PictureCorrect.Com – When to Use Levels or Curves in Photoshop

When to Use Levels or Curves in Photoshop

Many Photoshop users learn to use the Levels dialog and then never progress to learning how to use the Curves. Let me give you several reasons why learning to use the Curves will make you more of an expert with Adobe Photoshop.

black and white landscape

What is the difference between Levels and Curves?

In digital photography editing, both the Levels and the Curves are used for one of the single most important editing tasks: image tone control. Whenever you have a photograph that has less than perfect contrast, i.e. the contrast is either too low or, conversely, too high, you need to use some form of tone control. Both the Levels and the Curves allow you to alter the black and white end points of the tonal range in the image. Adjusting the end points allows you to change the global or overall contrast of a photograph; the method and affect is the same whichever of the two commands you choose to use.

moon photography

Both commands also allow you to change the appearance of the intermediate–or grey–tones in-between the black and white end points. However, the important difference between the two commands is that a Levels adjustment proportionally changes all of the tones in the tonal range; whereas the Curves allow you to choose which portion of the tone scale you wish to adjust. The Levels is a linear adjustment but the Curves are a geometric adjustment (in fact, this difference is in the names: levels and linear, curves and geometric). This is a massive difference, and using Curves rather than Levels will elevate your editing skill to a professional level.

The big question is which should you use?

This is quite straightforward if you consider the following points:

Use Levels when:

  • You only want to adjust the black or white end points to adjust global contrast
  • You want to lighten or darken the entire tonal range. This is normal to adjust exposure errors.
  • You want to maintain the visual relationship of the values of the intermediate tones.

photoshop levels

Use Curves when:

  • You want to subtly adjust the visual relationship of the tone values. For example lighten the lights and darken the shadows. This usually requires an ‘S’ shaped curve adjustment.
  • You want to adjust only the light tones or only the dark tones.
  • You want to adjust the tones in only a small section of the overall tonal range.
  • You want complete control of your tonal editing.

photoshop edit

Although learning to use Curves takes a little more practice than Levels–and the fact that anything which looks remotely like math and geometry scares many people half to death–they are not actually difficult to master. If you play with the Curves dialog for 10-15 minutes you will feel much more comfortable with the process. And don’t forget that if you use the Curves as an adjustment layer you can always change the effect without damaging your original photograph.

About the Author:
Les Meehan has authored seven Photoshop books and, as a qualified teacher, have run workshops for over 20 years.

Copyright © 2003-2014 PictureCorrect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PictureCorrect.Com – How to Prepare a Photo File for Printing

How to Prepare a Photo File for Printing

The goal of this tutorial is to help photographers prepare digital images either originated by scanned film or digital capture for printing purposes. The main focus will be directed at printing by a professional service since they typically produce the best results in contrast to home printing. For those just venturing into professional quality printing there’s a lot of useful information in this tutorial.

Color Management

What is color management? Color management is a procedure that maximizes the consistency of the colors and brightness from capture to output. The output is the final destination of the image, it can be in a device such as a monitor, a smartphone, or ultimately a print.

Color Space

The first concept to understand is Color Space. When an image document is generated, a Color Space is attributed to it depending on the device used. A Color Space is the entire set of colors (also called Gamut) that can be expressed by this document. For photography and printing purposes we are only concerned with RGB Color Spaces, (CMYK Color Spaces are used more for press). The most common Color Spaces are:

  • ProPhotoRGB is the Color Space that encompasses the biggest number of colors, but in order to achieve it’s full potential it requires 16 bits files (normally files are 8 bits) which doubles file size. Moreover, it can be reproduced in only a few very special output devices.
  • AdobebeRGB is the Color Space that represents more closely the Gamut of high end professional inkjet printers;
  • sRGB is a more limited Color Space and is used when printing on low cost printers or “one hour photolabs”. With that said, if a good quality print is desirable, the wisest choice is to use AdobeRGB, . Using sRGB is limited to low quality output. Most monitors work in this Color Space. Usually scanners and point and shoot digital cameras deliver images in sRGB Color Space. Advanced cameras have the option to choose.


Different Color Spaces are better for different types of prints.

Color Profiles

Keeping the definition of Color Space in mind makes it easy to understand the concept of Color Profile. Assuming that different devices have different characteristics in representing color and brightness of images, the goal of using Color Profiles is to translate the representation of the image between devices. Every monitor displays in a distinct way, so when you calibrate your monitor you are attributing a color profile to it that makes it to show color and brightness according to the standard Gamut of colors for monitors. In the same way, a print doesn’t show the same Gamut that monitors do for the same image. A print is a reflective object, it depends on incident light to show the image. Moreover, it depends on the inks and the papers utilized in making the print, so it makes sense to utilize a Color Profile to translate the colors viewed in the monitor to those that will be printed to paper.

Important: for those utilizing a professional printing service there’s no need to worry about profiling for the printer and paper, but is very important to calibrate their monitor to have a maximized similitude between the image viewed and printed. Additionally keep in mind that the printed image will always look a little darker and less contrasty than in the monitor due the already explained nature of the different medias.

Image Resizing and Image Size

Image resizing is the next big misunderstanding issue in printing. Most photographers, especially newbies, have problems when resizing their files for printing purposes. The most important information related to image size is the total number of pixels that compose the image. For example a typical entry level DSLR captures images at 5184 px X 3456 px, which translates into a approximately 18 Mb file. This means that you have 5184 pixels available horizontally for printing and 3456 pixels vertically. If printing in a resolution of 300 ppi (pixels per inch) your will need 300 pixels in every inch of printed image. In other words, the maximum size for printing at this resolution is: 5184 px /300 ppi = 17.28” and 3456 px /300 ppi =11.52”, meaning, at 300 ppi, you can print an image roughly as big as 17” x 11”. If the best quality is not that important a image can be resized at 240 ppi or less, consequently reaching a bigger size.

