Sams Teach Yourself Digital Photography and Photoshop Elements 3

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You have a digital camera and now you want to get all those great pictures loaded onto your computer, but how? And then, how do you edit the photos to correct your mistakes and organize them for easy access? Sams Publishing has the answers to all of your digital photography questions in one easy-to-understand book. Sams Teach Yourself Digital Photography and Photoshop Elements 3 All In One will help you quickly get comfortable with your digital...

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Overview

You have a digital camera and now you want to get all those great pictures loaded onto your computer, but how? And then, how do you edit the photos to correct your mistakes and organize them for easy access? Sams Publishing has the answers to all of your digital photography questions in one easy-to-understand book. Sams Teach Yourself Digital Photography and Photoshop Elements 3 All In One will help you quickly get comfortable with your digital photography tools and technology. You'll learn to:

  • Take great digital pictures
  • Load digital images onto your computer
  • Organize images into digital albums
  • Edit photos and get creative with Photoshop Elements
  • Output digital photos to a printer, web album, CD or DVD
Your pictures will truly be worth a thousand words with the help of Sams Teach Yourself Digital Photography and Photoshop Elements 3 All In One
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780672326882
  • Publisher: Sams
  • Publication date: 12/10/2004
  • Series: Sams Teach Yourself Series
  • Pages: 742
  • Product dimensions: 7.38 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 1.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Carla Rose, a photographer, artist, and award-winning writer, is the author of more than 20 computer books, including Sams Teach Yourself Adobe Photoshop in 24 Hours and Sams Teach Yourself Digital Photography and Photoshop Elements All in One.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Before we get into the technical aspects of choosing a digital camera and using it, let's think for a few minutes about photos, and the science, art, and philosophy of making them.

What Is Photography?

Is it an art, or a science? Is it a tool? Or is it magic? It can be any or all of these, depending on your approach. Photography can be a lucrative career, an engaging hobby, a means of self-expression, and an all-consuming passion. It can also be "none of the above" if you simply point the camera, press the button, and drop the results off at the drugstore for processing. At the very least, photography is the act of creating a photograph.

This brings us to the next obvious question: What is a photograph? We used to be able to define it as an image formed on light-sensitive material, chemically stabilized and projected on a screen for viewing or printed, negative to positive, on light-sensitive paper. That's not, if you'll excuse the pun, the whole picture. It's much more. Poetically, it's a moment frozen in time. It's your son's first wobbly steps, your daughter's confident stride as she crosses the stage to accept her diploma. It's the Grand Canyon at sunset or waves pounding the rocky Maine coast. It's whatever excites you, intrigues you, dazzles you with beauty. It's also what sells your product, identifies you for your passport, or illustrates a news story.

Even the technical definition above is only part of the story. Computers have changed the process, just as they have changed much of the rest of our lives. Digital cameras are replacing film cameras, even at the highest professional levels. And photo-retouching, once a skilled art, is now an easy, and in some cases, automatic procedure.

However, some of the basics are still true. You still need light and a lens to collect it. You need a sensitive surface on which to form the image. You need a shutter to control the amount of time the light enters the camera. You need a way to preserve the captured image and to display it. Why do you need these tools? Let's start at the beginning.

A Brief History of Photography

Photograph comes from two Greek words meaning "light" and "writing." A photograph, then, is the result of a process that converts light to an image. Over the past 180 years, the process has undergone a tremendous number of changes. The earliest known experiments in capturing an image with light-sensitive materials were performed by a French lithographer and inventor, Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. He coated a tin sheet with asphalt containing a silver solution and placed the resulting plate inside an artist's camera obscura, a device then commonly used for tracing landscapes and architecture in correct perspective. Figure I.1 shows a diagram of the camera obscura.

Figure I.1
The light passed through a crude lens, often just a pinhole, and hit an angled mirror, which reflected the image on a sheet of ground glass.

Niépce left the camera obscura on a windowsill at his home in central France, and eight hours later had captured a fuzzy but recognizable picture of his yard and outbuildings. You can see it at http://www.niepce.com/pagus/pagus-inv.html. Eventually, Niépce pooled his knowledge with that of Jacques Daguerre, a Parisian scenery designer who had also been experimenting with light-sensitive chemicals.

By 1839, Daguerre had devised a much improved photographic plate. He coated copper sheets with silver, and then exposed them to iodine fumes to make silver iodide. After exposure, the plate was developed to bring out the image by placing it over a pot of heated mercury. The mercury bonded with the silver, producing a positive image. These early "daguerreotypes" could be used only for architecture and scenery or post-mortem portraiture. No person could sit still for the half hour exposure required. By the time of the American Civil War, glass plate photos were more common and the technique had improved so live portraits were possible. Figure I.2 shows a Civil War soldier in an original glass plate photo.

Figure I.2
The inscription beneath reads "The Union Now and Forever."

Get a Lens, Friends...

Continued experimentation brought better images faster. The Austrian mathematics professor, Joseph Petzval, realized that Daguerre's crude camera simply needed a good lens. He designed a combination of convex and concave lenses that could be focused to produce a sharp image. Petzval had a sample lens ground and mounted in a telescope-like brass housing by the Voightlander optical company. The result was a camera that reduced exposure time to less than 60 seconds. This made the camera a reasonable tool for capturing images of people as well as landscapes and buildings.

The Voightlander company produced thousands of cameras using Petzval's lens design. Other optical companies began producing lenses, and the camera design evolved into a wooden box with a leather bellows on the front. The bellows made it possible to move the lens back and forth to focus the image on a piece of ground glass. The photographer threw a black cloth over himself and the camera body to block out unwanted light while he focused and replaced the ground glass with a glass photographic plate when he was ready to make the picture. This was the view camera, used by both professional and amateur photographers for most of the 19th century, and well into the 20th. It was large, heavy, and clumsy. The plates were extremely fragile, and until about 1880, they had to be made on the spot. The photographer carried his darkroom with him, coating the glass plates with silver salts in collodion (a glue-like substance). They had to be used wet, and developed before they dried.

Mr. Eastman's Invention

Meanwhile, the early motion picture camera made use of the same sort of photographic emulsion on long reels of cellulose acetate film. The film emulsion was more sensitive, and exposure times were only a fraction of a second. In 1888, George Eastman put the two ideas together and produced the first handheld camera, the Kodak #1, which used rolls of film instead of glass plates (see Figure I.3).

Figure 1.3
The Kodak #1 had a 1/25-second shutter, a fixed focus lens, and two rollers that moved the film. It took round pictures.

It was small enough to carry around, about seven inches long by four wide, and four inches high. It held enough film for a hundred pictures, and when the roll was finished, the owner sent the camera back to Eastman so the film could be processed and printed, and the camera reloaded. Eastman's snapshot camera turned many thousands of people into amateur photographers, recording everything from family picnics and trips abroad to train wrecks and fires.

