Get your mugshots/depth-of-field assignments turned in!

Make sure you get both parts of Assignment 2 (Mug Shots and Depth-of-Field/Lens Perspective) posted to the website by the end of the week. I suggest a separate post for each part. Note that most of your shooting assignments should be a single post, even if multiple pictures are assigned.

Here is a link to a PDF with step-by-step instructions for posting your shooting assignments to the website:

Posting assignments to the class WordPress website

We also went over the entire process of downloading, organizing, selecting, and preparing your final images in Lightroom. Very quickly, obviously. I posted this last week, but I’ll link the step-by-step instructions for Lightroom again:

Using Adobe Lightroom 

Again, we went over these things very quickly in class. Don’t worry if you feel like you didn’t get everything down. These two documents should be everything you need to make sure your shooting assignments are turned in on time and that you have access to your pictures for later on . Remember that a portfolio of your work is due at the end of the semester, so don’t lose your photos!

So keep these instructions handy and always give yourself enough time for the downloading/editing/selection/uploading process for each shooting assignment.

 

As always, contact me if you have any questions.

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More on Lightroom & digital workflow

We ran through the basics of using Adobe Lightroom to create a catalog, download/import your pictures, and copy images to your Google Drive folder.

Next week, we will import our images from Assignment 2: Parts 1 & 2, but we will learn how to select and edit those pictures, and how to export your finished images into a new folder.

So, we’ll run through the Lightroom workflow in class (2/12) one more time, and I’ll show you how to upload your final selections to the class website.

In order to do this, I will need to designate every one of you as website users, with “author” status, so you can submit and edit your own posts. Look for an invitation and accept it right away.

Bring the same things to the next class that you did for the last one (your camera’s card with your images, a card reader, and your storage device). Since you’ve already created a catalog on your storage device, you can skip the directions on how to create one. I’ll show you how to load it. Just be advised: we will proceed with haste! So review the Lightroom/workflow process so we can quickly dispatch with that task and move on to other topics.

This is important: Monday is the last time we dedicate class time to the process necessary to submit your shooting assignments on the class website. After Monday, it will be up to you to get your assignments posted on the website outside of class time, before deadline!

I gave you a handout with step-by-step instructions in class, but here’s a link to those instructions in case you need them on your devices or need to print them out again:

Using Adobe Lightroom

You’ll notice that the last two pages of this document include directions on how to use the Apple Photos app on a Mac, and how to use Google Picasa on a Windows PC. I included these in case you want to complete your assignments on a personal computer that doesn’t have Lightroom installed. The process is basically the same. If your personal computer is Windows-based, please read the note below, however.

NOTE to Windows users: I used to recommend the Picasa desktop app for Windows users as a free photo management app. However, Google has dropped support for Picasa. They have moved to a completely online model with Google Photos, but that is not sufficient for what we need to do as journalists. The Picasa desktop app used to be still available to download and use on your computer if you needed a free photo management application. However, most download sites have stopped making Picasa available for download.

Like Apple, Microsoft now has a Photos app available. I don’t know much about it, but I will try to find out more. If you have a Windows-based computer, try this link to learn more about Microsoft Photos: How to use the Windows 10 Photos app

You can probably tell that Microsoft Photos, like Apple Photos, is geared towards sharing photos online. I’m not yet sure if Microsoft Photos has the advanced capabilities to edit your photos and embed captions, however. I will share as I learn more. If you learn more before I do, please share that info with everyone via the FB Group.

If you own a Windows-based computer, you might want to stick to using Lightroom on a University computer to turn in your future assignments until we learn more about Windows Photos.

Again, these are the basics of Lightroom and digital image workflow to get you started and complete your shooting assignments. I suggest you do a little reading if you want to know more.

Heres a link to Lightroom tutorials on Adobe’s website: Lightroom Tutorials.

There’s a ton of tutorials and learning materials out there, and you can take it as far as you like. I encourage you to share any materials you might find with your classmates (and me!) on the FB group.

Ultimately, this is more about learning a proper workflow than about Lightroom. Frankly, I don’t care what software you use to turn in assignments, but these things are REQUIRED!

You need is software that is capable of :

  • browsing images for editing/selection purposes
  • embedding captions and other metadata into the image file itself
  • cropping your images
  • making basic color and tonal corrections (white balance, lightness and darkness, contrast)
  • saving or exporting your images as JPEG files

 

As always, contact me if you have any questions.

