Archive for the 'Photo Lessons' Category

29
Aug
08

august kanon issue

I know it’s the END of August now, but nevertheless, here are some of the images from the article. I have lost the word document for this month, so unfortunately there won’t be an English version this time. But if you are able to read Russian, pick up an August issue of Kanon and read all about “How to take pictures when there is not enough light”.

Advertisements
19
Jun
08

Kanon June Issue

I know I have promised to keep up with the photo lessons on this blog, but plans have changed once again. From now on, I will post several pictures of the articles that I write in Kanon, and also I will attach a PDF copy of the English version of the article.

The main idea of June’s article is LIGHT–the most important factor in photography. To learn my tricks on how to use light to your advantage, please pick up a copy of Kanon to read in Russian, or download the English PDF by clicking here–>article-english-june.

05
Apr
08

It’s Not About the MegaPixels! (Kanon Article 2)

As promised, I will post an English copy of the Photography Article I am writing in the magazine Kanon (kanonseattle.com).  Here is the April’s edition:

The first question I am always asked about my camera is “How many mega-pixels does it have?”. This question (along with an occasional “How far does it zoom?”) seems to be the only thing most people are concerned about. Practically everyone thinks that the mega-pixel count is the most important aspect of a camera, and therefore serves as a practical “rating” for that camera.


The truth is, however, that mega-pixels are not all that important! Roughly speaking, the mega-pixel count indicates the size of the image, not the quality. One can have a really large image but of really low quality, which is exactly the case with many point-and-shoot cameras. Furthermore, even if the camera produces high quality images, most people do not use their full mega-pixel capacity. For example, almost every printed image is 4 by 6 inches in size, which is actually only 2.2 mega-pixels!!! Full screen computer image is only about 1 mega-pixel, and a typical myspace picture is just 0.3 mega-pixels!!! So it turns out that most people never use more than 2 mega pixels anyways. What’s also funny, is that most of those that own the 7, 8, or 10 mega-pixel cameras, set their quality to “medium” because, as they say, “This way more pictures fit into the memory card”. They don’t realize that all they are doing is sizing down their images to 5, 4 or even 3 mega-pixels, which allows them to store more information on their flash card. When they were buying their camera, however, I am sure they paid the extra buck for those extra mega-pixels, which they never use!


Of course, many of you still cannot believe me; you have been brainwashed by the media to think that you need lots of mega-pixels. Well, to prove my point further, I have decided to create an interesting challenge. If you go to my website (www.danielusenko.com) and enter my blog, you will find eight different images taken with different cameras, ranging from 1.3 to 39 mega-pixels. The first person to match up the given cameras to the appropriate images will win a free photo session! Think you can tell the difference easily? You’ll be surprised that you cannot!

Are mega-pixels good for anything then? Well, of course, they do serve their purpose. If there is a need to print a large image, the more mega-pixels the file is, the better. However, I strongly believe that an average person does not need any more than a 5 mega-pixel camera, which is good enough to print quality images up to 6 by 9 inches in size.


You might be asking then, “If mega-pixels do not account for the quality of the image, then what does?” Well, there are three major variables that constitute for the image’s quality.


The photographer

There is much that a camera cannot do; understanding of light, taste, talent, and technical skill cannot be replaced. Even the most expensive camera will produce awful images if it is in the wrong hands. We will go over what it means to be a good photographer in the upcoming months.


The Lens

The reason many cameras shoot such low quality images is because the lens is of very poor quality. Since the lens is alone responsible for sending light information to the camera sensor, the best camera will have horrible looking images if a bad lens is used.*


The Sensor

The camera sensor is responsible for receiving light from the lens. Cheap cameras have very small, low quality sensors, which constitutes for poor images.*

*Thanks to Vitaly Druchinin for clearing up information on these issues.

The obvious question now is—Which cameras have the best Lens-Sensor combination AND don’t cost an arm and a leg? To find out the answer to this and many other questions, please read next month’s article!

26
Jan
08

Lesson 2 – Film vs Digital

Digital is NOT better.

You have been fooled by the digital propaganda that says “Film is bad; digital is better in EVERY way”. Let me tell you quite simply–that is a lie. For instance, you probably believe that “mega-pixels” is something very important. You probably think that a 7megapixel camera must be SO much better than an old film camera because…well, it’s 7 mega-pixels! The truth is, the mega-pixel count has nothing to do with the image quality. It only becomes an issue when you enlarge your prints over 10×8 inches or so, which most people never do anyways. The main reason why you are made to believe that digital is better is because stores and manufacturers can make a lot more money selling digital equipment than selling film. And so by making you think that digital is better, they ensure more sales of digital cameras and accessories.

