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Former G20 Addict
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ok, this is a quick run-through on how you can share your pictures of your G20 to us fellow enthusiasts!

Please, when posting pictures keep the size to a reasonable level, and make sure to make connection warnings as well (56k warning's).

Also, it makes it a lot easier to comment on pictures if you number them accordingly 1,2,3... etc. It keeps down on having the same picture load up 6 times every page from people quoting, this kills the download time for the thread.

To begin you must have a host for your pictures. This is basically an online computer that holds your file for you to share it over the internet. YOU CAN'T HOST PICTURES DIRECTLY OFF YOUR DESKTOP PC. Some good hosts are www.photobucket.com, http://imageshack.us/, or if you BECOME A SPONSOR you can use g20.net's very own gallery. Once you have the file uploaded to a particular site you must find the image url (right click, Copy Image Location). Once you have that go to your new thread and click this button here:




That will bring up this prompt, this is where you enter your images url




That will surround the url with IMG tags which basically tells the forum that this is a picture and to allow it to load.


If you choose to use Photobucket, which I personally pay for and support fully as they are probably the best out there, they will actually have the links that you need sitting right there under the picture... like so.


Hopefully this will help everyone share their wonderful photography with all of us.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
How to: Take Pictures

One of the most common misconceptions in photography is that you need a good camera to take good photos. While it certainly is easier for a beginner to get his or her desired results with a high-end digital SLR, there are numerous tips and tricks you can use to achieve better photos no matter what camera you are using. The first section of this tutorial will deal with preparation and and the actual photoshoot. The second section will deal with post-photoshoot editing.

Preparing for your photoshoot


There are obvious things most of us do before we head out for a photoshoot. The most obvious being washing your car and making it presentable. The rest of our preparation can be scarce, and it can severely affect how your photoshoot turns out. Here are some things you should keep in mind before you head out to the door to take your pictures.


  • * Charge your camera's batteries. I like to fully charge my cameras batteries the night before I do a photoshoot. I have a spare battery that also gets a full charge, and comes along on every photoshoot. There is nothing worse than running out of batteries and missing out on a great photo opportunity.

    * Make sure you have enough space on your memory card. Bring any spare memory cards that you have. If you need to, drop off all the pictures onto your hard drive and then format your memory card before you head out. Running out of space while out in the field is frustrating, and deleting pictures to gain more space while out on a photoshoot can waste precious time.

    * Bring your accessories! Tripods are essential to any photoshoot, whether it be during the daytime or the nighttime (especially nighttime). Tripods lend to sharper, more consistantly composed photos. Any basic tripod is better than nothing, Wal-Mart sells nice tripods for $20! Filters can be invaluable when trying to achieve certain photographic effects. A UV and a polarizing filter are recommended basic filters.

    * Check the weather and the sunset (or sunrise) times in advance and plan accordingly. If there is a 60% chance of rain the day you want to shoot, you might want to consider rescheduling. Also, you want to give yourself plenty of time to setup your car and your equipment before you start shooting, and the sun rises/sets very fast. Get there early and give yourself time to prepare.

    * Scope out interesting locations for photoshoots. Pictures of your car in your driveway or in front of your house are not interesting. Scope out cool scenic areas, industrial areas, lake fronts, beach fronts... anything interesting. Try and avoid areas that are overly distracting, such as parking lots where there are other cars that will be in your photos.

    * Plan to do your photoshoot during the 'golden hour'. The golden hour is the hour after the sunrise, or the hour preceeding the sunset. Lighting is much more dramatic and even during these times, and color saturation is much greater. There are also less harsh shadows to deal with.
It's time to start taking pictures

The first thing you should do when you arrive at your desired photo location is position your car in your desired pose. If you followed my last piece of advice, you will have plenty of time to get out of the car and scope out the best spot to park your car. Once the car is positioned, walk the full 360 degrees around the car, squat down, walk closer and farther from the car, and basically just scope out any killer angles and compositions that you can find. Keep these in mind for when you start shooting. Don't just stand in one spot and snap off a couple of similar-looking pictures!

  • * Before you start taking your pictures, make sure the settings on your camera are ready to go. I am not going to go in depth into camera settings. A couple things you want to do are as follows: Shoot at your camera's maximum resolution! Picture quality will be much better in the final product. Also, make sure that the picture quality is set to the highest setting. You should also set your camera's white balance every time you take photos. Use a white card, or find something white around where you are shooting, and use your cameras Auto White Balance feature to set the white balance.

