Tag Archives: Image Editor

A simple lighting technique with lovely light

The mobile phone light... soft and effective.

The mobile phone light… soft and effective.

Table-top photography works with soft light.

When you are doing still life shots you want soft, gentle light. Exposures can be longer so you can create lovely gentle shadow graduations. Your mobile phone provides an excellent light source for this. Here is how it is done.

White source image

The basic technique is to put a bright white image onto your mobile screen. When you display it on the mobile screen the illumination produces a white light. This is a wonderful, quite localised soft light for your shot. The steps in detail are…

  • Open your favourite image editor
  • Create a new image (approx size 800 pixels by 600 pixels)
  • Paint it brilliant (pure) white
  • If you are on your computer save the image then upload it to your phone
  • If you are on your mobile phone save the image to a known folder
  • When you want to use the light, display the image on screen

The white image on screen produces enough illumination to create the light you want for your table top image.

Other ways to use your mobile as a light source

Of course many mobiles are also capable cameras in their own right. So here are two other ways to use them:

Photographic light: Lots of mobiles have a “flashlight” app. This will allow you to use the camera flash as a photographic light onto your still life scene. Many on-camera (pop-up flash) flash units are very strong and have a harsh light. The flash on a mobile is often much softer and sometimes is coloured to be a similar colour to daylight (approx 5500 Kelvin). This ‘daylight balance’ is a great light and worth using if you have it. Prop your phone up with the flashlight app activated and start shooting.

Coloured light source: Traditionally coloured light is produced using colour gels. However, some apps on mobile phones can create both a white light or a range of other coloured lights. One such app for example is: Tiny flashlight + LED. This is an app. for Android phones, but there are other apps. for different operating systems. If you cannot find a suitable app. you can produce a colour image like the white one above. Store that on your phone and open the image when you want that colour light.

Versatile

While the light from the screen of your phone might not be very strong, for a long exposure that is not too important. The light is wonderful and soft. As it comes from a wide source it creates lovely wrap-around shadows. These are just great for still life. Other features of phones can help with the lighting for your photography too. So, have a look at your mobile in a new light – see what you think.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

EXIF Data – Understanding Your Shots

Image files hold hidden data about the file and the image itself


'The Kick' - an image file has EXIF data stored inside

'The Kick' - image files store EXIF data about the file itself. See below for data in this image file.
 
Make - Canon Model - Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Orientation - Top left
DateTime - 2011:04:09 11:04:14
Artist - Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)
Copyright - Photokonnexion 2012
ExposureTime - 1/640 seconds
ISOSpeedRatings - 100
ApertureValue - F 4.00
Flash - Flash not fired
FocalLength - 280 mm
ExposureMode - Manual
White Balance - Manual
SceneCaptureType - Standard

In your image files is information about your photos. The aperture value, shutter speed and ISO settings are three important pieces of data. However, there is a whole lot more.

The stored data is called EXIF. It stands for Exchangeable Image File Format. The EXIF data is stored by a number of image formats including JPEG, JPG, Tiff, RIFF and WAV files. It’s also found in many camera RAW formats. EXIF data is not supported by JPEG2000, PNG or GIF image formats.

EXIF is a great source of information. Once you understand it you can find out how the shot was make. Look at images by other people. It is an insight into the way they made a that image. When you see a picture you like view the EXIF data. You can tell from the values what settings were for that shot. Bear in mind EXIF data can be removed from a photo. So, it may not always be there.

EXIF data is a great learning aid. You can look at the EXIF data in your own image files. Check out the settings at the time your shot was taken. If the shot did not go well you can analyse what went wrong. Next time you will know better.

Getting the EXIF data

EXIF data is available in a number of ways. You can get it from most image editors when you open your file. Irfanview, an image viewer and editor, has a dialogue box for reading and copying EXIF {press ‘altgr’ & ‘e’ together}. Photoshop and Elements have read and edit tools for EXIF data. GIMP External link - opens new tab/page has the same facility. To use these editors to see EXIF data consult the help pages for your version.
More after the jump…

You can also get the EXIF data using Windows Explorer…

  • Windows XP: Right click the image file; left click “Properties”; click the ‘Summary tab’; click the ‘Advanced button’
  • Windows Vista/Windows 7: Right click the image file; left click “Properties”; click the ‘Details tab’
  • Mac OS X: view EXIF data with ‘Finder’. Do a ‘Get Info’ on a file; expand the ‘More Info’ section

In some versions of Windows you can edit the EXIF data as well as read it. However, the data about the file itself remains in the file. You can remove the private data and edit the camera data. Although you can edit the information in Windows XP it is inadvisable as a bug sometimes corrupts the data in JPEG/JPG files.

