How to Do Everything: Digital Camera

Overview

Capture stunning photos with your digital camera

Now you can take professional-quality shots every time-no matter what kind of digital camera you're using. Completely updated for the latest technologies, How to Do Everything: Digital Camera, Fifth Edition shows you how to take full advantage of all of your camera's features and settings. You'll learn the fundamentals of photography, composition, lighting, and exposure, and get techniques for different subjects and situations. ...

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Overview

Capture stunning photos with your digital camera

Now you can take professional-quality shots every time-no matter what kind of digital camera you're using. Completely updated for the latest technologies, How to Do Everything: Digital Camera, Fifth Edition shows you how to take full advantage of all of your camera's features and settings. You'll learn the fundamentals of photography, composition, lighting, and exposure, and get techniques for different subjects and situations. The book also explains how to use a variety of photo-editing tools and offers expert tips for storing, sharing, and printing your photographs.

  • Choose the best digital camera and accessories for your needs
  • Get the most out of a Digital SLR camera and interchangeable lenses
  • Compose great shots and control lighting and exposure
  • Master close-ups, action shots, panoramas, and high dynamic range photos
  • Organize, store, and share photos in JPG, TIF, GIF, and RAW formats
  • Edit, enhance, correct, repair, and crop your images
  • Have fun with special effects and photo projects
  • Print professional-quality photos
  • Troubleshoot and maintain your digital camera
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Although the title is a little overstated, this book does offer a fairly comprehensive introduction to digital photography. Johnson opens by discussing virtually all of the technical essentials of working with one's camera to make correct exposures and then proceeds to address questions about working with digital film and formats and transferring files. He further explains how to compose and edit photographs on one's computer, showing how to improve sharpness and contrast, clean up images, use special effects, and blend text with images. The book concludes with helpful chapters on printing one's photographs and sharing images through e-mail, web pages, and disks. Anyone who works with digital photographs will find this book quite thorough and useful. Recommended for all photography collections in public and academic libraries. Raymond Bial, Parkland Coll. Lib., Champaign, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071495806
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/13/2008
  • Series: How to Do Everything Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 428
  • Sales rank: 593,662
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Johnson is the editor of PC World's weekly digital photography newsletter, Digital Focus. He is the bestselling author of previous editions of this book as well as several other titles. Dave is also an award-winning photographer.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2
Understanding Exposure
How to…
· Tell the difference between analog and digital camera operation
· Distinguish between slide and negative photography
· Pick ISO settings for a digital and film camera
· Match aperture and shutter speed settings for correct exposure
· Use the Sunny 16 Rule
· Modify the Sunny 16 Rule based on ISO and lighting conditions
· Adjust exposure manually
· Tweak exposure with your camera's EV settings
· Choose metering modes for better pictures
· Use exposure lock to optimize exposure
· Tell when to ignore the camera and make your own exposure decisions

Some people think that photography is akin to magic. They turn on the camera, snap a picture, and a day or two later they've got a mystical re-creation of the scene they saw in the viewfinder. With a digicam, it's even more magical-the pictures are available instantly! How does it work? Who knows?

The problem with the Abe Simpson approach to photography (which I've so named based on an episode of The Simpsons in which someone took a picture of old Abe and he shouted feebly, "You stole my soul!") is that you can never really improve if you don't know what your camera does or why-and if you don't know how you can influence the camera yourself to improve your shots. This chapter, consequently, walks you through the exposure process. Here you'll learn what constitutes a proper exposure and how to get it yourself-even on cameras that are mostly automatic.

