Lessons in Photography

I have learnt a lot about photography lately and I want post some of the tips I have picked up.


London Calling

I got a new “superzoom” digital camera 3 weeks ago and I have already taken 2 600 photos. (Edit: 4 months later I had taken 27 000 photos then bought bought an Nikon SLR).
It is the Sony DSC-H20 with 10 megapixels and 10x zoom. Most of my photos on my DeviantArt gallery were taken with it. I am able to get much better focus and zoom than with my previous cheap 7MP camera, which I had from the end of 2007.

My Sony DSC-H20

I took a lot of bad and blurry pictures in order achieve a few perfect shots. I figured out how to use a tripod and how my camera works, so that’s increased my success rate. I also like to leave my camera on Rapid shot mode, to take a few quick shots of the action and then keep the ones that aren’t blurred.

For learning the basics of layers and partial color (selective black & white), these easy tutorials will get you started in Photoshop.
Layers: [link]
Partial Color: [link]


Partial color applied to a bumblebee in my garden

Picasa is the best free photo editing program I know of. Especially because you can easily save and undo changes. You only need to click Save (right click save, or the little disk save button), if you want to update the original file so you can upload it or copy it somewhere.
For DeviantArt, the best I think is to select the files you want and go File > Export. Leave it as Automatic quality and set the width in pixels. I usually go for 800, 900 or 1024, which makes them quick to upload to DA and 900px fills the screen well in full view.
Of course, export makes a copy of the photo you are working with and automatically applies the effects you were using, while still leaving the first photo edited but “unsaved”.

Download Picasa here [link]
Read tutorials for it here [link]

Applying sepia and warmth

This is what I have learnt about the basic Picasa effects.

-Is the photo taken in cloudy weather or does it look too blue or do people look too pale?
Add a some warmth with the slider, as much as you need but don’t overdo it unless you want an old look (combine with sepia and film grain then)

-Do the colours still look washed out or do you need them to look more vibrant?
Set the saturation up a tiny bit (less than the default, but slightly right of the middle line)

-Then add fill light to brighten dark photos (but remember to increase darks a bit as well). Or add darkness to bright photos (but add a bit of light to balance it out).

If the lighting is good but you want to improve the contrast (this works for almost all photos), put the fill light up by say 10% and put the darkness up by 10% too. Or 5% and 5%, etc.

The order of Warmth -> Saturation -> Brightness/Darkness was recommended to me and it works well. You can leave out some of those steps if they make the photo look fake and overdone. I have found Highlights are very useful for low light such as , as you can often turn it up a lot without much noise appearing.

There Be Dragons III

I would appreciate feedback if you found this useful.

Michael Currin


3 comments on “Lessons in Photography

  1. Brian Currin says:

    Excellent … great photos.

  2. cindisaadi says:

    Thank you for sharing your photo tips & great photos! I just got the Sony DSC-H20 for Christmas and was doing a little photo comparison between it and my Canon SD850. Although I love the Sony’s zoom and intelligent modes, I found that the colors seemed paler or washed out compared to the same image shot by my Canon. Do you ever notice this with your Sony? Are there settings I could change within the camera? I tried the Vivid in Program mode, but I don’t think that is available in other modes. I would just rather not adjust the color once it is on the computer for every single pic. Would really appreciate your thoughts!

  3. […] Read my first article on Lessons in Photopraphy. My Deviant Art photo gallery is called theSoftCollision. Possibly related posts: (automatically […]

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