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Tips on Digital Photography

At BetterPhoto.com, we offer the best digital photography tips that we can find. Here are many quick ideas that will immediately improve photographic results and computer satisfaction. Feel free to add your own digital tip or read our Top Digital Shooting Tips for more great advice.

67 Tips

 
1.  Adding Keywords to Files In PS Elements for PC
Adobe has had a somewhat confusing implementation for Elements users on PC who want to sort their images with keywords. Keywords are a useful feature, but for some reason, Adobe chose to make using keywords with Elements on a PC a little more difficult than on Macs, or when using Photoshop. On Elements for PC, Adobe allows you to enter all other metadata, but not the keywords -- arguably the most important thing. Mac Elements users and Photoshop users can just type right in the keyword field. Why this difference exists, I'm not 100% sure.

The short answer to solve this problem on your PC to this is to use Organizer to enter keywords, via the Tags feature. That does work, eventhough it seems cludgy and apologetic, but it requires a little finesse as well: if you don't do the steps in precisely the right way, keywords appear in organizer, but NOT when you check the File Info in Elements. In some situations they can appear in Editor and not in Organizer!

Here's how to add keywords on your PC and get them to work in both Editor and Organizer!

1. If the image that you want to add keywords/tags to is open in Elements' Editor, save and close it for now.

2. Once the image is closed, tag your image in Organizer by creating the tags you need and then drag-and-drop them on your image in the Organizer window.

3. With the image you tagged still selected in Organizer, click the Fix button at the upper right of the Organizer.

4. Now, click the Full Edit option. The image will open in Editor. Somehow making Organizer push the image to Editor forces the keywords to be written to the file in a way that makes sense to both programs.

I filed a bug report with Adobe after the close of the Elements 7 beta about this, as well as suggestions for enhancement of the tagging/keyword features for PC and Mac. We'll see if they take it up and fix keywords for all users for Elements 8!

If you don't know about using keywords at all, you are just scratching the surface of Photoshop and Elements. You may want to take my course Photoshop 101: The Photoshop Essentials Primer to brush up on fundamentals. Photoshop [7-CS4] and Elements [2-7] users are all welcome! Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member
PhotoshopCS.com
Richard's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Correcting and Enhancing Images
4-Week Short Course: Looking Good in Print and On the Web: Color Management

10/12/2008 7:53:00 AM

 
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2.  Background Layer Editing: Opacity and Fill
Opacity and Fill adjustments can not be performed on the Background layer. To make these adjustments available for a single layer image, the Background layer must first be turned into a standard layer. Double Click the Background Layer in the Layers Palette, give it a new name (Photoshop will assign a generic one) and click OK to change it to a standard layer. The Opacity and Fill sliders will now be available. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 6:56:00 PM

 
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3.  Photoshop Actions: Saving Actions and Action Sets
Photoshop Actions may only be saved as Action Sets. A set may contain one or more actions. Image Ready does not allow you to group actions together in sets; Photoshop gives you this option so that your actions may be better organized. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 6:52:00 PM

 
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4.  Photoshop Actions: Modal Controls and Rulers
Some tools and commands in Photoshop are Modal in nature. That is to say they use units specified for the ruler to judge where in an image an operation should take place or tool function be applied. Modal tools and operations typically require you to hit Enter (PC) or Return (Mac) to accept the change or setting; transformations using the Transform commands are good examples of this.
If your action will be run on images of difference size or dimension, change the ruler units to percent prior to recording the action. When this is done the commands in the action that are modal specific will play back in the same general area in each image.
Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 6:50:00 PM

 
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5.  Photoshop Actions: Creating Printable Action Steps
You can save an action set as a text file for printing, effectively creating a hard copy of the action hat you can learn with. Here's the process for saving an Action Set as a text file:
Have only the action set that you want a text file copy of loaded into the Actions Palette. Select the Action Set name; otherwise the Save Actions option will not be available. Hold down the Control+Alt keys (PC) or Command+Option keys (Mac) and, while these are depressed, open the Actions Menu and select Save Actions from the list.
The Save dialog box will appear. Note that, rather giving the option to save with the .atn extension, the format is listed as Actions (*.TXT). Name and save the new text file to a folder on your hard drive.


Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 6:43:00 PM

 
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6.  Photoshop Actions: The Save As Command
If you include a Save As command in an action that saves the file as a JPEG, ensure you have the 'Save As Copy' checkbox checked in the Save As dialog box. If not, the action will open the Save As dialog box every time the action is run. When you save a copy of the JPEG, Photoshop will recognize your initial parameters and ignore the dialog box when that command comes up during playback. In this way you also retain the original image and have a copy in a new folder. Retaining the original is always a good thing. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 6:38:00 PM

 
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7.  Photoshop Actions: Saving Actions and Sets
Save, save, save! In other words, save your action sets frequently. If you alter an action, do not save the file under the same name; rather change the name and save the action set as a new file. You'll find your toolbox quickly building, with multiple actions that perform variations in the same vein. Saving actions in the middle of a process is fine also, and recommended. You may always start recording again, and this is much better than losing the previous steps altogether as my happen if the computer suddenly reboots, the power surges, so in and so forth. When Photoshop is stopped unexpectedly, it generally returns either to the default configuration or to the point where it was last closed normally. Any new additions, such as recently recorded actions, are lost if not saved. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 6:35:00 PM