Review of the basic concepts in class (1/29)

I’m going to give you more pointers, but if you need to review the material we went over in class, here you go …

Here is a PDF version of the presentation, with my presenter’s notes:

Technical Control: Photography basics

I’m going to post some videos here, too, in case you want to review what we watched in class, as well as a couple of videos that go into more depth about what we discussed:

This is the first video we watched, so you can review the basics. The terminology is important:

 

Second, here is a video that goes into detail about aperture values and why some lenses have a range of maximum apertures vs. a fixed maximum aperture value. This might have been a little confusing. If you were confused, PLEASE watch this:

 

If you need to review how to shoot in manual mode and using your light meter, watch this:

 

Here is a video that helps explain the process of choosing the best exposure values (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) for your conditions:

 

If you want a primer about how to use your autofocus points, view this:

 

And here is the video on using back-button focus:

 

Shooting news photographs is a lot more like shooting wildlife than you might realize! If you want more info and details about using back-button autofocus, watch this (NOTE: this is especially good for Nikon users who don’t have a dedicated AF-On button – such as the D3000, D3100, and D3200 – but Canon users should watch this, too, because the technique is the same):

 

So, there’s a review.

Like I said, I tried to stuff a lot of info in your heads in a short time. If you left class still a little confused, read and watch everything, with your camera in hand. Just don’t wait too long to start shooting pictures.

Then contact me ASAP if you have any questions.

SD Cards – advice and deals!

WARNING:

The FIRST thing we are going to do with our cameras on Monday is to insert our SD cards and RE-FORMAT them.

So, if you already have a card you would like to use for this class, download any images or videos you already have on them, and store them someplace else. Store them on your computers, on a USB jump drive, or an external hard drive.

You really shouldn’t be using your SD card to store you images for more than one shooting assignment. You should be reformatting on a regular basis, anyway. It’s not a good idea – and certainly not professional – to use the memory card for your recording devices as longterm storage. File systems created by your devices on the cards can become corrupt over time. If that happens, you will not be able to access the files on your cards. Frequent reformatting increases the long-term reliability of your card. Learn how to correctly store and backup your media files!

Here’s an older post about storage: Tip: Protect those precious memories!

The technology has changed a little bit, but the fundamentals are the same. Get a hard drive or a USB jump drive, if you don’t already have one.

My very strong suggestion: get an SD card and use it just for this class. You can never have too many cards, anyway.

So I want to make some recommendations that should satisfy your needs, even if you’re on a tight budget. First, a 16 GB card should get you through shooting assignments for this class, since we will be shooting in the JPEG format, and since you should be reformatting between assignments. But you might want to consider a larger capacity card. 32 GB is kind of the sweet spot between capacity and performance. But I’ll leave that up to you and your student budgets.

First, you probably don’t need a super-fast, super large card for this class. The Canon Rebel kit cameras don’t have very fast burst rates. However, don’t get super-cheap, obsolete cards, either. Look for something that is rated at about 90 MB/s or 600x, at minimum.

The following are some cards I found on Amazon that I recommend.

NOTE: Lexar used to be one of the brands that professionals relied upon. They produced memory cards that were amongst the industry leaders in speed and reliability. However, the parent company – Micron – decided that they were making too much money producing memory for companies like Amazon, Facebook, etc., and they have ceased production of their Lexar line. You can still find plenty of Lexar cards available, but they are now frequently MORE expensive than their competitors because of demand. Plus, you will no longer receive support from Micron on updates and warrantees. If you can find a good deal on Lexar cards, go for it! Just don’t expect deals.

SanDisk 16GB Class 10 SDHC UHS-I Up to 80MB/s Memory Card

This is probably the slowest and cheapest card I would recommend for shooting with University camera kits. SanDisk and Lexar have traditionally been the two top choices of pros, due to reliability and research. See the above comment on Lexar, however. At less than $10, this will get the job done for this class, assuming you are using a University camera kit or something similar. Nothing more.

SanDisk Extreme 16GB SDHC UHS-I Card

This is a better choice for only about $4 more. If you want to use what the pros use, it’s hard to go wrong with SanDisk. Still only 16 GB of storage, but that should be okay for your assignments for this class, assuming you reformat your card between assignments. You can get the same card with with a 32GB capacity for only $17.

If you want to take another step up, I can recommend the SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB SDHC UHS-I Card.

This card is only $21.85, right now. Professional speeds and reliability.

There are many brands that are popular and good. Sony is usually top notch, but usually pricier than SanDisk. Kingston, Delkin, Tobisha, and PNY are also well-known. I just bought a Tobisha card that I like a lot.

I have also had good luck with Transcend cards. Consider this one for only $14.13:

Transcend 16GB SDHC Class 10 UHS-1 Flash Memory Card

Personally, I would avoid obscure brands and the bargain bin versions of the big name cards. They are hardly worth the few dollars you might spend on them – questionable reliability and durability, and usually very slow. They might make your camera buffer and download/copy speeds are typically very slow.

