ve used this and even longer shutter times when taken lowlight landscape images. I would always advise the use of a tripod with these long exposures time to avoid blur images.

Using a shutter speed of 1/125 second should safely avoid overall blur due to camera movement if you hold the camera by hand. Any longer shutter time should require a tripod.

Each time you open the shutter by one, we double the light, when we close down the light by one we half the light. Open the shutter at 1 second allows twice the light as that of a ½ second.

The shutter can also be used creatively when taking landscape images or sport images. If you want to add motion to your image a slow shutter speed can give an image an extra bit of sway. No more so than taking images of streams. Using a slow shutter speed when photographing water will cause the water to blur, resulting with the image expressing motion.

By contrast, a fast shutter speed of 1/250 would be used in shooting wildlife or where the subject that you’re shooting needs to be still and sharp. Most wildlife photographers would use a fast shutter speed.

By using the shutter and aperture together we control exposure. Both allow light to enter the camera: the shutter by time and the aperture by the size of the hole in the lens.

For example: you’re shooting a landscape scene; you get an exposure reading at f/11 at ¼ second. You know that by using f/11 that the entire image wont be sharp. You want to shoot at f/22, which is four times less light than f/11. You need to quadruple the light through time; each time you open the shutter by one you double the light, so open it by two stops and your exposure time will be 1 second. Your final exposure should read f/22 at 1 second.

At the best of times, calculating the correct exposure can be a difficult task, but with a few simple tips our images can produce eye-catching colours that we see all around us every day.

TJ Tierney, Irish Landscape photographer.

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Using Digital Kiosk Photo Printing

You’ve probably seen digital kiosk photo printing centers before at some point in your life and may have even used their services. However, if you haven’t used one before they can be a bit intimidating, kind of like using self check-out at a grocery store for the first time. No one wants to be standing at a printing kiosk looking like an idiot trying to figure out what in the world all of those different buttons do. It’s better to just use an online service and learn how to get digital photos into picture form within the confines of your own home or go to the store and let the professionals handle the job, right? Well if you think that way I’d like to put your anxieties to rest by explaining how using digital kiosk photo printing is actually pretty easy.

The process of working a digital photo kiosk begins with a user putting their camera’s memory card into the machine. After completing this task, simply use the buttons on the touch screen to select the photos that you would like to have printed. While it may take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the buttons, once you get the hang of it there is no problem. You might even be allowed to do a little editing on the pictures before they are printed but this depends on the kiosk used. After selecting the prints of choice, you will either receive the photos instantly or have to wait an hour or so to pick up the prints from the store photo lab.

Even though using digital kiosk photo printing is fairly simple, there are warnings that must be heeded. Kiosks can vary from machine to machine especially in the area of photo quality. In fact, sometimes the kiosks don’t even work at all. Assuming that you have access to a working photo kiosk, it is probably best to use the machines that take an hour for the store’s photo mini lab to develop the photos so that you can get the best quality prints.

To view our list of recommended sources for digital photo printing online,
Recommended Sources For Digital Photo Printing Online.

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Composition - Improving Technique at the Picture-taking Stage

Out of all the steps involved in taking a photograph, the one that creates most impact is correct composition. It is also the one that is the most fun and where you are likely to have the greatest control. It follows, then, that getting composition right in the viewfinder at the time of shooting will yield the best results with regard to the final image.

So, how can you ensure great composition and a great image?

Fill the viewfinder: if your subject is too far away, get closer; if it is too near, move further back. Alternatively, use a zoom lens to alter the relative size of the subject in the viewfinder avoid empty space: look around in the viewfinder and only choose to shoot when you are certain all the elements you require are in view.

Don't just look at the subject: check the background and the foreground. Are there unsightly objects or distractions? If so, what can you do about it? Moving your subject might be an option. Otherwise you can either remove the distractions or shoot from a different angle check your viewfinder: next time you have your camera to your eye, look around at the whole field of viewin the viewfinder. Look at the edges, the top and bottom and both sides. It is so easy just to focus in on the subject without being aware of the huge spaces around it.

Isolate your subject: anything near to the subject will create a distraction. You can isolate it in a number of ways: move the subject or move the distractions; use a larger aperture to throw the foreground an background out of focus; wait until the surroundings get clearer (e.g. when taking pictures in crowds); get in close.

Turn your camera: most cameras have a rectangular screen and picture taking capability. Most shots will be in landscape format (with the long sides of the image at the top and bottom resulting in a postcard-shaped image). If you turn the camera 90 degreesyou then have "portrait" view. Try using this for some of your subjects and see what difference it makes.

Many of these steps may seem simple, but you will be surprised how many photographers ignore basic rules. By thinking about your composition when you take your photography, you will enhance the potential of the final image and improve your photographic skills.

