Friday, May 28, 2010

Picture Dictionary- Histogram:
Ever wonder what that black and white graph is that sometimes shows up on your camera’s LCD screen? It’s called a histogram, and it’s essentially a representation of the contrast and dynamic range in each image. The histogram shows a range of 0-255 with the value of zero being black and white valued at 255. You’ll find the ‘true white’ illustrated at the far right of the graph and the ‘true black’ on the far left. A well-exposed image will show points close to both ends.

Friday, May 14, 2010

An Introduction to High Dynamic Range Photography by Richmond Camera
High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is becoming increasingly popular now that digital cameras are the norm. The technique itself, however, was actually created by Charles Wyckoff in the 1930s. HDR refers to a technique that allows an image to display a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of the photograph. The intention is to accurately portray the entire range of luminance and do so through a series of bracketed exposures of the same scene so that the result is a stunning display of lighting range.

Many of today’s DSLR cameras have an Auto Exposure Bracketing feature, which will come in handy as you begin experimenting with this technique. The exposure bracketing is simply a way of varying the brightness of the exposure over several sequential frames. Most cameras offer a series of at least three frames while others offer upwards of eleven or more. If you aren’t sure how to set the AEB feature on your camera, check the manual or do an online search for your camera model +AEB. The result should pop up.

You will then need to select your exposure values, which indicate the variance in shutter speed and aperture combinations used to create each image. For maximum effect, choose one complete stop so that you will get a broad range of highlights, shadows and midtones. You’ll also want to set your camera in continuous shooting mode and use the timer.

It’s best to use a tripod for this technique in order to ensure there is no movement between shots as you will be combining multiple images in an editing program later.
Once you’ve finished shooting, you should have a series of images that are underexposed, properly exposed and overexposed. You will then import these images into an image editing program such as Photoshop®, Photomatix or FDR Tools (the latter two being programs specifically designed for creating HDR images).

HDR photography is a fantastic way to play with the more artistic aspects of the craft and allow you to create an image with such variance that it truly stands out among the rest of the images in your portfolio. You may find yourself answering the question, “How did you DO that?” over and over again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring in Bloom: Wildflower Photography by Richmond Camera
May is the perfect time for taking pictures of wildflowers and nature in full bloom. The rains of April have quenched the lands and helped create the beauty you now wish to capture.

Evaluate the Angles:
Don’t rush to shoot the first pretty flower that strikes your fancy. Study it from a variety of angles and evaluate your options looking through your lens. Move about, experiment with top shots, side views, low points and off-center options. The beauty of wildflowers is multifaceted, and your location and vantage point can illustrate those variances.

Clue in on Contrasts:
Look for contrasts in color and texture when surveying your wildflower patch. For example, see if you can incorporate both the bright purple blooms with a nearby yellow bud, or include a smooth petal with a textured leaf. You may need to experiment with angles and positioning to include contrast but the end result will be well worth the effort!

Don’t Overdo It:
When presented with a large field of flowers, it’s tempting to shoot a broad image to try to encompass the entire area but these images often fall short of showing the appropriate scale. Feel free to take a few in this manner but then start focusing on a key flower or bloom and experiment with your depth of field to see if you can also include part of the vast floral background.

Wind and Light:
Some flowers need the warmth of the sun to open, so consider shooting in the morning hours. Wind can also be an obstacle in getting great wildflower photos, so the mornings are often better as wind tends to pick up later in the day. If bright sunlight or reflections are becoming an issue, consider using a skylight or UV filter to combat the harshness of the sun.

Watch it on the Roadside:
Our nation’s highways are bringing us some of the most fantastic wildflower eye candy this season. For example, in Texas, IH-10 seems to be paved with bluebonnets for miles on end. These attractions lure countless admirers to pull over to take photographs, but please take extra care when doing this. Survey your area to find a safe spot to park and make sure you’re shooting far enough away from traffic so as not to be a distraction or cause an accident.