One of the chief advantages of digital photography is that you can see the picture immediately after you press the shutter release. This allows you to reshoot if necessary or delete pictures as you go to save room on the memory card. Some cameras have instant preview, a programmable amount of time that holds the picture on the LCD screen for anywhere from 2 to 10 seconds. Others require you to press the monitor display to see the image, or to switch to playback mode to review images.
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A few image-playback tips and techniques:
Use your instant review function to check on image quality. If you find that there's a problem, it makes it easy to reshoot on the spot. After you have made a number of images, you can review them one at a time, as a grid of images or use a slide show format. To do this, you switch the camera from shooting to playback mode and activate the review options.
Keep in mind that LCD screens are not always reliable predictors of how the image actually looks. For example, if you make a photograph in a low-light situation, it may look quite dark on the LCD screen. When you open up the image on your computer later, however, a simple brightness and contrast adjustment reveals a fully detailed image.
If you are working with a digital point and shoot (as opposed to a digital SLR) and you like to make macro, or close-up shots, it's a good idea to use the LCD monitor viewer for framing and composition. Working through the finder at such close range will result in the image being framed differently than you might have hoped due to what's called "parallax" error.
The instant review function is great for checking exposure and rethinking the way you made the shot and fixing it for the next exposure. But the main thing to look for on the monitor is whether the framing and subject expression is to your liking.
Some digital cameras also have an info playback mode that displays the camera settings along with each picture. This allows you to see what you did when you made the picture and, if you're not happy with the results, use the information to help correct the image. A few digital cameras can display a histogram, a graphic representation of the scene that shows you if the image is under- or over-exposed. You can use this to correct problems in your next exposure.
About Author / Instructor / Photographer, George Schaub
George Schaub is the Editorial Director of Shutterbug and Petersen's Photographic magazines.
He has authored many books, including Focus on Digital Landscape Photography (Lark Books, 2010), The Digital Photolab: Advanced Black and White Techniques, and Using Your Digital Camera.
George has taught black and white printing in the US and abroad, and is a member of the faculty at the New School University in New York. His work has appeared in numerous gallery shows and museums.
For more of his work, visit his Web site: gschaub.zenfolio.com
Note: Don't miss the BetterPhoto interview with George Schaub.