Eric Hartwell is an enthusiastic photographer and owner of the photography resource site The Shutter. He would pleased to hear from anyone who might wish to become involved in the site - email click here to send email

Article Source: Photo by Serge Batyrshin

Silhouette Photo Tips and Techniques

Many photographers probably have stared at a silhouette image and pondered to themselves how exactly it had been taken and composed. Silhouette images could contain a couple looking at a sunset, a cityscape with the sun shining through buildings, or just a normal horizon. In order to get an effective silhouette image, a photographer must be in the right place at the right time and have the right exposure settings.

Silhouette Definition
In the area of photography, a silhouette is defined as an outline that appears dark against a light background. More specifically, it is where your subject appears as a plain black shape against a brighter background. It is an artistic photography expression that many photographers like to refine and perfect in their images. This effect can be achieved with any bright light source with the sun being the most common. In a sunset silhouette photo, the sunlight in the background is exposed correctly forcing everything else in the photo to be underexposed causing the effect.

Silhouette Techniques
When you are preparing to take a silhouette image, there are many things to keep in mind. These tips are equally effective for both digital and film photography. First of all, you need to make sure that there is not too much light on your subject, even if it is being reflected on to your subject the stray light will ruin the effect. If there is not enough light in the background, your subject will appear grey instead of black. The effect is just multiplied when you have multiple colors of bright lights in the background. Some photographers focus on artificial lights, others focus on the sun at certain times of the day, the possibilities are endless.

My Silhouette Tips and Techniques
I usually take my silhouette images when the sun is just above the horizon. I prefer the time around sunset because the sun causes the sky to be brighter than everything else for greater contrast. Another technique I use is to align the sun directly behind the subject so it causes a glow effect around the main subject. I usually use a relatively big subject so it creates a more drastic effect then a small insignificant subject.
I always use a narrow aperture (high f/stop) so the camera captures the whole scene with a high depth of field so everything is in focus. I usually use the aperture manual mode on my camera so I can control what the aperture will be and then the camera automatically selects the right shutter speed necessary for the photo. If you are trying to create the effect with a point-and-shoot camera make sure you compose the photo with the background light by pointing the camera at the background. If you compose the image by pointing the camera at your dark subject, then the background will be over-exposed and you will not end up with a silhouette.

There is no exact science to taking a great silhouette image. It will take practice, luck, and experience to capture truly amazing silhouette images. So keep practicing.

Trisha Leung is a digital photography enthusiast and regularly submits articles to which offers tips and news about digital photography, digital camera reviews, photoshop tutorials and computer wallpaper.
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Replacing a Dull Sky in Photoshop Elements

Starting Out with a Bad Sky
I don't know about you, but I often get pictures where the sky is dull or washed out. This is a perfect opportunity to use photo editing software to replace the sky in your picture. Whenever you're out and about on a nice day, try to remember to snap a few pictures of different types of skies, for just this purpose. For this tutorial, though, you can use a couple of my own photos.
I have used Photoshop Elements 2.0 throughout this tutorial, though it can also be done in Photoshop. You may also be able to follow along using other photo editing software with some slight modifications to the steps. Right click and save the picture below to your computer and then continue to the next step.

Getting a Better Sky Photo
You'll also need to save the image above to your computer.
Open both images in either
Photoshop or Photoshop Elements and begin the tutorial.
1.) First, we want to make sure we preserve our original image, so activate the t36-badsky.jpg image, go to File > Save As and save a copy as newsky.jpg.
2.) Use the magic wand tool and click in the sky area of the image. This will not select all of the sky, but that's OK. Next, go to Select > Similar. This should add the rest of the sky area to the selection.
3.) Make sure your layers palette is visible. Go to Window > Layers if it is not. In the layers palette, double click on the background layer. This will convert the background to a layer and prompt you for a layer name. You can name it 'People' and click OK.
4.) Now the sky should still be selected so you can press delete on your keyboard to erase the boring sky.
5.) Go to the t36-replacementsky.jpg image and press Ctrl-A to select all, then Ctrl-C to copy.
6.) Activate the newsky.jpg image and press Ctrl-V to paste.
7.) The sky is now covering up the people because it is on a new layer above the people. Go to the layers palette and drag the sky layer below the people. You can double click on the text 'Layer 1' and rename this to 'Sky' also.
The New Sky Needs Tweaking
The majority of our work is done and we could stop here but there are some things I don't like about the image as it is now. For one thing, there are some obvious fringe pixels that don't blend well around the dark hair on the two people on the right. Also the sky darkens the picture too much and overall it just looks faked. Let's see what we can do to make it better...

Adding an Adjustment Layer
If you've ever observed the sky, you may have noticed that the blue color is lighter the closer it is to the horizon and the sky darkens farther away from the horizon. Because of the way my sky photo was shot, you do not see this effect in the photo. We will create that effect with an adjustment layer mask.
8.) In the layers palette, click on the Sky layer, then click the new adjustment layer button (the half black/half white circle at the bottom of the layers palette) and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. When the Hue/Saturation dialog box appears, just click OK for now, without changing any settings.
9.) Notice in the layers palette the new adjustment layer has a second thumbnail to the right of the Hue/Saturation thumbnail. This is the adjustment layer's mask.