    * Snap away. Don't be afraid to take too many pictures. You can delete the bad ones when you are done. When I find an interesting composition, I usually take 2-5 pictures with different settings for the exposure, and to make sure that at least one of them is in perfect focus. It sucks having the best composition of the photoshoot ruined because the photo is over or underexposed and/or blurry.

    * When in doubt, underexpose your photos. Underexposures can be salvaged in Photoshop, because their is still detail that can be pulled out of dark areas. Overexposured areas, on the other hand, are pure white and will have no detail that can be recovered.

    * Try all sorts of angles/perspectives when taking your photo. Try not to simple center your car in the middle of each photo. Use the rule of thirds. If you are not familiar with the rule of thirds in image composition, please read this writeup: http://www.silverlight.co.uk/tutorials/compose_expose/thirds.html

    * Move your car around a couple times during the photoshoot. Pose the front wheels in different manners. Park the car is varying areas around your photoshoot location. Mix it up so all the photos don't look the same.

    * Keep the horizon level! Nobody likes cracking their neck just so they can see your car level. It's understandable for the car to be angled if its parked on a slope or on a hill. But a huge rule of photography is that the horizon of the photo needs to be level. You can use Photoshop to correct tilted horizon in post-editing.

    * Trick your camera. If you are having a hard time focusing on the car when trying to frame the car in a composition using the rule of thirds, trick your camera. If using center-weighted focus, aim your camera directly at the car, and set the focus by holding the trigger button half way down. Keep the trigger down, while you re-compose the photo the way you want it. You will have the composition you want, while maintaining the perfect focus on the car.

    * You can also use the above method for exposures. During sunsets, you might want to weigh the exposure for the sky for a silhouette photo, or for the car to maintain the detail. Simple aim your camera at either object, and let the camera compensate for that exposure, and then reposition your composition while holding the trigger to get your desired result.

    * When shooting at night, make sure to put your camera on night mode, or if shooting in manual mode, adjust your shutter speed, f/stop, and ISO ratings accordingly. If not, your photos will come out underexposed and extremely grainy. It's really not worth shooting night photos without a tripod, so you might want to save yourself the time and frustration if you don't have one. Make sure the flash is off when shooting at night! The flash will cause uneven lighting and unwanted reflections. A polarizing filter can be extra-helpful in reducing wierd reflections from spotchy lighting.
Pat yourself on the back because you just completed your best photoshoot yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Pt. II

Now that you have finished the most important part of the photoshoot (the part where you take the actual photos ), it's time to make the shots even better. Photo editing software can't make a bad photo great, but it can make a bad photo better. It can make a good photo great.

There are 5 main areas that I want to focus on. Granted, these are basic photo techniques, but anything else will be beyond the scope of this tutorial. I am focusing these techniques based on Adobe Photoshop, but similiar results can be achieved with any other photo editing software.

A forenote before you get started on your editing. Save all your photos onto your hard drive in their own folder. How you name/organize your folders is up to you. But make sure you keep your originals! When you do your editing, save the edited photos in their own folder. I like to keep my edited photos in the main folder, and make a sub-folder with the originals. You never know when you will want the high res/unedited version of a photo.

Here's an example of what editing can do for your pictures.
Before:

After:


Make sure you start your editing with the full resolution photos. Don't resize until the very end!


Step 1: Cropping
Cropping is a good way to improve your compositions. You can also use it as a cheater's way to zoom in on your photos some when working with high resolution photos (you aren't actually zooming, rather you are bringing the edges in closer to the car so it takes up more of the frame). Crop out any distracting elements of the photo, but be sure to maintain the rule of thirds! Using the crop tool, you can compensate for unlevel horizons, all you have to do is rotate the box (the dotted lines) after you have made your selection. Make sure you leave room on either side of your tilted box so it doesn't create a new part of the image that wasn't there before.

Step 2: Level corrections
Depending on the lighting you had available during the photoshoot, your photos might have come out muddy, with a narrow range of lumanince. To correct this, you can adjust the levels using Auto Levels, the Levels tool, or Brightness/Contrast for the lazy people. The idea here is to make the darks darker, and the lights lighter. A good histogram will have some pure blacks and some pure whites in each photo. You might also need to adjust the mid-tones to achieve the desired contrast. Always adjust your levels BEFORE you adjust your colors.