Editing your EXIF data

Data from EXIF files includes camera settings data stored when the shot was taken. There is also copyright data you can edit in-camera or add while editing.

Being able to edit your EXIF file is useful. You might want to put extra data into the file that’s not collected by your camera. For example you may want to save contact and copyright details. Or, you might want to remove some of the data. Some photographers do not publish EXIF data to prevent publishing information about the shot.

Not all cameras support all fields. The EXIF format is supported by at least the Japanese camera makers. There are many other cameras supported too.

EXIF data – many ways to use it

There are many ways to use the EXIF information. The first stage is to look at the data in your own image files.

You can also set up your camera to create EXIF data. It will store your copyright information and other data in your images when you make a photo. You can also add other types of data beyond the pure EXIF data. See your camera manual for instructions.

Have fun with your EXIF data!

Getting Started With Cloning

Vulture Landing - not a bad photo; some final adjustments are required

Vulture Landing - not a bad photo; some final adjustments are required. A little cloning work needed to tidy up loose ends. Click to view large.

Cloning allows you to clear up small problems – here’s how

Every picture starts its life with the composition. Once you have composed you take the shot. In those two simple actions is a world of experience and knowledge. It does not finish there – there is a third stage – post-processing (or just processing). Simplicity in your image is one of the keys to good photography. Often to achieve simplicity you need to remove unwanted elements of the picture. This is where cloning comes into play. In what follows I am going to look at simple cloning techniques using my photograph above.

Removing stuff

In this post we will concentrate on an essential technique… that of cloning in small strokes or spots. The essential element of any cloning job is the copying of the texture/pattern/colour (whatever) at the source point onto the destination point. The destination point is where you are hoping to remove something. Here is the first picture. It is an enlargement of the legs on the main image at the top of this article. The aim of this cloning work is to remove the leg harness from the bird.

The problem... an enlarged view shows the offending leg harness.

The problem... an enlarged view shows the offending leg harness.

Two simple points of technique underlie about 75% of the work of cloning. First the spot technique.

The success of cloning usually depends on collecting the source texture or pattern from near to the destination point. This is because there is a better chance that the colours, textures and patterns are going to match if they come from close to each other.

First, set up the source point. How the source point is selected depends on the application you are using. You will need to check the instructions. The idea is that there will be a cursor icon for sensing the source and a painting icon for where the cloning will be done. In the next picture you can see how I have cloned a little from the harness from the surrounding area. The round icon is the painting tool, the cross-hair is the source tool. As you move the painting tool the cross-hair moves with it.

The painting tool is where the destination is cloned. The source image comes from under the cross-hair sensor

The painting tool is where the destination is cloned. The source image comes from under the cross-hair sensor

You will see that I have done some cloning in two places. The cursor is currently cloning over the area of the harness, collecting the source from the surrounding green bokeh.

You can place the sensor cursor at any angle or distance to the painter cursor. You will see if you look carefully, that I have also done some cloning on the leg. Part of the harness has been removed there. You will notice that the leg has a scaly texture. I had to work close to the harness with the cross-hairs north of the area I was cloning. This allows me to pick up the texture and deposit it on the harness area. If you run over the same area as you have just cloned you get a repeating pattern. So, use short strokes. Change the sensor cross-hairs after each stroke or spot you clone.

The source point can be anywhere. In this image I have shown the positions I took the clone from for the leg and the harness part off the leg.

The source point can be anywhere. The image shows the positions for the clone from the leg texture and the harness part sticking out from the leg.

When just starting it is easy to just clone away until the job is done. However, when you stand back there are frequently three things wrong – lines are not straight any more; repeating patterns show up; big clone spots show up. To counter all three of these errors it is best to work in very close to the area you are working on. Smaller changes are less likely to be noticed. They blend in together better and have less impact on the picture as a whole.