Selecting a Gradient for a Mask
10.) Click directly on the mask thumbnail to activate it. From the toolbox, select the Gradient tool (G).
11.) In the options bar, choose the black to white gradient preset, and the icon for a linear gradient. Mode should be normal, opacity 100%, reverse unchecked, dither and transparency checked.
Editing the Gradient
12.) Now click directly on the gradient in the options bar to bring up the gradient editor. We are going to make a slight change to our gradient.
13.) In the gradient editor, double-click the lower left stop marker on the gradient preview.
14.)In the HSB section of the color picker, change the B value to 20% to change the black to a dark gray.
15.) Click OK out of the color picker and OK out of the gradient editor.

Using the Gradient to Mask the Adjustment Layer
16.) Now click at the very top of the sky, press the shift key, and drag straight down. Release the mouse button right about at the top of the little girl's head.
17.) The mask thumbnail in the layers palette should show this gradient fill now, though your image will not have changed.

Adjusting the Hue and Saturation
By adding a layer mask, we can apply the adjustment more in some areas and less in other. Where the mask is black, the adjustment will not affect the layer at all. Where the mask is white, it will show the adjustment 100%. To learn more about masks, see my article, All About Masks.
18.) Now double click the regular layer thumbnail for the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to bring up the Hue/Saturation dialog box. Drag the Hue slider to -20, Saturation to +30, and Lightness to +80 and notice how the sky changes as you slide. See how the lower portion of the sky is more affected that the upper portion?
19.) With these values, click OK to the Hue/Saturation dialog.
The Final Result!
Notice there is less fringing around the dark hair and the sky looks more realistic. (You can also use this technique to create a very unrealistic 'alien' sky effect, but it would be harder to blend into your original image.)
Now there is just one more minor adjustment I would make to this image.
20.) Click the people layer, and add a Levels adjustment layer. In the levels dialog, drag the white triangle under the histogram to the left to until the input level on the right reads 230. This will brighten up the image slightly.

That's it... I'm happy with the new sky and I hope you learned something from this tutorial!
From Sue Chastain, Your Guide to Graphics Software from
Published here with permission from About, Inc., A part of the New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

Improving Your Landscape Images

Article contributed by TJ Tierney. Photos by Serge Batyrshin.

Landscape photography can be a challenge, but with the right composition and good natural light it can be made a bit easier.

All the world’s cameras, films and other photographic equipment are no more than tools for making landscape pictures. Cameras don’t think for themselves. Whether we use digital or film camera, the same photographic principles apply.

We don’t have to stick to many rules to produce great landscape images, but knowing what they are will make your pictures more successful. There are two salient points in landscape photography: how to compose your image, and how to use available natural light in any given situation.

Lets start off with light: There are three basic qualities of light: intensity, direction and colour.
Intensity: refers to the strength of light. If the sun is high in the sky, light can be harsh and too strong. Cloudy days bring soft and defused light.

Direction: this refers to light placement. There are three categories of light placement: front, back and side-lighting. Side lighting produces more texture between light and shade.

Colour: the colour of sunlight varies depending upon conditions and time of day. If the sun shines at the beginning or the end of the day, the colour of the light will be much warmer, and will lead to a much more dramatic scene.

Understanding natural light will develop your ability to see. You will start to see the beauty of light in a different and exciting way.

In landscape photography it is very important to take care with composition. A normal scene can be transformed by paying close attention to detail. Composition is all about how you arrange the elements in front of you.

Here are a few ideas in which you may find useful.

  • Lead with lines: To lead with lines into the main part of the scene will draw your viewer into your image. These lines don’t have to be straight. Lines, such as tracks, riverbanks or fences, may work successfully.
  • Foreground interest: Simple foreground objects can give your landscape a greater sense of depth. Use a small aperture (f/22) to keep the entire scene in focus.
  • Natural frames: Frame your scene with the elements all around you. This will focus attention on the main part of the picture. Trees make great natural frames.

These are just a few essential guidelines, and combined with a good eye, you have all you need to get the best out of photography - especially landscape photography. These are just a few rules to get you started, but like all rules, they are there to be broken.

TJ Tierney is a Irish Landscape Photographer. Check him out at

Get the Photos You Want: Learn to Crop

The photo from a 3.2 mega pixel camera can print a fair quality 8 x 10 print at 200 dpi. So, why do people buy 4, 5, or even 6 mega pixel cameras?

Well, maybe they want 11 x 14 prints, which at 200 dpi require a 6 mega pixel camera.

However, more importantly, a higher mega pixel camera lets you "crop" your photo. That is where you cut away part of the photo, not only giving you the photo you want, but also making the photo smaller in pixels. As long as you start with more pixels, it is easier to cut stuff out and still keep enough pixels to make it good for prints.

