Several decades ago, labs began boasting of "analyzing" individual negatives so each photo was printed at it's best. Recently, Kodak has taken prime-time advertising to announce "digital analyzing" our prints in a whole new way: removing red-eye, brightening
colors, and "optimizing" our photos. Throughout the entire process, the raw image we snapped is adjusted and fine-tuned by the photo lab.
So now we have digital cameras, and must realize we are responsible for the image from the moment it is taken to the final viewing. Even if we don't actually print the photo on paper, we are presenting an image in a "finished" state.
You may have been thinking: "I don't want to know how the inside of my camera works; I want to know how to fix my photos." I must stress: the moment we pressed the shutter, we have in effect 'developed' a digital negative. Don't forget that everything from this moment will depend on how well you have created that digital negative!
Of course, if this raw, original, file is only the negative, then it follows that we must also 'develop' the final print, or final digital file. More on that aspect as we progress through these lessons.
Please remember that there are many 'levels' of digital cameras, in the same way there are many levels of film cameras. To be honest, a hundred dollar digital camera is probably equal in features and quality to a ten dollar 110 film camera. Most mid-range digitals are equivalent to lower-priced point-and-shoot film cameras. But as you see a definite increase in quality and features in the 35 mm point-and-shoot cameras, so you will find most mid-range digital cameras will offer some valuable options. Don't be mislead that a cheaper camera won't be able to take better pictures, although it is true that there will be not many adjustments that will be possible with the camera itself. But there are many tricks you as the photographer may use to 'tweak' the image-capturing process to improve your photos.
Let's begin with our 'film'..... We most comonly buy medium speed (200 or 400) daylight balanced film. If your photos are of average daylight or flash exposed, make sure your camera's light source settings are set correctly.
White balance is a term not often used in film photography. This setting on our digital cameras does allow greater control over the captured image. Common settings are daylight, overcast daylight, incandescent, and fluorescent, and simply describe the color (temperature) of the light source. Sunlight is cooler, more blue, than a household bulb, which will create quite a warm, orangish cast to our photos if we don't change the 'white balance' from daylight to incandescent.
These photos demonstrate this point.
Many cameras also
have an ISO, or ASA, setting. This is identical to
the film speed rating which is merely a method of determining how light-senstive
the film is. Very fast film usually has much grain that distorts
details in the final image. In the same manner, using a high ASA
setting on a digital camera produces 'noise', which also distorts the final
image. So far, I have found the default setting of Auto does very
well on my camera.
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