Short Tips and Thoughts

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By Steve Russell

This is another of those times when I want to talk about a few different subjects, none of which alone seem to make an entire article. A lot of these come from questions people ask and even comments made to articles Tiffany and I have written.

View from Bird Bridge

Greg Stephens is a nature photographer I have mentioned before and who submitted a guest article about nature photography and one of his favorite spots for photographing birds and other animals – Paynes Prairie in north-central Florida. On December 30, a photographer friend of mine, Rick Marshall, and I travelled to Paynes Prairie at Greg’s invitation. In addition to the three of us there were three other nature photographers and we all lined up side-by-side along Bird Bridge to capture images of all the birds. Unfortunately, there weren’t very many birds to see or photograph except for three Bald Eagles way over there across the lake, a Phoebe that wanted to stay at the very top of a tree so the only shot you could get was against the bright sky, a cormorant, a couple of herons and egrets and a few assorted warblers that stayed mostly deep in the brush and refused to be still and pose for us. As a result we didn’t get a lot of good photos. However, because of the dearth of birds, we spent most of our time talking about photography, wild life and life in general. We had a great time. There are times when I want to go out alone but there’s a lot to be learned and to experience when a group of photographers get together. If you haven’t had this experience I recommend you give it a try.

The ongoing debate about what color space to shoot in and whether to shoot in RAW or JPEG came up that morning at Paynes Prairie and the answer I gave was so erudite I shocked myself. This seems to be one of those subjects that everyone has a strong opinion about like deep dish or New York style pizzas. Kidding aside, I’m aware that if I send an image file to a color lab for printing or if I want to post an image on line and want it to look right I need to make sure the file is a jpeg file and that the color space is sRGB. So the obvious question is why not shoot in jpeg and sRGB all the time? If I shoot in RAW I’m capturing all the information the camera is capable of capturing. If I shoot in ProPhotoRGB, which I do, I’m capturing all the color information the camera is capable of capturing. If I save the file, I’ll always have all that information. I can always reduce the amount of information by converting to jpeg and sRGB but if I shoot in jpeg and sRGB I can never increase the information. Do I ever really need all that information? Who knows, but if I do I have it. If I don’t capture it, I can never recover it.

Image with color space set at ProPhotoRGB

Image with color space changed to sRGB

Frequently I hear people complaining that their images never look the same when they print them as they look on their monitor. There are two things that can cause that problem. One, your printer isn’t calibrated. See my article on printer calibration. Two, the image is in Adobe RGB (RGB) or ProPhotoRGB instead of sRGB (see the two images above). Check your color space settings.

Last Tuesday I posted an article about decorating your home using your own photographs. A reader, Renan Le Caro, posted the following comment:

“Nice idea, but I’m afraid it would feel a little narcissist for a beginner like me.”

Upon reading the comment my immediate thought was, NO! NO! Being a beginner doesn’t mean you can’t take good or even great photographs. It does mean that you probably won’t take good photos as often as someone who’s much more experienced, but you can still take good photos. Isn’t showing off your photography why we do this? If you were a painter and you painted something you really liked, wouldn’t you hang it on your wall or try to sell it? Besides, hanging your work on the wall in your home is a somewhat subtle expression. That is until someone asks where you got the photo and you go into a 30 minute dissertation about it.

While I’m on the subject of last Tuesday’s article, a co-worker brought in a bunch of photos that she wanted to use as decorative art work in her home. The problem is that she had taken a couple of the photographs with the camera too close to the subject and the subject was cropped. When taking photos, especially as a set and especially when you’re photographing similar subjects on different days and you want to display them as a set or group, always give yourself a little room. You can always crop the photos to the image you want if you left some room in the photo but if you crop it in the camera you can’t recover the part of the image that was never photographed.

Lastly, on the subject of comments and questions, Tiffany and I both greatly appreciate the comments and the time you took to make it at the end of our articles and always look forward to reading them. We welcome those comments even when you are expressing a different opinion or disagreeing with us. However, comments that are abusive or written in a manner that is impolite and unprofessional will be deleted. Further, comments that are made solely to “advertise” a product or vendor will also be deleted. We welcome advertising, but only when the advertiser is paying for the space.

All Photos by Steve Russell

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  • Dennis

    A third reason that a printed image may not look the same as what you see on the monitor, is that the monitor is not properly calibrated. If you’re at all serious about photography, get the equipment to calibrate your monitor. You will also want to do this to accurately view images from other photogreaphers who do calibrate their monitors.

  • Joe S

    Was Chuck Littlewood one of the guys on the bridge?

  • Steve Russell

    Yes, he was there.  Not part of the 6, but he was there when we arrived.

  • Art_unique

    agreed….to b a begginer in photography does not mean you cant take good pics.dnt boost off ur skill

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