Speaking of cropping, look at the ratios of common print sizes.

  • a 4 x 6 has a 1.50 ratio
  • a 5 x 7 has a 1.40 ratio
  • an 8 x 10 has a 1.25 ratio
What about cameras? Most newer point-and-shoot digitals have a ratio of 1.33 !!!

What do the photo finishers do when you send them a 1.33 and ask them to print a 1.50? They crop the picture where they think you want it cropped.

How often are they wrong? A great thing about ordering on-line through the better quality photo finishers is that the web site shows you where the cropping will occur and allows you to change it. That is a great feature.

A better solution, though, is to learn how to do the cropping by using your home computer. Programs like Photo Shop and Paint Shop Pro have pre-defined cropping tools set to the same common ratios as I listed above. Simply open the photo file in your paint program, choose the crop tool, set to the correct ratio, and choose the portion of the photo you want to print.

Now, just save all of the newly cropped files in a separate folder for easy uploading to your retailer or to a memory card that you take in to their 1 hour service.

There are 3 common guidelines to consider when composing a photo

  1. know your subject
  2. draw attention to your subject
  3. simplify

By cropping your photo, you not only assure that you get the photo you wanted; you also follow guidelines # 2 and 3 from the list. Happy cropping.

Richard Killey is an amateur photographer who shares the love of his hobby with readers of his website. Visit to read other articles of interest.

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Maximize Your Camera's Potential

Did you ever see an image where only a small part of it is sharp? Using the aperture ring correctly can maximise the artistic look of your image.

Easy photo technique - Light Trails (updated)

This is a creative photo technique that produces light trails in your night photos.

  1. Position your camera on a tripod and compose. It's best to have a bit of moon light or city building lights in the shot, as well as a road of some sort. (maybe, a high traffic area)
  2. Set aperture/shutter speed according to the guide. Your shutter will have to stay open for extended amount of time (the photo above had an exposure of around 30 seconds), allowing the light from the cars' headlights (and taillighs) to register on film by leaving a trail of light. Braketing will ensure usable results (30, 45, 60 seconds).
  3. Touch up in Photoshop or other photo-editing program to achieve some creative and unique results (i.e. experiment with levels, filters, color balance, etc...)
  4. Submit your photos to Sergykal Studios Critique Program to get some feedback.

For more information on shooting at night check out "How to take better night photos" from

Digital Camera Buyers Guide

Looking for a great digital camera? Check out this guide to help you make the decision.

"Wanna go digital? The time is right. With camera prices down and features up, you'll wonder how you ever lived without one."

Digital vs. Analog on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Here's some thoughts on the Analog/Digital debate from Badison on Flickr: "...The body is completely metal, I think it'll out last all my other digital equipment ... the problem being that compared to digital, printing 35mm film is restrictively expensive..." READ MORE

Analog or Digital? (updated)

Here's 2 great articles covering the battle between Analog and Digital Photography: Digital vs Film - The Great Debate by Michael Reichmann and a commentary on it by Australian photographer Nick Rains titled Digital Is Not Film. Below is my position on the subject.

I am not trying to convince any one that analog is better than digital; whatever works for you is what you should go with. The following is my perspective on the situation.

I still shoot 35 mm negative film with my Nikon F5, although I do use a digital camera for work-related projects (Because it's difficult to develop film in Afghanistan, which is where I am in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.)

People ask me all the time though: "Is that a digital camera you're using?" What's the obsession with digital? I shoot film, drop it off at a 1-hour lab, have them scan the negatives, and there - I have some 4x6 proofs and a CD with HI-RES scans, that I can manipulate in PS7. The Nikon F5 is the best camera on the planet (in my eyes at least) for the following reasons: It is practically indestructable, easy to use, features precise metering, a long list of available lenses and accessories to name a few... Yes, it is heavy and big, but I just can not see the latest digi-cam hitting the ground and surviving the fall. The F5 can. That's what's important in my line of work. Shooting in a combat zone requires equipment that can take the abuse. Another major point is that I KNOW I will get the shot I need withough messing with little buttons and menues on the digi-cam. So while you're scrolling through the menues, I am getting the shot that you're missing.

While having instant image feedback on a digi-cam is a very nice feature, it does not warrant spending 5,000 on a 12 MP SLR camera (excluding the lens). At least not now. As for quality, it's becoming less of an issue - today's digital cameras are capable of delivering same quality as a 35mm film camera, unless you're blowing up poster-size photos, and I have. Digital's got a way to go there.

Well, that's it. Again, I am not trying to convince any one here, just stating my personal opinion. Whatever gets you the results you're looking for - that's what you should use. The camera does not make a picture, the photographer does any ways, the camera is there to help realize your vision, so there's no reason to get all bent out of shape about this long on-going ANALOG/DIGITAL argument.

Photoshop to rescue

Most people don't use Photoshop to its fullest capabilities. Here are just ten uses to which you could put this highly versatile software.