 
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8.  Photoshop Actions: Keyboard Shortcuts
Make use of the keyboard shortcuts available to you and assign them to your actions. Adobe Photoshop 7 allows for 60 key combinations to be attached to actions, and newer versions allow you to edit existing shortcuts within the software. If you have several hundred actions, you may still utilize the 60 combinations; however, try not to have more than 1 action with a particular key combination loaded at one time. Photoshop will have a hard time distinguishing which action you would like to run if more than 1 have the same keyboard shortcuts. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 6:33:00 PM

 
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9.  Photoshop Actions: Naming Actions and Sets
When naming your actions and action sets, try to use short, descriptive, relevant names or even use a coded lettering system to further help you categorize your actions and keep track of them. This in conjunction with a color coding system will help you find actions easily, and that in turn will help you further shorten the amount of time it takes to perform a task or function. Actions save time, and having a solid organization system for your actions saves even more. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 6:29:00 PM

 
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10.  Photoshop Actions:Organization
Establish a color coding system for your actions and implement this when recording so that when the Palette using Button mode you will be able to easily recognize, simply by the color, whether the action is for image adjustment, a command shortcut, a special effect or filter application. Set a standard and then stick with it. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 6:28:00 PM

 
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11.  Photoshop Actions: Dialogue Boxes and Stop Message
When recording actions for distribution to others try to keep the number of displayed dialog boxes to a minimum as well as Stop messages. Your actions will feel more streamlined the less the action has to stop to display a message or ask for user input. You may always alter the settings of a command and save the action with the new settings under a different name. The point is to have a clean action that helps automate repetitive tasks or perform multiple functions with minimal user input. If the action stops after every few steps to display a message or ask for input on a command setting, it can be more of a distraction and a benefit to the user. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 6:26:00 PM

 
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12.  Photoshop Actions: Compatibility Tip 3
Here's something else to keep in mind when recording actions. Photoshop runs nearly identically on both Mac operating systems and Windows. The primary difference revolves around keyboard shortcuts. For instance, the Control Key used in combination with other keys is foundational to a PC user; Photoshop has dozens of keyboard combinations that utilize the Control key. On a Mac, however, the key is Command. If you use keyboard shortcuts while recording your actions, Photoshop will record the step as being the result of the keyboard combination. You could get errors when a Mac looks for a PC shortcuts and vice versa. As a rule, try not to use keyboard shortcuts when recording actions if they may be used on other platforms. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 4:34:00 PM

 
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13.  Photoshop Actions: Compatibility Tip 2
When recording actions for distribution or sale, take the time to insert a stop message indicating which version of the software the action was recorded with, as well as the operating system. End users will find this extremely helpful when troubleshooting problems with the action provided it does not function properly on their system. This will also help you keep track of the actions later on, when years later you return to that action to update it for a newer version of the software. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 4:31:00 PM

 
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14.  Photoshop Actions: Compatibility Tip 1
Actions created on some versions of Photoshop may not be compatible or play correctly on different incarnations. For instance, actions created on newer versions of the software generally do not work properly or will not even load in earlier versions of the software. Actions created on older versions of the software will work in newer versions such as Adobe Photoshop CS2 and 3, but they may give errors during playback. For this reason, if you plan to distribute your actions to be used by others, you should always keep in mind your target audience and version of software they are most likely to be using. If you intend to create actions to sell to a production studio, find out beforehand which version of Photoshop they are using and which operating system they are running Photoshop on so that you may do your best to record and test actions compatible with their business requirements. Al Ward

member since: 10/16/2006

8/7/2007 4:28:00 PM

 
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15.  Adding the Copyright © Symbol [Mac and PC]
In order to warn others that an image is copyrighted or to add the copyright symbol to your images or metadata, you need to know how to type the symbol--it isn't a key on your keyboard. There are several ways to do this including using a keyboard mapping function, but the easiest methods for Mac and PC are below:

Mac:
Press Option+G

PC:
Hold down thee ALT key and press 0,1,6,9 on the number pad and then release the ALT key. If this doesn't work, check to be sure your numlock is ON. If you don't have a number pad (this often happens with a laptop, for instance), check your computer's user manual to see how to simulate the number pad (this will also often involve the numlock function).

At the worst, if you are having real problems with the methods above, copy and past the symbol from this tip! © Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member
PhotoshopCS.com
Richard's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Correcting and Enhancing Images
4-Week Short Course: Looking Good in Print and On the Web: Color Management

2/23/2007 11:37:00 AM

 
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16.  Using Photoshop CS2 to color balance a shoot
The first thing that we will need is an accurate sample. Although we generally refer to this as a white balance it is better to use a grey sample. Grey is better because there is more color information in a grey sample than a white sample. I have a Greytag/Macbeth ColorChecker that is my favorite grey sample, because of its accuracy. I also have some very large grey plastic material that I use when the Greytag image would be too small to use. It is terribly important to use an accurate grey sample or else all your images will be precisely wrong. For this reason I do not use the Kodak grey card, while it has a precise reflectance, it does not have precise color.

