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Portrait Photography

Whether you plan to photograph professional portraits, or just learn to take better digital photos of friends and family, there are certain techniques and tools you will need to get great results.

1. Lighting

Lighting is the absolute key to portrait photography. Each subject is different and may require direct, indirect or diffused lighting. You can start by using regular table lamps to provide a variety of light sources, and work your way up to professional photography lights. Shadows are the bane of portrait photography, unless they are placed in the correct location.

If you plan to use table lamps, make sure that the lamp shades are a light or neutral color, so that the light will be softened. You can start with three lamps placed to the back, side and front of your subject, and move them around as necessary.

Backlighting is an essential element to creating interesting effects in your portraits. It can produce a halo effect behind your subject and add visual interest to an otherwise plain photography. Try experimenting with different levels of backlighting to create different effects.

A light meter is helpful if you plan to take a lot of portraits and will help you gauge the amount of light needed on your various subjects.

2. Backdrops

A good backdrop is essential to good lighting. A dark background will swallow the light and may cast too many shadows. A shiny background will reflect light, causing too much light to flood your subject.

The best backdrop is one that is neutral in color and matte in texture. White can be a very difficult color for a backdrop, so it is advisable to stick with neutrals and patternless backdrops as you begin. Once you have gotten your lighting elements down, and feel more comfortable with taking portrait shots, you can begin to introduce backdrops with a subtle pattern. Remember, you don't want to draw the viewer's attention away from the subject. The backdrop should compliment your subject and never overpower it.

3. Get closer

With a digital camera, it is very important to get closer to your subjects when taking a portrait photo. This adds intimacy to your photo, an essential component of great portrait photography. Your focal lengths will need to be much shorter, in some cases, you will need to be right next to your subject. Don't use your zoom when taking these photos, unless it absolutely necessary.

4. Get softer

Try experimenting with different filters for your camera to soften the shot. There are several on the market that will give you a myriad of options, from slight color changes to a gauzy effect.

5. Develop a style

As you begin to learn more about portrait photography by experimenting with your different options, you can begin to cultivate your own style. Style is what seperates the professional photographers from the amateurs. Keep practicing and you'll develop a style that is all your own.

January 5, 2005 in Tutorials | Permalink | TrackBack

Sharing Digital Photos

Once you've taken your digital photos, you'll want to share them with friends, family and possibly the general public. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Save them in a correct format

The two most popular formats for digital photos are gifs and jpegs. If you save your image as either one of these two formats, it will be viewable by most of the computers and software on the market today.

2. Emailing digital photos

Most email programs have the capability of inserting a digital photo into the body of the email. If not, you should be able to add them as an attachment. But you simply can't send tens of high resolution digital photos with one single e-mail.

3. Sharing digital photos on the internet

You have several options here. One is peer-to-peer sharing, such as Hello. Peer-to-Peer is similar to the way Napster and other music sharing services work. Everyone's photos are made available to everyone who is using the service. If you are concerned about security, or just don't want your child's birthday party available to everyone on the internet, this option will not be a good fit.

One of the best, and most secure ways to share your photos on the internet is through a respected image gallery site. Pixagogo makes sure that you are in control of your gallery and the url to your digital photos. If you only want certain people to view your photos, you can send only those people the link to your  photo gallery. You can also chose to promote your gallery by sending your links to several people but you are in absolute control of your digital photos and the permission to view them.

5. Using a photo gallery site

Most online photo galleries will allow you to upload your digital photos and create a photo gallery where they can be viewed. Pixagogo provides a unique photo gallery editor which will allow you to showcase your digital photos and add interesting backgrounds, borders and logos to your photo gallery.

The Internet was made for sharing and it offers the amateur and professional photographer a wonderful place to publish, promote and share their digital photos.

December 17, 2004 in Tutorials | Permalink | TrackBack

Digital Imaging Fundamentals

The basic principles of digital photography are simple. You take the photo, upload it to your computer and you're free to print or share your photos on the Internet. But how does it work?

A digital camera takes a photo by using a sensor that changes light into electrical charges. Most digital cameras use a CCD, or Charge Coupled Device. A CCD is made up of diodes, which are very small and light sensitive. These diodes convert light into electrons, or an electrical charge.

Another method, currently gaining ground, is CMOS, or Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. This method uses a similar process, but the CMOS sensors are much more affordable, which is why you have seen the prices of digital cameras drop.

So what's the difference between the two?

When you are using a camera with a CCD device, the electical charge is read across a chip at one corner. Then, an analog to digital converter maps each pixel and turns it out into a digital value. A CMOS camera simply uses several transistors located at each pixel to move and amplify the charge using regular wires. This is a more flexible method, since each pixel can then be read individually.

In other words, a CCD camera will output high quality photos which have a low amount of "noise" or distortion. A CMOS camera, although inexpensive and cheaper to use since it uses less power, will produce photos that are of a lower quality with more noise than a CCD camera.

Now that your photo has been read and converted using either of these two methods, you now have a digital photo. Once you have your digital photo captured in your camera, you can normally view it on your camera's LCD screen. This will enable you to get an idea of what the finished photo will look like. This is a terrific advantage over standard cameras, as it gives you the option of immediately fixing what could have been a bad photo. You won't need to wait for the film to be developed to find out your photo didn't turn out the way you wanted it.

This photo is made up of thousands or more commonly, millions of tiny pixels that when put together, create the photo you see with your human eye.

The amount of pixels in each image will determine the resolution and file size of the finished photo. A photo with a lesser amount of pixels will have a smaller resolution and file size. This also means that the photo will be of a lower quality. A photo with a high amount of pixels, commonly referred to as megapixels, or million pixels, will have a great resolution and a large file size. Your memory card will store these photos until you upload them to your computer or printer.

Your camera should have an option which will let you select the resolution for your images.

You may have noticed when purchasing and using your camera terms called Optical Zoom and Digital Zoom. What do these mean?

Optical zoom will actually modify the focal length of the lens. This means that your image is actually magnified by the lens itself. This is comparable to the zoom feature in standard film cameras.

Digital zoom is a digital method that enlarges a portion of your image as it hits the CCD or CMOS sensors. If you are using 2x zoom for example, your camera will use half of the pixels at the center of the sensor and ignore the rest. It will then use a technique called interpolation to add the detail to the photo.

These are the basics behind digital imaging and what goes on between the time you click the button to take the photograph and when it appears on your LCD screen.

December 13, 2004 in Tutorials | Permalink | TrackBack