1. Restoring Old Photographs. Have a look through that old family photo album - the really old one from up in Grandma's attic. Inside there are probably a few photos from way back when that haven't stood the test of time so well. They've got cracks and tears that really spoil their appearance. Scan them into Photoshop, and then set to work with the Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, and Patch tools. The Healing Brush in particular is a great tool for this purpose as it samples data from one part of the picture and blends it in with what's already there.

2. Correcting Mistakes. We've all done it: Had an attack of "finger over the lens syndrome," or got too close with the flash, so our subjects suffer from "red eye" and look like extras from a horror movie. Use the crop tool to salvage something usable from your obscured photo, and the enlarge wizard to blow it up to a reasonable size. For "red eye" and "pet eye," use the eyedropper tool to sample color from around the iris, and a brush to paint away the red.

3. Adding Graphics to Videos. It's a little known fact, but many domestic and professional nonlinear editing systems (especially the Mac based ones like Avid or Final Cut) enable you to import Photoshop .psd files directly into the timeline.

4. Creating Text Effects for Print and Web. There's an almost unlimited amount of things you can do with text in Photoshop. Use the Type Mask Tools to create picture filled text, then upload the results to your web page - or print them out for a one of a kind T-shirt.

5. Turning a Photo Into a Work of Art. Everyone likes to have nice things to look at. Most of us like to have pictures on the wall, and something that looks different from what other people have on their walls is a definite plus. Unless you're blessed with artistic talent, though, this can be very expensive - until now. Use one of Photoshop's many Artistic or Brush Stroke filters to turn your photos into "new masters," then print them out on quality art paper.

6. Designing Web Banners and Buttons. Photoshop comes with a predefined web banner sized canvas. Photoshop's sister application, Image Ready, comes with several - and lots of tools for animating text and pictures. You can also create interactive buttons that enhance a web browsing experience.

7. Adding Text to Photographs. Impress your boss by putting the company name on the side of an airliner, building, or racing car. Use the Move Tool to skew the text to fit the contours of the picture, adjust the opacity a little, and hey presto! The text will look like it's always been part of the photo.

8. Combining Pictures, Text, and Graphics to Make Covers for Books, Reports and CDs. Photoshop contains many of the image manipulation capabilities of high-end DTP applications that cost thousands. Use the "Layer via Cut" command to make your title text go behind part of the picture - just like on the cover of "Rolling Stone."

9. Designing Web Pages. Did you know that Photoshop and Image Ready can turn your photograph or artwork into a web page? Use the slice tool to cut your work into easily downloadable pieces, then the rollover function to embed website URLs.

10. Combining Pictures to Make the Impossible Possible. Come on! You didn't seriously think that Michael Moore and President George W. Bush really stood hand in hand on the White House lawn for the Fahrenheit 9/11 poster, did you? I don't know for certain that they used Photoshop to fake that picture, but they certainly could have done. With Photoshop you can remove the background from one picture, take some elements from another, and combine them with the background from a third to create a picture that could never have been taken for real. Who says the camera can't lie!

Shaun Pearce is a writer and video maker. His latest production "Photoshop Master" shows you how to get the most from Photoshop, and can be downloaded from
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Photo tips, tricks, and techniques - What's New

Check out our November Photography Tips:

Sergykal Gear - your solution to Holiday shopping!

  • Check out Sergykal Gear - Apparel, Housewares, Baby gear, Hats and Bags, and more...

Photo Critique

Site Additions

  • Now you can search our photography tips, tricks, and techniques database with Sergykal Search powered by Freefind. Click on Search this Site link under Features block on the right side.
  • We've also installed a NEWSLETTER module! Type in your email address there and stay informed about our developments! Look for it on the right (it's red)

Photo Critique - Babylon, Iraq - Brian Muhr

This picture was taken around September of 2003 in Babylon, Iraq during OIF 1. It is of the Euphrates River about 45 miles south of Baghdad and was known to quench the thirst of the original people on earth according to the Bible (old testament) well before Christ, because at the time Babylon was the center of all civilization and the spot were man-kind had originally come from or whatever you believe, but that’s the info I got from this old Iraqi guy, I’m really not all that religious. I think the picture is pretty cool though and I enjoy the reflecting palm trees glistening off the Euphrates during a sunset in good old Babylon.

Professional High-end Digicams: Weaving Delight for the Serious Shooter!

Professional High-end Digicams: Weaving Delight for the Serious Shooter!
By Lopa Bhattacharya

Are you a serious shooter looking for more precise controls, enhanced features & better lenses, superior image quality while purchasing your cherished digicams for professional product shoots, adwork or publicity campaigns? Well, come out of the idea once and for all, that all these cameras are necessarily big and expensive beyond your affordability. Truly, digital has really come a long way in a short time, and professional high end digital cameras today cover every assignment for real-life application, so that the photographer can concentrate fully on making stunning images with cutting-edge technology. After all, there is the growing need for digital images in both print and electronic media, for which most photographers and graphics professionals are examining the options for capturing images digitally, whether by scanning film or by using digital cameras. And here, they are preferring the functionalities of the professional high-end digital models because of the gains in control, efficiency, flexibility, and productivity.