(1)How Cameras Take Pictures
The best place to start is often right at the beginning-how on earth does a camera take a picture, anyway?
All cameras, regardless of type, work more or less the same way - as depicted in the illustration below. They open their shutter for a brief time, allowing light to enter. That light then interacts with a sensitive photo-receptor (like film, or perhaps a computer chip), and an image is recorded. Let's start by looking at a traditional 35mm camera to give us a little perspective.
Illustration 1
(2)Inside a 35mm Camera
Traditional cameras rely on good old-fashioned film. But what is film, really? It's just a strip of plastic that has been coated with a light-sensitive chemical. The chemical soup on the film is loaded with grains of silver halide. When exposed to light, the silver halide reacts, and that is the essence of photography. The longer the film is exposed to light, the more the silver is affected.
There are two kinds of film in common use today: negative and slide film. They work a little differently, but the end result is similar. When you use color negative film, also referred to as reversal film, the film itself becomes a "negative" image of the scene you photographed. After processing-which includes letting the film sit in a chemical bath that coaxes the grains of silver to visually materialize on the film-the negative is used to create positive prints of the scene. It's a two-step process, and one that is highly subjective. When creating prints from negatives, photo-finishers often tweak the picture to improve its appearance. Of course, what the corner shop considers an "improvement" may not be what you were trying to achieve, and that explains why your pictures never seem to benefit from filters, exposure changes, or any of the other corrections you try to make when taking pictures.
But I digress. The other kind of film is simple slide film. This is a color positive development process-after fixing the slide film in its chemical bath, the film becomes slides that can be held up to the light to display images.
No matter what kind of film you have, it eventually needs to be exposed to light. When you take a picture, you obviously press the shutter release. The shutter release instructs the camera to open a diaphragm in the lens for a brief period of time and then close again. If all went well, that was just long enough to properly expose the film.
(s)The Moment of Exposure
Depending upon the kind of camera, the events at the moment of exposure can be quite complicated. In a modern 35mm SLR, for instance, microprocessor-controlled sensors determine the exact amount of light needed to expose a picture at the moment you press the shutter release. The lens automatically adjusts the size of its opening to admit the correct amount of light, the mirror mechanism that usually lets you look through the viewfinder flips up and out of the way, and the aperture opens for the programmed amount of time. Point and shoot cameras, in contrast, don't use mirror mechanisms to let you see through the lens before the shot, so there are fewer moving parts at the moment of exposure. Tip: If you want to shoot with 35mm film, scan the results, and then edit and print the results on your PC, you might want to work with slide film. Slides are more exacting-they require you to nail the exposure fairly precisely, as I explain in Chapter 11-but they'll better represent what you actually photographed instead of the local photo shop's vision of what you photographed.
(3)How and Why Film Varies
As you no doubt know by shopping for film, not all canisters of 35mm film are alike. Film is differentiated principally by its speed, or ISO number.
A film's ISO number refers to how sensitive it is to light. The lower the number is, the less sensitive-requiring long exposures or very bright scenes.
Note: ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization, and that's the group that helped establish how the number scheme works. Film around the world uses ISO numbers, so you can buy it anywhere, and it'll all work the same. In the United States, photographers used to call this system ASA, which stood for the American Standards Association. That term was essentially abandoned about 20 years ago, so if you want to be considered a gristled old geezer, you can refer to ISO numbers as "ASA."
A fairly typical ISO number for ordinary daylight photography is ISO 100. Increasing the ISO to 200 doubles the sensitivity of the film; dropping back to an ISO of 50 halves the sensitivity of the film.
This has a tangible effect on the mechanics of photography. To see why, look at Figure 2-1. This diagram shows a typical camera body as a picture is taken. The lens is equipped with a diaphragm-called an aperture-that has a certain diameter and consequently is designed to allow a specific amount of light through to the film. With ISO 100 film in specific lighting conditions (say, at midday) the shutter might need to open for a 250th of a second (1/250) to adequately expose the picture.
