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4.1 Original image © 2002 Gregory Georges 4*1 (cp 4*1) Edited image © 2002 Gregory Georges

ABOUT THE IMAGE

"North Carolina Farm Buildings" Canon PowerShot G2 mounted on a tripod, 102mm (35mm equivalent), Super-Fine image-quality setting, ISO 50,f/8 @ 1/320,2,272 x 1,704 pixels, 2.1MB .jpg

Being able to take a photo and immediately see it is one of the more significant benefits of using a digital camera. If you want to take the best possible photos, you need to learn about those features your camera offers for both "previewing" and "reviewing" photos to assess the technical as well as compositional aspects of your "just-taken" photo. After you get used to using these features, you'll have one more reason why you will want to shoot with a digital camera instead of a film camera!

The photo shown in Figure 4.2 (CP 4.2) was actually the third of four photos that were taken of the North Carolina farm buildings. Figure 4.3 (CP 4.3) shows how the camera was set up on a tripod with the LCD monitor set to "preview" the image of the farm buildings. Each time the shutter release button was pressed, a "review" screen displayed the image settings and the captured image for two seconds. Several additional shots were taken with different adjustments to the settings based upon the information on the "review" screen.

To make sure that one of the images was exposed properly, the Canon PowerShot G2 was put in "review" mode and the "exposure histogram" (you learn more about this in Technique 11) was examined to determine that the photo in Figure 4.1 was the "best" shot and that it was exposed correctly. The photo in Figure 4.2 (CP 4.2) is the result of some basic image editing in Adobe Photoshop Elements to improve image contrast, exposure, and image sharpness.

In this technique, you learn how to get the most from the "preview" and "review" features your digital camera offers, so that you can take better photos.

STEP 1: SET PREVIEW AND REVIEW FEATURES

Digital cameras have many different features to preview and review photos. There are also many different ways in which you access these features. A "preview" feature allows you to take a look at an image on an LCD monitor before you press the shutter release button and to have a quick visual check of the camera settings and composition.

A "review" feature allows you to look back or to review an image after the photograph has been taken. Some of the new Minolta and Sony digital cameras

4.3 (cp 4.3) © 2002 Gregory Georges

have gone one additional step forward — they actually allow you to view "after" image and exposure information before you've taken the photo! This means that you can make all the settings adjustments you want to get the photo you want, before taking a single photo!

Depending on your camera model, the differences between the preview and review features can be substantial. Once again, you should consult the documentation that came with your camera. Look for features that "replay," "preview," or "review" images. Also, check to see whether your camera offers a histogram. I have known many digital camera owners who have had their cameras for months and were not aware of the many useful features that could be used to substantially improve their photos. Don't be a part of this group! Check out your documentation.

Assuming that you have sufficient battery power and that your camera has a "review" feature, set it to display an image for a couple of seconds after a shot has been taken. This quick review is good enough to get an idea of how close you were to getting the shot you wanted. Usually, these review modes also let you read a few other important camera settings on the monitor as well as the number of photos you've taken and the number that you can take based upon current camera settings. Not every digital camera allows you to preview a photo until you change to a "preview mode," which takes you out of shooting mode.

WARNING

The use of some LCD monitors can rapidly drain power from batteries. Consider turning off any "automatic review" features that your camera may have when you need to conserve on battery power. Some of the older digital cameras can consume a set of four new AA batteries in under an hour when the LCD monitor is used while shooting.

If your camera has a review mode, you should also check to see whether it has alternative review modes. Some are simply views of the image, while other modes show shot information on the screen, too.

STEP 2: DETERMINE OBJECTIVES AND SELECT APPROPRIATE SETTINGS

Step 1 in Technique 3 discussed the importance of visualizing how you want your photo to look before you take it. After you have decided, you should then, and only then, choose the most appropriate settings to get the shot you want. Selecting focal length, exposure mode, metering mode, aperture, and shutter speed are just a few of the many settings that you are likely to want to set.

