It was admittedly difficult when we first began the transition from straight film to digital photography some years ago. My wife, a brilliant amateur photographer with a special flair for expressive and candid black-and-white photos, had trouble finessing the “delay” that occurred between pressing the button and the digital camera actually snapping the picture. The candidness, shall we say, gave way to more staged poses and less exhilarating results.
However, as time went on, we learned more about taking better pictures and also using Photoshop to enhance the images with special effects and other production techniques.
Tip #1: Pump Up the Volume. The advantage of not having to worry about the expense of film was something we began to exploit at a large scale, and we found that we could snap, say, 100 “relatively” rapid pictures and get one or two treasures – something we wouldn’t be overly apt to do if we were spending money to purchase and develop film.
Tip #2: Focus on Lighting. We realized that we could enhance all of our images across the board by paying far more attention to lighting. So we would be more oriented toward taking pictures at different times of day – for example, dusk – when there’s that “magic hour” element that can give photos a richer hue and tone.
Tip #3: Anticipation. Unlike the Heinz ketchup commercial, we learned to be impatient with certain of our subjects (particularly our kids, whose mannerisms and personalities we knew well) – meaning, we learned to anticipate what they would do and snap the photo in advance of where we thought the live action would go – so that the camera would catch it on time. This is a skill that needs to be developed over time – and it’s not something that can be done perfectly with strangers.
Tip #4: Download and Dump. We learned to download our photos often, after several times of missing out on awesome pictures because the camera was full. We also had to learn to be ruthless with “our babies” and cut out photos on the fly to keep the camera available for even better opportunities. That said, we also developed an excellent archiving system using CDs and DVDs, so we have thousands of photos stored and easily retrievable.
Tip #5: Grayscaling, Sepia Toning, Lassoing, Saturation and Other Effects. Some of our favorite techniques in Photoshop are actually pretty simple, but they are useful time and time again. We love grayscaling images to convert them from RGB to black and white, we love altering the hue to do sepia toning for that old-time effect, and we especially like to use the lasso tool to create “feathering” and other cool effects like drop shadows, bevel and emboss – even craquelure. Photoshop can be used in a million different ways – but having digital images has really helped us take more advantage of Photoshop than we did before when we had to manually scan printed photos. This alone has helped us really fall in love with the digital.
Tip #6: Batch Processing. From time to time, we would have a ton of photos that we wanted to do the same effect with. We got the hang of something called “batch processing,” where we could essentially program Photoshop to automatically open (and resave) every picture in a folder and do the exact same action to it. This is really cool and helpful if you have the need to do it – makes everything go super-fast.
Needless to say, there are many other tricks we’ve learned, but these six will hopefully be helpful to learn and adopt into your own digital photography tactics.