Because cameras could easily be carried to news events, photographs replaced etchings and lithographs in magazines and newspapers. Despite all this, the only really drastic change in photographic methods occurred in the 1950s when Edwin Land introduced the "Picture in a Minute" Polaroid. Impatience, coupled with technological advances, brought us a step closer to the digital camera. The Polaroid incorporated developing chemicals into the film. After you took the picture, you pulled the film past a roller that squeezed developer over the exposed film. A minute later, you peeled off the picture and coated it with a combination hardener and fixative. It took only a minute to develop.

It IS Rocket Science!

It was NASA who gave us our first look at digital photography. Back in the early days of the space probe, engineers needed to find a way to send the pictures from TV cameras on rocket ships back to Earth. TV signals could travel only relatively short distances with normal transmitters, but a radio signal at specific frequencies could travel much further. The TV signals could be digitized, converted to ones and zeros that could then be sent by radio, received back at NASA headquarters, interpreted by a computer, and translated back to grayscale photos. Visit http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/spotlight/opportunity/images/MIPL_Moon_first_ 040707152943.jpg to see the first close-up of the moon, taken on July 31, 1964.

Space Frozen in Time

Sensitive film and the mechanical shutter brought about the first big revolution in photography. Instead of the long exposures that Daguerre's plates required, the photographer could freeze a runner in motion, a crashing wave at the seashore, or a fleeting expression on a young girl's face. He or she could literally make time stand still. It was, and still is, magic. Typical digital cameras today use shutter speeds of up to 1/4000th of a second. That's fast enough to freeze almost any action. You can catch a hummingbird's wings in mid-flap, or a cat in mid-pounce.

The concept of freezing time is an important one. A fast shutter speed can capture motion that the eye can't see. For this reason, high-speed photography is often used to document industrial processes that happen too quickly for the naked eye, such as the potato chip cooker shown in Figure I.4.

Figure I.4
Pictures help pinpoint the cause of mechanical failure.

Freezing time also makes it possible to keep records of features that change over time. To a parent, few things are as valuable as those pictures of baby's first step, first birthday, and all the other "firsts" on the way to growing up. As adults, we all love to go back in time with the family album, looking at the scenes and familiar faces of many years ago. The camera can reproduce the past more faithfully and more permanently than our memories. Even when the pictures are fuzzy, poorly composed, or badly exposed, they are still precious to us because of the times and people they represent. They have frozen an instant in time that had a particular meaning to us. However, unless the picture is clear enough to speak to someone who doesn't know the people in it, or who wasn't at the event, it may be perceived as a failure. If your pictures will be viewed by a wider audience than your family and friends, you must make the "message" as clear as possible. In Figure I.5, the photographer took this picture to the Health Department to document the mess in his neighbor's yard.

Figure I.5
Documentary photography: He's attracting rats and mosquitoes, and the neighbors don't appreciate his lawn ornaments.

Magic Moments

Finding the right moment to click the shutter is often what makes the photograph a success or a flop. In taking pictures that are time-dependent, the trick is to catch what Life magazine photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson referred to as "the decisive moment." It's that split second when the action is at its peak, when history is made, or when the revealing expression crosses the subject's face.

To the photojournalist, it's the second when the assassin's bullet strikes, when the plane explodes in mid-air, or perhaps when two world leaders reach agreement and shake hands at the summit meeting. Some of these moments can be planned for. Others depend on luck—on being in the right place at the right time—with the camera aimed toward the action. Amateur photographers, as well as the professionals, can sometimes catch these "lucky" shots. The photographs of President Kennedy's assassination are a case in point. All were taken by amateurs who happened to be there and have their cameras ready.

The Photograph As a Communications Tool

As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Pictures speak to us. They have meaning. They represent reality. They convey emotions. They may speak of joy or loneliness, of pain, of friendship, or of good times shared. They may simply tell us what the recipe should look like prepared, how the sweater looks on the model, or what's inside a can of peas.

The difference between photojournalism and social documentation is often blurred. The photojournalist attempts to record what's there, what's happening, without imposing his or her feelings about it. Social documentary, however, has an attitude. The documentary photographer shoots a particular subject or scene because it may help to convince others of the need to either preserve or change the situation.

An example of this social documentation is the work of photographers Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothea Lange in the 1930s. They photographed scenes of poverty in rural America—they showed the agony of a mother watching her children starve, defeat on the faces of the men in the Depression-era bread line, and the sorrow of a dustbowl farmer forced to pack up his family and leave his land in search of work. Their pictures, many of which were published in Life magazine, were a major factor in bringing about unemployment insurance and other programs to aid the poor and homeless. It was photojournalism, in that it documented conditions at the time, but it became a social commentary as well because the subjects were selected specifically to make a point about the unacceptable conditions with which they lived.

When you take a picture, you need to be clear about the purpose of creating it. Are you recording a scene for posterity, or are you sharing your feelings about the subject? Are you simply documenting what's there, or are you pointing out something that's particularly interesting or beautiful?

The Photograph As an Abstraction of Reality

Most pictures are of something—a person, a place, a thing—recognizable as what it is. Others fit more into the category of abstract art. Depending simply on how it's cropped, the object in Figures I.6 and I.7 is either an abstract shape (possibly a nude model) or a vegetable. The object itself hasn't changed. What has changed is the perspective from which we view the object.

Figure I.6
Object #1, up close. (Photos by Tanit Sakakini)

To a certain extent, all photographs are art, and all photographs are abstract. The nature of reducing a three-dimensional object to a two-dimensional image is by definition an abstraction. Reducing a color image to shades of gray is another abstraction. To an artist, however, abstraction implies something a bit more complex. The tightly cropped veggie in Figure 1.6 is an abstraction of the quality of "eggplant-ness." It has colors and curves, but it's not a specific, identifiable object, as is the other one in Figure 1.7. By removing some of the identifying detail, we have reduced it from an object to an abstraction of that object.

Figure I.7
Object #2, from a distance. It's simply an eggplant.

The key to successful abstraction is to consider the composition of the picture. The lines and patterns and shapes of the objects photographed must be made to relate to the shape of the picture. It must appeal to the viewer. Abstract art, according to photographer Edward Steichen, appeals first to the emotions, and then to the intellect.

The sensuous curves and shiny skin of the eggplant are aesthetically pleasing. They catch the viewer's eye simply because they are pleasant to view. The pleasure, in turn, leads the viewer to wonder what the abstract object represents. We might find ourselves comparing the shape and texture to other familiar objects and asking ourselves, "Is it a flower? No. Is it some piece of human anatomy? No. Is it..." and so on, playing a game of "Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral" until we finally realize that it is indeed, a vegetable.

Looking again at the curves of the eggplant, if it were some other color, perhaps a deep brown or silver, we would see it very differently—we would try to impose some other reality on it. We might see it as a polished stone, or as a musical instrument.