I am going to begin by discussing how to use a Photoshop CS2 subprogram called Bridge to use a sample shot at the shoot to balance a group of images shot in raw. I want to start here because anybody who can shoot in raw can do this, whereas other methods are particular to your camera Nikon D70, and software for that camera.

First shoot a file with the grey sample in it. This file has to be shot with the light you will use or have used for the rest of the shots. Be sure the grey card is large enough to find in the shot. The card needs to places where the subject will be was or is. Clearly it doesnít matter what order you do this in. You must shoot in RAW. Second we confront an annoying problem with bridge. When you open a group of raw images in Bridge (you get to Bridge by going to browse under the file menu or you can open bridge directly) the program will automatically reset the color and density and other aspects of each shot. This means if you meant the shot to be dark it wonít be. We have to tell Bridge not to do that. Since I have already posted a tip on BetterPhoto about how to do that I m just going to copy it here:
1. Viewing Raw Images as Shot in Camera
I had a problem with Bridge, in Photoshop CS2. I want to edit in Bridge as I do in the proprietary program from my camera. In order to edit I want to see images as shot in camera on the Bridge browser. Unfortunately the browser shows the images with an automatic correction, not as shot in camera. Command U does not change the images back to camera settings in the browser. For those of you without Photoshop CS2, it helps to know that there are now multiple programs in Photoshop: Bridge, Photoshop, Camera Raw and Image Ready. I found a way to cause the Bridge browser to display the images as shot in camera.
1) Open images in Bridge
2) Select one image and open in Camera Raw. On the right side of the screen you will see Settings followed by a menu box. The box will say Camera Raw Defaults and just past this is an arrow. Press on the arrow and a dialog box will open.
3) Click use auto adjustment to off. The dialog box will close.
4) Reopen the dialog box and click Save New Camera Raw Defaults.
If everything went well Bridge will now display the shot as the camera took it.

Once you have set up Bridge to do this trick open the files from your shoot in Bridge. You can either choose which files you want to balance or you can choose all the files. Either way be sure to choose the test file. This will bring up the camera raw part of the program. Find and open the image with the grey sample on the left side of the screen and open it. Click the select all box above the thumbnail images on the left side of the screen. Use the white balance tool (picture of an eyedropper next to the hand/move tool) and click on the grey card. This will make the card neutral grey and apply the same correction to all the other files you selected. This will be much simpler the second time you do it. There is a second eyedropper tool next to the crop tool above the main image this is a color sample tool, it does not do a grey balance, but will give you information about color in specific part of an image. Donít forget to save the images or the color balance will be lost.
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio

12/27/2006 5:22:00 PM

 
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17.  Viewing Raw Images as Shot in Camera
I had a problem with Bridge, in Photoshop CS2. I want to edit in Bridge as I do in the proprietary program from my camera. In order to edit I want to see images as shot in camera on the Bridge browser. Unfortunately the browser shows the images with an automatic correction, not as shot in camera. Command U does not change the images back to camera settings in the browser. For those of you without Photoshop CS2, it helps to know that there are now multiple programs in Photoshop: Bridge, Photoshop, Camera Raw and Image Ready. I found a way to cause the Bridge browser to display the images as shot in camera.
1) Open images in Bridge
2) Select one image and open in Camera Raw. On the right side of the screen you will see Settings followed by a menu box. The box will say Camera Raw Defaults and just past this is an arrow. Press on the arrow and a dialog box will open.
3) Click use auto adjustment to off. The dialog box will close.
4) Reopen the dialog box and click Save New Camera Raw Defaults.
If everything went well Bridge will now display the shot as the camera took it.
I will still be using the proprietary program some of the time because it is faster for handling large numbers of images on my computer.
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio

11/9/2006 2:08:00 PM

 
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18.  Advantages to Shooting Digital
There are two main parts to the digital advantage in photography: shooting and post processing the shots.

In shooting images, you don't have to worry about film expense. Keep your bag full of rechargeable batteries and memory cards (or a portable, battery-operated drive like a Wolvarine http://aps8.com/wolvarine.html), and shoot a LOT of images. Think you've got it right? Shoot one more. Analog photography made most hobbyists feel bad about wasting film, but with digital you can learn more, more quickly and immediately (on your LCD) by taking a lot of shots. This gives you the opportunity to experiment and shoot images you might never have taken the chance on with film.

Post processing offers opportunity in the digital darkroom that are much improved over analog film processing. You don't have to deal with chemicals, and if you have a laptop, you can carry your photo lab with you anywhere and use it without a darkroom light. While digital comes with a level of complexity of its own, and upfront cost (programs and equipment) the tools offered by digital processing opportunities (Photoshop and Photoshop Elements) far surpass the accuracy and control you have with an enlarger in an analog darkroom. Once you understand the basics, establish a digital workflow (standardized camera to print procedure), and learn to work with the best, most powerful tools (like Layers), there is virtually nothing getting in the way of achieving a unique vision with digital photography.