Image Resampling

It’s very important to emphasize that we are not talking about “Resampling” the image, but rather “Image Size”. The image below shows the “Image Size” Panel in Photoshop. The first section: “Pixel Dimensions” shows the actual original number of pixels in the image (as in our example 5184 px X 3456 px). The second section “Document Size” shows the size of a image at a 300 ppi resolution (17.28” X 11.52”). The 3 checkboxes in the bottom of the panel are crucial to understand the whole concept behind the Image Size issue, but only two are actually crucial. The first checkbox is out of the scope of this tutorial, so we are going to skip it. The next, “Constrain Proportions”, when checked, will maintain the proportions between width and height. By keeping this box checked, the risk of odd looking images that seem stretched vertically or horizontally will be eliminated. The most important is the last checkbox, “Resample Image”, and the idea behind it is pretty simple: if unchecked, the Pixel Dimensions will be kept as in the original capture when changing either width or height in either section (“Pixel Dimensions” or “Document Size”), therefore the resolution will change in order to keep the pixel dimension constant. On the other hand, if changing the resolution, width and height will change for the same reason. This ensures the best image quality.


It’s important to understand how the different sections and checkboxes will affect your image.

If a bigger (e.g. for printing) or smaller (e.g. for web posting) image is needed, then “Resample Image” has to be checked. This implies that new pixels have to be “created” when “upsizing” or pixels have to be removed when “downsizing”. The result is not as bad when going smaller as it is going bigger. Although Photoshop and other softwares do a reasonably good job when resampling, the best results are achieved when keeping the image at it’s original size.


As a professional Master Printer, I notice that a big number of customers bring files cropped in a way that is more pleasant to their vision. There’s nothing wrong with that, at least when they don’t ask for a standard print size that doesn’t match the same proportions of the cropped file. American standard printing sizes are normally sizes like 8×10, 11×14, 20×16, and so on. The standard sizes are handy because it’ easy to find cut sheets, pre cut mats, and ready to use frames. If you intend to use those standard sizes make sure that your image has the same proportions as the chosen standard size or something will be cropped, either in width or height, depending on the relation between the sides. You can stick to your proportions, but you will have to find custom paper, mat, and frames.


Borders are very important tools to enhance images, but there are a few things that have to be taken into account when deciding sizes and proportions for images including borders (a future tutorial will show how to apply borders in images).

Tip: Using borders of different sizes can make odd proportions fit in standard sizes. For example the 17” X 11” image from the entry level DSLR, isn’t proportional to a 20×16 standard size. Applying a 2.5” border to top and bottom and a 1.5” border on each side, makes a pleasant looking and fitting standard size print.


Printing is the final expression of an artistic photographic vision. Learning and following basic principles can make this process much easier, faster, and less expensive. My intention was to explain the technical aspects of printing without worrying about the technical and artistic aspects of the capture and post production. I sincerely hope that this tutorial can help you to achieve your masterpiece.

About the Author:
Born in Brazil, Alfredo Tisi is formally trained as an Metallurgical Engineer and IT Designer. Started to dedicate seriously in photography in the early 90’s. In 2000 published a photo book telling the history of the Architecture and Engineering in the region where Brazil was first settled by the Portuguese. The decision to dedicate full time to photography was then taken. In order to learn the best with the best, he relocated to Los Angeles, California. Worked with the best photographers and technicians, with the best equipment at the best photo labs, completing 11 years at A&I Photograph and Digital, in Hollywood, exercising several positions, culminating as a Printer at the Fine Arts Department. Following that, there was a brief stay at Richard Photolab, as member of the Digital Team. Today Alfredo Tisi owns Alfredo Tisi Imagery, where offers all his expertise in printing, retouching and shooting commercial and portraiture photography.

For Further Training on Photography Printing:

Like many disgruntled ink jet printer users, Pro photographer Ron Martinsen had almost given up on getting good quality prints. He found himself averaging about $50 per 4×6 print when you account for all of the clogged print heads, discarded printers, wasted paper, and ink costs. But through much research and in collaboration with Canon, Epson & HP he was finally able to develop a dependable printing workflow with great results. This eBook is a result of his efforts and we were able to negotiate a 25% discount for our readers which expires in 1 day, simply use the discount code PICTUREPRINT at checkout.

It can be found here: Printing 101 – Introduction to Photography Printing


Go to full article: How to Prepare a Photo File for Printing

Copyright © 2003-2013 PictureCorrect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PictureCorrect.Com – 10 Simple Yet Effective Photography Tips

10 Simple Yet Effective Photography Tips

1. Move closer to your subject. Nothing kills a photo quicker than a distracting background. If you have a great background try bringing the subject closer to the camera so they don’t get lost. Remember this tip if nothing else.

simple photo tips

“chit-chat” captured by Raluca Mateescu (Click Image to See More From Raluca Mateescu)

2. Take lots of pictures. Digital photography is cheap and it is good! It is okay to shoot multiple photos with only slight variations…keep and share your best photos. Also you don’t need an expensive camera; I have photos from all over the world hanging on my walls that were taken with a $300 point and shoot.

3. Get creative. It doesn’t take much to enhance a photo. Pictures taken from 5 ½’ above the ground can look repetitious. Think about changing the perspective – get down on one knee or on your stomach if possible. Stand on a chair. Experiment with different lenses if you have them. Experiment with composition.

4. Rent equipment. Professional camera stores are not just for professionals. They have rental departments where anyone can pick up an exotic lens for a day or more. Many that can be used on non-professional cameras. These rental departments are manned by people with lots of photo knowledge and people are generally more than happy to “talk photography” if not too busy at the moment. Don’t be shy.

effective photo tips

“The Catcher in the Rye” captured by Arman Zhenikeyev (Click Image to See More From Arman Zhenikeyev)

5. Use the camera’s flash. Especially outside. Your eyes can look at a person in front of a sunset and see their smile but your camera can’t. It is either going to record the colors of the sunset and your subject will be a silhouette or your subject will be visible and the background will be overexposed. Be conscious of shadows on people’s faces – again utilize your flash. If your subject is looking into the sun they are squinting – turn them away from the sun and fill shadows with flash.