Did you know before reading this that with consumers worldwide buying 10 million digital cameras in 2003 and 2004, the sales of film scanners have declined considerably? Ask any commercial photographer today about his/her purchasing plans in the near future, and you’ll find a whopping percentage say that they plan to buy a professional SLR over a usual point-and-shoot variety. "Our point of view is that color scanners are past their sweet spot," says Vince Naselli, director of TrendWatch Graphic Arts. "Increasingly, we think that creative professionals are going to be acquiring their content digitally in the first place so that, down the road, the increased use of digital cameras will lead to a decreased use of color scanners”, he adds. Kerry Flatley, research analyst at InfoTrends, also comments that "as digital cameras continue to improve in quality and provide professionals with needed flexibility, they will most likely cut into film scanner sales”. Thus, at the cusp of a migration from film and scanners to digital cameras, we are standing in the face of a vast expanse where the buzzword has shifted from ‘scan’ to ‘direct digital capture’.

Now, let us have a look at some of the market-leaders of this huge variety of professional high-end cameras, the ones that creative professionals are buying and using for the best-quality scans, with high resolution, wide image density, large film format as their hallmark.

Kodak EasyShare DX6340 (MRP: Rs. 18,900): a unique combination of advanced performance, ease of use and value in a sleek design, this 3.1 MP camera, with a large high-resolution 1.8" Indoor/Outdoor LCD display screen and unique, wide aperture professional-quality 4X Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon zoom lens that provides stunning image quality, has high-performance features such as aperture and shutter priority modes for the discerning photographer. No wonder that it has been declared the “Best performance” and “Best value camera” for the year 2003 (as per the Digit magazine's Test Drive on digital camera comparison)

The latest offering for the Indian consumers from Eastman Kodak Company is the sleek EASYSHARE LS755 zoom digital camera (priced at Rs. 21,900/-), sized like a deck of cards to fit the pocket of the person having acumen for design and style. Featuring a professional-grade 4X Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon 3X (36 –108 mm equivalent) zoom lens and 5.0 megapixel CCD sensor to optimize photo quality, it comes with a 3X optical zoom and continuous auto focus capability.

Cannon India Pvt. Ltd., a pioneer in manufacturing a comprehensive range of the latest digital imaging products, has come up with professional high-end models like Canon PowerShot A95, Canon Ixus 500 and so on.

Featuring an increased sensor size of 5.0 Megapixels, the A95 has a total of 21 shooting modes – more than any other Canon digital camera. Including many features found in Canon’s higher end S and G series cameras which offer users flexibility and creative control, it stands for outstanding image quality and ease of use. While the 5.0 Megapixel CCD sensor enables it to provide superb image quality (suitable for high quality photo prints up to A3 size), its 21 shooting modes, ranging from fully Auto to Manual, offer users total control for complete creativity. An added advantage of it is that it can simplify things to ensure great looking photos in tricky situations.

On the other hand, Canon’s Ixus 500 model happens to be the ultimate in stylish, high performance digital photography, delivering quality prints up to A3 size. With a super hard Cerabrite finish, it brings together uncompromising build quality and an abundance of integrated technologies. With a 3x optical zoom offering a wide angle of coverage, with the 9-point AiAF ensuring accurate focusing, even with off-center subjects and with its DIGIC delivering superb image quality at high speed with less drain on the battery for extended performance; beautiful, instant photo prints are achieved effortlessly, thus making I an obvious choice for professional shooters.

Again, with the Digital SLR range of Canon’s professional high-end digicams (like the EOS 300D high resolution 6.3 megapixel cameras, the EOS ID Mark II cameras with faster processing of large files with superior color rendering and detail precision), digital technology is taking a quantum leap.

Thus, offering an extensive range of professional hi-end digicams, these brands are gratifying any and every need of entertainment and digital imaging. And, we welcome the new technology and price cuts for the quantum jump of sales of these “hi-end photographers’ toys”.

Lopa Bhattacharya is a content writer/developer working on websites for overseas/Indian clientele. Has worked for various corporate website projects, CD-Rom presentations, brochures, flyers and other communication materials on varied themes ranging from travel, hotel industry, photography, web design and software development to US-based clubs and network communities. Was previously an editorial associate for a news, culture and entertainment portal based on the life and times of Kolkata.

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Digital Camera Photos: 7 Ways to Improve Them

When I bought my first digital camera, complete with its little viewing screen, people would invariably ask, “Can I see the picture?” Children would ask me to take their picture, and then run over and ask to see it, then go back and ask me to take another!

It’s great to have all that excitement, but were my pictures actually the best they could be?

Here are 7 tips that I have learned that have improved the quality of my photos.

