Lessons in Photography II

Read my first article on Lessons in Photography.

Black & White

Black and white photography emphasises the shape and form of photos rather than their colour.

Mineshaft at the Big Hole in Kimberley, South Africa

I used the free progam Picasa for all the photo editing you see here. For plain black and white, click B&W under Effects. For more control, select Filtered B&W instead. Use the eyedropper to pick out a colour from the thumbnail above the photo rather than the fullsize photo.

Flower collage

Flower in plain B&W and Filtered B&W

I was in Europe in 2008. I wanted this shot of the Colosseum to look older and solid by adding warmth, but this turned the sky from white to orange (first picture). I turned it into black and white (second picture) and the now white sky looks more acceptable. Also the red car and green bushes are less of a distraction without colour.

Visiting the Colosseum

This dramatic shot benefits from a simple B&W effect. It is the Honoured Dead Memorial in Kimberley, South Africa. I spent about 5 minutes walking around getting this shot framed right, not to mention having to get out the road when cars came by.

Moon framed

Honoured Dead Memorial

I experimented with a few effects, in this order, to achieve this amazing portrait.
1. Just a bit of saturation.
2. Set Fill Light, Highlights and Shadows almost close to full.
3. Sepia effect, for that classic look
4. Saturation set slightly negative to remove some of sepia’s orange.
5. Film grain to add age to the photo
6. Fill light to lighten slighly.

Portrait (in sepia)

Another photo I took in Italy, which looks great in sepia.

Venice in 2008

Batch editing tip

I enjoy adjusting my pictures on my computer manually, but sometimes I just want to add a basic fix to a whole lot of colour photos. In Picasa I apply a touch of warmth, a bit of saturation, and equally low levels of bright and dark. Then I click Edit then “Copy All Effects” on that photo, select a couple of my other photos and click “Paste All Effects”. This makes the photos look more real and vivid. A few of them need to be redone manually for better control over brightness/darkness, but otherwise it saves a lot of work.

See more of my photos on my profile DeviantArt profile called theSoftCollision.


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