As you can see from the black icons in the image the painting circle is very close to the leg edge. To get lines back you have to work with the edge of the circle, as I have done here. Just skim it along the line to straighten it from one side. Then, working from the other side (in this case on the leg) work that side too. Work from side to side, gently skimming it into a straight line, until you are satisfied that it will not be noticed when you zoom out. Here is the finished leg.

Now the tools are out of the way, you can see how the lines, shades, textures and colours are all blended and maintained.

Now the tools are out of the way, you can see how the lines, shades, textures and colours are all blended and maintained.

One of the easy mistakes to make is to do your cloning large, at the image normal size. If you look carefully at the leg you will see that, even zoomed out, you can see some texture and areas of darker and lighter shading. However, you cannot see the detail of the cloning spots/strokes. If you work at normal image size you will find it very difficult to replicate those shades, tones and textures. They are delicate and subtle. But life is delicate and subtle. If you want it to look realistic you have to put those subtle differences in. Working in a highly zoomed state allows you to do that.

If you click here  External link - opens new tab/page, you can see the finished full sized image on a new page. If you look carefully you can see the slight colour variations and texture changes around where the cloning was done. They look natural and fit in well. Working with the image at full size those variations would be poorly integrated, clumsy and unrealistic.

What we have covered
  • Smaller changes are less likely to be noticed. Work zoomed in and with small tool sizes. They blend in better and have less impact on the picture as a whole.
  • A pattern/texture source close to the clone destination is more likely to match than distant sources.
  • A continuous clone stroke will be noticed. Work with small spots and short strokes changing your clone source frequently.
  • Avoid running over an area you have cloned already with your sensor. It creates highly visible repeating patterns.
  • When working with lines/edges skim them gently from both sides until straight.

If this all sounds like quite a lot of time consuming work… well, it is. As you can see it is worth it. A good image improved in a natural way. And, like all your photography skills, it takes time and practice. It is fun and absorbing however, so enjoy your processing!

Useful links after the jump…

Bokeh – The Pretty Confusion

Burning the midnight oil

• Burning the midnight oil •
Click image to view large
Burning the midnight oil • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page
Bokeh is an essential component of some images.

Bokeh is the wonderful quality of blur you can create by not having part of your image in the depth of field. Blur is an essential compositional feature and something that every photographer should know a little about.

The latest entry into our Photographic Glossary is: Bokeh

Post Processing Defined

The growth of a multi-billion Pound industry worldwide in software and post-processing work has been phenomenal in recent years. However, the camera manufacturers are in rude health. The mobile industries are active and growing. The Internet is hosting more and more online facilities for processing. Websites that are using images, photographic processing and social networking in images are growing daily. The post-processing industry is quite possibly one of the largest computer industry interfaces with the public.

Find out more about post-processing in our new article in the Photographic Glossary.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.


Nikon Release a Stunning New Model… The D3200

The new Nikon D3200...

New full featured DSLR sets a new standard

Today Nikon announced the release of a new model. It is an advance on the popular D3100. While it is primed for the family and amateur market the D3200 is no lightweight. Boasting a 24 megapixel sensor it matches the ‘pro-photography’ market and could fulfil a niche as a light and flexible camera for the photographer on the move. It is priced to meet the same market that the Canon Rebel/D550 series cameras fill. However, it looks to leave the Canons standing.

The stylish design comes in two colours – Red and black. The advances are not skin deep. Below the surface is a slick imaging machine. The sensor is a 24.2MP DX-format CMOS with great colour fidelity, sharpness and tonal variation. The EXPEED III image processor provides a range of in-camera image manipulation facilities as well as superb picture quality and HD 1080p video. There is a large, 3inch LCD screen which allows bright clear framing, playback, menus and controls as well as ‘Guide Mode’ settings. The menu navigation is intuitive and clear as well as friendly.

The lens mount is suitable for a wide range of Nikkor lenses. The bundled ‘glass’ is the versatile AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G (Vibration Reduction) lens – a mid-range lens with superb optical quality and stabilization. The camera houses an eleven point auto-focus system using phase detection to ensure the quick focus response.

Modern cameras have great ISO and noise reduction systems. The D3200 is no exception. The top level of the ISO range is 12800 and the noise processing is reported to be of high quality. This looks like a great system to meet the full range of light conditions any photographer will encounter.

While the camera is probably best suited to the amateur and family market the large sensor size, excellent video specifications and ease-of-use make it a great opportunity for entry-level users to buy a camera they can grow into. On top of that there is the added bonus of wireless.