Color Is Critical

Most of us see the world in color. Even those people who are said to be "color blind" usually see some kind of color. They might be deficient in the ability to see red or blue, so their perception of purple or green or yellow is also different. Seeing the world only in shades of gray, as photographers did for many years, is an abstraction of reality.

Of course, all photos—with the exception of three dimensional holograms—are an abstraction anyway. Very few photo subjects are completely flat. When you take a picture, you are flattening what you see onto a page or a screen.

Color helps us interpret what we see, and allows us to look at an abstract shape like the eggplant and decode it into something we can recognize. If your intention is to be as abstract as possible, you can often pitch your viewers a visual curve ball by changing the color of the object to something unusual, like making the eggplant turquoise blue or adding stripes. That is one of the more creative aspects of digital photography, and one that's very simple to do.

When you add a computer and the right software to your digital camera, you open new doors for creative expression. In the chapters ahead you'll learn how to choose and use the right digital camera for your picture-taking needs, and you'll learn how to improve your photos with Adobe Photoshop Elements 3, the streamlined version of Adobe Photoshop, which has been the choice of professional graphic artists ever since its introduction in 1987.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

Introduction.

What Is Photography?

A Brief History of Photography

Get a Lens, Friends...

Mr. Eastman's Invention

It IS Rocket Science!

Space Frozen in Time

Magic Moments

The Photograph As a Communications Tool

The Photograph As an Abstraction of Reality

Color Is Critical

I. THE BASICS.

1. Understanding the Digital Revolution.

Considering Digital Graphics

Advantages of Digital Photography Over Film

Disadvantages of Digital Photography

Computers As a Photo Tool

Making Versus Taking a Picture

How Photos Are Used Today

Magazine and Newspaper Photographs

Advertising/TV Photography

Law Enforcement

Weddings

Photos in Web Publishing

Summary

2. The Digital Camera.

How to Make a Simple Camera

How the Camera Works

Lenses and Focusing

Camera Pros and Cons

How Digital Cameras Work

Inside the Camera

Color and the CCD

Bit Depth and Resolution

Resolution

Overview of Current Digital Cameras

Snapshot Cameras

Intermediate Cameras

Professional/Prosumer Cameras

Disposable Cameras

Memory Cards

Using Video Cameras for Still Photos

Summary

3. Technical Details.

Understanding How Lenses Work

Focusing

Focal Length

Visual Angle

Zoom Versus Prime Lenses

Distortion

Depth of Field

Manipulating Exposure Controls

Aperture

Shutter Issues

White Balance

Learning Workarounds for Camera Settings

Focus Workarounds

Flash Workarounds

Exposure Workarounds

Caring for Digital Cameras

Lens and Screen Cleaning

Batteries and AC Adapters

Summary

II. TAKING BETTER PICTURES.

4. Seeing Photographically.

Comparing What You See and What the Lens Sees

Organizing Perception = Composition

Framing a Picture

The Shape of the Image

The Shape of the Subject

The Shape of the Space

Dealing with Print and Screen Formats

Learning the Rule of Thirds

Discovering Perspective-The Illusion of Reality

Linear Perspective

Aerial Perspective

Contrast in Sharpness

Vertical Location

Overlapping

The Importance of Scale

A Matter of Comparison

Using the Horizon

Choosing Your Viewpoint

Finding Balance and Symmetry

Building Relationships

Working with Texture and Pattern

Texture

Pattern

Summary

5. Telling a Story.

How Does a Picture Communicate?

Symbols

Shared Experiences

Creating a Mood

Using Color

Color Defined

Using Limited Palettes

Working with Tonality

Monochrome

Planning Photo Essays

Shooting a Photo Essay

Release Forms

Summary

6. Controlling the Environment.

Natural Backgrounds

Indoor Settings

Using Backdrops and Props

Finding Interesting Backgrounds

Props for All Occasions

Improving on Nature

Dulling Spray

Tapes

Clothing and Makeup

The Glamour Drape

Food Photography

Tricks of the Trade

Designing Photos for Type and Image Enhancement

Planning for Type

Catalogs

Summary

7. Painting with Light.

Using Available Light

Larger Source = Softer Light

Smaller Source = Harder Light

Balancing Daylight and Artificial Light

Using Built-in Flash

Using Studio Lighting

Choosing Lights

Keys, Accents, and Fills

Cookies, Flags, and Gobos

Tabletop Lighting

Shooting Tables

The Jewelry Tent

Pitching a Tent

Summary

8. Shooting Portraits.

Portrait Posing

Couples and Group Portraits

The Flattering Portrait Trick

Children and Other Animals

Babies

Toddlers

Older Kids

Pets

Farm and Zoo Animals

Wildlife

Motion in a Still Picture

Summary

III. PUTTING YOUR PHOTOS TO WORK.

9. Saving and Uploading Your Pictures.

Getting from the Camera to the Computer

Transferring an Image

Using a Card Reader for Image Transfer

File Formats and File Sizes

Saving File Space

Using File Compression with Saved Images

Other Formats

Storage Media

Scanned Images

Using a Scanner

Scanning Film

Scanning Small Objects

Summary

10. Better Pictures Through Digital Wizardry.

Can You Improve on Perfection?

Moral and Ethical Issues

Software for Image Enhancement

Microsoft Picture It! Photo Edition

Jasc Paint Shop Pro

Adobe Photoshop CS

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Other Photo Software

Summary

11. Welcome to Photoshop Elements.

Opening Elements

Getting Help

Tool Tips

Recipes

The Help Button

Summary

12. A Tour of the Desktop.

Finding Your Way Around

Understanding the Shortcuts Bar

Starting a New Image

Using the Tools in the Toolbox

Utility Tools

Selection Tools

Miscellaneous Tools

Painting Tools

Toning Tools

Colors

Tool Shortcuts

Understanding the Options Bar

Using the Menus

Taking a Look at the File and Edit Menus

Using the File Browser

What's on the Edit Menu?