6. Think of your camera like a painter’s canvas. Be the artist. Is there a garbage can or other unwanted item in the frame that can be eliminated by simply moving a foot or so to the left or right? Look at the entire frame you are about to capture, not just the one main element you are focusing on. Sure you can fix it in Photoshop but it is better to capture it the way you want to see it.

7. Study Pictures. Pictures you like. Cut them out of your favorite magazines or newspapers. Keep a file on your desk and just take a moment to look at them and tell yourself what you like about them. Bookmark web sites that have photos you like. Go to them often. Develop your eye.

Oh, and move closer to your subject 😉

8. Learn to take a little criticism. All photographers love their own photos. You put your heart and soul into them. You want to show them off. They are pictures of your kids, taken with the camera you always wanted and just bought. How can people not love them? Remember art is subjective. Not everybody is your mom.

9. Get your pictures published. Local newspapers have photography contests, generally centered on a theme: children, pets, travel. If you are in the right place at the right time, CNN might be interested. Don’t forget about the internet. There are always photo contests you can enter online. Publish your own website. There are plenty of free sites that will allow you to build a web site using your photos. They are a great way to share our art and these days you don’t need a degree from MIT to do it.

10. Learn from your mistakes. But don’t be afraid to break rules. Photography is fun and creative. Nobody is going to die if your snapshots are a little off or weird. What might not work one day may be a stroke of genius the next.

And one last time, move closer to your subject.

tips for better photography

“Kelso Dunes” captured by David Urban (Click Image to See More From David Urban)

For the amateur photographer, these are ten easy, non-technical tips to help you improve the quality of your photos. While there are many technical aspects of photography, great pictures usually begin with a confident photographer who has learned to master composition before worrying about F-Stops.

About the Author
Andy Templeton is a professional photographer located in Orange County, CA. Andy specializes in editorial, public relations and corporate photography.

Go to full article: 10 Simple Yet Effective Photography Tips

Copyright © 2003-2013 PictureCorrect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PictureCorrect.Com – How to Capture Really Sharp Photos

How to Capture Really Sharp Photos

One of the most frustrating experiences for a photographer is to get home from a photo trip with some great images only to find that some of the images are not sharp. To help solve this problem, this article covers seven things that a photographer can do to create really sharp images.

how to capture sharp photos

“Twilight Inferno” captured byDailyTravelPhotos.com (Click Image to See More)


When it comes to getting sharp images, the first place to start is with a tripod. A tripod provides a stable platform that holds the camera rigid — dramatically increasing the sharpness of the image.

Weighting the tripod

A tripod is a good start. However, a tripod can be made even more stable by using some object to weigh down the tripod. This produces even sharper images. This is so important that many tripods have some type of mechanism at the bottom of the center post that was designed for hanging objects to add weight to the tripod.

A simple way to take advantage of this feature is to carry a small net bag with your photo equipment. The bag can be filled with rocks, or other materials, and attached to the tripod. Even if a tripod doesn’t have such a mechanism, other methods can be used such as hanging a camera bag from the center column of the tripod.

Shutter release

Just because a camera is on a tripod doesn’t mean that the camera will be steady. The simple act of pressing the shutter can cause vibrations that will cause a loss of sharpness. The solution is simple. A remote switch can be used to release the shutter. A remote switch is a device that attaches to the camera through a cable, or wirelessly, and allows the photographer to release the shutter without touching the camera.

Mirror lock up

Even if the camera is set up on a tripod, the tripod is weighted down, and a remote switch is used, image quality can still be degraded due to vibration from the movement of the camera’s mirror when the shutter is released. This vibration is primarily a problem with shutter speeds between about 1/30s and 1s.

methods for sharper pictures

“Happy New Year Singapore” captured by fady (Click Image to See More From fady)

This is easily solved by enabling the mirror lockup function on the camera. Once enabled, pressing the shutter button once swings the mirror out of the way. Pressing the shutter button a second time releases the shutter. This way, the mirror vibration dies out before the shutter is released.


The middle apertures (around f/8 for most lenses) produce the sharpest images. The larger apertures produce softer images due to various aberrations while the smaller apertures produce softer images due to diffraction.

Shutter Speed

While a tripod eliminates camera movement, the subject that is being photographed may be moving. Thus, a shutter speed that is high enough to freeze the subject movement should be used. This may require that a larger aperture be used in order to get the proper exposure


Increasing the ISO will allow a higher shutter speed to be used in order to stop the movement of the subject.

camera settings for sharp photography

“Cloud Chafers” captured by DailyTravelPhotos.com (Click Image to See More)

Following these techniques will put you on your way to creating some really sharp photos.

About the Author
Ron Bigelow (www.ronbigelow.com) has created an extensive resource of articles to help develop photography skills.

For even more information on sharp photography techniques: Tack Sharp Photography Guide

Go to full article: How to Capture Really Sharp Photos

Copyright © 2003-2013 PictureCorrect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PictureCorrect.Com – Shallow Depth of Field for Portraits

Shallow Depth of Field for Portraits

We have all seen stunning portrait photos that have a blurred background while the subject of the photo is perfectly focused. When done correctly, these photos can be very dramatic, however, it might seem hard to accomplish, especially if you are not familiar with the proper techniques. A faster prime lens (with greater aperture capabilities) will give you an edge in this technique, but even an off-brand lens, such as a Sigma 85mm lens will give excellent results if you follow the tips in this article.

portrait depth field

“Night life” captured by Gagan Dhiman (Click Image to See More From Gagan Dhiman)

Shooting pictures with blurry backgrounds is directly related to something called Depth of Field (DOF). DOF is the range, from front to back, of the picture that is in focus. You can have an infinite range, meaning the photo will be totally in focus in both the foreground and the background.

Conversely, you can have a range of focus that is as shallow as an inch or less. The more shallow the range of focus, the more blurry the background will be.

