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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Digital Quick tips

OP Contributing Editor Jon Cornforth shares simple, but powerful steps to get your shots into top shape

This Article Features Photo Zoom
5 Even if you never plan to sell your images, you always should add some basic metadata to your files. Include your contact information, but also a description of the image. Most photographers now share their images online, so this will allow people who look at the metadata (like potential publishers) to know how to contact you and what exactly they're looking at. Include in your description the location and subject. A common practice would be a description like "USA, Florida, Crystal River State Park, a curious baby West Indian manatee swimming at Three Sisters Spring." You should include a few keywords in case you decide to submit to an agency. The keywords are also used as tags on social networks. And always be sure to include your full name in the metadata.

Adjusting The Red, Green And Blue Histograms
6 You also can set the red, green and blue black and white points on their individual histograms. Blacks usually look best when rendered as a neutral black rather than biased toward one particular tone. It gives the viewer's eye a place to start and then move through the rest of the image. Set the red, green and blue black points at the left edge of each color's histogram, just as you would have for the overall histogram. This important step usually will remove some of the overall color bias of your image.

You don't always need to set the individual red, green and blue white points. The white point depends on what color temperature the light was when you took the picture.

You also can adjust each color's midpoint on the histogram in order to add or remove color as you prefer. This is the hardest skill for new digital photographers to master. A calibrated monitor is required, but even then it takes a lot of experience to be able to see that your image is 1% too green or blue.

Removing Dust Spots
7 If you shoot any images with your lens stopped down to ƒ/16 or ƒ/22, you'll inevitably notice dust spots on your camera sensor. These spots aren't the end of the world, but they can be time-consuming to remove. If you find yourself spending a lot of time cloning out dust spots, consider purchasing a Wacom pen tablet. I find that the tablet and pen make it much more efficient for me to spot my images.

White Balance
8 In order to keep the color palette of your photos consistent, set your camera's white balance rather than rely on the auto white balance setting. For almost all nature photography, you'll find the best results by choosing either the daylight or overcast setting. This corresponds to a color temperature of between 5000K and 5800K. Of course, you always can adjust the white balance later in your processing software, but photographing an image as close to your preferred final white balance will yield optimum results.

Exporting A Master File
9 The final step after you've adjusted an image to your satisfaction is to export it and save it as your master file. Most photographers and publishers work with 16-bit TIFF files that use the Adobe 1998 RGB color space. Your personal commitment to processing an image will be dictated by your desired results and the amount of time you're willing to dedicate to a single image. There are no rights or wrongs in image processing, but you'll figure out what works for you and your ambitions.

See more of Jon Cornforth's photography at www.cornforthimages.com, and read his entries on the OP Blog page.


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