Step 3: Color correction
This might be the most important part of your photo editing. There are a plethora of ways to adjust color in Photoshop, and I will leave it to you to find the way that suites you best. You can use the Color Balance feature to easily adjust for white balances that are incorrect. You want to achieve the most natural lighting possible, without any red or blueish tints showing. It's also a good idea to adjust the hue/saturation to bring out the vibrance in the colors.

Step 4: Erasing distracting elements
Use the clone stamp to get rid of distracting elements of your photos. Telephone lines, signs, passing by cars; all sorts of things can be distracting in your photos. Using the above photo as an example, you can see I used the clone stamp to remove the van that was traveling in the background ground (the white streak). On close up shots, you can also remove distracting reflections, bugs on the paint, rock chips, etc.

Step 5: Resizing/sharpening
Hopefully you followed my advice above and you shot your pictures at the maximum resolution. If so, you are going to need to resize your pictures. Coming down from a large resolution, to a web ready resolution, you will lose a little sharpness. But you will also lose a bit of the grain and noise from the picture. Never use the Sharpen tool! Use Unsharp Mask, and experiment with the levels to get back to achieve the ideal sharpness. Don't overdo it though, or halos will show up along the edges of the car and any details. What size you choose to resize to is up to you. Make sure you experiment with JPEG compression as well. Find a happy medium between file size and picture quality... leaning more towards picture quality. People would rather wait a second longer to see a better picture.
 

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Former G20 Addict
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Discussion Starter #6
Kazmi said:
Great write-up...I hope this makes it to the 'sticky' list......also, I think to be able to host pics on G20.net one needs to be a sponsor.....
Good call, I wasn't sure when I was writing it so I figured I'd leave that open. Edited to promote being a sponsor ;)
 

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Used to own a P10
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There are some more powerful tools in post-processing as well. I always thought Auto Levels was awesome until I took my photo class this term. There are a couple of much better things you can do to improve contrast and color:

1. Levels. This one is pretty obvious on face, but keep in mind that Auto Levels does not do a good job at figuring out how bright to make the overall picture if it is fairly high-contrast. Generally speaking, you want to focus on the car in a car photo, so move the RGB slider up and down to make the car the right exposure. You can also color-correct in the individual color channels, but I sort of recommend curves for this in most situations (see below). The following schematic shows which direction to move the slider to change contrast and color:

RGB: Lighter <----> Darker
Red: Redder <----> More Cyan
Green: Greener <----> More Magenta/Purple
Blue: Bluer <----> Yellower

2. Curves. This is an extremely powerfuol tool when used correctly. It appears a bit daunting but there are some easy ways to make it somewhat user-friendly.

The best color-correction method is the midtone eyedropper (the middle of the three above the Preview checkbox). Double-click on it to bring up a color-selection box. But don't use the box yet. Instead, click with the eyedropper on a portion of the picture that should be medium gray but instead has a color tint, no matter how slight. Move the dot that shows up on the color picker a bit to the left, and click OK to close the color picker.

Then, click on the same portion of the picture where you just clicked. The color should change so that this portion of the picture is now closer to gray. Picture didn't change enough to neutral? Double-click on the eyedropper again and move the dot more to the left (no need to use the eyedropper again). Changed too much to another color cast? Double-click on the eyedropper and move the dot to the right. Not getting the results you wanted at all? Double-click and use the eyedropper to select a different part of the picture; repeat the process. You can also try the shadow (leftmost) and highlight (rightmost) eyedroppers, but I have had the best luck with the midtone eyedropper.

You can also use Curves to increase contrast. Hold down Ctrl (Command/Apple on a Mac) and click on both a relative highlight and a relative shadow. You will see two points appear on the Curves graph. Click in the middle as well to set a neutral midpoint. Then move the shadow point (bottom left) down and to the right, and the highlight point (top right) up and to the left. Move each very slightly as curves can completely mess up your contrast if you do it wrong.

3. Hue/Saturation. Use this only if Levels and Curves have not fixed your color issues. If you still have way too much of one color, go into Hue/Saturation, choose that color from the drop-down (desaturating all channels at once is probably counter-productive), and bump the Saturation bar to the left a bit.

4. Adjustment Layers. Not an adjustment in and of itself, but instead of applying the above changes directly to an image, put them in layers. This will allow you to change or remove the adjustments at a later date if you change your mind about whether you want them there. I think you have to save as a TIF or PSD if you want to use these, so make sure to resave to JPEG before posting to the web.

