The Essentials of Good Digital Photography

In This Chapter

^ Choosing equipment ^ Making great digital photos ^ Converting other photos to digital format ^ Making hard-copy prints

■ n 1888, George Eastman began promoting the first hand-held Kodak camera with the slogan, "You press the button, we do the rest." His idea was to make the camera as ubiquitous as the pencil. However, the film king's dream didn't really come true until the invention of the digital camera.

Certainly, conventional photography has long been as simple as pressing a button, but the "we do the rest" part — taking the film to a photo lab, deciding what size and kind of prints to make, and then waiting for the results — is a lot less convenient than using a pencil.

Digital photography has finally put the entire process of making pictures in the hands of the person holding the camera. You compose the picture through the viewfinder (as always), but now you can preview the exact photograph that you're going to take with a bright liquid crystal display (LCD) screen on the back of your camera, or through an electronic viewfinder inside. Then, after snapping a shot, you can instantly review the photos you've taken and erase the bad pictures on the spot.

Even better, you don't need to remember to stop and buy film; digital "film" (storage memory) is almost infinitely reusable. And you don't have to drop off film for finishing any more: It's "processed" instantly, ready for viewing or printing from your own inexpensive color printer. Wow, no more sifting through stacks of prints of marginal images. You decide which images to print up and whether to make them 4 x 6 inches or 5 x 7 inches or some other size.

You also don't need to fret if your images aren't exactly right or could benefit from a little cropping. With an image editor, such as Photoshop cs or Photoshop Elements 3.0, you can fix bad color, remove your ex-brother-in-law from a family photo, or adjust the borders of an image to focus on the most interesting subject matter.

Digital photography puts everything in your hands: You press the button, and you can do as much of the rest yourself as you're comfortable with. If all you want to do is point and shoot, you can do that. Taking photos and making prints can be as simple as snapping a picture and then slipping your digital film card (also referred to as a memory card) into a slot in your color printer to crank out selected snapshots. Or, you can take your memory card to a kiosk or digital workstation at your local retailer and make prints there. On the other hand, if you want to have full control over your photos, digital photography gives you that, too, to a degree that has never before been possible.

This chapter provides an overview of the sort of things you can find out how to do in this book. I cover each topic in more detail in a mini-book and chapter of its own.

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