Taking a Look at the Image Menu

Rotate

Transformations

Divide Scanned Photos

Crop/Resize

Modes

Taking a Look at the Enhance Menu

Adjust Smart Fix

Adjust Lighting

Adjust Color

Taking a Look at the Layer Menu

Taking a Look at the Select Menu

Taking a Look at the Filter Menu

Taking a Look at the View Menu

Taking a Look at the Window Menu

Using the Photo Bin

Setting Preferences

Summary

13. Handling Photoshop Elements Files.

Starting a New Image File

Browsing for a File

Saving Your Work

Choosing a File Format

Choosing Other Save Options

Adjusting Resolution

Saving for the Web

Attaching Files to Email

Exporting a PDF

Undoing and Redoing

Using the Undo History Palette

Summary

14. Printing Your Pictures.

Choosing a Printer

Inkjet Printers

All in One Printer/Scanner/Copier Combinations

Laser Printers

Dye-Sublimation Printers

Imagesetters

Preparing the Image

Choosing a Paper Type

Selecting Page Setup Options

Previewing an Image

Printing the Page

Making Contact Sheets and Picture Packages

Contact Sheets

Picture Packages

Summary

15. Posting Your Work on the Web.

Internet Limitations and What They Mean to You

Optimizing Images for the Web

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

Optimizing a Graphic Step by Step

Preparing Text for the Web

Preparing Backgrounds

Making Transparent Images

Making Pages Load Faster

Creating a Web Gallery

Emailing a Picture

Summary

16. Keeping Track of Your Pictures.

Photoshop Elements Organizer

Understanding Organizer

Starting an Album

Maintaining Links in Organizer

Finding Your Photos

Making Photo Collections

Searching for a Photo

Working with the Photo

iPhoto for Macintosh

Importing Photos

Arranging and Sorting Your Pictures

Editing a Photo

Creating Albums

Sharing Your Photos

Summary

IV. WORKING WITH THE TOOLS.

17. Making Selections and Using Layers.

Using the Selection Tools

Making Selections with Marquees

Selecting with the Lasso Tools

Making Selections with the Magic Wand

Using the Selection Brush Tool

Selecting and Deselecting All

Modifying Selections

Inverting a Selection

Feathering a Selection

Changing Your Selection with Modify, Grow, Similar

Saving and Loading Selections

Stroking and Filling Selections

Using the Paint Bucket Tool to Fill a Selection

Working with Layers

Managing Layers

Adding a New Layer

Moving or Removing a Layer

Grouping Layers Together

Changing Layer Opacity

Summary

18. Working with the Brush Tools.

The Brushes Palette

Brush Options Dialog Box

Tablet Options

Brushes

The Airbrush

The Brush

The Impressionist Brush

The Color Replacement Brush

The Eraser

The Pencil

Summary

19. Adding Type.

Using the Type Tools

Adding Horizontal and Vertical Type

Choosing Fonts

Using the Type Mask Tools

Working with Layer Styles and Text

Editing Layer Styles

Warping Text

Summary

V. SIMPLE IMPROVEMENTS.

20. Cropping and Resizing a Photo.

Cropping

Thinking About Good Composition

Resizing

Resizing an Image

Resizing a Canvas

Resizing a Portion of an Image

Rotating an Image

Flipping Images

Rotating by Degrees

Straightening Images

Straightening and Leveling "By Hand"

Straightening Selections

Skewing Selections

Distorting Selections

Changing the Perspective of a Selection

Summary

21. Too Light/Too Dark: Adjusting Brightness, Contrast, and Color.

Quick Fix

Using the Automatic Correction Tools

Auto Smart Fix

Auto Levels

Auto Contrast

Auto Color Correction

Adjusting by Eye with Color Variations

Adjusting Color with Color Cast

Adjusting Color with Hue/Saturation

Removing and Replacing Color

Compensating for Lighting Mistakes

Correcting an Image, Step by Step

Summary

22. Removing Red Eye, Dust, and Scratches.

Making Basic Cleanups

Removing Small Objects with the Clone Stamp Tool

Removing Small Objects with Copy and Paste

Fixing Red Eye

A Pound of Prevention...

A Couple of Cures

Fixing Red Eye from Scratch

Removing Dust and Scratches

Using the Dust & Scratches Filter

Using the Despeckle and Unsharp Mask Filters

Removing Dust and Scratches with the Clone Stamp

Summary

VI. PHOTO RESCUE.

23. Using How Tos and Tutorials.

Using How Tos

Doing a "To Do"

Following a Tutorial

Going Online for Help and Inspiration

Websites for Ideas and Help

Photoshop Elements User Newsletter

The National Association of Photoshop Professionals

Summary

24. Repairing Black-and-White Pictures.

Easy Fixes

Correcting Lack of Contrast

Dodging and Burning

Painting Over Small Blotches

Preparing an Old Photo for Repair by Removing Sepia

Repairing Serious Damage

First Steps

Repairing Tears

Applying Vignetting

Cleaning Up a Picture, Step by Step

Applying Tints

Summary

25. Making Color Repairs.

Correcting Color Cast

Lightening Shadows and Improving Contrast

Making Selective Color Adjustments

Image Correction Tools

Blur and Sharpen

The Sponge Tool

Adjusting Saturation

The Smudge Tool

Making Repairs When Nothing's Really Wrong

Hand Coloring a Black-and-White Photo

Summary

26. Removing and Replacing Objects.

Drag-and-Drop Copying

Removing a Person

Replacing a Face

Putting Back What Was Never There

Summary

27. Using the Improvement Filters.

Working with Filters

Using the Sharpen Filters

Using the Blur Filters

Smart Blur

Gaussian Blur

Radial Blur

Motion Blur

Adding or Removing Noise

Despeckle

Dust & Scratches

Median

Add Noise

Using the Render Filters

Clouds

Difference Clouds

Lens Flare

Lighting Effects

Texture Fill

3D Transform

Adding Texture

Adjusting the Effect of Filters

Summary

VII. GETTING CREATIVE.

28. Color Modes and Color Models.

Color Models

RGB Model

CMYK Model

HSB Model

The Modes and Models of Color

Bitmap and Grayscale

RGB

Indexed Color

Color Bit Depth and Why It Matters

Calibrating Your Monitor

Summary

29. Creating Art from Scratch.

Choosing Colors

Using Color Pickers

Using the Swatches Palette

Other Tips for Selecting Colors

Using the Shape Tools

Changing the Style

Setting the Geometry Options

Drawing Additional Shapes

Finding More Custom Shapes

Selecting a Shape

Using the Brush Tool

Setting Brush Options

Painting with the Impressionist Brush

Adding New Elements to an Existing Picture

Using the Pencil Tool

Setting Pencil Options

Replacing One Color with Another

Using the Eraser Tools

Erasing with the Eraser Tool

Erasing with the Background Eraser Tool

Summary

30. Using the Artistic Filters.

Using the Watercolor Filters

Dry Brush

Spatter

Simulating Oil Painting

Underpainting

Palette Knife

Paint Daubs

Working with Pastels, Chalk, Charcoal, and Pen

Rough Pastels

Smudge Stick

Chalk & Charcoal

Conté Crayon

Graphic Pen and Halftone Pattern

Sumi-e

Creating a Neon Effect with Glowing Edges

Adding a Neon Glow

Texturizing with Grain

Sponging an Image

Summary

31. Making Composite Images.

Working with Lighting and Scale

Using Layer Styles to Create Composites

Using Adjustment Layers to Fix Image Problems

Adding an Adjustment Layer

Editing the Adjustment Layer Mask

Understanding Blend Modes

Applying Effects

Making an Effect from Scratch

Creating Drop Shadows from Scratch

Making Reflections

Using Distortions to Blend Composite Images

Putting Together Stitched Panoramas

Working with Photomerge

Considerations When You Shoot a Panorama

Summary

32. Going Wild with Your Images.

Posterizing Colors

Adjusting the Threshold

Liquifying an Image

Replacing Colors with Gradient Map and Invert

Using Gradient Map

Creating Your Own Gradient

Using Invert

Animating a GIF

Setting Type in a Circle

Using the Magic Eraser

Adding Metallic Effects

Using Weird Effects

Plastic Wrap

Diffuse Glow

Ocean Ripple

Wave

Solarize

Pixelate Filters

Crystallize

Pointillism and Mosaic

Stylize

Find Edges, Glowing Edges, and Trace Contour

Wind

Emboss

Combining Filters

Texturizer

Rough Pastels and Film Grain

Third-Party Filters

Orbs

Summary

VIII. APPENDIXES.

Appendix A. Glossary.