STEP 3: COMPOSE IMAGE AND TAKE PHOTO

After you have set all the necessary settings to get the photo you want, you are ready to compose your shot. Most digital cameras offer two ways to view and compose your photo — you can either view the scene on an LCD monitor, or through an optical viewfinder.

If your camera has an optical viewfinder, you need to be aware that it may not provide you with an accurate view of the photo that you will be taking. Most compact digital cameras with optical viewfinders have what is known as the parallax phenomenon. This phenomenon is due to the physical separation between the viewfinder and the lens. The closer your subject is to your lens, the less your photo is likely to look like the view you see when looking through the viewfinder. Some of the newer cameras have electronic viewfinders, or ELFs. These viewfinders are actually high-resolution LCDs and they show the same image as the LCD monitor.

Optical viewfinders do have two advantages. First, they do not consume battery power like LCD monitors, which can be important if you have limited battery power. Second, viewfinders can often be easier to use in bright daylight because light can wash out the image on an LCD monitor. If you use the viewfinder, you should also check to see whether it has a diopter adjustment to adapt to your vision.

When you've composed your shot as you want it, press the shutter button to take a photo. If you have a preview feature and it has been turned on, you should now be able to get a quick two-second view of the image you just shot.

STEP 4: REVIEW IMAGE AND CHECK SETTINGS

If you want to look more carefully at the shot you've just taken (or earlier shots, too), you probably need to change to a review mode. You usually do so using the same dial that allows you to change exposure settings. Check your documentation to learn how to change to a review mode and to learn about the various review modes that are available. Some digital cameras allow you to view up to 16 small thumbnails on the LCD monitor so that you can quickly find the photo that you want to examine. Many cameras also have options for how much shooting data is displayed on the LCD monitor in addition to the image.

Figure 4.4 (CP 4.4) shows the detailed review screen in the LCD monitor of the Canon PowerShot G2. This is just one of two display settings offered on the

4.4 (cp 4.4) © 2002 Gregory Georges

G2. From that screen, you can see that aperture was set to 1/400, f-stop was set to f/8.0, no exposure compensation was used, white balance was set to daylight, metering mode was set to evaluative, image resolution was set to the maximum resolution, and the lowest level of compression was used. You can also read the date and time, plus the image file number and folder number. Equally important is that you can also see the exposure histogram, which gives you excellent insight into how well your photo was exposed (even more so than what you can determine from looking at the image).

To determine whether your image is in focus, check to see whether your camera allows you to zoom in on the displayed photo. A zoom feature not only helps you to check an image to see whether it's in focus, but it also helps you check on subject details such as eyes to see whether they blinked or have red-eye.

As you review your images, you can also delete those that you don't want to keep. Deleting images gives you more space for more photos and it reduces

TIP

To avoid having to look at a washed-out LCD monitor in bright sun, consider getting the Xtend-a-View LCD magnifying finder www. photosolve.com. It's now available with an optional rubber eyecup to make it even easier to use in bright sunlight.

To avoid having to look at a washed-out LCD monitor in bright sun, consider getting the Xtend-a-View LCD magnifying finder www. photosolve.com. It's now available with an optional rubber eyecup to make it even easier to use in bright sunlight.

the amount of time you spend later when you download your photos to your computer.

STEP 5: SHOOT AGAIN IF NEEDED

After you have reviewed your photos, you will be able to decide whether you have the shots you want. If not, compose your picture again with new settings; then, once again, press the shutter button to take another photo. If you're not sure you have what you want, try a few other settings and take a few more photos. (In Technique 12, you learn about exposure bracketing — a great technique for ensuring that you have the exposure you want.)

WARNING

Although you may be tempted to review and delete all the photos that you think you don't want while shooting, you may end up tossing out shots that you would like to keep. As useful as the LCD monitors are, they are quite small and you may not be able to see as much as you think you can. Photos that look like they are in focus or exposed may not be. If you have enough space on your digital photo storage media, you're usually better off deleting images on your computer because you can view them full-size on your computer monitor before making any deletions.

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Reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information presented in this book is  accurate. However, the reader should understand that the information provided does not constitute legal, medical or professional advice of any kind.

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