Check out my courses on Photoshop 101, Photoshop Workflow and Leveraging Layers to help you along wherever you are in learning the digital process.
Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member
PhotoshopCS.com
Richard's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Correcting and Enhancing Images
4-Week Short Course: Looking Good in Print and On the Web: Color Management

10/14/2006 8:37:00 AM

 
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19.  Using the Right Layer
Whatever layer you have highlighted in the layers palette is the one that will be affected by changes you make to your images. Always have the layer palette in view, and be aware of which layer is active (highlighted). When a correction doesn't happen as you expect it to, check to see first that the right layer is active. If it is not, undo the change (you don't know where it went!) and click on the thumbnail for the layer you are trying to target in the layers palette before trying the change again. If the change still doesn't work, check your tool options (for example, Healing or Clone Stamp have a Sample All Layers option which should be on if you are using them on a blank layer). Controlling your layers will help you control your images and adjustments.

For more tips about using layers to their utmost, see my course dedicated to layers...Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member
PhotoshopCS.com
Richard's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Correcting and Enhancing Images
4-Week Short Course: Looking Good in Print and On the Web: Color Management

8/16/2006 5:36:00 AM

 
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20.  Resizing Images in Photoshop
I am constantly asked, "What's the best way to resize an image in Photoshop?"
Right off the bat let me say Photoshop is where you want any resizing to take place. Don't let the print driver do this for you, as results will vary dramatically.

First off, I like to see the largest size my image can be at a good print resolution. For our purposes this will be 240, 300, or 360dpi. Printers like these resolutions, as they are multiples of 60 and consequently multiples of the native print resolutions printers use, i.e. 720, 1440, 2880 dpi. As I understand it this makes for much smoother interpolation.

To find out where you stand with regard to print image size, first select Image, then Image Size, uncheck Resample Image, and enter 300 in the Pixels/Inch box. The resulting height and width is the largest your image will print at that resolution without interpolating up (inventing pixels). If what you want to print is smaller, just check Resample, enter the height or width you want (constrain proportions should be checked by default) and hit okay. Your image is now ready to send to the printer. If your image will support 360dpi and give you the desired size then use that. If it isn't as large as you wish to go at 300 dpi, first drop down to 240dpi and see if that gets you close enough. I get better image quality by dropping down to 240dpi than I do by interpolating up a 300dpi image. For really large prints, like those measured in feet, I drop down to 180 dpi as that is plenty for large images. Using Camera Raw and 180 dpi, I was able to get an image from a 20D up to 3X5 feet with just a bit of interpolation in Photoshop. Resampling down is okay, resampling up should be done as a last resort and only using the 110% rule, but thatís another tip.
Jim  M. White
Jim 's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Learning Your Canon Digital SLR

4/24/2006 4:08:00 PM

 
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21.  Image Resizing in Photoshop
I am constantly asked, "What's the best way to resize an image in Photoshop?"
Right off the bat let me say Photoshop is where you want any resizing to take place. Don't let the print driver do this for you, as results will vary dramatically.

First off, I like to see the largest size my image can be at a good print resolution. For our purposes this will be 240, 300, or 360dpi. Printers like these resolutions, as they are multiples of 60 and consequently multiples of the native print resolutions printers use, i.e. 720, 1440, 2880 dpi. As I understand it this makes for much smoother interpolation.

To find out where you stand with regard to print image size, first select Image, then Image Size, uncheck Resample Image, and enter 300 in the Pixels/Inch box. The resulting height and width is the largest your image will print at that resolution without interpolating up (inventing pixels). If what you want to print is smaller, just check Resample, enter the height or width you want (constrain proportions should be checked by default) and hit okay. Your image is now ready to send to the printer. If your image will support 360dpi and give you the desired size then use that. If it isn't as large as you wish to go at 300 dpi, first drop down to 240dpi and see if that gets you close enough. I get better image quality by dropping down to 240dpi than I do by interpolating up a 300dpi image. For really large prints, like those measured in feet, I drop down to 180 dpi as that is plenty for large images. Using Camera Raw and 180 dpi, I was able to get an image from a 20D up to 3X5 feet with just a bit of interpolation in Photoshop. Resampling down is okay, resampling up should be done as a last resort and only using the 110% rule, but thatís another tip.
Jim  M. White
Jim 's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Learning Your Canon Digital SLR

4/24/2006 3:58:00 PM

 
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22.  Shooting in Raw/Black-and-White Conversion
I've found that sliding the saturation in the Raw window (before converting your file to jpeg or tif), to change a color photo to black-and-white is far superior to anything you can do once the file is in Photoshop. Matthew A. Bamberg

member since: 3/23/2006

4/10/2006 2:07:00 PM

 
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23.  Soft Proofing Shortcut
Those who regularly use Photoshop's Soft Proofing feature prior to printing know all too well how different papers effect the appearance of our final image. I use a curves adjustment layer to bring the image back into line, whether it is too dark, too light, or has a slight color cast. I then save the curves adjustment, and name it after that particular paper. Then whenever I soft proof an image I create a curves adjustment layer, load the .acv file for that particular paper, and use the opacity slider to dial it in. Jim  M. White
Jim 's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Learning Your Canon Digital SLR

4/6/2006 12:47:00 PM

 
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24.  Basic Photo-editing Workflow
Like many computer related processes, the art of digital manipulation benefits from having a controlled work process. This speeds up your workflow and ensures you get the best from the available material, in this case, a digital photo.

