Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tips for Crisp Pix with Low Noise

Ever chimp the pic at the back of your camera, ooh-ing and ah-ing over the rich, sharp image only to get it into your computer and see shake, blur, noise and other disappointing problems?

Darn it all to heck, you want National Geographic quality, crisp photos with even colors and gradients! Well, let's face it, the NG guys usually have better equipment than you and I. However, with some care, skill, and my tips, you can achieve some marvels with image quality.

  • If your budget allows, get all that fancy gear. But if you can only afford one fancy item, make it a good fast lens. F2.8 or wider. Some folks believe that prime lenses are generally sharper than zooms. So keep that in mind, too.

  • Lenses or camera bodies equipped with Image Stabilization (Vibration Reduction, etc.) will help with the twitch of hand-holding.

  • Can't afford new gear? Ok, try this..... use your tripod. If you're not run-and-gunning it too much, a tripod, or perhaps a monopod can really make a difference.

  • If light levels allow (and that f2.8 would help here) keep your ISO low, in the 50-200 range. This won't affect focus, but it will reduce or nearly eliminate color noise.

  • Using a dslr? Most of them have a feature called Mirror Lockup. This moves the mirror (that allows you to see through the camera via the viewfinder) out of the way an extra moment prior to releasing the shutter. This eliminates the tiny vibration that is caused by snapping that mirror out of the way at the last split-second.

  • Use a remote shutter release to avoid the slight shake caused by pressing the shutter. Don't have one or your camera won't take one? Use your camera's self-timer (on it's quickest setting, say 2 seconds). Does the same thing for no investment.

  • Shooting moving objects? Try a high shutter speed. But remember that you will then lose light. So you may have to open up your aperture (which affects depth of field) or up your ISO (which introduces noise). If possible add flash or strobe to help you freeze that motion.

Now get out there and shoot, you National Geographic stringer!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Album Pages

Did some work recently on an album for a wedding I shot in January. I always start the designs clean and simple and work my way up from there. The couple approved the first version and off we go to press!

This was a spread from the end of the book that I particularly enjoy. The garter is always good for an emotional shot whether it be shock, silliness, laughter, alarm, or contempt. As you can tell, this one was all about the laughter!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Matt & Katie's Wedding!

I had the honor of shooting Matt and Katie's wedding this weekend and it couldn't have been lovelier! The bride was beautiful, the groom was dapper and ready to go, and the weather was simply picture perfect!

The big surprise of the evening? The father of the bride called a square dance! Unique and big fun!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Optimizing Images for the Web

Ever wonder why an image that you put on the web looks a bit dull and muted compared to what you saw when you were editing it? Well....

I always thought that that was just the way things go. But my eyes were recently opened by a terrific article in the April/May issue of Photoshop User magazine. Pick it up and check out the Photoshop Speed Clinic article by Matt Kloskowski on page 58. A great explanation regarding color space (most of us work in Adobe RGB but the web displays things in sRGB) and a step-by-step (with tips to make it a recordable action).

It also mentions a previewing tool that, in my humble opinion, works as a speedy cheat if you are in a hurry. Once you have appropriately reduced your image for the web, just go under the File menu and choose "Save for Web & Devices...". Your image should pop up under the "optimised" tab and voila! Just save it that way. Probably be a good idea to rename it, too.

This beautiful bride was subjected to the same treatment, after a polarizing filter, light vignette, and some sharpening of the eyes.

Check out the Photoshop User. I thought this issue had more good tips and tricks than usual.