To make an adjustment layer, look on the Layers palette at the bottom. You will see a sort of ying-yang icon in the middle of the six bottom buttons. Click on that and choose the adjustment you would like to make.

You can also create an Overlay layer to do any dodging/burning/whatever. Go to Layer > New Layer, and select Overlay from the Mode drop-down, then check off "Fill with Overlay-neutral color." Make sure to make all changes to this layer instead of the original image so that you can easily undo them if you don't like them.

All my photos are on a hard drive in the art building down the street, but if there is popular demand I can show some before and after pics.
 

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Sco0terzsl, you are my photoshop mentor! thanks for posting this, check out some of the stuff i did:



to this



and one more...


to this



i took all these pictures myself too :smile: i actually have other landscape pix, and ive been messing around with PS...all i can say is PS is addicting haha

how should i fix these pix? are they too saturated? too colorful?
 

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Former G20 Addict
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Discussion Starter #10
I would say the first one is a tad bit oversaturated, if you look at the sky you can see where it gets pixelated. You can always select different portions of the pictures and make them into individual layers, then manipulate them accordingly. This is more time consuming, however it'll yield the best results. For instance, it looks like you could have gotten away with the saturation on the beach while keeping the sky clean.

I think the second picture turned out perfect. If I had to say something about it I would maybe suggest trying moving farther down towards the break wall. This would give it more prominence in the frame, and at the same time it'd make the buildings seem more dramatic. Really, I think you did a great job though! Keep up the good work, practice definately makes perfect with this hobby.

If you really want to learn more, may I suggest buying a book on photography, more specifically, digital photography. More than likely they will have general rules and techniques to use while shooting, ie. rule of 3rd's, exposure settings, and framing, etc. Any large bookstore will carry them. Once you learn the general rules and how to manipulate the composition to your benefit, you'll find that your photography will improve leaps and bounds.

Great shots, and keep on snappin'.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
All you need is a GOOD tripod and ps cs2. I say good tripod because if you have a crappy one, like mine, it will not stay EXACTLY in one spot. You can still do them with pictures that are slightly off, but this proves to be much harder. Other than that, take a bunch of shots at different exposures and then click merge to HDR, or something like that.
 

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I have not figured out how to bracket on my camera yet. I have a friend that has used HDR for some time with his Rebel XT and the photos are usually pretty nice.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I did this for a friend of mine, so I figured I would post it up here, just to shed some light on aperture settings, and how you can use them to enhance your portfolio. This will mainly deal with SLR camera's and some high end point and shoots that support aperature priority. So what is aperture? Well, rather than summarize what you can find in any photography book, or by doing a simple search on Wikipedia, I will visually demonstrate how aperture, and the relative distance between your subject, foreground, and background, can affect your shots. With practice you too can master the Bokeh!

Cliff notes of wiki:
See thefultonhow's good explanation below

This first set was focused on the front bottle, each one was spaced about a foot and a half away from the other, with about 3 feet from me to the first bottle, each with different aperature values. I was using my 50mm fixed zoom, so all of them are taken at 50mm. The only adjustments I made was the white balance. All were ISO 100 as well.

f1.8

f4.0

f7.1

f11

f20



This second batch is zoomed on the middle
f1.8

f4.0

f7.1



This third is zoomed on the far bottle
f1.8

f4.0

f7.1


And finally, this one was taken at f3.1 with me about a foot away from the first bottle
 

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Sco0terzsl said:
Cliff notes of wiki:

More light = More blur, so lower aperature (F) gives more of a blured fore and background

More focal lenght = More blure, so the more you zoom, the more you get

Shutter speed has no effect on blur unless the object is moving (duh).
Not quite accurate.

A wider-open aperture will let in more light, but it's not really the light that causes the blur, it's the size of the aperture and how that affects how the film/sensor picks up the light. The larger the f number (i.e. f/16, f/22), the smaller the aperture (a little round shutter inside the lens blocks off most of the lens). The smaller the f-number (i.e. f/2, f/2.8) the larger the aperture (the shutter opens wide to expose most of the lens).

And shutter speed has no effect on blur if you have a tripod, but for those of you who don't, don't take a picture with a non-image-stabilizing camera or lens below (slower than) 1/60 of a second. If you have a really steady hand, maybe you can stretch that to 1/30.
 

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Chicks do dig big lenses. :p Great write up scott, never commented before but hopefully this should help people out a bunch! :) Bokeh FTW!
 
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