When I was a kid my folks had a progression of the early little Kodak box cameras, and I have fond memories of them snapping pix of me and my sisters, and our dogs, and our vacation journeys. We eagerly anticipated the return to home of the developed prints (days, sometimes weeks later... ahhh, the agony of the anticipation!), so we could all see our selves and relive some great family memories. I first started shooting pictures in earnest when I went away to college and got access to a black and white darkroom. I became hooked on the process and basically I haven’t stopped being a photographer since.
My early days of photography included carefully loading black and white film into my camera and then gallivanting around campus shooting whatever caught my eye. Seeing the actual captures involved a long and difficult process including fumbling in the dark room to proprerly insert exposed rolls of film into developing canisters, mixing various chemicals in exactly the right proportions and then developing and drying the film. Once the film was dried, it had to be exposed on photographic paper (once again working in the dark) and then the exposed prints had to go through a different chemical bath and drying process, during which steps images would magically appear on paper.
The advent of digital photography has brought nearly unfathomable changes to the way we record, process and manage our images. Because we can see our images instantly, it is easy to decide to immediately throw away (and try another shot) of the blurred photos, the portrait with someone’s eyes blinked shut, the pictures of the tops of our shoes. And because of the massive storage capacity of digital recording devices, it is very easy to end up with a photo library including thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of decent photos in our collections.
Fortunately, we no longer have to thumb through shoeboxes in the closet to find our negs and the pictures that didn’t quite make it into one of those big bulky albums...we just sit down at our computers and other connected devices to instantly enjoy, edit, organize and share our precious memories and artistic endeavors.
I never even had even the notion of an inkling of a thought that during my lifetime, Kodak would stop manufacturing film!
But, once I bought my first digital camera about 15 years ago, I never again bought another roll of film. Except for die-hard old-school pro-level photographers who swear that there are certain things you that you can do with film that you simply cannot do in software, most people now shoot and “develop” digitally.
And I would not presume to contradict photographers who still enjoy using film.
I am a firm believer that every creative person has a right to use whatever tool suits them best. That being said, the reality is that almost all “developing” today is either done onboard on the camera (or cell phone or tablet) or within software apps on the shooter’s personal computer. The software packages of today provide an abundance of tools to the everyday photographer, transforming a once arcane and inaccessible art form into something that anyone can use and enjoy and explore and share. The surge in social media sites makes it very easy to share our efforts with our families and friends, and the even whole world... if one is seeking a larger audience!
One of the most basic methods you can use to create compelling photos is to employ the rule of thirds.
The “rule” of thirds is really just a guideline...as far as I know there are no Rule of Thirds police! The guideline suggests that if you compose your pictures according to this concept, your compositions will be more attractive to your viewers. The best way to utilize the guideline is to compose and shoot your images with the concept in mind. If you were to divide your image area into thirds in both directions by mentally imagining three equally spaced vertical columns and three equally spaced horizontal rows , and then placing the main subject of your photo at the intersections of these dividing lines, then the viewers eye will be more naturally pleased at your overall composition. Some newer cameras actually show these grid lines in your viewfinder. I generally attempt to zoom out a little bit after conceiving this composition, and this allows me the latitude to crop or reposition the outer edges somewhat and recompose the image a bit if I want to.
Give this technique a try!
Here’s an example of a photo cropped with the rule of thirds in mind.
Note that the main points of interest (the lighted windows) are aligned with
the intersections of the guides that delineate the grid of thirds.
Bracketing can help when shooting in tough lighting conditions.
Setting your camera to create bracketed images can be a big help when you are unsure of the best exposure settings for certain lighting conditions. Usually your camera can be set to take three or more exposures of the same image at once, one at what you think are the correct settings, then one more each at one ƒ-stop above and one ƒ-stop below your ideal settings to give you an ultimate choice of three exposures to work with. If you have Photoshop skills, you can even merge these three images to create an image that your camera could not capture in nature in a single shot.
Which image editing app is best for you?
Ultimately, this is a personal choice, driven by your images, your skills, your budget and your goals. There are many apps to choose from, and five of the most frequently used are Apple Photos (formerly called iPhoto), Apple Aperture (now discontinued), Adobe Photoshop Elements, full Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom.
Without question, full Photoshop is the 800 pound gorilla, the Swiss Army knife of image editors, the king of the hill, the be-all, do-all hands down winner, if precisely targeted edits of images is your goal. The one area that Photoshop is lacking is in managing large collections of images, so if you have a lot of pictures, you better know how to organize them on you hard drive.
Photoshop Elements is the kid sister of full Photoshop, and has many of the same tools as it’s more powerful and more expensive older sibling. It lacks some of Photoshop’s best tools though, and is much cheaper than full Photoshop, so it makes a good choice for shooters who need more power than Photos, but don’t need nor want to shell out the big bucks for full Photoshop.
Photos is free with new Macs, and is a great consumer level app with wonderful tools for organizing and for sharing via multiple methods such as via email, picture hosting sites and through social media. It is hampered however by seriously limited tools for carrying out targeted edits.
Aperture and Lightroom are very similar to each other, and proponents of each generally swear that theirs is better than the other. Both excel at making non-destructive edits allowing for great editing flexibility and opportunities for experimentation. And both excel at organizing large collections of images, which makes each of them a good choice for pro shooters like wedding photographers. Both apps are similar to Photos...but only if Photos had been massively infused with editing steroids.
My main tools of choice are full Photoshop and Lightroom, and I use both quite frequently, sometimes in conjunction with each other.
Try them all to see which works best for you.
altamont pass windmills
mission slough dock
barn at ano nuevo
path to ano nuevo beach
observatory white washed structure
el salvador sunset
another el salvador sunset
golden gate bridge shadow
footsal throw in
grizzled presidio trees
upright presidio trees
golden gate park conservatory of flowers
san francisco fine arts palace
golden gate park pathway
o’shaughnessy dam spillway run off
pacifica 20 footer
reflection pool arc
tree aloe vera
red yellow dahlia
west coast sunset
23 - 30