Here are some thoughts on how to create and follow the ideal workflow...

Basics:
- Shoot the picture
- Download to computer
- Copy or duplicate onto suitable backup material (CD or DVD)
- Open in photo-editing software
- Correct brightness and contrast
- Correct colour
- Creative edit stage (add pink elephants or Hawaiin sunset, if thatís required!))
- Save new work under a different file name (File>Save As>New Name)
- Apply sharpening if needed, and
- Print or save for later use

Workflow, in-Depth:
- Choose file format - JPEG, Tiff or RAW? Decide what's best (fastest or best quality) for you

- Choose colour space - sRGB or Adobe RGB? Adobe for widest colour reproduction, sRGB for colour repro where you have no control over the print process

- Choose the ISO settings on the camera - lowest setting available gives finest definition

- Set the White Balance (not relevant when shooting RAW)

- Make the exposure

- Transfer image from camera/memory device to computer, catalog the files, if required

- Archive the work, if possible to CD or DVD

- Copy the original image file and work on that

- Fix Contrast and Brightness, Adjust Colour

- Apply local retouching using the Healing/Clone Stamp Brush

- Add Creative Effects, where required

- Save the retouched file under a new name in the Tiff or Photoshop file format (ie. ĎportraitNEW.tifí)

- Resize picture for output to printer or press

- Sharpen the file using the Unsharp Mask filter or apply a triple-pass (import/creative/output) sharpen regime


robin@betterdigitalonline.com


Robin Nichols
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/22/2005

7/15/2005 5:44:00 PM

 
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25.  More Effective Color Saturation Boosting
Take care when using the Color Saturation function in Adobe Photoshop.

In Photoshop or Elements: Any excessive amount (beyond about +15) can damage the image. i.e. highly saturated areas will look posterized.

Also, remember - you may not want to boost saturation of all colors to the same extent. Use the pull down menu within the Color Saturation box to select individual colors. Adjust the saturation of any of these, as desired.

Alternative for Higher Color Saturation (Photoshop Only):

There is another little known function in Photoshop called Selective Color.

Choose this option and you can adjust each of several colors - adding or subtracting certain colors.

e.g. For richer yellow in yellow tones in your image (without posterization) add Yellow to Yellow.

For richer blues, add a bit of Cyan and Black to Blue.

And so on. Experiment with each option until you reach the desired effect. Afterwards, you may -- or may not -- want to also use the Color Saturation function.

Photoshop can be fun and many functions are not difficult.

Cheers!

Peter Burian
www.peterkburian.com (Deluxe Pro Web site)

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member
PeterKBurian.com
Peter's Photo Courses:
2-Week Short Course: Boot Camp for New Digital SLR Owners
4-Week Short Course: Mastering the Canon EOS Digital Rebels
Mastering the Digital Camera and Photography

3/29/2005 1:41:00 PM

 
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26.  Washed out highlights
Extremes in contrast are a problem for both film and digital photography, but it is especially a problem when shooting digital. When the highlights and shadows are too extreme, the detail in both areas are in jeopardy of being lost. Even you try to 'average' the exposure, a compromise between the light and dark areas, the shadows tend to go black and the highlights are washed out.

With digital photography, even a subtle difference in contrast can mean the complete loss in detail in the highlights. A light area on the bridge of the nose, for example, that would show detail in a negative can easily be blown out on a chip.

Therefore, try your best to avoid contrasty situations. Patchy lighting is a classic example of what to avoid, but I've seen portraits done on overcast days (it was a bright overcast) that show a loss of detail in skin tone because the contrast was just a little too much for digital cameras to handle.

Jim Zuckerman Jim Zuckerman
BetterPhoto Member
CorporateFineArt.com
Jim's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Stock Photography
4-Week Short Course: Taking the Mystery Out of Flash Photography
4-Week Short Course: Techniques of Natural Light Photography
Developing Your Creative Artistic Vision
Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography
Fundamentals of Photography Made Easy
Low Light Photography
Making Money with Your Photography
Perfect Digital Exposure
Photoshop: Advanced Creative Techniques
Photoshop: Creative Techniques
Photoshop: Thinking Outside the Box
Self-Discovery in Photography: Where Does Your Passion Lie?