Controlling DOF

Some digital SLR cameras have a little button that will show the area of focus in the viewfinder, but a little knowledge about how to accomplish your goal will be very helpful. There are a couple of setting on your camera that can give you a great shot with blurry background, but there are also some techniques involving setting up the shot that will help. Here is a short list of things to be aware of when you are ready to shoot an award winning portrait photography:

Distance between the camera and the subject: To increase the blurriness of the background, simply move closer to the subject. Taking a photo from 50 feet away will give a large range of focus. Move closer to within 10 feet, and you will significantly reduce the range of focus, giving you a more blurry background.

Distance of the subject from the background: This is similar to the first tip. If the subject of your shot is standing right in front of something, such as a wall or a tree, the background will tend to be in focus more than if you move your subject away from the background objects. Thus, instead of the wall being 3 feet behind, have the subject positioned 10 feet in front of the wall.

Focal length of the lens: The formula is really very simple. As the focal length of your lens increases, the depth of field decreases. Wide angle lenses in portrait photography are becoming more popular, but it is because it is a new twist rather than a blurry background success story. Use a 50mm lens, and you may get a decent blurry background, but with a 100mm lens, your chances are dramatically improved. Perhaps the most popular focal length is in the 85mm range. A telephoto zoom is also widely used, especially the 70-200mm lenses.

Aperture setting: Almost any information you read about DOF will start with aperture settings. While using the techniques outlined above will improve your shots, a wide aperture lens is your best tool for getting a blurry background. Pro shooters have very expensive glass with apertures as low a f/1.2, but you can take great photos with a less expensive lens that has an aperture of f/2.8. The wider the aperture, the more shallow the DOF.

If you can satisfy all of these suggested recommendations, you will move yourself immensely closer to the goal of a blurry background with the subject popping and capturing the viewer’s eye.

About the Author:
Grab your gear and get ready to take some amazing shots as you master the art of people photography with a Canon portrait lens. There is a great lineup of outstanding lenses athttp://www.canoneoslenses.org that will get the blurry background you desire.

Go to full article: Shallow Depth of Field for Portraits

Copyright © 2003-2013 PictureCorrect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PictureCorrect.Com – Light Trail Photography Tutorial

Light Trail Photography Tutorial

Friday article flashback – Taking photo’s of light trails may seem difficult, but it’s rather easier than expected, and is based on a lot of trial and error. Light trail photos are most common found with car headlights and tail lights, but you can also make light trails with stars (star trails) or any other light source in motion during low light hours of sunset or night.

light trail photography

Photo captured by maxime nadeau croteau (Click Image to See More From maxime nadeau croteau)

Light trails are basically long exposure shots that take place around moving sources of light. There isn’t much you will need to be able to take these shots, but a proper camera, and additional equipment can help, even though some is not needed. I will start to explain the basics.


For a long exposure shot (the basis of this tutorial), you will need a camera that has some control over the exposure settings, such as changing the shutter speeds. Some cameras may allow you to slow the shutter speeds down, while others (such as DSLR’s) will allow you to leave the shutter open for an infinite amount of time until you manually decide to close it, which allows as much light into the camera as you deem necessary.

You will also need a tripod for this, as having a camera handheld with long shutter speeds will make it near impossible to compose a good looking shot, without everything being blurry. I have done long exposures on rests before, such as a bridge overlook, and it worked well. You just have to make sure the camera has minimal movement during the exposure.

Two more things that can really help, but are not needed, are a remote shutter release, and also a lens hood, which can help block surrounding ambient light (such as if you’re around a surrounding city, or with street lights). The remote helps so there is no camera shake when pressing the shutter button. Also, using mirror lock-up (feature on most DSLR’s) will also minimize camera shake. My last tip, which is good for any long exposure, is to use the noise reduction function if your camera has it.

tutorial on light trail photos

“long exposure” captured by maxime nadeau croteau (Click Image to See More From maxime nadeau croteau)

But only do this once you know the correct shutter time you will be using. Noise reduction takes the first exposure, which is the shot, then it will close the shutter, and take an equally timed shot, with pitch black, and blends the two shots together to reduce noise. And the reason you want to wait (until you know your proper exposure time) until you enable this feature, is because if you take a long exposure of two minutes or so, then that means you will be waiting four minutes until the shot is entirely complete. Take my word for it, it’s like watching paint dry.

Setting Up Your Shot

For our examples, let’s assume we want to take long exposure light trails of car lights. You will want to find somewhere where there is a lot of fast-moving traffic, and not much ambient light. Although, I must add, having neon signs or other lighting on the side CAN add for cool effect of the photo.Now, find a good perspective that will catch the car lights passing by, and setup your tripod, camera, and get ready!

Camera Settings

This is where trial and error come into play. There are no exact “perfect” camera settings. It all depends on the ambient light around you, how fast traffic is moving, etc.

  • First of all, set your camera to a low ISO (film speed) setting. This will reduce the amount of noise in the shot.
  • Next, set your aperture (increase your f-stop number) and take test shots and see how they turn out. This is where the trial and error comes in. I usually set my f-stop around 10 or higher, when I do have it set. But then again, I always use bulb mode.
  • If your shot comes out too dark, increase your aperture size (lower your f-stop number). And if your shot is too overexposed, decrease your aperture size (raise your f-stop). Aperture will affect your depth of field also. Keep in mind, you don’t have to stick to ISO 100 or 200. Try all different mix match settings and see what works best for you. What I do is use bulb mode, which leaves the shutter open for as long as you want it to be open, in which you hit the shutter button for the second time to close the shutter. On a DSLR, this is usually on the mode dial, marked “B”. I usually set my ISO to 100 or 200, use a remote, hit the shutter button, and wait about ten seconds, then close the shutter. I then look at my shot, and figure out if my shot is too dark, too bright, etc.