Appendix B. Photoshop Elements Menus.

Mac Menus

Windows Menus

Appendix C. All the Shortcuts...

Index.

Read More Show Less

Preface

Introduction

Before we get into the technical aspects of choosing a digital camera and using it, let's think for a few minutes about photos, and the science, art, and philosophy of making them.

What Is Photography?

Is it an art, or a science? Is it a tool? Or is it magic? It can be any or all of these, depending on your approach. Photography can be a lucrative career, an engaging hobby, a means of self-expression, and an all-consuming passion. It can also be "none of the above" if you simply point the camera, press the button, and drop the results off at the drugstore for processing. At the very least, photography is the act of creating a photograph.

This brings us to the next obvious question: What is a photograph? We used to be able to define it as an image formed on light-sensitive material, chemically stabilized and projected on a screen for viewing or printed, negative to positive, on light-sensitive paper. That's not, if you'll excuse the pun, the whole picture. It's much more. Poetically, it's a moment frozen in time. It's your son's first wobbly steps, your daughter's confident stride as she crosses the stage to accept her diploma. It's the Grand Canyon at sunset or waves pounding the rocky Maine coast. It's whatever excites you, intrigues you, dazzles you with beauty. It's also what sells your product, identifies you for your passport, or illustrates a news story.

Even the technical definition above is only part of the story. Computers have changed the process, just as they have changed much of the rest of our lives. Digital cameras are replacing film cameras, even atthe highest professional levels. And photo-retouching, once a skilled art, is now an easy, and in some cases, automatic procedure.

However, some of the basics are still true. You still need light and a lens to collect it. You need a sensitive surface on which to form the image. You need a shutter to control the amount of time the light enters the camera. You need a way to preserve the captured image and to display it. Why do you need these tools? Let's start at the beginning.

A Brief History of Photography

Photograph comes from two Greek words meaning "light" and "writing." A photograph, then, is the result of a process that converts light to an image. Over the past 180 years, the process has undergone a tremendous number of changes. The earliest known experiments in capturing an image with light-sensitive materials were performed by a French lithographer and inventor, Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. He coated a tin sheet with asphalt containing a silver solution and placed the resulting plate inside an artist's camera obscura, a device then commonly used for tracing landscapes and architecture in correct perspective. Figure I.1 shows a diagram of the camera obscura.

Figure I.1
The light passed through a crude lens, often just a pinhole, and hit an angled mirror, which reflected the image on a sheet of ground glass.

Niépce left the camera obscura on a windowsill at his home in central France, and eight hours later had captured a fuzzy but recognizable picture of his yard and outbuildings. You can see it at http://www.niepce.com/pagus/pagus-inv.html. Eventually, Niépce pooled his knowledge with that of Jacques Daguerre, a Parisian scenery designer who had also been experimenting with light-sensitive chemicals.

By 1839, Daguerre had devised a much improved photographic plate. He coated copper sheets with silver, and then exposed them to iodine fumes to make silver iodide. After exposure, the plate was developed to bring out the image by placing it over a pot of heated mercury. The mercury bonded with the silver, producing a positive image. These early "daguerreotypes" could be used only for architecture and scenery or post-mortem portraiture. No person could sit still for the half hour exposure required. By the time of the American Civil War, glass plate photos were more common and the technique had improved so live portraits were possible. Figure I.2 shows a Civil War soldier in an original glass plate photo.

Figure I.2
The inscription beneath reads "The Union Now and Forever."

Get a Lens, Friends...

Continued experimentation brought better images faster. The Austrian mathematics professor, Joseph Petzval, realized that Daguerre's crude camera simply needed a good lens. He designed a combination of convex and concave lenses that could be focused to produce a sharp image. Petzval had a sample lens ground and mounted in a telescope-like brass housing by the Voightlander optical company. The result was a camera that reduced exposure time to less than 60 seconds. This made the camera a reasonable tool for capturing images of people as well as landscapes and buildings.

The Voightlander company produced thousands of cameras using Petzval's lens design. Other optical companies began producing lenses, and the camera design evolved into a wooden box with a leather bellows on the front. The bellows made it possible to move the lens back and forth to focus the image on a piece of ground glass. The photographer threw a black cloth over himself and the camera body to block out unwanted light while he focused and replaced the ground glass with a glass photographic plate when he was ready to make the picture. This was the view camera, used by both professional and amateur photographers for most of the 19th century, and well into the 20th. It was large, heavy, and clumsy. The plates were extremely fragile, and until about 1880, they had to be made on the spot. The photographer carried his darkroom with him, coating the glass plates with silver salts in collodion (a glue-like substance). They had to be used wet, and developed before they dried.

Mr. Eastman's Invention

Meanwhile, the early motion picture camera made use of the same sort of photographic emulsion on long reels of cellulose acetate film. The film emulsion was more sensitive, and exposure times were only a fraction of a second. In 1888, George Eastman put the two ideas together and produced the first handheld camera, the Kodak #1, which used rolls of film instead of glass plates (see Figure I.3).

Figure 1.3
The Kodak #1 had a 1/25-second shutter, a fixed focus lens, and two rollers that moved the film. It took round pictures.

It was small enough to carry around, about seven inches long by four wide, and four inches high. It held enough film for a hundred pictures, and when the roll was finished, the owner sent the camera back to Eastman so the film could be processed and printed, and the camera reloaded. Eastman's snapshot camera turned many thousands of people into amateur photographers, recording everything from family picnics and trips abroad to train wrecks and fires.

Because cameras could easily be carried to news events, photographs replaced etchings and lithographs in magazines and newspapers. Despite all this, the only really drastic change in photographic methods occurred in the 1950s when Edwin Land introduced the "Picture in a Minute" Polaroid. Impatience, coupled with technological advances, brought us a step closer to the digital camera. The Polaroid incorporated developing chemicals into the film. After you took the picture, you pulled the film past a roller that squeezed developer over the exposed film. A minute later, you peeled off the picture and coated it with a combination hardener and fixative. It took only a minute to develop.

