The Three Steps Of Digital Photography

Digital cameras are just one link in a long chain leading from the original scene through to the final image that you display or distribute. In fact, a digital camera isn't even an absolutely necessary link in the chain. The key element in digital photography is an image in a digital format made up pixels. Although a digital camera captures photos in this digital format, you can also scan slides, negatives, or prints to convert these traditional images into the same digital format.

To understand how the camera fits in with other parts of the digital photography system, it helps to understand the three basic steps involved in creating and using digital photographs-input, processing, and output.

Image processing steps.

Step 1. Inputting Photographs

Input devices get photographs or other data into a computer system. The input device you're probably most familiar with is the keyboard. However, there are hundreds of other input devices including mice, touch pads, voice recognition systems, scanners, and so on. Here are some of the input devices you can use to create digital photographs:

• Digital still cameras capture photographs in a digital format.

• Film cameras capture photographs on slides, negatives, or prints which you can then scan to convert them to digital photographs.

• Video cameras capture images in a video format. You can then use a frame grabber to isolate out individual frames and save them as still images.

• Digital video cameras sometimes are able to capture still images just like a digital still camera does. You can also use a video-editing card to extract still images from the digital video.

Step 2. Processing Photographs

Once a photograph is in digital form, you can store it on your system and then edit or manipulate it with a photo-editing program such as Photoshop. The things you can do to a digital image are almost endless. In some cases you improve an image by eliminating or reducing its flaws. In other cases, you adjust an image for other purposes, perhaps to make it smaller for e-mailing or posting on a Web site. Finally, you might take an image to a new place, making it something it never was. Here are just a few of the ways you can process images:

• Crop the photograph to emphasize the key part.

• Reduce the size of the photograph to make it smaller for posting on the Web or e-mailing.

• Use filters to sharpen it or even make it look like a watercolor or oil painting.

• Stitch together multiple frames to create panoramas.

• Merge two images to create a 3D stereo effect, or an animated image for display on the Web.

• Change brightness and contrast to improve the image.

• Cut and paste parts of one image into another to create a photo montage.

• Convert the photograph to another format.

The original photo, taken with a digital camera.

The image manipulated by Cyndi Kirkpatrick at Eos Development.

The original photo, taken with a digital camera.

The image manipulated by Cyndi Kirkpatrick at Eos Development.

Step 3. Outputting Photographs

Once an image is the way you want it, you can output it to share with others. There are lots of ways to display and distribute digital photographs. Here are some of the most popular ways:

Print the image on a color printer.

Insert the photograph into a word processing or desktop publishing document. Post the photograph on a Web site or a photo network. E-mail the photograph to friends or family members.

Send the photo to a service on the Web for specialty printing onto T-shirts, posters, key rings, mouse pads, even cakes and cookies.

Store the photograph on your system for later use.

Use a film recorder to convert the photograph into a slide that you can project with a slide projector.

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