On the other hand, film is not better than digital. Digital and Film are just different, and not necessarily better than one or the other. One is better in some areas, and another is better in other aspects. I remember struggling for weeks on whether I should shoot digitally or on film. I love film SO MUCH, yet there are so many advantages that digital offers that I could not resist. Before telling you which is better in which way, here are some OLD images that are shot on film, some of which are on my website www.danielusenko.com :

film-1.jpg

film-2.jpg

film-3.jpg

film-4.jpg

GOOD THINGS ABOUT FILM:

1. Quality (color and sharpness) of the image is much better than digital on prints up to 10×8 inches.

2. Skin acne and imperfections do not show as much as they do on digital.

3. It’s easier to print and keep in an album to show friends and family. Images do not get “lost” in your computer. People actually see your shots.

4. Photo cameras cost less.

5. No color correction is needed (no time spent on the computer trying to “fix” the image).

BAD THINGS ABOUT FILM:

1. It’s harder to email your pictures to friends and family (unless you scan them, which reduces quality)

2. It’s harder and more expensive to make reprints of your shots.

3. You cannot see how your pictures turn out while you are taking them. It’s very easy to mess up ALL of your shots and not know about it until you print them.

4. It can be quite expensive to print and buy film all the time.

5. Large prints over 10×8 do not turn out very well.

6. To make professional wedding albums is very expensive with film.

7. It is difficult to edit pictures, such as color enhancements and skin retouching, because you have scan your images, which drastically reduces quality.

GOOD THINGS ABOUT DIGITAL:

1. You can see how pictures are turning out while you are taking them.

2. You can take as many pictures as you’d like and not worry about the cost.

3. It’s easy to upload the pictures to your computer for editing, emailing, and everything else that involves a computer.

4. Works great for making professional flush albums.

5. You can make large prints with better quality than film.

6. You can save, copy and store pictures on the computer very conviniently.

7. You do not have to print pictures if you do not want to, saving on time and money.

BAD THINGS ABOUT DIGITAL:

1. It’s easy to loose your files if your computer breaks (see lesson 1-Backup Your Stuff)

2. Image quality is worse than film.

3. Acne and other imperfections show vividly on digital pictures.

4. Cameras are typically very expensive.

5. Usually pictures tend to stay in your computer, and are not viewed by your friends or you. Basically, they are “lost” there.

It is up to you to decide on whether you would like to use digital or film. You have to look at your needs and wants. Personally, for most people who are interested in photography and cannot afford expensive professional equipment, I would recommend film; that is how I’ve learned. If you are just a casual shooter that does not care about the quality of your prints, but cares more about the convenience of the digital era, then you should shoot digitally.

If you shoot on film, you are not guaranteed amazing looking pictures–there is much to know about film and printing. If you are using film that you buy at a wal-mart and print at Walgreen’s, you will get horrible looking pictures. You must use the right equipment if you want to achieve the results that film can produce! About how to make your images look amazing, especially when using film–let’s keep that for the next lesson.

daniel

12
Jan
08

Lesson 1–Backup Your Stuff!

Today could have been one of my worst days of my life. About two hours ago my hard drive with 600 GBs (gigabytes) of my files just broke. Did I have a backup? Yes, but it also broke, at the same time (For those that know what RAID is–let’s just said that both of my drives for RAID 1 broke). ALL my music, personal pictures, and wedding pictures were on these drives. ALL of it.

Luckily, I have a third copy of all these files. Of course I did loose some of my files, but it could have been much much MUCH worse. Another reason I’m not crying right now is that I was not in the middle of any project, which means that I do not have to reedit any pictures (you see, I don’t create a third copy of projects I work on at the time) or albums, which believe me, makes me extremely relieved right now, as I sit in a Starbucks and write this entry.

I was not going to write about backups, yet. I was going to show you some before and after pictures of some images that I really like. But I can’t now, since the before/after files of that images are gone now (that file was not backed up to the third hard drive). So I have to tell you about backups. After all, what good does it make if I tell you about how to take beautiful pictures but you loose them all every time your computer breaks? It makes sense that we would know how to take care of the images we love. And so here it is:

First, you computer WILL break. The question is not if, but when it will break. Mine broke numerous times, especially the hard drives. Please learn from my mistakes, not your own; trust me it’s a painful experience. Just think about what you have on your computer-music, pictures, documents-all that can be gone instantly. Well, it WILL be gone if you don’t backup your information. There are many ways of making sure that you have a backup:

1. External Hard Drive: External hard drive can be bought at any computer store or such electronics stores as Best Buy or Circuit City. You can plug them into the computer and copy all the important files onto it. When you’re done, it’s a good idea to store the hard drive in a different place than where your computer is. This way if there’s some kind of fire or flood, all of your backups don’t get ruined. Important: NEVER unplug your external hard drive from the electricity outlet while it is on. I have broken 3 or 4 of my drives like that, until I learned my lesson.

