Jumat, 28 September 2012

Enhance Your Message With Personalised Greeting Cards

In this age of quick, simple electronic communication, it can often seem quaintly old fashion to want to send an actual physical card. After all, if you want to get a message across to somebody, then you can ensure that they receive that message in a matter of seconds by sending a text, tweet or Facebook message. It's this very simplicity which makes such formats unsuitable for marking special occasions. The fact that you receive multiple electronic messages every day of the week renders them somewhat common place and ordinary, and thus not remotely suitable for marking the likes of birthdays, anniversaries or Valentine's Day. The whole point of sending greetings on occasions such as this is that you want to show the person you're sending it to just how much they mean to you, and that's why going to the trouble of selecting and writing photo greeting cards is such a touching and heartfelt gesture.

Once you've decided to send a card, the task of picking one from the range of greeting cards available may prove somewhat daunting. After all, if you're going to this much trouble, then you want to ensure that the image on your card is as right as it possibly can be. When it comes to sending a card which is absolutely perfect, nothing is quite as effective as choosing to create your own photo greeting cards. In the past, making your own card would have been something which only a very talented artist could think about doing. After all, no matter how touching the thought which has gone into creating the card is, if the finished product look amateurish and shoddy then it won't do the job properly.

Making personalized photo greeting cards using digital photographs from your own collection has been made extremely simple. Indeed, choosing the perfect image for the occasion may well be the most difficult part of the process. If it's Mother's Day, then what could be better than a card featuring a much love photograph of the children sending their love, whereas a card saying 'Congratulations on Passing Your Driving Test' will be all the more effective it has an image of the recipient on the front, playing in a toy car when they were just a child.

When you're sure you've got the perfect image, you simply have to upload it to the relevant website. Once it's there, it can be turned into a bespoke card with just a few clicks of the mouse, using software which has been made as user-friendly as possible. The same easy, logical step by step process can be applied to producing personalized photo albums in the form of stunning photo books, meaning that you can now design and print a wedding album which will look truly professional whilst featuring intimate, special personal images.

The range of items which it is now possible to create using your favourite digital images is vast. From photo greeting cards to photo books, what they all share is a commitment to excellent production values, allied to the chance to create something of a truly personal nature.

Steps In Taking Photos During Winter

Some people don't find it very comfortable photographing outdoor scenes during the cold winter season. It's understandable if they feel this way because after all, who would want to stay long outside when the weather is freezing?

But people passionate about photography and living in areas where snow is a regular occurrence should feel lucky. Did you know that you can actually find great details when taking close up shots of scenes and objects with fresh frost or ice? It is because they can form unusual shapes that make for great compositions.

Winter may provide a short time for photographers to capture great images the reason why you also need to be observant enough to find areas and details worth snapping. Lighting may be an issue as well but there could be occasions where you won't need it. Again, your eyes should be fast enough to find those out of the ordinary details and compositions.

If you're searching for subjects, it would help a lot if you just walk around even just outside your home within your neighborhood. Driving in a car will not give you much result. Strolling, however, with your eyes wide open will surely give you opportunities to spot unique shapes, texture and patterns.

To get the best out of this cold season and to capture those amazing details, you will need certain digital camera accessories. One of these is the short zoom which new models already have. This is ideal for short focusing objects from a distance.

The telephoto lens is also ideal to use. Choose those between 100 and 400mm which is capable of compressing perspective.

If you're after a close up shot, the macro lens is strongly recommended. This is perfect for capturing images of objects covered with ice.

To get more creative, you can capture surfaces with sheets of ice. Keep in mind that ice creates a reflective surface which you can experiment on. So you may want to snap on those reflections of the sky, buildings or people in different angles and positions. Changing angles and positions will create different effects so take as many pictures as you wish.

With ice and snow, you will often get abstract figures. But it doesn't matter because it is through these exquisite shapes that you create drama in your images.

An important point to keep in mind when shooting during winter is to be very careful with your moves. Remember that sheets of ice and ice crystals are very fragile and can easily break with a slight touch or when you step on them. So if you want to capture wonderful details and take close up shots, go slow when taking your position.

Be particular about your background as well. Always aim for a clean background if possible.

Some subjects worth photographing during the cold weather are plants or shrubs covered with ice crystals or snow, ice formations, as well as reflections on icy surfaces.

So who says you can't engage in your favorite hobby of photographing scenes, people and objects in winter? Trust your instinct and keep your eyes open and you'll surely find that moment to snap on that shutter button.

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How to Photograph a Scene When Contrasts Are Too Great for Your Camera

One of the biggest struggles with photography is taking photos of scenes which have a great deal of brightness in one area of the image, and too much darkness in other parts of it.

Because our eyes are much more complex and advanced than cameras, we can make the adjustments easily. For cameras, it is more complex, and one of the most effective ways around this is to take several images at differing exposures and merge them altogether.