1. Use the high resolution setting. At the start, I had the resolution set to medium. That way I was able to take about 100 pictures before having to download the memory card to my computer’s hard disk. That was fine for viewing on screen, but then one day I wanted to do an 8x10 paper version, and the results were disappointing. Now I always use the highest resolution my cameras can provide. I have had to spend some money on more memory cards, but it was worth it.

2. Use a Tripod. Even the slightest movement of the camera can create a blurry image. Invest in a tripod. I have also found that when taking group shots, I am better able to judge when to “click” if I am looking directly at the group, rather than through the view finder.

3. Buy a Good Photo-Editing Program. Perhaps your camera came with Photoshop Elements, or similar. If not, go to your computer retailer and buy one. Not only can you fix blemishes (maybe Susan was having a bad zit day), but you can do more creative things as well. Recently I combined a photo of my grand-daughter with one of Dora-the-Explorer. Jasmine loved it.

4. Watch the Compression. As you use that fancy photo editing program, be careful of your compression setting. Most programs default to “jpeg” format, which saves space by selectively removing pixels, and recreating them the next time you view the photo. If you open, edit, and save a photo multiple times, the over-all quality decreases. Try to do all your editing in one pass, using the lowest compression, or use a format like “tiff”, which does not compress.

5. Get in Close. Don’t waste pixels on excess background. Get in closer, either physically or with an optical zoom setting.

6. Good Things Come in Threes (or more!). Considering the incremental costs of taking a photo with a digital camera (close to nil!), you should take lots of shots. If the shot is available for more than a few seconds, take more that one exposure. I always tell the subjects of my photos that I will be taking at least 2 or 3 shots of them. A blink at the wrong time ruins the potential.

7. Read the Manual In fact, read it more than once. As if I have to explain this one!

Here’s an equation for you.

(LOTS of photos with your digital camera) + (the above tips) = (a day coming soon when you’ll be proud to show off your creations)

Richard Killey is an amateur photographer who shares the love of his hobby with readers of his website. Visit to read other articles of interest.

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Get To Know Your Camera - More Than Just Megapixels!

Get To Know Your Camera - More Than Just Megapixels!
By Lopa Bhattacharya

Today, while you go shopping for ‘feature-rich’ digital cameras physically or on the Internet, often you will find manufacturers running out of their ways, telling "this camera takes great pictures." And which snap taker of our times will fail to equate ‘great pictures’ with great resolutions? Well, with today’s 3, 4 or 5 megapixel digital cameras offering the flexibility of digital zooms, storing high-resolution images on their memory cards and an LCD panel that shows 100% of the subject, you will get digital images of superb quality; whether you want to print posters or put your images online.

With manufacturers recognizing a market for simple, sleek and sophisticated cameras in all pixel categories, today you can find basic point-and-shoot digicams, with resolutions typically ranging from one-megapixel at the low end to six-megapixels in professional-grade equipment. And here, the bottomline is, the more pixels a camera has, the sharper the images it produces.

With today’s manufacturers realizing that the buyers actually intend to match their purchases with the specific needs of the camera at a price that best suits them, they have also come up with many midrange models that feature lots of adjustable focus, exposure settings and several flash/picture modes (like portrait, landscape, nightmode, etc). Clearly, more sophisticated models require more time with the manual, and prospective buyers should know that there's a learning curve involved with such cameras. As a whole, while you go for buying one for yourself, you'll learn:

• How to use camera functions to the best of their capabilities

• How to select and use accessories to enhance your shooting experience

• How to use the digital cameras to create great images

• How to spark up your images (using the most popular image editing software: Adobe Photoshop7). Very recently, however,, the premiere online photo community website has introduced free online courses to teach buyers the technicalities of digital image touch-ups/reworking, creating stunning web pages and rich media websites with their digital images.

However, in order to choose the right camera--one with the right picture resolution at the right price--you'll need to figure out what you'll be doing with it. For example, if you are a casual snapshooter, interested in taking photos that you can e-mail to friends and family, post on the Web, or print in sizes smaller than 8x10 inches; a 2-3 megapixel will suffice.

There are lot of these models introduced by Kodak Eastman company (Kodak EasyShare CX6200, Kodak EasyShare CX6230), Canon (Canon Powershot A75), POLAROID (Polaroid PDC2050 2.1 MP Digital Camera), stressing on the fact that these are easy enough for the whole family to use and small enough to take anywhere.

On the other hand, to shoot onsite or in the office, photographs for product-ads and publicity in print and on the Web with professional-looking results without hiring a pro, a business user will find 3 megapixel cameras great.

Again, someone with the frenzy to buy the newest, shiniest toys to impress friends and business associates with the latest technologies and coolest features will find 5 megapixel cameras really ‘cool’. Among the latest feature-rich cameras in this category, you’ll find Sony's stylish, pocket-size Cybershot DSCP100 digital camera offering an amazing 5-megapixel resolution and a wealth of photographic features normally found on full-sized, high-end cameras. On the other hand, Panasonic has today revealed the new Panasonic DMC-FZ20 with five megapixels, an improved body design and an improved processor (the "Venus Engine II"), promising better performance, improved image stabilization and image quality. Canon Powershot G5 5 Megapixel is also a smash hit with the resolution-junkies.