The latest technology offers UHS-II speeds. UHS-II cards are pricier, but the fastest available. However, they probably aren’t necessary with consumer cameras, like the Canon Rebel kits the university offers. They won’t offer faster shooting speeds on these cameras, but they will have faster download speeds if you have the right kind of card reader. I can offer suggestions, if you’re interested.

Check these out and let me know if you have any questions.

Software – what you’ll need for this course …

Today, visual journalism is almost entirely a digital process. Cameras and computers are necessary hardware, but you can’t do anything with them without the proper software to capture, download, edit, process, and share your images.

The software you need to capture images is already contained within your camera. The rest of the process is chiefly executed on a computer – either your own or one of the University’s computers.

First thing – you don’t need Adobe Photoshop®. Not for this class, at least. And I think you will find that the ubiquitous imaging editing program is becoming a smaller and smaller part of imaging workflow, even with professionals. Frankly, Photoshop is overkill for photojournalism. It’s features are seductive and mostly unnecessary. And it’s well-known capabilities for manipulation have caused the general public to be suspicious of news photographs.

You do not need to purchase a computer or software to participate in this class, but you will need access to computers with the appropriate applications installed. There will be a quick tutorial in using Adobe software (Lightroom) to perform basic and necessary processes before sharing/publishing your photographs. You will find this software in the classroom computers, in some other computer labs around campus, and on some computers in the library.

Be advised that this class will require you to use computers outside of class time in order to submit your shooting assignments to this website. So, in addition to planning time to shoot your assignments, you will need to make time to edit and upload your submissions before deadlines.

If you own your own computer, make use of it. If you are a communications major, you should own basic image editing software anyway. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a full-time professional photographer, it’s likely that most of you will end up shooting and sharing photographs, in some capacity, at some point. You need something to help you organize, edit, and share/transmit photographs.

Like I said, though, you do NOT need Photoshop. Most Adobe products are of professional quality, but they aren’t your only choices, either. All you need is software that is capable of :

  1. browsing images for editing purposes
  2. embedding captions and other metadata into the image file itself
  3. cropping your images
  4.  making basic color and tonal corrections (white balance, lightness and darkness, contrast)
  5. saving or exporting your images as JPEG files

That’s it. No fancy filters. No special effects.

There are free applications which will allow you to execute any assignment for this class and can be of use to you once you graduate into the real world.

Adobe now requires a monthly subscription fee to download and use its applications, rather than buying a disc from them and installing it on your computer. You should be aware that Adobe DEEPLY discounts it’s software for Georgia Southern students and faculty. You should take advantage of this!

However, Adobe typically requires that you pay one year’s subscription up front. If you cannot afford that cost, there are other options.

As long as you can perform the above tasks, you can use any software you like. Here are some suggestions:

Free software:

Picasa (for Windows and Mac) – Picasa was created by Google as a software client on your computer to help you use their Picasa Web Albums online sharing service. You don’t need to sign up for the online service, though – Picasa will function as a stand-alone application and allow you to save/export images on your computer hard drive. It will perform all of the functions mentioned above, plus more. It will catalogue every image file on your computer, automatically. When you download it, run it before you go to bed. By the time you wake up, every image will be catalogued and easy to search for within the program. It’s pretty easy to use, and best of all, it’s !00% free!

Apple Photos (Mac only) – if you own a Mac, you already have the software you need for this class, as Photos comes already installed. You can perform all of the functions mentioned above and easily organize all of your pictures.

LightZone (for Windows and Mac) – LightZone used to be a commercial product that was conceived to compete with Photoshop. It never quite found a mass audience, but developer Fabio Riccardi recently made the program open source. The learning curve is longer than Picasa and iPhoto, but this application has professional level image processing capabilities. To download it, you’ll need to register at the LightZone project page and await approval of your account, but on business days the wait isn’t longer than 3 hours. It’s image management/photo library capabilities are a little dated, but it’s definitely worth a try if you cannot afford to pay for applications developed for professionals.

NOTE: DO NOT USE WEB APPS! There are some free online photo editing applications will allows you to crop and make tonal corrections right in your web browser, such as Photoshop Express and Pixlr. You don’t need an application on your computer – just an internet connection. These applications are pretty slick and quite capable for casual shutterbugs, but they are NOT appropriate for our uses in this class. First, you still have to browse your pictures and make your selections on your computer, then import your individual selections into the online editor, and that’s not an efficient workflow. Second, these apps typically strip any embedded metadata (captions, camera info and settings, etc.) from your image file. This may be fine if you are simply sharing photos with friends and family, but metadata is extremely important when preparing images to be consumed by the public for informational purposes.

