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"this book is an excellent resource for the beginning digital photographer."
The Essential Companion to Your Digital Camera and Your Mac
You'll be amazed at what you can create with your digital camera and your Mac. Whether you're making striking portraits or hilarious montages, this book provides the essential tools, techniques, and advice to turn you into a photo pro. Written by two Mac and digital photography experts, Mac Digital Photography explores everything essential to snapping, enhancing, and sharing great digital images.
Inside you'll find expert techniques for refining your photo-taking techniques, editing and repairing your images, choosing the right camera peripherals, using your photos for fun craft projects, and sharing your creations with others across the globe or across the room.
Mac Digital Photography teaches you how to:
Note: CD-ROM/DVD and other supplementary materials are not included as part of eBook file.
Whether you're using a traditional film camera or a fancy new digital one, composition, lighting, and posing play important roles in your photos. Taking pictures is at least as much an art as a science. Learn from the classics. The basic rules of portraiture and landscape art are as applicable to digital (or film) pictures as they are to traditional canvases. As you will discover in this chapter, it's important to think about how you should place your subjects, light them, and frame them with your camera. The time-tested techniques and tips described here will help you create better, more professional snapshots, while taking advantage of the special features provided by your digital camera. Learn to combine the traditional with the state-of-the-art, and you'll be richly rewarded by the results.
This chapter covers the following topics:
Compose your shot with care
Use light effectively
Understand depth of field
Achieve natural poses
Tips of the trade
Compose Your Shot with Care
Do you remember that joke about Mozart (the one in which he is busy decomposing)? In photography, composition doesn't mean creating music. Instead, it refers to the way that the photographer places all of the visual elements of a picture. Good pictures don't happen by accident. Good pictures result from planning and following the basic rules of composition; the better the composition, the better the photograph. If you think that you take pretty good pictures now, you'll be astonished how quickly your snapshots improve when you apply the basic rules of photographic composition.
Get Closer ... Much Closer!
Do you know the single worst mistake that amateur photographers make? They shoot pictures from too far away. They think they need to capture the whole scene instead of just the real point of interest. This one bad habit makes for many bad photos.
You can easily improve your photos with one quick fix: Move closer. The closer you get to your subject, the better your photos will turn out. Some people operate under the mistaken impression that you need to take pictures of an entire landscape or an entire person-including all the hair, limbs, clothes, and so forth-in order to create a memorable shot. On the contrary, your photos should focus on a point of interest. For example, when your subject is a person, think of the eyes as the most important part of your photo. The more you concentrate on a person's face-and, particularly, a person's eyes-the better your photo will turn out.
Consider the three photos shown in Figure 1.1. With each photo, the camera moves in toward the subject. See how the pictures improve with each step? Getting closer creates snapshots that focus more narrowly on the subject while creating a sense of intimacy between the subject and the viewer.
Use the Rule of Thirds
Long ago, in ancient Greece and Egypt, philosophers noticed a strange feature of beauty. Many things we find attractive incorporate a natural ratio of approximately 3:2, which the Greeks called Phi (rhymes with tie). This ratio came to be known as the golden ratio, or even the divine ratio. The ancients used this ratio to create art and architecture to mimic the beauty one finds in nature. The idea is this: Compositions that are split into thirds, with some feature placed about two-thirds of the way across the scene, look good. It's as simple as that.
Artists and, later, photographers picked up on this ratio to form the rule of thirds, which we use in composition. This involves placing visually interesting points along imaginary lines at one-third and two-thirds of the way across a picture. But the adherence to using Phi goes further than that. Even the most common print sizes (3.5 x 5, 4 x 6, 5 x 7, and so forth) approximate the golden ratio between their width and their height.
You can improve your photos by using this rule of thirds. Just imagine two pairs of lines. One pair runs horizontally across your picture at one-third and two-thirds of the height. The other pair runs vertically, again at one-third and two-thirds of the width. When framing your image through the viewfinder or on your camera's liquid crystal display (LCD) screen, place the most important features of your picture along one of these lines. Whether you shoot your pictures in Landscape or Portrait mode, this rule will improve your picture's composition.