It IS Rocket Science!

It was NASA who gave us our first look at digital photography. Back in the early days of the space probe, engineers needed to find a way to send the pictures from TV cameras on rocket ships back to Earth. TV signals could travel only relatively short distances with normal transmitters, but a radio signal at specific frequencies could travel much further. The TV signals could be digitized, converted to ones and zeros that could then be sent by radio, received back at NASA headquarters, interpreted by a computer, and translated back to grayscale photos. Visit http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/spotlight/opportunity/images/MIPL_Moon_first_ 040707152943.jpg to see the first close-up of the moon, taken on July 31, 1964.

Space Frozen in Time

Sensitive film and the mechanical shutter brought about the first big revolution in photography. Instead of the long exposures that Daguerre's plates required, the photographer could freeze a runner in motion, a crashing wave at the seashore, or a fleeting expression on a young girl's face. He or she could literally make time stand still. It was, and still is, magic. Typical digital cameras today use shutter speeds of up to 1/4000th of a second. That's fast enough to freeze almost any action. You can catch a hummingbird's wings in mid-flap, or a cat in mid-pounce.

The concept of freezing time is an important one. A fast shutter speed can capture motion that the eye can't see. For this reason, high-speed photography is often used to document industrial processes that happen too quickly for the naked eye, such as the potato chip cooker shown in Figure I.4.

Figure I.4
Pictures help pinpoint the cause of mechanical failure.

Freezing time also makes it possible to keep records of features that change over time. To a parent, few things are as valuable as those pictures of baby's first step, first birthday, and all the other "firsts" on the way to growing up. As adults, we all love to go back in time with the family album, looking at the scenes and familiar faces of many years ago. The camera can reproduce the past more faithfully and more permanently than our memories. Even when the pictures are fuzzy, poorly composed, or badly exposed, they are still precious to us because of the times and people they represent. They have frozen an instant in time that had a particular meaning to us. However, unless the picture is clear enough to speak to someone who doesn't know the people in it, or who wasn't at the event, it may be perceived as a failure. If your pictures will be viewed by a wider audience than your family and friends, you must make the "message" as clear as possible. In Figure I.5, the photographer took this picture to the Health Department to document the mess in his neighbor's yard.

Figure I.5
Documentary photography: He's attracting rats and mosquitoes, and the neighbors don't appreciate his lawn ornaments.

Magic Moments

Finding the right moment to click the shutter is often what makes the photograph a success or a flop. In taking pictures that are time-dependent, the trick is to catch what Life magazine photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson referred to as "the decisive moment." It's that split second when the action is at its peak, when history is made, or when the revealing expression crosses the subject's face.

To the photojournalist, it's the second when the assassin's bullet strikes, when the plane explodes in mid-air, or perhaps when two world leaders reach agreement and shake hands at the summit meeting. Some of these moments can be planned for. Others depend on luck—on being in the right place at the right time—with the camera aimed toward the action. Amateur photographers, as well as the professionals, can sometimes catch these "lucky" shots. The photographs of President Kennedy's assassination are a case in point. All were taken by amateurs who happened to be there and have their cameras ready.

The Photograph As a Communications Tool

As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Pictures speak to us. They have meaning. They represent reality. They convey emotions. They may speak of joy or loneliness, of pain, of friendship, or of good times shared. They may simply tell us what the recipe should look like prepared, how the sweater looks on the model, or what's inside a can of peas.

The difference between photojournalism and social documentation is often blurred. The photojournalist attempts to record what's there, what's happening, without imposing his or her feelings about it. Social documentary, however, has an attitude. The documentary photographer shoots a particular subject or scene because it may help to convince others of the need to either preserve or change the situation.

An example of this social documentation is the work of photographers Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothea Lange in the 1930s. They photographed scenes of poverty in rural America—they showed the agony of a mother watching her children starve, defeat on the faces of the men in the Depression-era bread line, and the sorrow of a dustbowl farmer forced to pack up his family and leave his land in search of work. Their pictures, many of which were published in Life magazine, were a major factor in bringing about unemployment insurance and other programs to aid the poor and homeless. It was photojournalism, in that it documented conditions at the time, but it became a social commentary as well because the subjects were selected specifically to make a point about the unacceptable conditions with which they lived.

When you take a picture, you need to be clear about the purpose of creating it. Are you recording a scene for posterity, or are you sharing your feelings about the subject? Are you simply documenting what's there, or are you pointing out something that's particularly interesting or beautiful?

The Photograph As an Abstraction of Reality

Most pictures are of something—a person, a place, a thing—recognizable as what it is. Others fit more into the category of abstract art. Depending simply on how it's cropped, the object in Figures I.6 and I.7 is either an abstract shape (possibly a nude model) or a vegetable. The object itself hasn't changed. What has changed is the perspective from which we view the object.

Figure I.6
Object #1, up close. (Photos by Tanit Sakakini)

To a certain extent, all photographs are art, and all photographs are abstract. The nature of reducing a three-dimensional object to a two-dimensional image is by definition an abstraction. Reducing a color image to shades of gray is another abstraction. To an artist, however, abstraction implies something a bit more complex. The tightly cropped veggie in Figure 1.6 is an abstraction of the quality of "eggplant-ness." It has colors and curves, but it's not a specific, identifiable object, as is the other one in Figure 1.7. By removing some of the identifying detail, we have reduced it from an object to an abstraction of that object.

Figure I.7
Object #2, from a distance. It's simply an eggplant.

The key to successful abstraction is to consider the composition of the picture. The lines and patterns and shapes of the objects photographed must be made to relate to the shape of the picture. It must appeal to the viewer. Abstract art, according to photographer Edward Steichen, appeals first to the emotions, and then to the intellect.

The sensuous curves and shiny skin of the eggplant are aesthetically pleasing. They catch the viewer's eye simply because they are pleasant to view. The pleasure, in turn, leads the viewer to wonder what the abstract object represents. We might find ourselves comparing the shape and texture to other familiar objects and asking ourselves, "Is it a flower? No. Is it some piece of human anatomy? No. Is it..." and so on, playing a game of "Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral" until we finally realize that it is indeed, a vegetable.

Looking again at the curves of the eggplant, if it were some other color, perhaps a deep brown or silver, we would see it very differently—we would try to impose some other reality on it. We might see it as a polished stone, or as a musical instrument.

Color Is Critical

Most of us see the world in color. Even those people who are said to be "color blind" usually see some kind of color. They might be deficient in the ability to see red or blue, so their perception of purple or green or yellow is also different. Seeing the world only in shades of gray, as photographers did for many years, is an abstraction of reality.

Of course, all photos—with the exception of three dimensional holograms—are an abstraction anyway. Very few photo subjects are completely flat. When you take a picture, you are flattening what you see onto a page or a screen.

