Originally created 03/04/03

Digital-imaging programs can save the day



When I first became serious about taking pictures, back in 1975, I shot Kodachrome 64 slide film. Back then, virtually all serious magazine photographers shot slides, mainly because slide film offered more accurate color rendition than negative film. It also offered finer grain.

The limitation of all slide films was that the exposure had to be "right on." That's because slide film has what's called a narrow exposure latitude. In other words, if you did not have the correct exposure, your picture would be too light or too dark. That's still true today with slide film, which is why most amateurs shoot print film. Print film is more forgiving of exposure errors.

The limitations of slide film resulted in many "out-takes." Pros and amateurs threw out many slides that were too dark or too light. Those slides were called out-takes.

Today, I wish I had many of my out-takes. If I had saved them, many could have been saved with today's digital-imaging programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Elements, Alien Skin Software's Image Doctor and Synthetic Software's Studio Artist. These programs offer several image enhancements, including the ability to adjust the color, contrast, brightness and sharpness of a picture, or even a section of a picture. The more sophisticated the imaging program, the more sophisticated the level of enhancements. Image Doctor, for example, offers basic image adjustments, while Adobe Photoshop offers sophisticated adjustments.

Imaging programs and digital cameras go hand-in-hand. In fact, even basic digital cameras come with their own photo-imaging programs.

With a digital camera and an imaging program, knowledgeable photographers can begin to see a whole new world of picture opportunities - seeing pictures where before they might not have seen them, and taking pictures that they normally would not have taken.

Here are a few examples that illustrate that point:

-Pictures taken on overcast days can be enhanced so they look almost as though they were taken on a sunny day - and vice versa.

-Underexposed, backlit subjects can be brightened, without washing out the background.

-In photos of people and animals in which the eyes are hidden in the shadows, the eyes can be lightened.

-Soft pictures can be sharpened (to a degree).

-Off-color pictures of people taken under fluorescent lights can be color-corrected so that the skin tones look accurate.

-Distracting backgrounds can be darkened, softened or even removed.

-Annoying elements in a scene, such as telephone wires, can be removed.

So, if you haven't thought about it before, I suggest you look into the capabilities of the different imaging programs. Not only will they help save some of your pictures, they will also expand your photographic creativity.

Rick Sammon is the host of the Digital Photography Workshop on the DIY Network.