If you're not comfortable "imagining" the lines, you can actually place them onto your camera's LCD screen. Simply cut out some transparent plastic, draw your lines on it, and apply it to your camera's display. Plastic used for making viewgraphs or transparencies works particularly well for this purpose. If static electricity doesn't keep your plastic attached to the LCD screen, use a little transparent tape.
The illustration shown in Figure 1.2 shows the differences between images composed with and without using the rule of thirds. Notice how both portrait and nature shots improve when this rule is applied.
Simplify Your Background
One of a photographer's biggest goofs is to allow the background to be too cluttered with objects and people. Busy backgrounds distract the eye from your main subject, drawing attention away from what you should really be looking at. Contrast the pictures in Figures 1.3 and 1.4. See how the picture works better with less happening in the background?
You can easily solve the busy background problem. Consider these hints:
Avoid busy scenery. The simplest solution is the most obvious. Take pictures away from cluttered areas. Choose a plainer backdrop for your snapshots.
Move the camera. Sometimes you can avoid visual clutter by adjusting your viewpoint. Try walking around your subject with your camera until you find a more flattering angle.
Move closer. The more subject the picture contains, the less background your picture shows.
Drop down. By shooting up at your subject, you can sometimes avoid a lot of eye-level clutter.
Take a portrait. Turn your camera 90 degrees and shoot in Portrait mode rather than in Landscape mode. Portrait shots limit the amount of background and show more of your subject.
Shooting your picture through a natural frame can add elegance to your pictures. Natural frames include windows, doors, and tree limbs, as well as other overhanging features. Adding a frame to your picture can make it look better. This works by directing the eye toward the subject. Figure 1.5 shows an example of how you can shoot a "framed" shot.
Choose the Best Camera Angle
Did you know that your point of view could dramatically change the way that you perceive a subject? When a camera shoots down, we tend to think a subject looks smaller and humbler. When the camera looks up, we think the subject looks bigger and stronger. These camera angles mimic the way that we have learned to look at things and people during life. Consider the viewpoint of an adult looking down at a child or a child looking up at an adult, and you can understand how the direction of a photo can resonate with personal experience. You can take advantage of the way that we naturally interpret these angles to add meaning and effect to your pictures.
You can make your subjects seem smaller and more appealing by shooting down. This angle can make a young girl look more demure. It can make a child seem more childlike or an adult less imposing. Downward angles emphasize eyes and cheeks while minimizing chins. Large cheeks and small chins correlate with the way we view children. Figure 1.6 shows a person shot at a downward angle.
Downward angles also make pictures feel more closed and complete than other angles do. When taking photos of the outdoors, a downward shot where the horizon appears high in the picture will produce a feeling of limits and claustrophobia. You can also use a downward angle to hide an ugly, overcast sky, as in Figure 1.7.
You can make your subjects appear bigger, more imposing, and more demanding of attention just by lowering your camera and looking up. Use this camera angle to flatter your subjects and make them seem more important. You need not limit this technique to photos of people. Take an upward-pointing picture of your dog to show how strong and fierce he is. Take a picture from the bottom of a statue to emphasize its height and majesty.
The upward angle lends prominence and strength to both the subject and to your photos. This technique particularly emphasizes the chin, lending a sense of power to your subject. Figure 1.8 shows an example of a person shot at an upward angle.
Upward angles open up pictures by lowering the horizon, as in Figure 1.9. They lend a feeling of spaciousness and freedom without limits or restrictions. When shooting outdoor photos, use an upward shot to draw in the sky and capture the full magnificence of nature.
The straight-on, neutral shot is the bread and butter of photography. This shot creates plain and undistorted portraits of your subject, as you can see in Figure 1.10. Use this angle when you're not trying for artistry or special effects. It's straight, honest, and simple. It may be boring, but it works for almost all of your photography needs.
Horizontal or Vertical Orientation?
As you've probably noticed, photos tend to come in one of two orientations. In the vertical portrait shot, the height exceeds the width. In the horizontal landscape shot, the width exceeds the height.
Horizontal and vertical compositions create different effects. Vertical photos capture individuals and small groups best, at the expense of the background. Horizontal shots, in contrast, are best for large group shots and general photography of people and nature. Figure 1.11 shows how using a vertical shot can improve a portrait photo.
