Posts Tagged ‘Software’

Hands-On Digital Photography, by George Schaub

October 21, 2008

One of the great things about the Internet is that most of what you read online is free — like this journal, the Photobird Daily.

Another great thing about the Internet is that anyone can contribute to it. That means that there’s a huge amount of photography material online that you can learn from.

But that can also be a problem: Anyone can write anything they want. And some people don’t write as well as others; they can be difficult to understand, or they may be wrong. The text on their web pages can sometimes be too small to read, and pages often have a lot of annoying distractions on them.

So it’s good that we still have books! One of the best things about books is that publishers will only work with select authors who have honed their craft. That’s not to say that all books are great, or that they’re better than what you can find online. But the limited number of books available certainly makes it easier to find high-quality books, especially when you’re learning something new.

One photography book that looks great for beginners is Hands-On Digital Photography, by George Schaub. Amazingly, the book covers a wide range of topics, from basic things you should know about digital images, to settings and features you’ll find on digital cameras and how to modify them to get the best photos. In the last part of the book, George Schaub writes about how to use software to work with and enhance your photos after you transfer them from your camera to your computer — which he also explains well.

George Schaub writes in a concise, easy-to-understand manner. He doesn’t go into excruciating detail with everything he discusses, but he covers just enough to satisfy beginners and answer their questions. Each topic has a description, along with “Try It” and “How It Works” sections that enable you to practice on your own.

Another great thing about the book is that the text is large and easy to read. The photos are large too, and of course, there are good examples for every step. The book is laid out very well and easy to read.

Experienced photographers will probably find the book too simple, but if you’re new to digital cameras and want to learn more about digital photography, Hands-On Digital Photography covers a lot of material in a well-written fashion, and will definitely help you get started on your way to becoming a master photographer.

Hands-On Digital Photography is published by my favorite book publisher, Amphoto Books, which also publishes Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson. Understanding Exposure is listed as a prize each month for the Photobird Photo Contest, but the winners actually get to choose a book. Winners may choose one of the books listed on the page at ; click the book covers and if “Amphoto” is listed under the ISBN number at the top, then the book is available as a prize. The following books are also available as prizes:

Enter the Photobird Photo Contest for your chance to win Hands-On Digital Photography!

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How to Crop Photos to Improve Them

June 30, 2008

Screenshot © Copyright Peter Carey

Cropping has been around since the dawn of photography. It used to be a bit of a backroom art accomplished with a straight edge and an X-acto knife, and you only had one chance to get it right. But now, the proliferation of digital photography software has allowed anyone a chance to crop their photos easily, and with few negative consequences. You can simply work on a backup photo, or don’t save your changes if you don’t like the resulting image.

Oftentimes, cropping can be used to strengthen the composition of an otherwise lackluster photograph. And of course, in order to crop well, one must understand the rules of photographic composition.

This interesting article from Peter Carey on the Digital Photography School looks specifically at how to crop photos.

Peter advises readers to use the Rule of Thirds as a guideline for improving their compositions, even when cropping. Digital photography software, such as Adobe Lightroom which Peter uses in his examples, often comes with preset crop ratios that match the size of paper you will most likely be printing to, such as 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10. Picnik, our favorite, free, easy-to-use online photo editing software, also has preset crop ratios.

In addition, Peter shows how to create panorama prints, set a custom 1:3 ratio, and adjust the selection box to highlight what you want to keep in the photo. You can also create a free-form crop box if you want to go after a specific detail in the frame.

Cropping can really improve some photographs; however, keep in mind if your original photos were taken with a low megapixel camera, the resolution of your image may suffer greatly once cropped. You may see distortion or “jaggies” in your printed photos. Peter advises readers to check with their printer for guidelines on the minimum number of pixels required for a good photo and to be sure to not crop below this number.