I will be covering the basics of manipulating your work on the computer. Every photographer needs to be able to use some kind of photo editing software in order to make each image look their best. I use Adobe Photoshop for my work, and I will explain why in this article.
If you are not fully aware of the benefits of a DSLR let me do a quick summary. The first, and some believe the most important feature, is that you look through the viewfinder and you see exactly what the camera sees. In other words, the light from the subject enters the lens of the camera, and this is the image you see. The light from the lens is diverted onto the imaging sensor when you take the photo. In normal daylight, this happens so quickly, it is barely noticeable. In dim light conditions, you will not be able to see through the camera until the exposure is finished.
As a result of being able to see the subject through the lens, just as the camera does, you can take advantage of other features if the camera manufacturer has built it into the camera body. One such feature is Depth of Field preview. When you look through the camera at the subject, you can clearly see the subject because the camera uses the maximum aperture available to see the subject, and therefore, you can see if the subject is in focus or not. It is the function of the aperture in the lens to let the light in so you can see the subject clearly. However, if the camera has a Depth of Field preview, you can invoke this function and the lens will stop down to the aperture that the lens will be at when the photo is taken and recorded. This will allow you to see what parts of the image are in sharp focus, both in front and behind the subject. The image may be a little more difficult to see as there will now be less light coming through the lens, but it is a great way to see what will be in focus when you take the photo.
When taking portraits though, you will usually not want the foreground or the background to be in focus, as this can result in an image where the subject is not clearly delineated from the background. Using this method, you will get a great result. Use the maximum aperture and adjust the shutter speed to get the correct exposure. If you are going to use a flash to provide fill light for the subject, then of course, the maximum shutter speed will be limited to the maximum flash synch speed, and you will have to use the required aperture to achieve a good exposure. There are many choices that need to be made when you are taking photos.
The correct resolution and file format is very important. You need to make these settings first, before you take the first photo. Most small compact cameras do not usually offer many adjustments, unless you consider the high end compacts. Most will allow you to take photos at low, medium or high resolution, but will not allow you to make little if any, other selections. On a DSLR camera, you will often have a large number of options available. I believe that you should take every photo at the maximum resolution available. This way, you will always have sufficient data in the file so you can crop or enlarge the image, and still have good quality photos.
Memory cards are very inexpensive these days, so it is not hard to purchase several cards, and store all the images you take. Even though the RAW format at high resolution creates the largest files, the low cost of memory cards allows you to carry multiple with you at all times. You will need to add some external hard drives to your computer so you can store all the pictures you take. External drives these days are getting very big, typically in the two to five hundred gigabyte sizes, for extremely low cost. Consider that today, you can buy one of these drives for less than $ 100. Back in 1990, I purchased a 300 Megabyte drive for $ 1200. If you do the comparison, a 500 Gigabyte drive today should cost around $ 2Million! Yikes. Thank goodness for technology.
In the next article, I will go into some more detail on why using the RAW format is so important. It really provides you with the most flexibility for manipulating the basic exposure information, once you start editing your photos. And after you take the photos and put them onto the hard drive, you'll need to make some adjustments, sometimes just small ones, and for other images, you may need to make some fairly large adjustments. More in the next article.
Copyright (c) 2008 Tom Jackson