Because of its more generalized nature, the typical camera creates horizontal shots by default. To take a vertical picture, just turn the camera on its side and shoot. Many tripods allow you to mount your camera for either vertical or horizontal shots.
Face Your Subject to the Center
The way a person faces, called a leading look, can direct attention into the picture or out of it. Looking out of the picture produces photos that don't quite work, as you can see in Figure 1.12.
Ask your subjects to look toward the center of your photographic frame, or move the camera and your composition until their pose works.
Avoid Unwanted Background Elements
Sometimes we forget to look at the background. We become so fixated on our subject's great expression or adorable pose that all sorts of unwanted visual details pop into our photos, unannounced. Often we don't notice the other elements until too late, when the moment has already gone, and then we're stuck with pictures that have little "problem" items all over the place.
You can learn to break out of the whole subject-fascination trance and avoid the pitfalls of unwanted elements in your photos. Start by thinking before snapping your photos. Take a good, long look at the whole picture. What items don't belong? What can you improve simply by moving an item-or yourself-to another location? It's easy to get rid of unsightly details. The problem is noticing them in the first place! The pictures in Figure 1.13 show the difference between just shooting a photo and noticing the background first.
The worst offender for this sort of photography is the classic "tree growing out of someone's head" shot, seen in Figure 1.14. By concentrating on your subject, rather than the background, you may end up with a telephone pole, sign, or tree sprouting from a head. Remember the basic rule: Stop, look, and if necessary, move! Only then should you snap.
Use Light Effectively
As a digital photographer, you need light. For obvious reasons, without light, you cannot take pictures. And without good lighting, you cannot take good pictures. Good lighting makes the difference between drama and melodrama, between splendor and ordinary, and between memorable and dull.
Sunshine can be your best friend, or it can be your worst enemy. While you're letting it fill your camera with brilliant colors and images, remain wary. Learn to tame and control it. Make it do what you need it to do. Natural sunlight creates the most dramatic and colorful scenes. It can also fool your camera. It can make your pictures harsh and unflattering. It can bleach images to near whiteness or hide your subject in an artificial darkness.
You can improve your digital photography by learning to use light effectively. By following simple guidelines, you can ensure that your pictures turn out the best they can be-whether you're shooting indoors or outdoors, or in bright light or near darkness.
Backlight occurs when the sun (or, for that matter, any other light source) shines too close to your subject's back. Backlight tricks your camera into thinking it is taking a picture of a very bright object. Your camera adjusts its light levels too high. Instead of picking up the light levels from your subject, it picks them up from the scenery. While the scenery appears beautiful and well lit, your subject looks awful-usually as a silhouette against a bright and colorful background.
To avoid backlight, keep the sun behind you and in front of your subject. This allows your camera to properly interpret your exposure settings.
You may need to physically move yourself and your camera to find the proper lighting. If you cannot reverse direction completely, such as when you are taking a picture of someone standing outside a famous monument, move in a circle around your subject until you find a happy compromise.
Some digital cameras automatically "handle" backlight, usually by turning on the flash. You can, too. Set your camera to use its flash and ignore the ambient lighting. The pictures in Figure 1.15 show how the flash will compensate for backlighting. However, even though using the flash will fill in your subject, this method does not produce particularly wonderful pictures. Your subject's features will appear "flatter" than in natural light. Instead, try to avoid backlit conditions completely whenever possible.
Use Indirect Light
A face full of sunshine is about as flattering as mud. Sunshine fills a face with harsh, unpleasant shadows. People look haggard, tired, and old. Every wrinkle is brought into full prominence. Shadows on the neck add an extra chin or two. Add squinting eyes into the mixture, and you have the lighting environment from hell.
Fortunately, there's a quick fix: Move your subject into the shade. Look for a tree, an overhang, or a trellis. Wait for a cloud to cover the sun, or shoot your pictures on a hazy or overcast day. Although most people think they need to take pictures in the brightest sunlight possible, you can snap excellent photos under covered patios or shadowed overhangs, as shown in Figure 1.16.
Unlike direct sunshine, indirect light creates soft and beautiful pictures. It flatters your subjects rather than batters them. Indirect light means exactly that. Instead of light streaming directly from the sun onto your subject, it bounces off the walls, the ground, and the scenery around you. You still get plenty of light, but it's a different, more playful, and far more flattering light. Figure 1.17 shows how indirect light can create a great portrait.