2. DVDs: This can be a good, quick and inexpensive way to backup your data. The problems with backing up your data on DVDs is that they only hold 4.7 GBs and they are easily ruined.

3. RAID 1 (stripped): This is a system where two identical hard drives are configured in a way that stores the same information on one and the other. This is the easiest system to use and very reliable. Whenever one of the hard drives breaks, the system fixes itself within hours. However, this is not bullet proof, and both drives can break at the same time-that’s what happened to me today.

4. Online: probably the most reliable way to store your important files is to upload them online. The downside of course is that if you have a lot of files like I do, this can be very impractical. But still consider this an option. You can check out www.carbonite.com; it’s one of the best ways to store your files.

I should add, though, that even if your hard drives break, in most cases you can still recover your files. This, however, can cost anywhere from $300 to $7,000 sometimes. About a year ago when my hard drive broke (yes, this happens often), I had to pay $3000 to recover my important files.

Well, in summary, I should simply say that you MUST backup your files. Computers are evil, so save your most important possessions, your memories and pictures, from disaster.

05
Jan
08

Be a Better Photographer-(Intro)

While making my website and deciding on what I want to share with my readers, I realized that practically everyone either takes pictures or at least likes to fool around with a camera now and then. Certainly everyone loves to look at pictures! I don’t know a single person who does not have an album or a box of photos that they keep somewhere safe, taking them out once in a while; laughing, smiling, and sometimes crying over the memories that they bring back. If our house is on fire, what do we grab first? Our photos of course.

Although everyone loves and cherishes their pictures, sadly not many know how to take pictures well. And the truth is, you don’t have to be a professional photographer in order to have beautiful images. You don’t have to own a $5000 camera! You don’t have to know all the editing programs, such as photoshop! Most people simply do not know what makes a photograph good, and they don’t realize they can be getting great pictures with the equipment they already have.

Most of those that I know assume it’s the big, expensive camera that they need… They think that their pictures are dull, boring, not sharp or even blurry, have no color and are simply bad pictures because their camera is not as good as the other guy’s. When I photograph weddings, I see the guests bring their SLRs (an SLR is one of those expensive kind of cameras that you can change the lenses on. Some people refer to them as the “professional” camera) and try to compete with me when taking pictures. I am more than sure that 80 or even 90 percent of them have their camera set in “auto” mode. It think that’s funny. They probably bought their camera for $500, $1000 or even $1500 and they think that will get them great pictures. I bet many of them are not getting that good of pictures still. They look at the “professional” photographer websites and they see how clear, colorful, sharp and interesting the pictures are there, and they probably think, “I’ve got to buy that $3,000 or $5,000 camera that this photographer is using, THAT will surely make my pictures great”. The truth is, even if he or she bought the $30,000 wide format DSLR 39 mega-pixel camera (yes, those exist), the pictures would still look as bad as ever.

And so, I decided that it will be a good idea to tell YOU, the reader of my blog, how to get great pictures without spending tons of money and buying the bigger camera every year, or even month. Every two weeks I will post a Lesson on Photography that will be useful and concise. I do not wish to bore you with useless information and with lots of technical terms, or anything else that will be of no use to you. This series of lessons will give you the information you need to become a better photographer. It will help you capture the moments of your life better.

If there are certain questions that you have or would like to know anything about photography or anything else that I can help with, I will be more than happy to help. Photography is my passion and I would love to share it with others. You can leave comments and questions by clicking on the link “comments” at the top of this article.

Before I end, I must say a couple more things. I am not saying that there is no difference in the cameras that the real professional photographers use and those that an average consumer uses. I am not saying that after these lessons you will be so good that you can charge people money to take pictures of them. And I am not saying that there’s nothing hard about being a professional photographer. What I am saying is that there are simple things you can do to get the best out of your camera that you already have. If you know how to take pictures well, you will have MUCH better images with a $200 camera then someone who knows nothing about the simple rules of photography and is using a $5000 camera. Think about it, 50 years ago we did not have those real expensive, big digital cameras, but were there photographers that took amazing pictures? OF COURSE! And you can have great pictures too without buying into all of the hype.

I love taking pictures, and since you are reading this blog that means you do too! Keep reading every week and I will show you show to change your ordinary photos into beautiful pictures that will keep your memories forever.

daniel