Saturday, October 24, 2009

Photographing your pets at home

Just after wildlife, the craze amongst photographers is to take photographs of their pets at home. While few people get to capture wildlife, at home there’s a large percentage of people taking snaps of their pets.

It can get pretty addicting, even after considering you are not filling up your house with all kinds of animals! The first and foremost aspect I find that makes any photo of a pet look interesting is what the subject is doing. It will look pretty ordinary if your dog is found sleeping in a spectacular photo. But that same dog if caught floating in the garden by your camera could be a stunning shot. Snapping up puppies could yield some of the cutest photos. But to get really close to them first get friendly with them. Else they will really start to take defensive action in case you attack them. Close-ups of dogs and birds really look nice, and better still if they have an expression in their face. So bottom line comes to that if the pet is doing something in which it looks good, take photos at that time.

The other part is the background and the accessories around your pet. Often with cool looking and clean indoors there comes out some nice photos. Outdoors, a sunny day is a perfect time to take photos. Your shutter speed would also favor you. When your pets get playful in such an environment, there’s no better time and place to take your photos!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time Lapse : Wonder of Digital Photography

This is one of the most extreme wonders of digital photography. We often confuse it with video being played at high-speed. Providing a spectacular effect to phenomenon that generally take a long time to the human eye. Putting together some snaps taken at regular intervals, time lapses provide a spectacular demonstration that is really cool to look at.

But there are some very basic considerations I find must be made. The camera must be placed in a very stable position for the entire length of time for the best effects. Having a tripod stand is the best option, otherwise it could be placed on some table or somewhere and the outlines of the camera being marked by a pencil or something so that you can notice even the slightest movement. The next bigger problem is having power supply for the entire duration. I suggest switching off the camera at that same position (cause I don’t want dust falling on my lenses for the 2 hour duration). Then at regular intervals you come and take the snaps. This is considering you have the patience. If you do not have the patience, try out some automatic settings if you have in your camera that will take the photos at fixed intervals.

Then you can easily use some standard software to collect all the photos and make a movie that plays them at a fast rate, say with a gap of 0.125 seconds and you get the desired effect. Check out this collection below.

Monday, October 05, 2009

What is the best Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation and ISO settings for your camera?

First and foremost there are some assumptions to be made before this article gets underway. Many of us use Photoshop and other image editing software, well, if you are not, no problems. But you have to decide how much of post-photo processing you are ready to do. If you are ready to work a lot on your pictures (if you have a large collection you can be well spending several days depending on how much attention you put to the details), then you might find the settings below useful.

*Contrast : Negative (or Minimum)
*Brightness : Zero (or Neutral)
*Saturation : Zero (or Neutral)
*ISO : 80-200 (Sunny Day), 200-400 (Cloudy Day), Indoors (400-800), Moving Objects (1600, with exposure as low as possible)

So you have tried taking a few photographs with the above settings and is extremely disappointed with the results? Now choose a photo and use Photoshop to adjust the brightness and contrast. Use sharpen or smart sharpen whichever you like more. Adjust the saturation up to a point where you feel its ok. Take care of the noise. And see the result.

As many people tend not to get to do so much of processing task behind every photo, it’s sometimes better to keep a few settings handy. I have 5 levels for each of my settings of contrast, sharpness and saturation (-2, –1, 0, +1, +2). The settings I like to use most is Contrast +1, Sharpness +2, Saturation +2 and ISO 400. You can easily play around with these and find your own unique combination which you like most.

Have some photos or settings to talk about? Feel free to share with me.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Contrast vs Sharpness : Digital Photography

This is one of the by-far toughest to differentiate and comprehend in the photography world. I have tried my best to share my knowledge in the simplest way. If you want to skip all the details, here it is for you “Sharpness will only be concerned with the outlines of the different objects that appear in your photographs. Contrast will differentiate the texture, highlight the difference in color or shade amongst two adjacent surfaces making their clarity and outlines more prominent.” Didn’t make any sense? Read on!

When you are adjusting the sharpness in your camera, you are basically focusing your attention to make each an object very clear and distinct from one another. It helps make the edges and lines that are present look more distinct. When you buy expensive lenses this is one of the major factors which makes it expensive. So it apparently seems that why even consider contrast when sharpness alone can make our photos better. But one unavoidable scenario is that noise is bound to come with increasing sharpness. So you have to choose it wisely.

Contrast also contributes in making your photos sharper. When you are adjusting the contrast in your camera, you are making the surface texture more distinct, more emphasized than it is. So the border between two such surfaces is bound to get more pronounced along with the surfaces themselves. As the surfaces and the shades of colors gets their importance, the separation zones between them become clearer and the overall picture looks sharper. So is the contrast contributing to the sharpness of the image? Yes it is! So both of them virtually play a role together in the sharpness of a photo.

An example would make it clear. Here below in the original photo you can see the sun, boat, waves and the reflection on the sand. The waves are not very clear near the coast and the reflection on the sand spreads away lightly. Now see the next photo.
Now in the picture below, only the contrast has been adjusted. See the difference. The boat, the waves near the coast as well as the reflection has become sharper. They are visibly highlighted than the above picture where they dissolved with their neighbors.   
And now below only the sharpness has been increased over the first original picture. The beach and the waves with the boat already seem to have lots of more detailed black lines. However, the texture around them has remained the same. That’s why the reflection doesn’t look as good as the above picture (where the contrast has been adjusted, which indicates that only by adjusting the contrast your picture can look a lot better.) But for best results, an optimum level of sharpness is essential. Notice the noise over the waves on the center and right side.
Now in this final picture, both the contrast and sharpness has been adjusted to give the best possible effect. The boat, waves and the reflection are distinctly pronounced along with the minute details on the sand, the curves of the waves and the outlines of the boat.
Contrast   Sharpness     
As much differences may exist between the two, contrast and sharpness are essentially the two most closely related aspects that sets every photographer uniquely apart. Perfect combination of both these often produces some master-pieces. If you are new to this, just keep on practising and you will soon find your own unique combination of both you will enjoy.