Getting Your Shot Timing Correct

The last part is getting your timing correct. You will want to look through your camera and know where the photo will actually begin. This is because you want to start your shot before any cars enter the shot. If you don’t, then you will have some light streaks start midway through the shot, coming out of nowhere. Sometimes this can’t be avoided though, and also sometimes it can turn out to be cool. But most times you want to expose the shot before any car enters the shot.

how to take light trail photos

“Vincent Thomas Bridge” captured by Thomas Bigger (Click Image to See More From Thomas Bigger)

Last Tips

I only have a few more tips, and you’re ready to shoot! First, always shoot in RAW mode (as you always should anyway) so most adjustments will be easily corrected later on. Next, you may need to use manual focus, as it can sometimes be hard to focus in the pitch black dark. Last, keep in mind what the difference in f-stops do. For instance, you take a shot at f-5.6 at a street light, and it comes out normal. If you take the same shot with an f-stop of 16, you will have a star effect on the light. Just something to keep in mind if you have any signs or other lighting subjects in your shot.

I hope this tutorial has helped you out, answered all your questions, and that you come up with some great light trail shots!

About the Author
This article was written by Ty Sharp (blog). More details can be found on his blog.

Go to full article: Light Trail Photography Tutorial
Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Copyright © 2003-2013 PictureCorrect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PictureCorrect.Com – Photojournalistic Wedding Photography: Flash Techniques

Photojournalistic Wedding Photography: Flash Techniques

Although most photojournalistic wedding photography shoots are done using ambient light, there are situations whereby the lighting situation might not be ideal to turn out good pictures. That is why judicious use of an external flash plays an important role in assuring great shots and happy clients.

photojournalistic wedding photography flash techniques

“kiss in the limo” captured by Tatiana Garanina (Click Image to Find Photographer)

A good photojournalist uses the external flash at appropriate moments to complement available ambient light. With a flash mounted at all times, you can address any kind of lighting situation, without having to scramble for one when the need arises. Many a time, the use of flash creates a distinction between getting the shot or not getting it at all. Therefore, there is no need to be so adamant in insisting that you follow the fad of just using ambient light in your photojournalistic wedding photography shoots.

These are some examples which make the external flash an indispensable asset:

i. Indoor shoots

While many couples opt for a casual outdoor solemnization ceremony, there are some others who would prefer to have their ceremonies conducted indoors, such as a hotel ballroom or clubhouse, so that they are not at the mercy of unpredictable weather changes. While shooting indoors, it is practically impossible to expect to shoot using ambient light. The use of an external flash here would ensure that your subjects are correctly exposed.

To prevent harsh shadows being cast behind your subjects, you should at all times avoid pointing the flash directly at them. Try using an omni-bounce or bounce card to soften the flash falling on your subjects, so as to foster an ambient feel and creating atmosphere while reducing the evidence of flash. Flash can be bounced off the ceiling, walls, wedding gown, a guest’s white shirt or anything available that reflects light well.

Indoor wedding camera flash situation

Photo captured by Dmitriy Bashaev (Click Image to Find Photographer)

Bouncing softens the light source by effectively making the source larger and spreading it out in every direction to eliminate hard shadows. Using sideway bounce off a wall can also create side lighting in rooms with very flat illumination and directional effect for simple portraits.

ii. Fill-in flash for outdoor shoots

When faced with a strong backlight situation, the camera’s exposure settings will automatically underexpose the subject to compensate for the bright background. Using a fill-in flash in such situations will illuminate the subject, hence preventing them from being underexposed. It can also be especially useful for keeping eye sockets from getting too dark or to lower the contrast ratio of shadows and highlights in direct sun. For best results, you should shoot in A mode, and put your external flash on high-speed sync, a function which is available in most TTL flashes. This creates a nicely exposed subject and ambient background. When the subject is close, and the sky is clear or partly cloudy, you can also take advantage of high-speed sync and use a fast shutter along with negative exposure compensation to darken the background, saturate the blue in the sky and add a little drama to the clouds above. Darkening the background here allows your subject to stand out from the background, instead of blending in, hence creating more depth in the picture.

Outdoor wedding camera flash situation

“Katrin” captured by Olga Filonova (Click Image to Find Photographer)

Contrary to the use of bounce flash indoors as explained above, direct flash rules reign for outdoor shots – no diffusers or modifiers, no bounce. Here it’s used as either a slight fill to get rid of harsh shadows, or to bring the subject in balance with the ambient light – usually for strong backlight situations. For fill-in effects, try using strobes at about -1 to -2 power on your flash.

iii. Freezing an action

As events in a wedding evolve so quickly, there will be times you need to freeze an action. Some examples include a couple dancing and a wedding march-in. While shooting without a flash creates the “blurred movements” of an event, shooting with an on-camera flash shows the static action using a faster shutter speed.

Photography flash techniques is an art in itself. When used appropriately, it would produce stunning photos that would delight all your customers.

The author is a professional wedding photographer based in Singapore. You may check out her website at http://www.vivien-tan.com or her Squidoo lens on photojournalistic wedding photography.

For Further Training on Flash Photography:

This new course which we have an exclusive deal on this week is designed to help you take professional headshots and and portraits using a DSLR and basic flash. By the time you finish this video course, you’ll know exactly what to buy and exactly what to do to start creating professional flash photos in both indoor and outdoor conditions.

It can be found here: Flash Photography with Headshots & Portraits

Go to full article: Photojournalistic Wedding Photography: Flash Techniques

Copyright © 2003-2013 PictureCorrect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PictureCorrect.Com – How to Photograph Light Trails

How to Photograph Light Trails

You’re going to practice creating light trails by photographing passing vehicles. You will need a tripod for this technique (or some other way to stabilize your camera) as you will be opening up your shutter for a few seconds or more at a time, and you need your camera to stay perfectly still. Otherwise, you will get camera shake, and your photos will be blurry. You will also need a camera that lets you control the shutter speed. And, you will need to be doing this technique during or after twilight, on a night that has little or no wind (to avoid camera shake). Here a few settings to get you started–you will need to experiment, as not every situation is the same. The lighting, the time of night, and the speed of traffic will all influence the shutter speed you need to use. To start off, I’d advise that you use the recommended settings and experiment from there.

shutter priority mode

“Cruising Chicago” captured by Tony Lau. (Click image to see more from Tony Lau.)