Expert photographers and reviewers have time and again said that as much as they would like to give a one-word answer to one asking how many megapixels would be fine for him/her, this one happens to be of the trickiest questions in digital photography.

A final answer by experts: For any images you plan to print or retouch, 3-megapixel resolution and higher should be okay; web and e-mail-only photos should be fine at resolutions below that. For prints 8x10 or larger, one should look for digicams with 4-megapixel resolution or higher. And last but not the least, for displaying or printing pictures at smaller-than-actual-pixel size, resolution doesn't matter much. Instead, in that case, one should opt for the camera with the best color.

However, in spite of the experts’ verdict, the fact remains that the craze for high resolution digicams soars higher every day. With the enthusiasm of camera nuts willing to pay huge amounts for their photographic toys, 8-megapixel cameras launched by Canon (Canon EOS 20D) are having a good market in the western countries. Lori Grunin, a photo-columnist of, however, says that these cameras appeal to relatively specialized groups within the entire photographic market.

Before buying one, identify whether you are one of them.

Lopa Bhattacharya is a content writer/developer working for various overseas corporate website projects, CD-Rom presentations, brochures, flyers and other communication materials). Has worked on numerous SEO copywriting projects on varied themes ranging from travel, hotel industry, photography, web design and software development to US-based clubs and network communities. Was previously an editorial associate for the news, culture and entertainment portal based on the life and times of Kolkata.

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"Painting with light" by Kenneth Hoffman

You've all heard the phrase, "to see light". Everything that we see is made up of light. Light has direction, width, intensity and color. While understanding all the properties of light would be beneficial to the photographer/artist, it is just as effective to recognize the effect of light on a subject when you see it. READ MORE...

Article By Kenneth Hoffman
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Photo Critique - Shaun Hannon

Please post a comment regarding this photo. This program is designed to give the photographer some feedback on his/her work. Submit your photo HERE.

Photography tips - Digital or Film?

For many, digital photography is a breath of fresh air, but be wary - believing our landscape images will be superior could be a serious blunder. Having lost count of the number of people who have asked me: “have you gone digital?” I am always left wondering why it’s such a much-asked question. The camera is only a tool in which a photographer creates an image. His personal ability to create a unique image remains the same. Read More...
Contributed by TJ Tierney (Irish Landscape Photographer.
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Get The Most Out Of Your Camera (Part 1)

Did you ever see an image where only a small part of it is sharp? Using the aperture ring correctly can maximise the artistic look of your image.

Not only does it determine the depth-of-field, it also has the power to direct the human eye.

The human eye is instinctively drawn towards noticeable points of an image. These are usually the sharpest and most important parts of an image. Using a wide aperture to limit the area of sharp focus can direct attention to the most important elements of your image and blur out any off-putting backgrounds.

This isn’t that hard to accomplish, and can be blissful if done correctly.

Lets start off with understanding depth-of-field, aperture and f/stops.

Depth-of -field: The distance from the front to back that is in reasonable sharp focus is called the depth-of-field. There are two ways of controlling depth-of-field: Use a small aperture or focus on a point farther away from your camera.

Aperture and f/stops: The aperture is an opening in the centre of the lens through which light passes. The amount of light, which passes through an aperture, is indicated by f/stops. The lower the f/stop the more light that passes through the aperture. Opening up one full f/stop doubles the amount of light entering the camera. F/4 admits twice the light of f5.6.

By selecting a small or narrow aperture (f/16 or up), all or most of the scene will be reasonably sharp. This is ideal for landscape photography. By using a small aperture you increase the depth-of-field.

By selecting a large or wide aperture (f/5.6 or below) you decide which part of your image is sharp. This is ideal for taking pictures of wildlife, portraits, sport and small objects. By using a large aperture you decrease the depth-of-field

The smaller the f/number, the wider the aperture.

There is about twice the depth-of-field behind the point of focus as there is in front of it, using any aperture.

Now you know how to isolate your subject, so it’s time to put it to use. Set your camera to aperture-priority (AV) mode, and then select a large aperture (f/2 - f/5.6). By doing this the camera will select the shutter speed automatically. If you are shooting wildlife choose a low viewpoint to maximise the image, try putting the camera lens at eye-level with the subject.

While the above will help to isolate you subject, it’s only a start. Know your subject, especially when shooting wildlife. Don’t be fooled into thinking all elements of an image must be sharp to be considered a good photo.

TJ Tierney (Irish landscape photographer)

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Read Part 2

Photo Critique - Thomas Tierney

I don't know the name of these ducks, but would be very greatful if someone could tell me.

General Photography

Photo Editing

Advanced Techniques

Photography 101