Category Archives: Learn Photography

Expand Your Photographic Vision!

You can create more powerful images by learning composition techniques and ways to expand your photographic vision. Learn to see more of what is in your viewfinder before you make your exposure. The following slide show presents to you some of the 2-D design tools that are accessible to you all the time.

With tips on Framing, Rule-of-Thirds, Point-of-View, Camera Orientation, and Moving in Closer, you will have new skills to use when you explore your next subject or scene through your camera. It requires a constant practice to develop your photographic vision.

This presentation goes along with the Learn! section in the Mid-Summer 2022 Newsletter. You can find a link to the newsletter here.

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Dee’s Digital Workflow

From Winter 2022 Newsletter, plus video at the end.

In the newsletter I offered a brief description of my digital workflow as a guide for you to think about organizing your own workflow to streamline efficiency and gain quick results. A digital workflow is very personal and you don’t need to follow someone else’s mapped out steps. However, use other’s to help you inform your own.

Here is my workflow as seen in the newsletter.  And below that, I have then elaborated further on my steps. At the end there is a video tutorial on how to make a contact sheet in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

Dee's Digital Workflow

I. Image Capture
  • You first need a digital image file. A camera file or a scan are the most typical.
II. Importing
  • I am using Adobe Lightroom Classic.
  • Before importing into LrC, I go through my images on my camera and delete any obvious throwaways.
  • I store my images on an external hard drive along with my LrC catalog. The software is on my desktop.
  • During importing I backup my images by selecting “make a Digital Workflow Importing Panel. second  copy to”. The backups go to a second external hard drive.
  • Global Keywords can be applied here.
  • I do not change the filenames, nor make any development adjustment during importing. (I do not allow my software to apply an adjustment on its own algorithms. Do not give up complete control.)
  • My filing system is organized with the year as the parent folder, Digital Workflow File Organization then subfolders by subject or event. (The option to Organize By Date could possible yield 365 folders every year. Oy!)
III. Organize (in Library Module). This step can be switched in sequence with step IV.
  • At first glance at the images on my screen, I again look for throwaways that I may not have noticed on my camera’s monitor.
  • Straighten any that have not transferred correctly.
  • Begin rating and adding additional Keywords in smaller groups.
IV. Make a Contact Sheet as a print. (Or, step III here, as mentioned above.) If interested, see video on how to make a contact sheet at the bottom of page.
  • You may only know what a Contact Sheet is if you have been in Dee's Digital Workflow Example Contact Sheet. photography a long time. Many of the terms we use in digital photography come from traditional film days. A Contact Sheet is when you have thumbnails of your images on one sheet of paper.
  • Images must be as they came out of the camera and must be in the order of Capture Time so I can carefully scrutinize my shooting methods.
  • This is the moment that I switch from an image maker to a viewer’s role. To experience what I’ve captured all mechanics are set aside; no computer screen, no document files on the edges of the screen, no keyboard, no scrolling, no side panels, no notifications popping up. All senses are with the images. I mark the ones to which I feel a spark, kind of like dating : )
  • I’m sure that there are many people who do not have this step in their digital workflow, nor want it. It’s preference.
  • Begin the selection process and mark up the contact sheet.(During writing this I realized that it is the same for me when listening to music. I love holding the CD or album cover, reading its contents and checking out the art. While listening carefully to the music I can read who the guest musicians are, who are the background singers, follow the lyrics, etc.)
V. Select best images in LrC to eventually work on in the develop module. (Back to the mechanics.)
  • There is a bit of organizing that happens again during this step; collections, key wording, rating, even perhaps deleting.
  • Review image sets to confirm selection made while reviewing the contact sheet. I do this in Survey View in the Library Module. I love that viewing mode.
  • Carefully inspect the selected images individually on the screen.
VI. Enhance image quality.
  • This is probably the most important step to do in the correct order in digital workflow. It is easy to make the wrong image adjustments first.
  • Begin with global adjustments, those that will affect the entire image; exposure, contrast, cropping, white balance, saturation, clarity, dehaze, lens correction, etc.
  • Move into local adjustments for individual areas; burning, dodging, isolate individual color enhancements, spot removal, texture, vibrance, HSL, etc.
VII. Printing or Sharing!

 

Focal Length Explained

This information is an extension to the LEARN article in the Winter 2020 Newsletter. If you are starting here, do go and check out the newsletter, too. 

Many photographers do not use the full creative potential of their lenses. And many don’t realize what the controls of the lens are. I believe that one thing that contributes to this confusion is that the lens adjustments are accessed through the camera body. This creates a disconnect. For instance, to auto-focus you press slightly on your shutter button on the camera body, and to change your aperture you adjust your f-stop selection with your main control wheel also on the camera body, while all along these mechanisms are actually in the lens.

All lenses have 3 controls; aperture, focus, and focal length. Each of these controls offer the photographer different options in how they record their scene. They are the creative controls of the lens. The following information only addresses the focal length as I find that it is often misused or underused for creativity.