This is a technique known as HDR (High Dynamic Range). DSLRs such as Canons are the best equipment for doing this, because they allow you to easily set differing brackets (or exposures) and take image after image very quickly. Be sure to take with you a spare battery with you, so you don't run out of power at the wrong time.

I personally find HDR a great technique if used right. When you first try it, it's likely that you will want to play with the extremes and come up with some very interesting results. Ultimately though, these results can look crass, because it's what everybody does, and so the best results are those where HDR is used, but only lightly applied.

How to get an HDR image.

1. Go into your camera's menu system and set the AEB for +1 and -1. This sets your camera up to take your image at the proper exposure, increased exposure and decreased exposure. It's also best to set your camera up on a tripod to ensure stability and take the shots as quickly as possible.

2. You will need to press the shutter release three times to get the set of three shots. The theory is, for the increased exposure, you are boosting the dark areas of the composition, the decreased exposure, you are bringing back the bright areas, and the other shot is a balance between the two.

3. Import the three images to your computer and open up an HDR program such as Photmatix or Photoshop.

4. Select the three images and import them into the program. They will be merged as one image, but they will contain lots of information which will enable you to adjust the image accordingly.

5. Play around with the settings, unfortunately it's impossible to say what to set each component to, because every image will be different, but there are plenty of sliders which will enable you to boost dark shadows, lessen the bright areas, and generally bring your image together.

6. The real trick is to ensure you have a great balance in terms of your entire picture, while at the same time making it look as real as you can. These are the best HDR images because they have a cross between real life and surreal. When you explore this great technique, you will see exactly what I mean by this. But when you go out on your HDR shoots, always take a tripod with you because this ensures that the three images you take are in exactly the same position.

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How to Add Randomness With Point and Shoot Cameras

As a budding photographer, I always carry a camera with me, even if it's just a camera phone. However, I do prefer to carry my Canon S95 if I can't take my DSLR with me, as it's a great point and shoot, fits into my pocket nicely and always ready when needed.

My camera phone is ok, but it's not as flexible as a proper dedicated camera, but as a last resort, it's ok. What I do always bring with me is a spare Canon S95 battery, as one time I was out, wanted to take this great shot, and my battery was dead. It was very frustrating. Of course, these point and shoots and phone cameras aren't anywhere near as good as a good old DSLR, but they have taught me a lot.

Because of their own limitations, I've had to be more creative with the point and shoots, and this has led me to become a better photographer with my DSLR too. Let me explain... With my DSLR, I have complete control over many facets of photography. Things like controlling depth of field is a piece of cake with a DSLR, not so with a point and shoot. The zoom on my DSLR is optical, whereas the zoom on my S95 becomes digital, which is no where near as good. So, I've had to think outside the box a little when using my point and shoot.

I like creating interesting non representational shots on my camera, and one of the funnest ways of doing this is camera tossing. I'm not too keen on the idea of letting my DSLR out of my hands, particularly to throw up in the air, but with my point and shoot, it's not as much of a big deal. I've gotten some really great shots, especially at night with lights and I've used these shots as interesting backgrounds on web sites and so forth.

To make some of my other pictures stand out more, I've also thought more about my composition. Instead of taking the regular stand point of a scene, I look for alternative solutions. Trying to get higher, or crouching right down often make great and exciting vantage points. The key is to really think outside the box and look for new ways to capture something that no one else has thought of before.

In almost every photo rule book, it says always try to achieve the right exposure. One day, I was fiddling with my S95, and ended up taking a shot that was way over exposed. I was ready to delete the shot at first, but as I looked closer, I had a very minimalistic effect of a lot of white, and a slightly burnt out subject image. When I downloaded it to my PC, I opened it up in Photoshop, tweaked it a little and ended up with a really good photo.

There's a lesson there too, don't be too dismissive of your own shots, they can often be salvaged. And so, my S95 point and shoot has enabled me to do some things I may not have thought of with my DSLR.

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Composition Tips For Outstanding Photography

You don't need a top of the range DSLR camera to take great and interesting shots. A Canon Powershot SD1400 IS can be all you need to take great shots. What you do need is an understanding of some basic composition and an eye for the unusual. These two elements can help you begin to understand and gain insight into what makes a great image.

Using a point and shoot like the Powershot, was a good way for me to get started and to understand important features in composition. The first thing you need to do when seeking to take a photo is to ask a simple question; why? Why do you want this shot? Why does it appeal to you? Focusing on this question will help you to visualize and to concentrate on this aspect that first attracted your attention.

Before you continue, you should already be aware of basic compositional principles. They are the rule of thirds where you place your focus point a third of the way into your frame, whether horizontally or vertically; keeping your frame square and any horizon completely level; and finally to keep the image in focus and as sharp as you can. With these basic techniques in mind, you are ready to go to the next phase, establishing a vantage point.

If your subject is a popular tourist building, consider thinking outside the box a little and trying to take it from another view. Perhaps focus on one part of it. Remember, there's already millions of photos out there, with the majority probably very similar. So try to think of something someone else hasn't thought of (difficult, I know). Look at your scene, and try to see if there are any lines in the composition. These lines could be physical (perhaps a road, telegraph poles or lines), or they could be implied, perhaps a small child looking across at something.

