Owners Guide - Touring
When you purchase equipment for digital photography, you will likely find that it comes with more software for image management and editing than you know what to do with. The camera will have its collection of software to transfer images from the camera to your computer. The printer will have its software to manage photo galleries and edit images. Even your computer may have come with image software either as a part of its operating system or as a bundled applications pak provided by the distributor.
Microsoft Windows is the target for most of this software. Apple users will have fewer options but those are usually very good and will cover all the bases. If you use free or open source software developed by volunteers such as Linux – you will have to find your own software but the choices available only for the cost of a download is very good.
The first thing you need to do is to move your pictures from your camera to your computer. Many cameras connect to your computer so they will appear as a hard drive on your computer. This means you can use standard file management tools to copy picture files. Some cameras store images in non-standard formats which requires custom software to convert them to standard image files on your computer. Most cameras also come with image transfer and gallery management software to make it easy to copy pictures from your camera to your computer and to organize them.
The names of the image files from your camera will often contain a serial number. The image files themselves will usually contain not only the image but also information about the date, time, and camera settings used when the picture was taken.
Create an organization scheme for managing your photo galleries so that you can keep original image files intact, find pictures easily, and keep track of thumbnails and edited copies easily.
Once you have your images copied from the camera to your permanent storage, you can start to edit them to make them more pleasing to view and more informative. There are just a few basic editing functions that allow you to make significant improvements in your pictures. In order to make sure you can always get back to the starting point, make the first editing move a 'File->Save As' command so that your edited pictures don't overwrite the originals. When you do this 'save as' leave the original, camera supplied, identifying name and just append a word or a date code that helps to identify the picture content.
When you rotate you camera to take pictures of tall things, they will display sideways when you view them. Use the rotation function of your image editor to display the tall things standing up. This is usually a 90 degree rotation and most editors will have a simple selection to allow you to rotate things right or left as needed.
Sometimes you may find a picture of a horizon or other vertical or horizontal line that was taken with the camera just a bit off kilter. For these, you can rotate the image just a few degrees in order to prevent that 'leaning to one side' feeling you might get looking at the original picture.
Cropping can help you compose your picture, change its aspect ration, zoom in on a feature, or eliminate distractions. For example, you can crop the nearly square picture of a panorama with lots of blue sky and make it a very wide and not very tall image that leaves out most of the plain blue sky to focus the eye on the detail of the panorama. To crop pictures you will need to learn how your editor selects a rectangular portion of the image and then the editor command to crop to the selected image portion.
The power of computer aided image editing can be experienced when you get into adjusting color, contrast, brightness, and related aspects of the image. The picture is going to look different depending upon whether you view it on screen or on paper and on the technologies used to render the image. There is a whole science about color and light that can be fascinating to study. But a lot of this science is built into modern image editors so you can make your image better without having to get lost.
A program like Image Analyzer will examine your picture and make adjustments to optimize the display of the image. Other editors allow you to control something called gamma to compensate for exposure problems. There are also controls for brightness and contrast either for the image as a whole or for each of the colors in the image independently.
Some editing programs also implement filters to do special things. Some filters will sharpen image edges. Others will fix common snapshot photograph problems like red eye. See the section on advanced editing to learn more about these kinds of features.
There are two kinds of resizing to consider with digital images. The actual printing size of the image and the number or pixels or resolution of the image. The actual image size is more of a confusion than a help for snapshots because the image is usually sized to fit at the time of display or printing. The resolution, though, can be very important when making thumbnails or images for viewing over the internet. You will want to make sure your editor automatically scales the horizontal and vertical resolution to keep the image aspect ratio correct in re-sized pictures. Thumbnails are usually resized to about 100x100 and web based pictures often look good at resolutions between 640x480 and 600x800 or so.
An Ansel Adams picture is a testimony to the kind of result that can be achieved by skilled and artful work with photographs to render an image of lasting value. He spent hours and hours and a lot of photographic materials and chemicals to get the images he wanted from his original negatives. Nowadays you can experiment and learn without having to spend a lot of money on a darkroom and supplies. Good image editors can do just about anything you can imagine with your digital camera image.
When the built in flash on your camera goes off and you are taking pictures of people looking at the camera, you may notice that they have glowing red eyes in the picture. This is because the light from the flash reflects strongly from the blood veins in the back of the eye resulting in glaring red eyes. This distracting flaw can be fixed by editing the picture. Many digital cameras are sold with software programs that can do this. A tutorial for Paint Shop Pro can be found at http://www.khiba.com/PSP/Fall2000/11212000.htm. For GIMP see http://carol.gimp.org/other/sloth/diary/redeye.html or http://www.help2go.com/public/article110.html
Image Analyzer is a free Windows program that features easy red eye fixing. See the resources link below to obtain a copy or for further information about this program.
You can also add text annotations to pictures to identify people, places, or things.
Image editors will usually have the ability to add lines or even freehand drawings to enhance your picture, highlight items, or connect annotations to objects.
To see the kinds of things you can do - and how to do them- see http://www.psplinks.com/content/Photo_Retouching.html or http://graphicssoft.about.com/cs/psptutsretouch/
For ethical guidelines to image editing, see http://www.digitalcustom.com/howto/mediaguidelines.asp
See the articles in the Touring Section of the Owner's Guide for articles on making better pictures, editing pictures, sharing pictures, presentations, and making a travel journal
Image Analyzer http://meesoft.logicnet.dk/Analyzer/index2.php – a very good, simple, free, windows based editing and fixup program that is potent yet simple to use.
Linux image software http://www.shortcourses.com/how/unix/unix.htm
Editing software - http://www.hal-pc.org/journal/nov00/Column/trumors/trumors.html .
http://www.imagemagick.org/ - “ImageMagickTM 5.5.7 is a robust collection of tools and libraries offered under a usage license to read, write, and manipulate an image in many image formats (over 89 major formats) including popular formats like TIFF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, PhotoCD, and GIF. With ImageMagick you can create images dynamically, making it suitable for Web applications. You can also resize, rotate, sharpen, color reduce, or add special effects to an image or image sequence and save your completed work in the same or differing image format. Image processing operations are available from the command line, or from the C, C++, Perl, Java, PHP, Python, or Ruby programming languages. A high-quality 2D renderer is included, which provides a subset of SVG capabilities. ImageMagick's focus is on performance, minimizing bugs, and providing stable APIs and ABIs.”
http://gimp.org/ - The Gimp - “The GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software suitable for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. This site contains information about downloading, installing, using, and enhancing the GIMP. This site also serves as a distribution point for the latest releases, patches, plugins, and scripts. We also try to provide as much information about the GIMP community and related projects as possible. “
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