Recommended Settings

  • Shutter Priority mode
  • Shutter speed of 6 seconds (or use bulb mode–more on this below)
  • ISO 100, or as low as you can get it
  • Tripod (turn your image stabiliser off if using a tripod)
  • Shutter release cable or the camera’s two-second timer
  • You won’t be using a flash!
  • Optional: warm clothing, a torch to see what you are doing, extra person for security

Find yourself a safe place to stand off the road that lets you get a good image of the traffic. Position yourself so you have something of interest in the background (so you can get a photo of the lights of the car going past your point of interest). This technique will also create a striking image from up high on a bridge, looking down and capturing the light trails of cars below you, or from the vantage point of a curve or corner in the road so you can create lights that bend.

Once your camera is set up at your ideal vantage point, remember you will have to play around with your shutter speed a bit until you are happy with the results. Start with six seconds and go from there. Use a shutter release cable or the two second timer on your camera so you don’t risk bumping your camera during the photo. Wait until the cars (or even better, buses, due to their distinctive colouring!) are about to go past (if you are using your 2 second timer you will need to press this 2 seconds earlier to allow for the timer) and then press the shutter button.

If you still see the vehicles in your photo you need a longer shutter time, unless that is the picture you are going for. If you are shooting a long stretch of road you will need a longer shutter speed to capture a long light trail. If there are gaps in your trail, try a longer shutter speed. As alluded to earlier, you can use ‘bulb mode’ if your camera has the function to. Bulb mode lets you control how long your shutter is open. You press your shutter down when the subject enters the frame and release it when the subject leaves the frame. This way you don’t have to guess how long to leave the shutter open.

If you are having problems with overexposure, decrease your aperture size (by going up to a larger f-stop number), and if your images are underexposed, do the opposite and increase your aperture size (by going down to a smaller f-stop number). But most of all, just practice and enjoy!

About the Author:
Giovanna lives in London, England and is originally from Christchurch, New Zealand (www.exploretravelphotography.com). “Examine every possibility… Search and travel for the purpose of discovery… Explore.”

Go to full article: How to Photograph Light Trails

Copyright © 2003-2013 PictureCorrect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PictureCorrect.Com – Infrared Photography: Tips on How to Get Started

Infrared Photography: Tips on How to Get Started

You have always wanted to try Infrared photography. You have been lead to believe that this can only be done using expensive IR cameras. Then this article is for you ! Read how you can build yourself a digital IR camera for just a few dollars.

infrared photography tips

“Infrared in Sykesville, MD” captured by Sean Naber (Click Image to See More From Sean Naber)

Notes to the reader:

This article covers some of the basic principles of IR photography. It also tells the story of a project involving the modification of a number of digital cameras. The cameras were converted to be used as IR cameras. The aim of the project was to do the IR conversion as cheaply as possible.

Important disclaimer – Taking apart a perfectly good, fully functional, digital camera, is risky in more ways than one. There is the possibility of electrocution (through highly charged capacitors within the camera) and there is a real chance that the camera may never work again. I take no responsibility for any such mishap. The risk is yours completely; so are the rewards afterward if you get it right !

At the time of writing this, the NZ$ is worth about 70 cents American.

The trigger and the motivation

I am a simple man. I sometimes get involved in projects of a complex nature and may on the odd occasion fiddle with technologies which may be classed as “modern” or “advanced”. By nature though, I like to simplify things if at all possible. I also believe that many times we are precluded from doing worthwhile things by society telling us that “It is difficult”, “It is too expensive”, or “You will never be able to do that. Only certain people can do that and you are not one of them”.

In this article I aim to prove to you that you too can do IR photography. In fact, you can produce stunning IR photos using a home-built camera on a very tight budget if: ·

  • You are prepared to invest a very modest sum of money in getting together the parts needed.
  • You have the practical skills needed to take something apart and put it back together again (or know someone who can help you with that).
  • You can cut and shape a small piece of glass (or get someone to do it for you).
  • You have any knack at all for taking decent photographs.
  • You are prepared to risk “getting it wrong” or “screwing it up”.

how to get started in infrared photography

Photo captured by Ruel Tafalla (Click Image to See More From Ruel Tafalla)


Before you set off on this journey, you may want to get some more information on the subject. Fortunately there is a lot of information accessible on the Internet. If you wanted information on camera conversions you could go to:

(This article serves as a very good starting point for information on digital IR photography.)

(This is a very comprehensive article. Definitely read the paragraph on what makes a good IR camera.)

(Different cameras are compared here. You can also go to the page on digicam modification for detailed instructions on how to modify an Olympus 2040.)

(This article covers a whole raft is issues and contains links to many more resources.)

(This article contains instructions on modifications on a Canon G1. It has very well documented steps and photos.)

infrared photo techniques

“Greenwich Park” captured by Sean Nel (Click Image to See More From Sean Nel)

In some instances the articles mentioned above will give you all the details needed to convert a specific camera. Some of them refer you on to other sites where once again modifications to cameras are described and detailed. Even if you do not intend to convert one of the cameras covered in these articles, it is worth the while to scan through them. You then get an idea of what a digital camera looks like on the inside and how they are constructed. You will learn a lot by just scanning through the articles contained in this list!

Some more information on IR photography (using digital cameras) can be found at: http://www.lifepixel.com/ and other similar sites.

You can also search the Internet for sources of your own using phrases such as:

  • “Infrared camera conversion”
  • “Infrared photography”
  • “IR photography” etc.

If you do not have easy access to the Internet, you may go to a local library and ask about IR photography. Many libraries will only have books and references on IR film photography but you may be lucky and get info on digital photography from yours. It all depends on how modern and up-to-date your library services are.