The D3200 looks like being the first truly mobile enabled DSLR. A small plug-in accessory is going to be available that will enable the camera as a mobile device. Called the WU-1a wireless mobile adapter the unit will automatically connect with your smartphone for upload. It will even let you use your phone to control the camera to take shots and video. There is an intuitive app. to help the process along on your phone. Get the shot and share it all in one! That beats hands down the limited and geeky Canon wireless offering on the Canon IXUS.

Combined with the other features of this camera, the wireless will be a big boost for sales. In the mobile world of today the camera manufacturers have lagged behind. Nikon have obviously decided to take a leap with this camera and it is aimed at the right end of the market. Great news. Lets hope the likes of Canon and others will follow suit. At the moment the camera manufacturers are looking decidedly behind the times in terms of wireless access and facilities. Nikon is clearly determined to break the barriers.

Another feature that will excite the mobile generation is the in-camera editing features. Mobile phones have got streets ahead of cameras on editing. Well the D3200 is fighting back. The camera features a ‘Retouch Menu’. It offers a whole range of post processing features… Resize, Color sketch, Selective colour and other process tools. The traditional ‘red-eye‘ correction, and Monochrome (Black-and-white, Sepia and Cyanotype), is available along with Filter effects (Skylight, Warm filter, Red intensifier, Green intensifier, Blue intensifier, Cross screen and Soft). Other features include: Color balance, Image overlay, RAW processing, Quick retouch, Straighten, Distortion, Fisheye, Color outline, Perspective control and miniaturisation. It is also possible to edit your video clips in the camera too.

It is looking like European distribution and sales will begin sometime in May/June. Of course we will keep you posted on that and ensure that you get the latest on this camera as we know more. In the meantime this looks like being the most forward looking DSLR to come out for some time and it smashes the preconceptions of recent times about DSLRs. if you are looking to get your first DSLR and love to share your pictures this could be the mean machine you are looking for to do the right thing!

The Nikon D3200... stylish and a new standard in size and power!

The Nikon D3200... stylish and a new standard in size and power!

The Nikon D3200... A new standard in wireless connectivity.

The Nikon D3200... A new standard in wireless connectivity.

The Nikon D3200... High resolution and 24 megapixel

The Nikon D3200... High resolution and 24 megapixel - A market breakthrough for the amateur, family and mobile generations. The camera has pretentions to the professional photographer market too. The 24 megapixel sensor will allow large print sizes.

The Nikon D3200... great facilities and intuative menu navigation and use.

The Nikon D3200... great facilities and intuative menu navigation and use.

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Lots of Pictures – a polyptych

What do you call a group of shots with a common link? Read today’s definition…

Definition: Polyptych

Definition: Polyptych | Glossary entry

Polyptych

Prounounced “Polyp’tik”, this is a word dating back to 1899 – according to the Oxford English Dictionary   External link - opens new tab/page.

Originally, a polyptych was a religious piece on an alter which had four or more hinged panels. Each panel displayed a relief or painting. Today photographers use the term to describe a photo-story; a themed photographic sequence or a group of pictures with something in common. In all cases there are four or more pictures.

A polyptych may be presented as one picture with four or more images within it. Alternatively it could be four or more linked pictures presented close to one another – for example framed on the same wall or separately mounted in the same frame.

A polyptych is NOT distinct from a Quadtrych, a new term which describes a group of only four linked pictures.

A polyptych can contain many pictures. It is unlikely to be hundreds or thousands, there are practical limits to how many grouped pictures can be put together without them becoming other things. For example very many pictures could be a gallery, a timelapse sequence, a collection, a collage, a photographic mosaic, or may be described by other collective nouns. Since the word derives from times of hand-painted altar pieces we can assume in practice the numbers of pictures in a polyptych would be limited. It is uncommon to have more than ten images in a polyptych format, frame or picture. Large numbers of images in one picture are uncommon in photographic competitions. However, there are some famous examples of polypych presentations. Andy Warhol External link - opens new tab/page the artist was a celebrated master of the format. Many of his famous works are multiple colour versions of the same image External link - opens new tab/page.

Some examples:
An example of five images in one picture as a photostory… External link - opens new tab/page
Multiple portraits (18) in one photograph External link - opens new tab/page.

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