11/2/2004 12:51:00 AM

 
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27.  Reducing your compact digital flash output
If you have problems with the flash on your compact digital camera being too strong, here's a solution. First, if you can program your flash to output less (by setting it to -1, or -2, etc.) do that. But if, like me, you find that it's still putting out too much light, hold your index finger partly over the flash head when it makes the picture. It would seem illogical, but flash output it so powerful that it actually does the trick. Not only has this been very successful in knocking down the light output for me, it has also warmed up the light of the flash. The light of the flash going through my finger is much warmer. Brenda Tharp
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/9/2003

8/21/2004 1:41:00 PM

 
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28.  How to reduce flash output on Point and Shoots
If you find that your point and shoot flash is too bright, and can't adjust it, try holding your finger over the flash part way while making the picture. I'm serious! I have a Canon G3 and found that even when I compensate the flash, it's often brighter than I want; a very professional travel photographer friend of mine taught me to do this, and it works! It also warms up the flash output, so it balances more with the ambient light in a room. If you don't want to do that, you can tape a piece of neutral density gel over your flash head on the front of the camera. You can buy a sample gel kit that has pieces big enough to cut a piece the size you need. You can choose between a 1-stop, 2 stop or 3-stop neutral density material. Personally, I just use my index finger and I'm loving the results! Brenda Tharp
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/9/2003

3/1/2004 9:29:00 PM

 
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29.  Changing camera settings and remembering....
It's easy to make changes in White Balance and ISO etc.,in your camera settings, all within the same flash card images --but, it's not always so easy to remember to change those settings back--especially while in the heat of the shoot. So, we take care of this problem with a piece of colored gaffer tape which we move into an area that can be seen easily as a reminder that we have made a change to the original stettings. This is critically important when using exposure compensation. After returning your setting(s) back to normal, then we place the tape in a spot where it does not get much attention. This tape can be reused in this manner many times and still will adhere well and does not leave any residue. Susan and Neil Silverman
BetterPhoto Member
theSilvermansPhotography.com
Susan and Neil's Photo Courses:
Out and About with Your Camera
Understanding Digital Photography
Understanding Digital Photography: Beyond the Basics

1/21/2004 2:25:00 PM

 
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30.  Scanning - Not So Tight
When scanning, it is better to err on the side of getting less picture area than to get every single bit of the picture. Do not try to get so close to the edge that you include additional, area outside the photo. You don't want any black lines around your photo as this can throw off the color of your scan. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

1/21/2004 12:39:00 AM

 
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31.  How to get sharper hand-held pictures in low light
When faced with handholding in lower light conditions than you'd hoped for, put your camera on the continuous frame setting, and make three or four exposures of the scene. The middle ones will be the sharpest. The first frame might have camera shake due to pressing the shutter button, and the final frame might have it due to releasing the shutter button. However, the ones in the middle are made when your finger is stabilized on the button, with less movement. Brenda Tharp
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/9/2003

10/15/2003 12:15:00 PM

 
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32.  Ask Questions First, Shoot Later
When trying to figure out which digital camera to buy, ask yourself a few questions: What are you looking to accomplish? Do you want to print or publish your images on the Web? (Then look closely at resolution). If you are going to print, what kind of output device will you be working with and what are its resolution requirements and how big do you want to print your images? (Again, resolution). Do you want to simply document something or do you fancy yourself become a digital artist? (Then be sure to get a camera with exposure controls and a tripod mount). Will you be taking the camera to Europe? Will you be taking a laptop? (If not, you had better look closely at your storage options). Will you be taking pictures of items smaller than business card? (Then be sure to get a camera with a good macro mode). And lastly, of course... How much money do you have to spend?

Once you have at least a few answers to these questions, compare cameras at our digital camera comparison charts.


Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

7/5/2003 2:18:00 PM

 
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33.  Different Depth of Field
Did you know that apertures on your digital camera may not produce the same kinds of depth of field as those on your film camera? That's right, because the CCD on a typical digital camera is so much smaller than your traditional 35mm film plane, you achieve a much larger depth of field with the same f number. For example, f/8 might be closer to what you are used to seeing in the f/22 range with your film camera. This is wonderful when shooting landscapes - where you might want to have as huge of a depth of field as you can achieve. However, this can be a real set-back when you are trying to isolate your focus with a shallow depth of field. The trick, when you want such an effect, is to shoot as wide-open as you can - in other words, with as small of an f number as you have available.
Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

7/5/2003 2:07:00 PM

 
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34.  What's The BuZZ All About
What most everyone refers to as BuZZ is the simplifier filter and was originally part of the BuZZ-Lite plug-in filter set. It is now available as a stand alone product. The filter gives a photograph a painterly image. The most noticeable changes are on foliage, raw wood, rocks, hair, fur, etc. that is in sharp focus. Objects that are out of focus donít seem to be changed very much at all.

You can download a free demo version at www.fo2pix.com. Click on Downloads and select Buzz-Lite or the Simplifier for PC or MAC. The demo allows you to try the filter 30 times before it shuts off. Since it has a window that shows the effect and you can click and drag your photo around in the window you can click OK to apply the filter if you like it or you can cancel and not be charged a try if you donít like it. The filter must be in the plug-ins folder under your photo-editing software folder to work. It then shows up under the filters.

