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Basic photography

Art, composition, and computer principles AEE 211 February 24, 2003

What makes these images effective?

Basic composition
Mood and atmosphere Qualities of a good photo Basic composition Improving composition

Working with the computer

Files Scanning Printing

Creating mood
Overall feel of a picture Created by
Perspective Color Focus (isolation and distance) Weather and light
Sunrise/sunset Misty, rainy days Sun vs. overcast

Characteristics of a good photo

Shape Line Pattern Texture Size and space

Tends to be noticed first, before texture and pattern Easiest and most recognizable composition tool
Shape helps create a mood/character for the picture Search for the unconventional or surprise shape in objects

Creating shape
use backlighting to create a silhouette

side lighting with simple background underexpose to focus on shape vs. color or texture

Lines create
Shape Pattern Depth Perspective

Line leads the eye

Focal point/subject Diagonals S-curves

Line creates perspective

Lines into the horizon show depth and perspective for the viewer Vanishing point
Point at which lines converge and vanish in to the horizon Place off-center

Close-ups decrease perspective while wideangles can exaggerate it

Orderly combination of shape, line, or color Pattern can help echo the character of a photo Catching attention
Random patterns Slight variation in a pattern Pattern in common places

Adds realism (sense of touch) to a photo Sharp (hard) light highlights texture Especially important for close-up and b/w shots Side lighting highlights texture Most portraits use front lighting to decrease texture on skin

Using light for depth

Sometimes hard light is inappropriate for illustrating shape and depth Soft side lighting can give a sense of shape and depth without high contrast
Portraits Still life When shape/depth is more important that texture

Size and space

2D pictures distort depth, relative size, and distances
Include reference item Include parts of the fore- or background Use a frame Be creativemaybe you want to distort

Giving perspective
LinearLines which converge into the distance Diminishing sizeobjects further away are smaller Aerial perspectiveatmosphere creates haze, which lightens objects farther away

Depth and perspective

Overlapping formsoverlapping objects in a picture create depth and distance Selective focusingfocusing on the foreground and blurring the background

Improving composition
Rule of thirds Simplicity Angle and perspective Framing

Have a strong center of interest

Take pictures at different angles with different compositions Work around the rule of thirds

One strong center of interest
Foreground or background should be simple or complimentary to center of interest Include foreground or background for sense of isolation, distance, depth, etc.

Avoid mergers

Cut offs
Avoiding cutting out parts or wholes of people or main subjects Avoiding cutting out the path of a moving object

Give the object somewhere to go

Working with angles

Low angles
Clear sky backdrop Accentuate movement or action

High angle
Eliminate cloudy sky

45 degree angles will cut glare Avoid centered horizons

Adds depth Should fit theme Helps subject fill the frame Can block unwanted subjects from view Watch focus on foreground
Focus on foreground in landscape Focus on subject in portraits Auto-focus should be centered on main topic OverallDEPENDS ON CAMERA

Balance color and weight in a picture Formal and informal Symmetrical and asymmetrical



Fill the frame

Would this picture look better if I was closer?
Focus on subject Detail

Start far and move closer Fill the frame with objects that fit Long range shots provide depth and perspective

Digital issues
File formats Scanning Printing

Native file formats

Format used by computer program Retains ability to edit within native program Unreadable on WWW or graphics programs Product families (Adobe, Microsoft, etc.) Examples
.ppt, .doc, .mix

Nonnative file formats

General formats that multiple programs can open
.gif, .jpg, .tif, .bmp

Formatting cannot be undone within a program picture must be reedited Save pictures in both native and nonnative file formats

Quality of the pictures on a screen, print, or file
DPI = dots per inch (printer) PPI = pixels per inch (screen)

More resolution means higher file size Different file types contain more or less information (resolution)

Resolution and bits

Tagged Image File Format

Very flexible and can be opened by most programs Saves as pixels Scan as a .tiff or as a native file format if possible

EPS files (vector)

Only some programs use: FreeHand, Illustrator, CorelDraw Saved as separate images not as pixels no resolution lost with resizing Use the Options button under PRINT in PageMaker to save as EPS

Graphical Interchange Format

Great for the WWW 8-bit 256 colors (indexed color) Usually set at 72 pixels for the WWW Allows for transparency NOT used in printing

Portable Network Graphic

24-bit (millions of colors) Transparency with jagged edges Alternative to the .gif Newer computer programs only

Joint Photographic Experts Group

24-bit color Lossy compression You can usually set your compression here Best for WWW pictures

Portable Document Format

Embeds all data into a single file
Fonts Format Pictures Text

Works on any computer with reader Standardizes your document Work on WWW and as attachments

Postscript files
Will print on any postscript printer Do not need program to output data Print to file Make sure you know what kind of printer you are dealing with


General rules
Scan a photo as a .tiff file For web pictures, use .jpg For print pictures, use .tiff or vector format at a minimum of 300 dpi When possible, scan/save the picture at the size to be used 300 dpi will look poor if enlarged

RGB Color
Red-green-blue Monitors and scanners determine level of the three to put on a pixel Light directly into the eye = cannot look the exact on paper Out of gamut (cannot be printed in CMYK format)

Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Key (black) Commercially output documents or special printers
Four-color printing Process colors

Color bounces off object and onto your eye Get a process book or color guide to select (Pantone, Tru-Match, Agfa)

Comparing the two

RGB have smaller file sizes RGB has some features that the other does not Convert between the modes at the end or you will lose information

Understanding resolution
Resolved to our eyes = realism and accuracy Printer = DPI Monitor = bit depth (colors displayable)
72 ppi is good enough for electronic photos

Understanding pixels
Picture elements (dots) per inch Standard monitor displays 640 by 480 pixels
640 by 480 1024 by 768

More pixels requires more RAM, which may mean lower bit depth

Enlarging with pixels