I am going to assume that you have a basic grasp of the principles of IR photography. Even though you need not be an expert on these, I suggest you familiarize yourself with the following before you proceed with this article:

  • What is infrared light, how does it differ from light in the visible spectrum, why is it we can not see it but digital cameras can ?
  • How does a digital camera capture a picture, what is a CCD, what does a camera’s mega pixels(MP) value indicate etc.?
  • What does a “hot filter” do and why is it found inside most digital cameras ?
  • The manipulation of JPG-files on a personal computer, utilizing graphics software.

The mere fact that you are reading this article, tells me that you have an interest in IR photography. You may also be keen on taking your own IR photos and manipulating them. I take that to be a good sign and trust that you will “fill in the gaps” around missing information where and when needed.

From experience I can tell you that:

  • You do not need a specialized IR camera costing hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to do IR photography.
  • You do not need to use a digital SLR for infrared photography. A cheap digital camera that has been converted for IR photography can take stunning IR photos. It will most likely not suffer from long exposure times and can be utilized as easily as any other digital camera.
  • It is not that difficult to convert a suitable point-and-shoot digital camera for IR photography.
  • Suitable cameras and the materials needed to build your own dedicated IR camera can be sourced cheaply if you have access to the Internet and a reliable postal service. You may already posses some of the tools and/or may be able to get the components and tools in stores close to home.

how to take infrared photos

“IR Queen’s” captured by Reza (Click Image to See More From Reza)

What you will need

You will need the following during the construction phase of your IR photography project:

  1. A suitable camera. There are numerous references to suitable cameras on the internet. You may want to read my comments on what I considered suitable cameras below. This will give you an indication of how I went about it. As you will most likely be buying second hand goods, ensure that the deal includes a memory card, charger for the battery (if applicable) and some software (good to have) for downloading the photo files. A carry case is good to have but not essential.
  2. A suitable IR filter. You will most likely be able to get this from a photography shop, photographic retailer or the like. If you are able to source goods over the Internet and can have it delivered to your home, you will not find it difficult to get a suitable filter. Consider buying at least two or three different filters. If you do, the filters should be spaced far enough apart (in terms of their respective cut-off points) to allow you to experiment with different lighting conditions, more or less Woods effect etc. Note that you may not only have to buy filters for use as filter elements, but you may have to buy some filters to cannibalize for their parts.
  3. Some basic tools. These include one or two jeweler’s screwdrivers, a glass cutter, a diamond-impregnated file, masking tape, a fine-pointed semi-permanent pen, tweezers and blu tack. You may or may not want to use vernier calipers to measure the glass element that needs replacing inside the camera. More about that later.
  4. A suitable workplace. The workplace should be clean, uncluttered and well-lit. It should preferably be set up such that you can leave the project there indefinitely while searching for, constructing or waiting for parts.
  5. A few consumables like paper cloths, cleaning liquid, epoxy glue, earbuds and a clean handkerchief or two.
  6. Enough time to complete the project. A typical build can take an evening or two of full-on work but may extend out to a week or two if you have to wait for delivery on goods which had been ordered

Some of the basic tools needed for the job

infrared photography tools

Infrared Photography Tools

You may not need all of the tools shown in the two photos. Most are cheap and easy to find.

ir photography tools

Additional Infrared Photography Tools Needed

Once you have completed your camera you will need:

  1. A memory card suited to your camera. Some cameras have internal memory allowing you to store photo files on the camera itself. It is however always worth the while to get a memory card. The files are downloaded so much easier and the storage capacity is increased many times over.
  2. Batteries, a battery pack, or power source for your camera.
  3. If your camera allows for manual white balancing you will need a gray card to allow for this action. You need not spent lots of money on this; see notes later in this article.
  4. Suitable subject material for your photo shoot.
  5. Sufficient light and suitable weather conditions for the shoot.
  6. Means of getting the files from the camera on to the computer. You may transfer the information by means of a cable connection or by taking the memory card from the camera and slotting it into a suitable card reader. Consult the instruction manual for your camera for more information on how to do this.
  7. Access to a personal computer and suitable software for image manipulation. Once again this need not cost you a cent. You can download GIMP from the Internet and use it to process our photos. There are Gimpuser tutorials which teach you how to take a color photo and convert it to grayscale or how to change around the colors for false-color photography. You will basically be doing one of these two actions to convert your IR photo into a stunning work of art. See http://www.gimpusers.com/tutorials/infrared-monochrome.html
  8. A tripod is handy in that it allows you to take photos in poor lighting conditions.

Things to keep in mind about IR photography

  • IR photography is as much an experimental process as it is an art form. You never quite know what you are going to get when you press the shutter release. You are for ever experimenting, always trying different things and you need to take lots of photos to maybe get the outcome you hoped for.
  • IR photo’s need not be sharply focused, crisp and clear. In fact much of the allure of this art form is contained in its ghostly appearance, its dreamy atmosphere and sometimes surrealistic appearance. I will be referring to this later on within the article.

Things to keep in mind about digital IR photography

  • Digital IR photography has very real advantages over IR film photography. The old IR films had to be treated with great care to prevent fogging and had to be developed by experienced photo laboratory staff or dedicated amateurs. It was not easy and it was not cheap. Digital photography and the process of producing an IR image of your own does not cost a cent. That is right ! Once you have modified your camera and added the bits needed to get it to do IR photography, the only real expenditure will be toward batteries for the film shoot. You can down-load your own photos, “process” them, and produce results without any real cost. This is especially important when you consider that you will be taking lots of photos to see which ones are useful and which ones are not.

Proceed to Part 2: My own Infrared Camera Project

About the author:
Pieter Albertyn is a self-confessed “tinkerer” and amateur photographer. He lives in Napier, New Zealand. Pieter has previously been involved in product development and systems engineering. He loves to modify utility products, enhance their features and develop basic logistical support systems for them. Though he works in an English dominated workplace, English is his second language.