When you cannot avoid full sunlight, use your flash to fill in some of the harsher shadows. Set your digital camera's flash to its always-on setting and take your pictures. Although indirect lighting produces better pictures, your flash will counteract some of the worst shadows. On the other hand, when you have good indirect light available to you, turn that flash off!
Pick a Good Time of Day
Contrast the warm, soft colors of sunrise and sunset with the harsh noonday sun. When you take out your camera, consider how the time of day will affect the light. Choose a time that matches the mood you need. At midday, sunlight is strongest and most direct. Light appears to be at its whitest, colors at their most true and vivid. At sunrise and sunset, the color of light deepens and changes-often minute to minute. Colors are redder, kinder, and more dream-like.
Use these changes in light to your best advantage. If you plan your photo shoots in advance, consider how the time of day will affect your images. Do you want to create a romantic portrait? Perhaps you should wait until late afternoon or early evening. Are you seeking a dramatic landscape showing a lot of detail? Midday should work better. And don't forget those great sunset shots. When the last rays burn over the horizon, turning the clouds to fire, don't miss having your digital camera in hand and ready to shoot.
Excerpted from Mac Digital Photography by Dennis R. Cohan Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|Ch. 1||Composition, Lighting, and Posing: Some Tried-and-true Advice||1|
|Ch. 2||Digital Camera Equipment||33|
|Ch. 3||An Introduction to iPhoto and Photoshop Elements||65|
|Ch. 4||Digital Photo Editing||93|
|Ch. 5||New Viewpoints: Postprocessing Your Images||111|
|Ch. 6||Digital Photo Printing||137|
|Ch. 7||Photos on CDs and DVDs||157|
|Ch. 8||Share Your Pictures||173|
|Ch. 9||Digital Camera Versatility||199|
|Ch. 10||Digital Camera Crafts||219|
|Ch. 11||Photo Transformation Projects||241|
|Ch. 12||Just for the Fun of It: Digital Photo Projects||257|
|App||Field Guide to Online Photo Finishing and Album Sites||273|
Posted October 15, 2003
The very first paragraphs in MAC Digital Photography give very good advice ¿ get close to your subject! Ah yes, what many photographers fail to do. They want everything in the picture when what you really want is to focus on your subject. Remember to use the Rule of Thirds and your photos will capture exactly what you want to see in them. Remember, too, to make your backgrounds simple and uncluttered. Don¿t distract the viewer with images unrelated to what you want them to see. Wow and that¿s only the first two pages in the book. If you learn nothing else from reading this book, remember those points and your pictures will be greatly improved. Other points discussed include camera angle, orientation, and lighting. Tips on setting up your home photo studio are included. Keep reading the first chapter is you want information on depth of field and exposure and posing your subjects All of this great information was contained in Chapter one and there are eight more yet to read in this well written and easy to understand book. Without going into a rewriting of the book, other chapters contain explanations of what digital camera you should get, some of the software available to make corrections to your photos after you take them and how to use that software, how to get the photos in a hard copy format and don¿t forget about saving them to CD or DVD. Another chapter explains how to share your pictures by email or watching it on your own TV. It also tells about using your camera as a ¿notepad¿ for such things as remembering a quote in a book or showing your spouse several outfits you might buy but couldn¿t decide which one. Chapter 10 tells all about the items you can create from the photos you take with the digital camera. Things like, greeting cards or photo wheels ¿ a picture wheel to show your mood for the day. A collage is a fun thing to display on your wall and this chapter helps you create one. Finally, there is a CD loaded with software for your MAC ¿ a trial version of PhotoShop Elements 2, DVD PictureShow, FlipAlbum3, PhotoToWeb, plus a demo version of LiveSlideShow 2,0 and the shareware version of GraphicConverter. Still not enough software? There are others such as Photo to Movei, Image Surfer, Stitcher, Genuine Fractals, PrintPro and iVCD for Video CDs! If you are thinking of buying or already have a digital camera to go along with your MAC, this book would make a great hands-on help file to have right at your fingertips.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.