It requires a fair amount of computer memory Murry Grigsby
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/12/2002

7/1/2003 1:55:00 PM

 
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35.  Protecting Digital Negatives
If you shoot digital, then you need to be very protective of your digital negatives (the files your camera records on its memory card). When you get to the computer either teather the camera or place the memory card in your card reader and burn a CD of the files from the memory card before you do anything else (period)!! Once you have verified that you have a readable CD then you can copy the files from the camera or memory card to your hard drive and do your editing. This procedure should prevent you from ever losing your digital negatives due to a hard disc crash. Better safe than sorry!! Murry Grigsby
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/12/2002

5/25/2003 7:51:00 AM

 
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36.  Digital and Organized
When shooting digitally, copy all images from your memory card to your computer immediately after shooting. As soon as you are 100% sure that all images are safely copied to your computer, delete the images on your memory card. This will prove much easier in the long run than trying to remember which photos you've transferred and which you have not. Having photos only in one place will faciliate your efforts to be organized - a very important skill when it comes to digital photography. Be especially careful, though... you don't want to erase the files from your card before you are confident that they are completely transferred to your computer. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

3/17/2003 9:20:00 PM

 
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37.  Suit the Action to the Word
When printing digital images, match the media to the subject. In other words, try to find the kind of paper that best suits your subject. If you are printing an image of a serene water scene, use a photo quality glossy paper. If you are printing an image of a rough texture, try using a special canvas or watercolor paper. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 8:15:00 PM

 
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38.  Select the Best
In Photoshop and other image-editing programs, doing any work to a particular area of the photo requires a skillful hand at selecting. Even if you do not get a perfect selection, however, you can often still get good results. The simple trick to making a convincing effect to one part of a photo - without it looking totally obvious - is to feather your selection before applying any effect. If your image has a 72 dpi resolution, you only need to feather 1-3 pixels; if you are working on a printable image - one with a resolution of 150 to 300 dpi, you may be more successful feathering 5 to 10 pixels. Experiment to get the best results. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:51:00 PM

 
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39.  Size It Right
When submitting a photo to a digital photo contest, resize it first to a size close to what the contest requires. You do not want their image resizing component to resize your image up or down more than 10-20 percent, if you can help it. If the contest only accepts JPEGs, save the image in the highest quality/lowest compression setting. If they accept files other than JPEG, save the file as a TIFF or other continuous-tone, lossless image file format . This way, you will minimize the amount of artifacting that goes on each time you save a photo as a JPEG. Avoid using the GIF format for photographs - it is best for flat-color graphics like the stuff you would see on the Simpsons. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:51:00 PM

 
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40.  Compression Depression
If you make JPEGs for Web display, be aware that AOL - on top of the compression - compresses the images even more and this makes them look horrible. You can please the majority of your viewers (since AOL accounts for a lot of visitors) by never going lower than the highest quality setting when you save a JPEG. This will, of course, make everybody wait longer for your images to download. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:50:00 PM

 
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41.  Best Batteries
Digital cameras eat a lot of power, esp. when you use the monitor often. Buy lithium batteries; the cost is nearly the same but at least you will not be replacing batteries every 2 hours. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:50:00 PM

 
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42.  Work in RGB
When you open a GIF (or other indexed-color image) in Photoshop for a little revision, your first step should be to turn it into an RGB image. Do this by simply selecting RGB from the Image: Mode Menu. The RGB mode handles type, line, and color changes with a much higher level of quality. When you are done, you can change the image mode back to an indexed color palette and then export your new GIF. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:50:00 PM

 
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43.  How to Resize
When resizing an image in Adobe Photoshop - or another program such as MGI PhotoSuite III, Adobe PhotoDeluxe, or Ulead PhotoImpact - follow these simple steps to make things a bit easier on yourself.

First, disable the option to resample your image and set the resolution (or dpi or ppi) to 72. With older versions of Photoshop, you do this by checking the "File Size" checkbox; in new versions (4.0+), you uncheck the "Resample Image" checkbox. If you adjust the dpi first, you will be able to then resize the image without getting confused about issues such as interpolation. You will find it much simpler to change the width or height. If you check the "Constrain Proportions" checkbox, you can be further assured that your image will not look too skinny or squashed when all is said and done.

Although the terms may be slightly difference in other software programs, the functions are often very similar. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:50:00 PM

 
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44.  View at 100%
When digitally manipulating an image in Photoshop or another image editing program, make sure you are looking at the photo at a magnification ratio of 100%. You can zoom in or out to do special tasks but, when you need to evaluate the sharpness, etc. of the image, you will be best off examining it at 100%. Viewing an image at another zoom level such as 67% or 125% will often cause a perfectly good image to look terrible on the screen. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:50:00 PM

 
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45.  Extend Your File Names
When naming files on your computer - whether they be images or other documents - leave a dot-three-letter extension on the end of the file and remove any spaces in the name. Even if you are on a Mac, this will help you and your PC-based friends open files in a number of easy ways. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:49:00 PM

 
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46.  Close vs. Quit
Many Mac users think they are quitting a program by clicking the little square in the upper left corner of the window. They are not; they are just closing a document in the program. To actually quit a program - which is usually better on RAM - using the Quit in the File Menu or do a Control-Q keyboard shortcut. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:49:00 PM

 
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47.  Multiple Move
If you ever need to move a bunch of files, hold your shift key (Ctrl in Win) down to select multiple images in a folder. Then let up on the shift key, and click and drag the whole bunch to your desired destination. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:49:00 PM

