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Archive for the ‘Tips & Techniques’ Category

This may not come as a shock to most people, but it really is true that buying a printer and making prints at home is just not cost effective.  But printers are cheap these days, you say!  Yes that is true – cheap printers are cheap.  So cheap, that some printers which claim they can print photo quality and cost only $99 will usually be out of their service life within a year (or close to it) after purchase. The main reason for this is that the cheaper printers are made with cheaper components inside (print head, ink nozzles, arms and slide rails) that they just don’t hold up through the wear and tear.  Did you ever notice your printer start to vibrate or shake while it was printing?  This is not a good sign.  It means something is off-kilter on the inside and can only continue to get worse.  So what do you do? Buy a new printer every year?  That’s not very cost effective…  Oh wait, it uses ink?  If you own an inexpensive printer, it must siphon the ink out with a straw like a thirsty hamster at his water bottle.  The ink cartridges ‘run out’ just a little before they are actually out of ink.  Then, when you go to purchase new ink, you may find out that a full set of replacement inks cost more than your printer did (and your printer came with a full set of ink).  It’s the old razor and razor-blade trick they’re pulling on us.  At one point one of my clients realized how ridiculous this all was and instead of buying a full set of replacement inks for $92.75, he purchased another printer instead for $79.99 which came boxed with a full set of inks.  He did this twice.  How ridiculous is this?  (more…)

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This week I’d like to continue the discussion of the RAW file format which all Digital SLRs are capable of capturing in.  One of the biggest critics of RAW in the photo industry is a gentlman by the name of Ken Rockwell from California (www.kenrockwell.com), whose work in camera and lens review articles I read and respect.  However, when it comes to talking about absolute image quality with respect to properly optimizing the information within your image, there is no substiute for a RAW workflow.  The in-camera processing engines for JPEG fall short of the look and feel that can be achieved with a properly processed RAW image.  Ken advocates shooting JPEGs and not bother wasting time on RAW files.  I admit it is a large drag on time, unless you have a program such as Adobe Lightroom which allows for batch processing of RAW files.  There are many other aspects (pros & cons) to discuss here, however that is not the point of this article.
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What is it, exactly, that happens inside your camera just after you take a photograph?  Well it depends of course if you are shooting JPEG files or RAW files.  All digital SLR cameras (and some point and shoots) are capable of taking two image formats – JPEG which is the indsutry standard and universally readable image format, but also what we call a proprietary RAW file which contains a great deal more of image data and information for performing editing operations to the image later on.

The JPEG Scoop

If you shoot JPEG, the camera performs processing to the image before your end result is written to your memory card.  In addition to just reading the exposure of the scene and determining the proper settings, post-capture, the camera renders certain parameters of the image based on what shooting mode you might have been in, or options you have set in the camera.  The in-camera processing includes adjusting white balance, adjusting contrast, saturation and sharpness in the image and lastly, the JPEG file becomes compressed meaning: whatever information the camera decides is no longer necessary, it throws out.

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Welcome to the third and final installment of this series of Tips & Techniques.  This week we will finish up our discussion on white balance, specifically with respect to customizing your settings for difficult lighting conditions and how to use the white balance controls built into your camera as creative tools – as achieving the ‘proper’ white balance is both technical and aesthetic.  Let me explain what I mean by this.

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Last week, we made clear the fact that the color of light can be perceived differently depending on whether it is natural or artificial light, the type of artificial light, and even the atmospheric conditions under which we are perceiving natural light.  The color of the light (further referred to herein as color temperature) is measured in the scientific scale of degrees Kelvin.  Colors that make up the light spectrum have a temperature associated with them.  The lower the Kelvin temperature (1500K-4800K), the redder the light (candle light, tungsten bulbs) and the higher the Kelvin temperature (5000K-10,000K) the bluer the light (sunny day, overcast day, even higher a clear deep blue sky). (more…)

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All light is not created equal.  I say created, because there are many types of light that are manufactured (like light bulbs) in addition to the light we get from our local sun.  Even the light we receive from the sun does not appear to us the same all the time.

This issue comes up regularly in my own work when I do product photography, especially when it is critical to replicate precise colors for logos and branding.  (more…)

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For some this article may sound very basic and simplistic, buts it’s a question I am asked all the time in my seminars and private consulting sessions.  “What’s the best way for me to get my photos into the computer?” This article will not go completely in-depth with file management and the importance of metadata as used with Adobe Lightroom, but it will push the limits of basic folder organization and creating a back-up copy of your images.

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