Focal length – In technical terms the focal length number, in millimeters, is determined by the distance between the point in the lens where the light-rays converge and the point at which the light reaches the digital sensor or film while focused at infinity.

It is not the actual length, or size, of the lens barrel. The focal length number is the basic description of the lens and how we usually refer to it. We also talk about lenses in regard to their angle of view which also relates to the focal length.

 

 

Wide Angle gives, just as it implies, a wider angle of view. And in doing so, it makes all the objects in your scene smaller than how they look to the naked eye. There are many applications for using wide-angle lens. Two good basic ones are for shooting indoors and landscapes.

 

Telephoto lenses have a narrow angle of view, and as the name implies, it magnifies like a telescope, or optically brings objects closer to you. This, like the wide-angle lens, is distorting reality by making the objects different from how the eye sees them. Telephoto lenses are often used when you can’t get close to your subject, like a sports game or wildlife.

 

The normal lens is the only lens that will record the objects truly as the eye sees the scene. The objects will be accurate in their relative size and in their relation to their distance to each other. But the angle of view is not how the eye sees.

 

In the above 3 images I stood in one place and simple used the three options on my lens to illustrate angle of view and background-foreground relationship. 

Fisheye Lens – The only lens that comes close to matching the angle of view of the human eyesight, which is basically 180°, is a fisheye lens. A fisheye lens is an extreme wide-angle lens that will drastically distort your image and give you a circular rather than rectilinear image.

Fisheye Lens, Rockport Harbor

 

Fixed or Prime Lenses – When a lens has one focal length number (ex: 28mm) it is a fixed focal length lens, also known as a prime lens. These lenses could either be a wide angle, normal, or telephoto lens.

 Zoom Lens – If the lens has a range of numbers (ex: 18mm-55mm), it is not a fixed or prime lens, it is a zoom lens that has a range of focal lengths in one lens and the numbers represent the minimum and maximum focal lengths of that lens. In the above example it has a wide-angle range, the normal position, and a telephoto range in one lens. Not all zoom lenses have this. Some are only wide-angle zoom lenses in that they don’t even reach the normal position (ex:10mm-22mm) or only telephoto zoom lenses (ex:70mm-300mm).

Wide Angle Fixed Lens
18mm-55mm Zoom Lens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s important about the focal length numbers, is that you understand that the lower, or smaller, numbers are wide-angle lenses and the objects will look smaller. We also refer to these as short lenses. (15mm, 18mm, 24mm)

I had to move in very close to the shed to get the same framing as the next image.

Wide Angle

  • Short lens
  • Small focal length number
  • Small objects

 

 

 

The higher, or larger, numbers are telephoto lenses and they make the objects look larger. We refer to these as long lenses. (70mm, 105mm, 200mm, 300mm, etc.)

Notice how this telephoto lens brings the background closer to the shed.

Telephoto

  • Long lens
  • Large focal length number
  • Large objects

 

 

 

If you want your background to be less interactive with the foreground, use a wide angle lens. If you want the background to relate to the foreground, use a telephoto lens.

While there are many options for a wide-angle lens or a telephoto lens, as mentioned above, your normal lens is only one number. If you are shooting with an SLR camera then your normal lens is probably either a 35mm or a 50mm. It depends on your sensor size. Any number lower than your normal is wide-angle. Any number higher is a telephoto. Simple!

EXAMPLE: If you have a cropped sensor and you are using the “kit lens” (the one that comes with the camera when you buy it) and it is a zoom lens. The focal length numbers on this zoom ring will probably look something like this 18 – 24 – 35 – 55. The 35 is your normal, any position lower is wide-angle, any position higher is telephoto, and that even includes the areas between the numbers.

 

Point-n-Shoot Cameras

All of these cameras and others that have zoom lenses that are permanently attached to the camera are always in their most wide-angle position when you first turn the camera on. In order to find your normal position you have to zoom out slightly.

On Point-n-Shoot cameras you usually have a lever near the shutter button. Push it towards either side and it zooms in or out. There could be an indicator on either side that illustrates a rectangle with 1 or 3 trees in it. Towards the 1 tree is telephoto, towards the 3 trees is wide angle. Or you might just have a “W” and a “T” to indicate Wide and Telephoto.

Smart Phones & Tablets

Your phone or tablet has an extremely wide angle fixed lens. When you zoom in by spreading your fingers across the screen, you are actually just cropping the image in a similar way as if you had an image up on your computer and simply cropped down to the important part of the scene. Essentially, you are just throwing away areas of the image, and thereby, throwing away pixels. This is called a ‘digital zoom’, and you are losing resolution. Zooming on a phone or tablet is not a function of the lens.

To gain a better understanding for your lenses, try doing the exercises that are illustrated here and in the Winter 2020 Newsletter.