 
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48.  Slow Progress Bars?
If your Photoshop is slow on the progress bars, make sure you are utilizing as much RAM as you can. On the Mac, do this by highlighting the Photoshop icon and selecting Get Info in the File Menu. In the box that pops up, you'll see two fields; try increasing the Maximum field to about 10% or 20% below your available RAM. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:49:00 PM

 
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49.  Alias
On the Mac, put all your images in a folder or hierarchy of folders that makes sense to you. If you want easy access to one, simply make an alias to it by highlighting it and doing a Control-M (or Make Alias from the File Menu). Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:49:00 PM

 
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50.  The Dark Side
If you do image work on a Mac for the Web, be aware that most Web users are on Windows machines and nine out of ten of the displays on these machines display images much darker than the default Mac display. Set your monitor to Uncorrected Gamma is you want to preview how most of the world will see your image. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:49:00 PM

 
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51.  Volume, Volume, Volume
Shoot as often as you can! Carry your camera everywhere you go; don't care if you look silly - what other people think about you is none of your business. Just shoot! Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:48:00 PM

 
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52.  What to Shoot
If you love photography but can't seem to find anything to shoot, look through magazines, stock catalogs, and Web sites for ideas. When you find a shot that excites you, makes you wonder how it was captured, or interests you in any other way, study it and try to make your own shot out of the idea. Don't worry about plagiarizing; you will likely end up twisting it a bit to your own personal expression. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:48:00 PM

 
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53.  How You Learn Best
Ask yourself how you learn best - books, classes, experience - and listen carefully for the answer. If you're like me and you learn best through experience, find a project that inspires you and just do it. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:48:00 PM

 
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54.  Short Courses
If you are struggling with the manual of a new digital camera, see if one of Dennis Curtin's books covers your camera (check out shortcourses.com). Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:48:00 PM

 
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55.  Slow Transfer
If you are frustrated with how long it takes for images to be transferred from your digital camera to your computer via a serial connection, see if there is a possibility of using another method. If you use removable cards, you may be able to buy an adapter to stick the card into your floppy drive, or better yet, the PCMCIA slot in a laptop. Either of these methods will be a lot faster than serial. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:48:00 PM

 
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56.  Low Res for Emailing
For sending images via email, set the resolution to 72dpi and make sure the image has a reasonable width and height, like 5" x 7". To make sure you are sending what you think you are sending, test it out by sending an email with the attachment to yourself. If it is too big, downsize it. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:48:00 PM

 
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57.  Click and Drop
When using the rubber stamp in Adobe's Photoshop, grab a new sample after every click of stamping. A grab-and-drop, grab-and-drop pattern will help you avoid cloning and otherwise leaving an obvious trail along the areas you manipulate. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:48:00 PM

 
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58.  Name Your Layers
Name your layers in Photoshop to keep them all straight. To this by double-clicking on the layer name to open up the Layer Options palette. Then type in a name that describes the contents of the layer. It is that simple. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:48:00 PM

 
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59.  Pre-Flight Digicam Test
If you buy a new digital camera to take with you on a vacation, shoot a bunch of images with it before leaving for your trip. Import them and analyze the results. If something puzzles you or the pictures look bad, ask your camera salesperson for assistance and work out the problems before before you find yourself in a faraway land. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:47:00 PM

 
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60.  Don't Leave Home Without It
Carry your digital camera with you everywhere you go. Even if you just try this for a few days, taking the camera with you to and from work, you will be surprised at how many opportunities present themselves to you. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:47:00 PM

 
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61.  Two Kinds of Resolution
If you are printing a photo on your own printer, do not confuse the printer's resolution with the optimum resolution for printing. What your printer can do if a different kind of resolution. An image resolution of 300dpi is usually more than enough for a great print, even if your printer boasts a resolution of 1440. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:47:00 PM

 
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62.  Why Go Digital?
The best applications that merit buying a digital camera are ones that need quick turnaround and take advantage of the money saved on time and developing of film. If you need high quality files (for printing, for example) and do not need to get results right away, try using a film scanner. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:47:00 PM

 
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63.  Colorizing Photos
If you are interested in hand-tinting black and white photographs, you may also be interested in Adobe's Photoshop. With this software, or others like it, you can work grayscale digital images and easily tint, wash, burn, dodge, composite, etc... (the list goes on and on). Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:47:00 PM

 
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64.  Test It Out
Buy your camera long before you go on a trip and take it for a few test drives. There is nothing worse than getting home and learning that either the camera or the operator did not do the job. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 6:47:00 PM

 
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65.  Enhanced Owner's Manual
Often, when you buy a new camera, the manual addresses all of its features without discussing the benefits of having these features. If you are unclear on what a particular feature is used for, grab a sales brochure on the model or visit the manufacturer's Web site. The marketing team usually does a much better job at selling the features than the technical writers do. Combining both, you will get the most out of your camera. Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 5:39:00 PM

 
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66.  K.I.S.
Shoot often! And keep it simple! Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 5:37:00 PM

 
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67.  Simplify
"What's really important is to simplify. The work of most photographers would be improved immensely if they could do one thing: get rid of the extraneous."
-William Albert Allard Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

12/3/2002 5:37:00 PM

 
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