Color helps us interpret what we see, and allows us to look at an abstract shape like the eggplant and decode it into something we can recognize. If your intention is to be as abstract as possible, you can often pitch your viewers a visual curve ball by changing the color of the object to something unusual, like making the eggplant turquoise blue or adding stripes. That is one of the more creative aspects of digital photography, and one that's very simple to do.

When you add a computer and the right software to your digital camera, you open new doors for creative expression. In the chapters ahead you'll learn how to choose and use the right digital camera for your picture-taking needs, and you'll learn how to improve your photos with Adobe Photoshop Elements 3, the streamlined version of Adobe Photoshop, which has been the choice of professional graphic artists ever since its introduction in 1987.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

Before we get into the technical aspects of choosing a digital camera and using it, let's think for a few minutes about photos, and the science, art, and philosophy of making them.

What Is Photography?

Is it an art, or a science? Is it a tool? Or is it magic? It can be any or all of these, depending on your approach. Photography can be a lucrative career, an engaging hobby, a means of self-expression, and an all-consuming passion. It can also be "none of the above"if you simply point the camera, press the button, and drop the results off at the drugstore for processing. At the very least, photography is the act of creating a photograph.

This brings us to the next obvious question: What is a photograph? We used to be able to define it as an image formed on light-sensitive material, chemically stabilized and projected on a screen for viewing or printed, negative to positive, on light-sensitive paper. That's not, if you'll excuse the pun, the whole picture. It's much more. Poetically, it's a moment frozen in time. It's your son's first wobbly steps, your daughter's confident stride as she crosses the stage to accept her diploma. It's the Grand Canyon at sunset or waves pounding the rocky Maine coast. It's whatever excites you, intrigues you, dazzles you with beauty. It's also what sells your product, identifies you for your passport, or illustrates a news story.

Even the technical definition above is only part of the story. Computers have changed the process, just as they have changed much of the rest of our lives. Digital cameras are replacing film cameras, even at the highest professional levels. Andphoto-retouching, once a skilled art, is now an easy, and in some cases, automatic procedure.

However, some of the basics are still true. You still need light and a lens to collect it. You need a sensitive surface on which to form the image. You need a shutter to control the amount of time the light enters the camera. You need a way to preserve the captured image and to display it. Why do you need these tools? Let's start at the beginning.

A Brief History of Photography

Photograph comes from two Greek words meaning "light"and "writing."A photograph, then, is the result of a process that converts light to an image. Over the past 180 years, the process has undergone a tremendous number of changes. The earliest known experiments in capturing an image with light-sensitive materials were performed by a French lithographer and inventor, Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. He coated a tin sheet with asphalt containing a silver solution and placed the resulting plate inside an artist's camera obscura, a device then commonly used for tracing landscapes and architecture in correct perspective. Figure I.1 shows a diagram of the camera obscura.

Figure I.1
The light passed through a crude lens, often just a pinhole, and hit an angled mirror, which reflected the image on a sheet of ground glass.

Niépce left the camera obscura on a windowsill at his home in central France, and eight hours later had captured a fuzzy but recognizable picture of his yard and outbuildings. Eventually, Niépce pooled his knowledge with that of Jacques Daguerre, a Parisian scenery designer who had also been experimenting with light-sensitive chemicals.

By 1839, Daguerre had devised a much improved photographic plate. He coated copper sheets with silver, and then exposed them to iodine fumes to make silver iodide. After exposure, the plate was developed to bring out the image by placing it over a pot of heated mercury. The mercury bonded with the silver, producing a positive image. These early "daguerreotypes"could be used only for architecture and scenery or post-mortem portraiture. No person could sit still for the half hour exposure required. By the time of the American Civil War, glass plate photos were more common and the technique had improved so live portraits were possible. Figure I.2 shows a Civil War soldier in an original glass plate photo.

Figure I.2
The inscription beneath reads "The Union Now and Forever."

Get a Lens, Friends...

Continued experimentation brought better images faster. The Austrian mathematics professor, Joseph Petzval, realized that Daguerre's crude camera simply needed a good lens. He designed a combination of convex and concave lenses that could be focused to produce a sharp image. Petzval had a sample lens ground and mounted in a telescope-like brass housing by the Voightlander optical company. The result was a camera that reduced exposure time to less than 60 seconds. This made the camera a reasonable tool for capturing images of people as well as landscapes and buildings.

The Voightlander company produced thousands of cameras using Petzval's lens design. Other optical companies began producing lenses, and the camera design evolved into a wooden box with a leather bellows on the front. The bellows made it possible to move the lens back and forth to focus the image on a piece of ground glass. The photographer threw a black cloth over himself and the camera body to block out unwanted light while he focused and replaced the ground glass with a glass photographic plate when he was ready to make the picture. This was the view camera, used by both professional and amateur photographers for most of the 19th century, and well into the 20th. It was large, heavy, and clumsy. The plates were extremely fragile, and until about 1880, they had to be made on the spot. The photographer carried his darkroom with him, coating the glass plates with silver salts in collodion (a glue-like substance). They had to be used wet, and developed before they dried.

Mr. Eastman's Invention

Meanwhile, the early motion picture camera made use of the same sort of photographic emulsion on long reels of cellulose acetate film. The film emulsion was more sensitive, and exposure times were only a fraction of a second. In 1888, George Eastman put the two ideas together and produced the first handheld camera, the Kodak #1, which used rolls of film instead of glass plates (see Figure I.3).

Figure 1.3
The Kodak #1 had a 1/25-second shutter, a fixed focus lens, and two rollers that moved the film. It took round pictures.

It was small enough to carry around, about seven inches long by four wide, and four inches high. It held enough film for a hundred pictures, and when the roll was finished, the owner sent the camera back to Eastman so the film could be processed and printed, and the camera reloaded. Eastman's snapshot camera turned many thousands of people into amateur photographers, recording everything from family picnics and trips abroad to train wrecks and fires.

Because cameras could easily be carried to news events, photographs replaced etchings and lithographs in magazines and newspapers. Despite all this, the only really drastic change in photographic methods occurred in the 1950s when Edwin Land introduced the "Picture in a Minute"Polaroid. Impatience, coupled with technological advances, brought us a step closer to the digital camera. The Polaroid incorporated developing chemicals into the film. After you took the picture, you pulled the film past a roller that squeezed developer over the exposed film. A minute later, you peeled off the picture and coated it with a combination hardener and fixative. It took only a minute to develop.

It IS Rocket Science!

It was NASA who gave us our first look at digital photography. Back in the early days of the space probe, engineers needed to find a way to send the pictures from TV cameras on rocket ships back to Earth. TV signals could travel only relatively short distances with normal transmitters, but a radio signal at specific frequencies could travel much further. The TV signals could be digitized, converted to ones and zeros that could then be sent by radio, received back at NASA headquarters, interpreted by a computer, and translated back to grayscale photos.

