Digital Photography

Canon Camera with 50mm f/1.4 lens.

One of my two Canon 70D DSLR camera bodies with one of my two Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lenses mounted on it.

I invested in two identical camera bodies and two identical lenses not just to have spares but mainly so that I could mount both of them on tripods and then take a series of photos of the opposing pages of books with each camera and lens to catch, for instance, any 'marginalia', these being the handwritten comments that people make in the margins of books. Both my father and my paternal grandfather used to make a great many, often highly self-illuminating, comments like that.

Taking a series of photos is very much quicker than using a scanner to take individual scans and scanning can also badly damage the spines of books.

The only slight drawback is that digital photos normally produce very much larger file-sizes but these can always be compressed into smaller JPEGs later on.

The board of examiners

Objects don't have to be large to "make a big splash"!

Some of our most cherished possessions are small, and occasionally absolutely tiny, and small objects can often be tricky to photograph well.

This is where really good macro lenses, tripods, remote control shutter releases and specialised lighting come in very handy.

This is a major part of what I am offering.

"A picture is worth a thousand words", as they always say, but images do far more than just replace those thousand words.

They liven everything up and so enhance all the words next to them.

We can all remember being kids, when we first started reading. Our eyes rushed to the pictures and a book without masses of half-decent pictures in it was ... well ... "boring" and therefore dropped by us for something that did have pictures in it.

However old we are, we're still all kids at heart: we just have differing thicknesses of "adult veneers" on us depending on whom we're with, and there is absolutely no good reason, other than perhaps cost, why books need to be page after page of endless text with no pictorial relief whatsoever.

Let us, therefore, appeal to the child in all our future readers and really delight their eyes!

But, I hear you ask yourself, why employ someone else to take photos for you when almost every single smartphone nowadays is capable of taking really good photos?

That's a very good question so let me answer it.

Over the last few years I have bought a lot of up-to-date, professional and semi-professional digital photographic equipment and corresponding top-quality, industry-standard software. I have also invested in several years' worth of weekly, one-to-one, two-to-three-hour tuition sessions here at my home from a very experienced, highly knowledgeable and very competent professional photographer. His tuition is on-going, too, as there is just so much more fascinating stuff to learn.

The board of examiners

When I bought my "Bowens StreamLite 330 Two Head Continuous Studio Photographic Lamp Kit", this large, "crib"-like photo lightbox came as a 'freebie'.

I just couldn't resist telling my then 8-year-old son, when I brought him back from school one day, that, on a complete whim, I had just adopted a "brand new baby girl" (as he's not a great fan of girls at the moment). I also mentioned that I was delighted that the new crib had come "with full nappy-changing facilities". He was not at all amused at my adding to the family "just like that" without even consulting him first, but I was delighted that he fell for it sufficiently to rush over to check that the family had not increased before giving me my well-deserved ticking-off for pulling his leg.

The holes in the light-box are obviously for introducing the camera-lens and the main two purposes of a light-box are to soften the light and reduce any shadows.

Two very important things that I have picked up from him are that (a) there are a great many ways of taking a photo and then, critically important for the quality and visual effect of the final image, (b) an almost infinte number of ways of "enhancing" or "editing" that photo afterwards.

Let me tell you why the resolution of images is so important.

Printed books normally only need images to have a maximum resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch), unless the objects are really very small. Websites can often cope with lower resolutions (so far fewer pixel-equivalents) than that, and this results in smaller file sizes, which, in turn, then help the pages to load much quicker.

I have cameras that enable me to take very high resolution "raw" shots.

"Raw Image Files" retain almost all of the information that the lenses bring to the camera's sensor, meaning that the all-important optical data in the file have only "suffered from" minimal data processing. This, in turn, allows me to do a lot with the photos once they have been taken, something that is rarely possible with photos that have been taken on cameras that cannot take raw photos.

It also means that we avoid all of the damage to the optical data caused by the high compression ratios typically found in photos taken or stored as "JPEGs". Raw photos do not degrade (lose optical data) each time they are saved.

I use studio photographic lamps with daylight bulbs in them and normally take all my photos of objects with my cameras fixed to different tripods. This enables me to take photos of objects with far greater accuracy and either far more, or sometimes on purpose, far less depth of field.

Depth of field is very important for showing as much detail of the object as possible and especially in the shadows. However, there are times when it is really helpful to blur out the foreground or background, as this highlights the object very much better.

I also use a remote control shutter-release in order to avoid all camera-shake.

The whole idea is to make sure that any recently-taken photos that you want to include in your book are of the very best possible quality and do their proper job of really bringing your words to life.

The board of examiners

This very small Canon RC6 Remote Controller enables the shutter on either of my cameras to be released without my having to use a cable-release or hold the camera in my hands, thus eliminating all camera-shake providing, of course, that the cameras are mounted on tripods.

There is no percentage whatsoever in having bad, recently-taken photos in your book.

I will touch on what to do with "old" photos on the next page.

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"We All Have At Least One Book In Us!"