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More advanced things
Aug 2, 2008
This post focus on more advanced things. The topics covered here is usually not used on a day to day basis, but still worth noting.

JPG+RAW

Your camera will have several settings for quality and file format. This is another neat thing with SLR's as they give you more freedom in choice of formats. Your camera probably saves in jpeg as a default, this is good, jpeg was designed for photos (the p in the extension even stands for photo!). There is a downside to jpeg though, it is a lossy compression. This means that when the file is saved it throws away information in order to make the file smaller. This is not a problem usually, BUT if you open a jpeg edit it and save it again you have lost more information, if you open a file and save it (no edits) it will loose information each time and in the end you will have a photo that is of very poor quality. So what can we do about that? When you are working on a file do not save in jpeg! Save as png (or other lossless format), and when you are done save it as a jpeg, that way you will only loose the information at the end and not during your work.

You camera probably allows you to save in RAW and probably also in JPG+RAW. RAW is just what it says it is. It is the raw data from the CCD, and as such it is very BIG! A 10 megapixel camera will give you a 10Mb file (or larger depending on your camera). The exact format of the RAW file varies from camera to camera, but usually the camera comes with software that can export it to better known formats. The general recommendation is to set your camera to save in JPG+RAW that way you can always get the high quality out if you need to edit the photo, while the jpg is provided for easy viewing and printing. It requires a big fast memory card of course. I am not using this setting very often though, as I find the jpg only setting to be good enough. RAW gives you a few other benefits as well, like adjusting white balance after the shot was taken and such (white balance is not covered in my posts but is important to your photos as well, maybe I will post on that later as well).

Auto Bracketing

Now this is something cool and handy! Sometimes when you take photos you want to take multiple shots, one at the correct f-stop one one above and one one below. You can of course do this by hand but doing it by hand means you may move the camera and thus ruin the shot. For those occations it is very handy to use auto bracketing. Essentially what you do (this is for my camera, but your camera should support something similar), is you go to the menu find AEB and activate it, when you use the side arrows you notice that the marker split and move equal steps from the center, letting you adjust how many f-stops above and below you want to go. Then we set the camera up to do "continous shooting" so it will take lots of pictures fast. Now when you press the shutter button half way you notice that the light-meter has three indicators. They are at a fixed distance from each other so moving them means moving all of them. Adjust your settings to center the center of the three. Then press and hold the shutter button. Your camera now takes three photos, one at the center, one at the left marker and one at the right market. This is handy if you do things like time lapses and are not quite sure if the light have changed between shots, this way you get one lighter and one darker shot so you can match them up later. It is also needed for HDR shots. Not useful in so many places but when needed it is really handy.

HDR

With auto bracketing covered it is time to look at one of the reasons you would like to do that. One reason is HDR, or High Dynamic Range. This require extra software (see the boring bits at the end of the series for a few links) that you can download and buy. What the software does is that it takes three (or more!) photos with different exposures and blends them (with your help). This makes for really cool photos as you have well defined highlights, midtones and shadows. I will not cover this any more than mention this. If it sounds interesting download a demo of some HDR software and try it out.

Original at correct f-stop Tonemapped HDR image

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Category: Photography

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