Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.

— George Eastman.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tips for Photographing in Manual Exposure Mode

Manual exposure mode is about having control over your camera, instead of it controlling you. You use manual exposure mode to exercise full creative control over your images. When you want to stop action, capture motion, produce fine bokeh, or have great depth of field, you need to use manual exposure mode.
1.    Manual exposure mode has no “right” settings for ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. You choose these settings for what best achieves your goals with a given scene or subject.
2.    Different types of lights have different colors. Fluorescent lights make whites and skin tones appear green, tungsten lights (plain old light bulbs) make things appear yellow or orange. White Balance (WB) adjusts for this and gets the colors right in whites and skin tones in your images.
3.    The higher your ISO, the more your photos will be “noisy” or grainy. There is nothing wrong with this; it is a style choice. If you must push your ISO higher, you are not doing anything wrong. It is better to have a noisy image than no image at all.
4.    Shutter speed controls the time you expose the image sensor to light. Higher shutter speeds (1/250 second or faster) prevent motion blur and freeze action, but let in less light. Lower shutter speeds (1/60 second or slower) let in more light, but may blur moving subjects.
5.    Aperture, or f-stop, controls how much light passes through your lens by controlling the size of the opening inside your lens. A lower f-stop, such as f/1.4, lets in more light and a higher f-stop, like f/16, lets in less light. Aperture also affects depth of field. You get less depth of field with lower f/stops, blurring the background (bokeh).
6.    First, set white balance; second, set ISO. Set shutter speed third to control motion; set aperture third to control depth of field. Then balance your exposure with the remaining setting.
7.    You do not need to use manual focus to photograph in manual exposure mode. Many photographers use autofocus to capture moments quickly and ensure that they are sharp.
8.    You will not get things right with every shot. Overexposed and underexposed shots are part of the learning process when photographing in manual mode.
9.    When photographing in manual mode and you have centered the light meter in the viewfinder, your image may still be too bright or too dark. Expose very bright scenes (snow or a beach) to the positive side of the light meter and very dark scenes to the negative side of the light meter. Take test shots and check the histogram.
10. Practice! Practice! Practice! Photographing in manual is not hard and it will force you to learn your camera inside and out. You will be a better photographer for it. It takes practice so do not expect everything to come naturally the first time.

These tips are a guide to follow. There is no right way or wrong way to learn to photograph in manual exposure mode. Everyone has their own style that works best for them. Experiment, take lots of photographs, but most of all, have fun.

Monday, November 13, 2017

How to fix an image by looking at the Histogram

When you check the histogram, it gives you an idea of how your image is going to look. Think about the mood you want to capture and try not to rely on the LCD preview.

The main reason you want to check the histogram is to avoid clipping. You do not want to lose details in the shadows or highlights of your image so make sure your histogram does not have spikes pressed against the edges of the graph.

If the graph presses against the left side your image is underexposed.

If the graph presses against the right side your image is overexposed.

If the graph has gaps on both sides your image has little contrast.

If the graph presses against both sides your image has too much contrast.

Another way to preview highlight clipping on your image is to turn on the “highlight warning” on your camera. This will make the lost highlight details blink on your LCD.

To get the best exposure checking the histogram, here is a trick that many people do not know:

Do you see those faint vertical lines on the histogram? Each line represents a “stop”, so you can change your settings accordingly. In the example below, you can still underexpose or overexpose by half a stop before clipping your image. Try to have the maximum coverage from left to right on your histogram, do not worry about the shape.   

Monday, October 16, 2017

Reviewing your photographs on the rear display of your camera is not the most accurate way to judge if you have achieved the best exposure. If you are outside during the day, the images will appear too dark on the screen in the daylight. If you are viewing the images indoors, the images will appear too bright because the display is backlit. Reviewing the histogram is a valuable aid to proper exposure as it shows you the distribution of tones in your image from dark (on the left) to light (on the right).

The histogram can help you to avoid underexposed shadows or overexposed highlights and to get the best tonal range in your photographs. Avoid images with the graph stacked to the extreme left or extreme right. This indicates that detail has been lost or "clipped" in the shadows (left) or highlights (right).

Not all subjects give a histogram that fits perfectly within the width of the graph. Low-contrast scenes yield a histogram that will not reach both extremes of the graph. Expose these images so that the peaks of the histogram are centered on the graph.

High-contrast scenes have a graph that is stacked at both sides. Expose these images by placing the right side of the histogram as far right as possible without "clipping", as this will retain the detail in the brightest highlights.

Note that parts of some images should be clipped simply because they should be shown as pure white or pure black.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How to recover deleted photos from a memory card

Just deleted important images from your memory card? Here is how to undelete them for PC users.

 "Uh oh."
Those are probably the first two words you will say when you realize your photos have disappeared. If you have accidentally formatted your card or you suspect it has become corrupted, there are ways to recover your images. Here's how to get started.
You will need a card reader, a computer, and the memory card in question.
Step 1: Do not do anything to your memory card once you realize photos have been deleted. This means, do not take any more photos on the card and remove it from the camera immediately.
Step 2: Select a recovery suite. The software mentioned in this guide is Recuva for Windows which is a free option.
Bear in mind that there are plenty of other options out there, and you may already have one that was included with your memory card if it was from a vendor such as SanDisk.

Step 3: Install and set up the software on your PC.
Step 4: Start the program and choose what types of files you want to recover. In this guide, we are looking for photos, but Recuva also gives you the option of finding a number of other file types.
Recuva can also find many other file types.

Click through the menu until you reach the screen telling you in which location to look. Plug your card reader into your computer and select the root directory of where your camera stores its image files—provided it has not disappeared when the card was formatted or the pictures were deleted. This is typically a folder called DCIM, or the name of the camera manufacturer or model.
Step 5: Run the scan and see what files it finds. If you get results here it means the software has found your images.

The "health" of your files indicated by green, orange or red lights.

If you chose to search only for pictures in step 4, it will only show up standard file formats like JPEG. If you are looking for raw files and they are not showing up, there is one more step you can do.
In Recuva, click "Switch to advanced mode", which will show you what file types the software is looking for. All you have to do is add the file extension of your camera's raw format. This is typically something like .CR2 for Canon, .NEF for Nikon, or .ARW for Sony. Other camera brands will have their own proprietary file format. If in doubt, check your camera manual.
Add your raw file extension to the box circled above.

Step 6: With Recuva, select all the images you want to restore, and click the "Recover" button. Choose a place you want to restore the files to. You will want to choose somewhere you can access easily, like the desktop or your pictures folder. Do not to save them back to the memory card.
Step 7: Check the files that have been recovered, then back them up!
Hopefully, these steps will have recovered your images. If not, there are other options to try, including paid software, as well as professional data recovery services.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse

Hopkinsville, KY
August 21, 2017

Several sunspots are visible on the sun in the center and lower left

Totality - Solar flares on the right and lower right

Eclipse Sequence