For Further Training on Infrared Photography:

One of the best-selling photography eBooks on the market is marked down drastically for only 2 more days and covers how to do many photography techniques that produce unusual, eye-catching results (including extensive chapters on Infrared). Found here: Trick Photography Guide

Go to full article: Infrared Photography: Tips on How to Get Started

Copyright © 2003-2013 PictureCorrect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PictureCorrect.Com – RAW vs. JPEG: Digital Camera Image Formats

RAW vs. JPEG: Digital Camera Image Formats

There is much confusion among new photographers as to which format, JPEG or RAW, is best to use. The problem is there’s no one correct answer to the dilema. To be able to know when to use either of the formats, it’s best to have a solid understanding of each of their drawbacks and advantages. The following article will explore both sides of shooting in either RAW and JPEG image formats.

digital camera settings

“JR 1″ captured by Pablo Ramos. (Click image to see more from Pablo Ramos.)


A file saved using the JPEG compression format is just that–the image saved to the memory card is compressed using an algorithm. Because the image is compressed, there is an inherent loss in quality. However, the issues associated with JPEG go deeper than just the image saved to the memory card. If you do any post-processing work on your images, every time you save a change, the compression algorithm is re-applied to the image. This causes further loss in quality with each edit/save cycle. The average size for a JPEG image taken at full resolution on a 10.1 megapixel camera is somewhere around 2.6MB.


A RAW file simply contains the data collected by your camera’s sensor. In itself, it is not an image. It must be converted before it becomes an “image file”. RAW files are significantly better to work with in the post-processing stage. You can very easily adjust many parameters of the image. The average size for a full resolution RAW image on a 10.1 Megapixel camera is 9.3MB. This is approximately 3.5 times larger than a high quality JPEG image.

The Comparison

If you were to look at two pictures taken of the same scene, one in JPEG and one in RAW (without any post-processing) then, you might think the JPEG image looks better, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, if you were to look at a RAW image with post-processing work done you would think that it was the superior image. But why?

One of the most important factors for getting an image to look technically correct is to get the white balance right (I say “technically,” because you can take a technically correct image with bad composition and it can still be a bad image). Going into exactly what white balance is and how it affects the image is beyond the scope of this article, but I feel a few words on it are needed.

White light is composed of all the colours of the rainbow mixed together with the result that it looks white. Some light sources (e.g. sunlight or an incandescent bulb) have a larger proportion of the colours at the red end of the visible light spectrum, giving the light a ‘warm’ feel. Other sources of light (e.g. fluorescent strip lights) have a greater proportion of the colours at the blue end of the spectrum, giving the light a ‘cold feel’. For your camera to get the colours correct in the scene it is ‘seeing’, it needs to know the proportions of each colour that are making up the light. This is called the “colour temperature” of light and is measured in K (Kelvin).

"Spain, Barcelona" captured by Desh Kapur. (Click image to see more from Desh Kapur .)

“Spain, Barcelona” captured by Desh Kapur. (Click image to see more from Desh Kapur .)

Most amateur photographers will usually shoot using AWB. AWB does an OK job of getting the colour temperature (and therefore the colours of the image) correct. Now, I come back to my original question:why should a RAW image look better than a JPEG? The answer is RAW images are much easier to manipulate using image editing software such as Photoshop. In Photoshop you can easily adjust many parameters of an image such as white balance, exposure, colour saturation, colour tint, fill light, brightness, contrast and others. Of course, you can also do this with a JPEG image, but it is not so easy, the results aren’t as good, and you still have the problem of gradual degradation of image quality from the JPEG compression algorithm. In Photoshop (and indeed other image editing programs) you can very easily and quickly manipulate a RAW image to be superior to its JPEG alternative.

So you may now be thinking, “why not always shoot in RAW?” As discussed earlier, RAW image files are approximately 3.5 times larger than JPEG image files. However, this is increasingly becoming less of an issue as flash memory gets cheaper and cheaper. There is another issue associated with RAW. Opening up a RAW file, manipulating it, and saving it as an image file (e.g. JPEG or PNG) can be time consuming when you have a large number of files to process. There are programs that will do a batch conversion, but the results are not as good as if you were to individually tweak and convert each file. There is, however, a solution to this. Many cameras support the option to shoot in both RAW and JPEG simultaneously. This allows us to review the JPEG images and decide which ones need some manipulation without us having to process and convert numerous RAW files.

"All Saints Church" captured by Hernan Vazquez. (Click image to see more from Hernan Vazquez.)

“All Saints Church” captured by Hernan Vazquez. (Click image to see more from Hernan Vazquez.)


Better results can be obtained by shooting in RAW. However, converting the files is time-consuming and tedious. The camera does a pretty good job at rendering JPEG files on its own, but it does sometimes get it wrong and it is easier and better to correct a RAW file than a JPEG in the post-processing stage. If you have a decent size memory card, I would recommended using the JPEG + RAW option. When this option is set, the camera saves both a JPEG file and a RAW file to the memory card. This then allows you to quickly look through the JPEG files later and decide which ones need some post-processing work, saving you a lot of time converting files. Of course this does use significantly more space on your memory card. I have an 8GB card, which I find to be enough for a days shooting with a 10.1 Megapixel camera using JPEG + RAW (my card currently has 485 RAWs and 672 JPEGs with 50MB to spare).

About the Author:
Alexander Sommerville writes for Use my Canon (www.usemycanon.com). The aim of this website is to introduce beginners to the Canon EOS digital camera, moving them away from the ‘Basic Zone’ and into the ‘Creative Zone’.

For Further Training:

There is a downloadable multimedia tutorial (that is discounted for Mother’s Day) with videos that teaches you how to take control over your camera, and get creative and confident with your photography. By combining illustrations, text, photos and video, it will help you get control in no time. Includes a bonus Field Guide—a printable pocket guide with some of the most essential information beautifully laid out inside.

It can be found here: Extremely Essential Camera Skills

Go to full article: RAW vs. JPEG: Digital Camera Image Formats

Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Copyright © 2003-2013 PictureCorrect, Inc. All Rights Reserved.