Space Frozen in Time

Sensitive film and the mechanical shutter brought about the first big revolution in photography. Instead of the long exposures that Daguerre's plates required, the photographer could freeze a runner in motion, a crashing wave at the seashore, or a fleeting expression on a young girl's face. He or she could literally make time stand still. It was, and still is, magic. Typical digital cameras today use shutter speeds of up to 1/4000th of a second. That's fast enough to freeze almost any action. You can catch a hummingbird's wings in mid-flap, or a cat in mid-pounce.

The concept of freezing time is an important one. A fast shutter speed can capture motion that the eye can't see. For this reason, high-speed photography is often used to document industrial processes that happen too quickly for the naked eye, such as the potato chip cooker shown in Figure I.4.

Figure I.4
Pictures help pinpoint the cause of mechanical failure.

Freezing time also makes it possible to keep records of features that change over time. To a parent, few things are as valuable as those pictures of baby's first step, first birthday, and all the other "firsts"on the way to growing up. As adults, we all love to go back in time with the family album, looking at the scenes and familiar faces of many years ago. The camera can reproduce the past more faithfully and more permanently than our memories. Even when the pictures are fuzzy, poorly composed, or badly exposed, they are still precious to us because of the times and people they represent. They have frozen an instant in time that had a particular meaning to us. However, unless the picture is clear enough to speak to someone who doesn't know the people in it, or who wasn't at the event, it may be perceived as a failure. If your pictures will be viewed by a wider audience than your family and friends, you must make the "message"as clear as possible. In Figure I.5, the photographer took this picture to the Health Department to document the mess in his neighbor's yard.

Figure I.5
Documentary photography: He's attracting rats and mosquitoes, and the neighbors don't appreciate his lawn ornaments.

Magic Moments

Finding the right moment to click the shutter is often what makes the photograph a success or a flop. In taking pictures that are time-dependent, the trick is to catch what Life magazine photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson referred to as "the decisive moment."It's that split second when the action is at its peak, when history is made, or when the revealing expression crosses the subject's face.

To the photojournalist, it's the second when the assassin's bullet strikes, when the plane explodes in mid-air, or perhaps when two world leaders reach agreement and shake hands at the summit meeting. Some of these moments can be planned for. Others depend on luck—on being in the right place at the right time—with the camera aimed toward the action. Amateur photographers, as well as the professionals, can sometimes catch these "lucky"shots. The photographs of President Kennedy's assassination are a case in point. All were taken by amateurs who happened to be there and have their cameras ready.

The Photograph As a Communications Tool

As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words."Pictures speak to us. They have meaning. They represent reality. They convey emotions. They may speak of joy or loneliness, of pain, of friendship, or of good times shared. They may simply tell us what the recipe should look like prepared, how the sweater looks on the model, or what's inside a can of peas.

The difference between photojournalism and social documentation is often blurred. The photojournalist attempts to record what's there, what's happening, without imposing his or her feelings about it. Social documentary, however, has an attitude. The documentary photographer shoots a particular subject or scene because it may help to convince others of the need to either preserve or change the situation.

An example of this social documentation is the work of photographers Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothea Lange in the 1930s. They photographed scenes of poverty in rural America—they showed the agony of a mother watching her children starve, defeat on the faces of the men in the Depression-era bread line, and the sorrow of a dustbowl farmer forced to pack up his family and leave his land in search of work. Their pictures, many of which were published in Life magazine, were a major factor in bringing about unemployment insurance and other programs to aid the poor and homeless. It was photojournalism, in that it documented conditions at the time, but it became a social commentary as well because the subjects were selected specifically to make a point about the unacceptable conditions with which they lived.

When you take a picture, you need to be clear about the purpose of creating it. Are you recording a scene for posterity, or are you sharing your feelings about the subject? Are you simply documenting what's there, or are you pointing out something that's particularly interesting or beautiful?

The Photograph As an Abstraction of Reality

Most pictures are of something—a person, a place, a thing—recognizable as what it is. Others fit more into the category of abstract art. Depending simply on how it's cropped, the object in Figures I.6 and I.7 is either an abstract shape (possibly a nude model) or a vegetable. The object itself hasn't changed. What has changed is the perspective from which we view the object.

Figure I.6
Object #1, up close. (Photos by Tanit Sakakini)

To a certain extent, all photographs are art, and all photographs are abstract. The nature of reducing a three-dimensional object to a two-dimensional image is by definition an abstraction. Reducing a color image to shades of gray is another abstraction. To an artist, however, abstraction implies something a bit more complex. The tightly cropped veggie in Figure 1.6 is an abstraction of the quality of "eggplant-ness."It has colors and curves, but it's not a specific, identifiable object, as is the other one in Figure 1.7. By removing some of the identifying detail, we have reduced it from an object to an abstraction of that object.

Figure I.7
Object #2, from a distance. It's simply an eggplant.

The key to successful abstraction is to consider the composition of the picture. The lines and patterns and shapes of the objects photographed must be made to relate to the shape of the picture. It must appeal to the viewer. Abstract art, according to photographer Edward Steichen, appeals first to the emotions, and then to the intellect.

The sensuous curves and shiny skin of the eggplant are aesthetically pleasing. They catch the viewer's eye simply because they are pleasant to view. The pleasure, in turn, leads the viewer to wonder what the abstract object represents. We might find ourselves comparing the shape and texture to other familiar objects and asking ourselves, "Is it a flower? No. Is it some piece of human anatomy? No. Is it..."and so on, playing a game of "Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral"until we finally realize that it is indeed, a vegetable.

Looking again at the curves of the eggplant, if it were some other color, perhaps a deep brown or silver, we would see it very differently—we would try to impose some other reality on it. We might see it as a polished stone, or as a musical instrument.

Color Is Critical

Most of us see the world in color. Even those people who are said to be "color blind"usually see some kind of color. They might be deficient in the ability to see red or blue, so their perception of purple or green or yellow is also different. Seeing the world only in shades of gray, as photographers did for many years, is an abstraction of reality.

Of course, all photos—with the exception of three dimensional holograms—are an abstraction anyway. Very few photo subjects are completely flat. When you take a picture, you are flattening what you see onto a page or a screen.

Color helps us interpret what we see, and allows us to look at an abstract shape like the eggplant and decode it into something we can recognize. If your intention is to be as abstract as possible, you can often pitch your viewers a visual curve ball by changing the color of the object to something unusual, like making the eggplant turquoise blue or adding stripes. That is one of the more creative aspects of digital photography, and one that's very simple to do.

When you add a computer and the right software to your digital camera, you open new doors for creative expression. In the chapters ahead you'll learn how to choose and use the right digital camera for your picture-taking needs, and you'll learn how to improve your photos with Adobe Photoshop Elements 3, the streamlined version of Adobe Photoshop, which has been the choice of professional graphic artists ever since its introduction in 1987.


Read More Show Less

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