Photography Tips from Mr. Bob Wong

I’m a “budding” photographer and I’ve just started playing with Tim’s camera and editing my photos. Because of this, I browsed blogs here at wordpress that kind of specialize in photography and I found Mr. Bob Wong’s Photography Weblog. It has many beautiful photos of nature, wildlife and their travels which I found very interesting and informative as well that I can’t help but ask him for some tips which he unselfishly gave me. To remember this “lesson” I decided to repost it here in my blog for me to remember everything and also for the benefit of a friend whose also starting to like this hobby. :)

Good to hear from you again MaryJane. At first I thought the easiest way to answer your photo editing needs would be to refer you to some online tutorial. I took a quick look for a suitable candidate and to my dismay found nothing reasonable. Most in my opinion were poor to absolutely wrong. The subject is too involved to discuss here so I will write a post on the subject shortly.

Your choice of GIMP as an editor is good. I have used it before. While I am working on my version of a basic editing tutorial you should read this “Curves” page from the GIMP documentation here. Don’t worry if you don’t understand it all. I don’t like the recommendations either but it does tell you about all the capabilities of he “Curves” function. Again don’t worry about understanding it just use it as a reference to guide you as you play with the “Curves” function.

The “Curves” function is the most important tool. Anything that touches your picture performs an Equivalent of a “Curves” function on your picture. You local photo finisher’s printer does a “Curves” when he prints your picture. The monitor that you are reading this post on does a “Curves”. The video card that drives your monitor does a “Curves”. The operating system, Window or whatever running on your computer does a “Curves”. And basic of all your camera does a “Curves”. Each one of these guys is fighting the other and to get it all correct you have to do something called color management which from end to end is usually impossible anyway, so don’t worry about it.

Begin by getting out your GIMP editor and start playing with the “Curves” function and you will get a feel for what it does. The first adjustment to play with is called Gamma. Every device I just mentioned above messes with the Gamma. For you to mess with the Gamma just grab the curve in the middle and move it up and down, that adjustment you just made is a gamma adjustment. The Gamma adjustment will give you some powerful capabilities to sort things out. Play with it on many different pictures.

The next experiment with the curves tool is to introduce an “S” curve, this will give your picture a “Film” look because that is what the old style film actually did. You’re going to grab that “Curves” straight line in two places one near the bottom and one near the top. The bottom one you pull down a bit the top one you pull up a bit. You now will have a sort of Italisized “S” shape in your curves tool. Hence the name “S” curve.

Play around save various versions of the pictures onto disk. Then use a photo viewer (I use Irfanview) to cycle between the pictures so that you get to appreciate the differences in the image that you just created.)

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