Remember your rule of thirds, and try to focus on the why of the image with regards any storytelling you may want to do. Maybe take someone down a road towards the main focal point, a building or something. Consider the three types of symmetry you have available to you. You have perfect symmetry where one side matches the other identically, then you asymmetry where the left and right don't match, but still balance out, and then you have radial symmetry where the focus starts in the middle and works its way out. All three symmetries when understood well can all help impact your photo positively.

When out and about with your camera, always be mindful, and consider your environment well. You never know what you may come across or see. Above all, look up, because many things are above us that we may never have considered looking around at our current hight.

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How to Understand the Histogram on Your Camera

One of the great aspects of DSLRs is the histogram feature that can be set to appear each time you take a photograph. Most people either do not know about this feature, or do not understand what the information presented means, but for one who does know, it can present very useful knowledge as to how your photo has been taken.

If you know how to read a histogram, you will instantly be able to know whether the image you have has been under exposed, over exposed or is at the correct exposure.

The first thing you should do is to set your camera up to display the histogram. The way you do this varies on camera to camera, so if you don't know how to set it, refer to your user manual. It'll quickly tell you how.

Once you have the histogram set, you're ready to go, so go ahead and take a photo. Look at the photo and then look at the histogram displayed. For a perfectly exposed image, you should generally have a spiked graph with the majority of the information in the middle and tapering out towards the sides.

No two histograms will look alike, but generally, if your histogram is similar to described, it means all the information has been captured and your image should be good.

The set up of the histogram has the first third dedicated to dark tones, the center third to mid tones, and the right side to high tones.

If your image is under exposed, then the majority of your graph will tend towards the left of the graph. Furthermore, it will appear that the start of the graph does not begin at zero on the y axis (the vertical axis), and this means that not all the information in the image has been captured. This is known as clipping, and means your dark areas are far too dark for your camera to pick up the information.

Therefore you should recompose and consider increasing the aperture, the ISO slowing your shutter speed down.

Similarly, if your graph tends towards the right, then you have overexposed, and you have a lot of pure white in your image. Again, clipping will occur if on the y axis, the graph does not start at zero. So you should recompose the image, decrease shutter speed, ISO or reduce the aperture size so not so much light is coming in.

While the histogram is not perfect, it can give you a really good indication of how your image is, and enable you to understand if you need to reshoot. Your LCD preview will give you an idea of how your image came out, but the histogram tells you more precisely any potential problems.

Once you get used to the histogram and the information it displays, you'll quickly be able to correct on the spot any exposure problems you have and reshoot instantly.

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Photography - Working With a DSLR Camera's RAW Format

If you own and shoot using a DSLR then you should be shooting in RAW. RAW is the native format that your camera stores information as. Even if you shoot in JPEG mode, your camera will still shoot in RAW, convert to JPEG and then discard the information left over.

This means that a RAW image can be up to four times the size of a JPEG image, but that extra information can be priceless. Since I began shooting in RAW, the results of my photos have been outstanding.

I'm not one to boast, but I am very proud of several photos I have taken, all because I was able to manipulate the RAW image in the post processing stage. Once you are hooked on shooting in RAW, you'll need to get a bigger hard drive and SD card. Prices of these are quite low compared to what they used to be, and this makes RAW an even more attractive format to shoot in.

Your camera is likely to have come with some software, including a RAW editor. If you're lucky and have any of Adobe's design suites or stand alone Photoshop, then you'll find that it has a RAW editor called Adobe RAW. This is normally accessed from the Adobe Bridge software, which is a brilliant image management system.

When you open a RAW image, you have several tabs you can look through, and each plays a specific role in the post processing stage of your image (yes, all your good images should always be post processed, just as with a film camera). Even if you only focus on the main tab to begin with, then you'll find it useful enough to really spruce up your shots well.

Out of all the controls, my favorite is the clarity slider. It works as a sharpness control, and can really make your shots stand out, or if you slide it back, to create low contrast and more atmospheric shots. It really depends on what you want to achieve.

This main tab also allows you to correct under or over exposure if your image is too dark or light. It can also allow you to change the temperature, so if you've taken an outdoor shot with a tungsten white balance setting on your camera, you can fix this by bringing more warmth into the image.

It also allows you to boost or put back dark areas, and also control your bright areas too.

Once you've played with it for a while and seen the results, you'll never go back to saving your images as JPEGS on your camera. One final benefit of RAW, the file format is lossless, therefore the image will never degrade, and you can also go back and undo any changes you've made at a later date because the changes aren't actually made onto the RAW image, moreover a separate file is created with the information of changes made.

In all, shooting in RAW gives you so much more power and control. The main disadvantages with it are the large size, and the fact you have to use Bridge to view the images (you can't get previews in Windows Explorer), but the benefits for outweigh these minor drawbacks. So shoot in RAW, take a spare SD card.

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