Figure 1: Every camera-no matter what it uses for film-controls light with some sort of aperture.
But what happens if we instead try to take the same picture with ISO 200 film? The film is exactly twice as sensitive to light as the previous roll of film. And that means, all other things being equal, that we only need to leave the shutter open for half as long (a 500th of a second, or 1/500) to take the same picture.
That's not all. Suppose you're trying to take a picture in late afternoon-when there isn't as much light available? You might need to leave the shutter open for 1/30 in that situation to gather enough light. That shutter speed is a bit on the slow side, though. Not only might you jiggle the camera as you're taking the picture (it's hard to hold a camera steady for 1/30), but your subject might move as well, causing a blurry picture. You can probably guess what the solution is-stepping up to ISO 200 film will enable you to grab that picture at a much more reasonable 1/60, and ISO 400 would halve the shutter speed yet again, to a crisp 1/250.
(3)The F/stop Ballet
So far so good-but there's one other aspect to consider, and that's the fact that camera lenses can change the diameter of their aperture, thus letting in more or less light as needed.
The size of a camera's aperture at any given moment is called the f/stop, or sometimes referred to as the f number of the lens. F/stops are represented by numbers that start with "f/"-like f/2, f/5.6, and f/11. The larger the number, the smaller the opening, so an f22 is very, very small (not much light gets through to the film), while a lens set to f/1.2 is a huge opening that literally floods the film with light. Every "whole" f/stop, such as from f/5.6 to f/8 or f/11 to f/16, increases or reduces the light by 100%. If you adjust a lens from f/8 to f/11, for instance, you've reduced the light by half. We'll talk about this in more detail in Chapter 3 (it's really important, yet really simple), but for the moment take a look at Figure 2-2. This diagram shows the relationship between f/stop and shutter speed. As you reduce the shutter speed, you need to increase the diameter of the aperture in order to have enough light to take a properly exposed picture. Figure 2: There's a relationship between a camera's shutter speed and aperture setting. callouts
f/4
1/1000
f/8
1/250
f/16
1/60
Of course, there's a link between aperture, shutter speed, and your film's ISO rating. Look at Figure 2-3. At a given film speed, you can take a picture with a specific aperture/shutter combination. If you double the film speed without changing the lighting conditions, though, you have to adjust the aperture and shutter speed so that you still get a properly exposed picture. And perhaps most importantly for us, suppose you are in the situation described here:
Figure 3: Film speed-known as ISO-also affects shutter speed and aperture. callouts
f/4
1/250
f/4
1/500
f/4
1/1000
You want to take a picture of frolicking lions at the zoo near dusk. The aperture is wide open at f/2-it won't open any farther. Nonetheless, your camera needs to use the relatively slow shutter speed of 1/15 second to take the shot. You know the image would be a blurry mess at that sluggish shutter speed, so what is there to do? Take a look at your film speed. It's ISO 100 film. Well, you might be in luck. If you're willing to pop the film out of your camera and put in film that's two f/stops (often, just called "stops") faster, you can keep the aperture at f/2 and change the shutter speed to 1/60. That's probably good enough to get the shot. Just do it quickly-it isn't getting any brighter out, and if you dally, you might find you need to increase the speed by three stops by the time you get the film loaded and ready to go.
Note: You probably don't need to know this, but it might come in handy during a trivia game some day. Mathematically, f/stops are the ratio of the focal length of the lens divided by the diameter of the opening of the diaphragm. Thus, when you divide the focal length of the lens by a very small opening, you get a large number, while dividing the focal length by a comparatively large diameter gives you a smaller number.
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Table of Contents

PART I: Your Camera
Chapter 1. Go Digital
Chapter 2. Work with Digital SLRs
Chapter 3. Understand Exposure
Chapter 4. Composition Essentials
Chapter 5. Flash and Lighting
Chapter 6. Take Close-Ups
Chapter 7. Sports, Action, and Active Kids
Chapter 8. Push Your Camera to Its Limits
Chapter 9. Your Camera On the Go
PART II: Transferring Images
Chapter 10. Conquer File Formats
Chapter 11. Working with Digital Film
Chapter 12. Finding and Organizing Your Pictures
PART III: Editing Images
Chapter 13. Quick Changes for Your Images
Chapter 14. Clean Up Your Images
Chapter 15. Create Special Effects
PART IV: Using Your Images
Chapter 16. Digital Photo Projects
Chapter 17. Print Your Pictures
Chapter 18. Share Your Pictures
Index

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