You don’t need to own professional imaging software to participate in this class, but you need something that is capable of performing essential functions. That said, read on …

Professional software: 

These are the very applications pros use for managing their photographs on a daily basis. They are not out of reach, cost-wise, even for college students.

NOTE: Adobe no longer sells stand-alone software. They have transitioned to the Creative Cloud where you download the software and pay a monthly license fee to use it. There are deep discounts for students, so make sure you check out the discounted software link on MyGeorgiaSouthern.edu. and at Adobe itself: Creative Cloud for Students.

Adobe Lightroom (Windows and Mac) – Lightroom is a professional level application for managing your photographs. It will perform all of the functions of the free programs mentioned above, only much faster and more comprehensively. It will help you create and organize image libraries. You can apply captions and other metadata at the same time you download your images. You can create slideshows and online web galleries. You can export files directly to existing online galleries and sharing sites. And you can transmit images via email or FTP, right out of the program itself. It also has sophisticated, professional level image adjustment tools that you can apply to single images or batches of them all at once. It’s all most folks ever need.

Adobe Photoshop (Windows and Mac) – This is the application most everyone knows about but you probably don’t really need. You cannot browse image files with Photoshop and you cannot export images directly to online galleries. Photoshop does ship with Adobe Bridge, which allows you to import files, organize them, browse thumbnails for editing, and embed captions and other metadata. But it is a separate program and if you want to make any changes to your images, you must open them up in Photoshop. I will give a short tutorial on a basic image workflow using Bridge and Photoshop because that is what some University computers have installed. But Photoshop is very complex, has a long learning curve, and is very resource hungry – that is, it takes a lot of RAM and processing power just to run it. Make sure your computer has the specifications necessary to even run it on your computer. The Bridge/Photoshop workflow is a workaround. If you own your own computer, I recommend Lightroom over Photoshop, as you can perform most necessary functions, all in one application.

Aperture (Mac only) – Unfortunately, Apple has dropped development of this application, and it is no longer available on the App Store. It’s every bit as powerful as Lightroom, it just goes about performing the same tasks a little differently. If you own an older Mac you may have Aperture and I encourage you to use it. Both Aperture and Lightroom work equally well on a Mac – for now. Most professionals who once used Aperture are now transitioning to Lightroom.

Pixelmator (Mac only) – This application is a comparative newcomer, but many are beginning to recommend on a frequent basis. It’s more like Photoshop than Lightroom or Aperture, in that it’s strictly a photo editor without any photo management features. It’s not a true professional quality application, but it could be classified as a “prosumer” application and has many professional level tools and will perform the functions necessary for this class. And it’s a relatively inexpensive $29.99 at the App Store.

Your instructor will walk you through the basics of digital workflow in class. Alway feel free to ask for advice and recommendations.

Card Readers …

If you’ve read the syllabus, you know that I recommend downloading your images from your camera’s card instead of directly from the camera with a USB cable.

There are a few reasons for this.

  1. It’s usually much faster.
  2. Some cameras require you to download software before you can download directly from the camera. That software often comes free with the camera, but it’s not usually the best choice of software for downloading and organizing images.
  3. It’s safer. If your camera’s batteries die in the middle of a download, you could corrupt the memory card and lose all the images on it.

The best way to download your images is to remove the memory card from your camera and use a card reader to download them to your computer.

Pros once had to spend up to $100 for super-duper fast card readers capable of downloading multiple cards at the same time. The cost of carder readers has declined recently, and even professional level card readers, with the latest standards, can be had for less than $20.

First, know what kind of card your camera uses.  SD (Secure Digital) cards have become the standard for consumer level DSLRs, and even many professional models. If you buy a high end SD card, sometimes the card reader will come with it. You can buy a basic SD card reader for less than $10, such as the Kingston Digital MobileLite.

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You can probably find something comparable and cheap just about anywhere locally that sells electronics, too. Wherever you shop, look for the USB 3.0 interface. Places like Walmart often sell readers with the older USB 2.0 interface. Try to avoid those. You will really appreciate the speedier downloads of USB 3.0, especially when you are transferring hundreds of photos or video files.

Higher end professional cameras and older consumer cameras often use the larger CF (Compact Flash) cards. You could buy a dedicated CF card reader, but I really recommend one of the multi-card readers. One of these can cover all of you downloading needs from just about any device you might use.

The Transcend TS-RDF9K All-in-One USB 3.1/3.0 UHS-II Card Reader and the Kingston USB 3.0 High-Speed Media Reader are both professional level, compatible with all of the latest card standards, and cost less than $20.

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Whatever you decide, just get a card reader!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or need recommendations.