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Essential Guide to


Contents Essential Guide to Digital Cameras ........................... A Essential Guide to Taking Great Photos..................... B Essential Guide to Creative Photo Editing................. C B


The Kim Komando Show © 2012 All Rights Reserved.



Essential Guide to


Contents Introduction ..................................1 Digital Sensors ..............................2 ISO Settings ..................................5 Image Stabilization........................7 Digital SLR Cameras.....................9 Hybrid Cameras.......................... 11 Camera Lenses............................ 14 Point-and-Shoots ........................ 17 Controls & Modes.......................18 Advanced Controls..................... 19 Video Recording..........................21 External Flash..............................22 Tripods.........................................23 Photo-Editing Software..............24 Accessories..................................25

The Kim Komando Show © 2012 All Rights Reserved.


From novice to pro, learn what to buy


You want to take great photos at your daughter’s

dozens of choices when selecting a camera. You’ll

soccer game and your son’s piano recital. You want

find cameras in all different sizes and shapes from

to take natural-looking portraits and group shots

a variety of manufacturers. The sheer number of

of family members. You want your vacation photos

camera models on the market can be daunting.

to wow. You don’t want to miss a moment of your precious family memories.

How do you find a camera that best suits your needs—and your budget?

You want to step up from the smartphone camera you’ve been using or the point-and-shoot you

That’s the point of this book. We’re going to go

bought a few years ago. What to buy? If you’ve

through cameras, bit by bit. You’ll have a good

visited an electronics store or shopped online

grasp on them when we finish and be able to

lately, you know this is no small task. You have

make an informed choice.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Digital Sensors

Where the Magic Happens The sensor is the most important part of a

Don’t fall for the Megapixel Myth

digital camera. The sensor is where all the magic

When talking about sensors, many people focus

happens. As you can probably guess, the sensor is

on megapixel count. But don’t judge a camera’s

used to capture the image.

quality on megapixels alone.

Strictly speaking, the sensor doesn’t actually

Megapixels simply refers to the number of pixels,

capture images. Rather, it collects light. It then

or picture elements, on the sensor. One megapixel

translates this light into electrical signals. The

consists of 1 million pixels. Pixels are sites on the

signals are sent to the processor, which creates the

sensor that collect light. Multiply image height in

image file.

pixels by width in pixels to get megapixel count.

A camera may be fast and powerful. It may have all

All else being equal, a camera with an 18MP

the latest bells and whistles. But it’s a bad choice if

sensor will let you make larger prints than a

it has a bad sensor. After all, years from now, you’ll

camera with a 12MP sensor. The larger sensor will

care more about that photo of Aunt Mabel than

also give you better prints from photos that have

the camera used to take it.

been cropped during the editing process.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Sensor size is more important than megapixels Here’s a shocker for you: A camera that has a full-frame 12MP sensor will take much better pictures than a point-and-shoot with a 16MP sensor. How can that be? Size matters when dealing with sensors. The full-frame sensor measures 36mm x24mm. The point-andshoot’s sensor is roughly 6mm x 5mm. The full-frame sensor is nearly 30 times larger! In general, larger sensors have less noise and better sensitivity in low light than smaller sensors. Noise is the term for off-colored pixels. It somewhat resembles film grain. It’s particularly apparent in dark areas of a photo. As pixel density increases, you’re more likely to see noise. Larger sensors generally have larger pixels. That means more light is collected at each pixel site. You’ll get more-detailed photos.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Dynamic range is also improved. Dynamic range

Don’t worry much about sensor type

is the difference between the lightest and darkest

You’ll see a lot of technical specifications when

pixels. You’ll get more details in both highlights

looking at cameras. All the mumbo-jumbo can be

and shadows.

like reading Greek. Don’t feel bad.

Without the constraints of film, manufacturers are

One of the things you’ll see is sensor type. The

free to make digital camera sensors in a variety of

cameras you see will use CCD or CMOS sensors.

sizes. There are about a half-dozen sensor sizes in

Sometimes, sensor type is given star billing on

use in the most popular digital single lens reflex

shopping sites’ product pages. You’re led to

(DSLR) camera and hybrid cameras. Refer to the

believe that sensor type is terribly important.

chart for a visual comparison of common sensor sizes.

In reality, CCD and CMOS sensors are both very capable. Don’t worry about the differences.

Sensor Size Comparison Chart Type






35mm Full Frame

Sensor W x H

6.4 x 4.8mm

8.8 x 6.6mm

17.8 x 10mm

22.2 x 14.8mm

28.7 x 19.1mm

36 x 24mm

Sensor Diagonal







Sensor Area







Crop Factor







The chart above illustrates various sensor sizes. Sensor formats of digital cameras are mostly expressed in the non-standardized “inch” system, which is approximately 1.5 times the length of the diagonal of the sensor. Due to inch-based sensor formats being not standardized, their exact dimensions may vary, but those listed are typical.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


ISO Settings Light Settings Pay attention to ISO range

In camera specifications, ISO is listed as a range.

Back in the days of film photography, we talked

For example, you may see 100-12,800. Each step

about film speed. We used ISO to denote film’s

up the ISO range increases the light sensitivity of

sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the

the sensor - less light is needed for photos.

more sensitive to light the film was. Low-light shooting is a major frustration for many We still use ISO to refer to the sensor’s sensitivity

camera users, and sensor makers are continually

to light. With digital cameras, you can select the

pushing the boundaries of sensitivity.

ISO you want to use for any given situation. This can be done on a picture-by-picture basis, if you

Top ISOs of 25,600 are commonplace now. Nikon’s


and Canon’s flagship, full-frame DSLRs max out at ISO 102,400!

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Useable ISO is key You want a camera that has a good ISO range. But you also need to consider noise. As you increase the ISO, image noise increases. An image shot at ISO 25,600 will likely be extremely noisy. So, you need to think about usable ISO. To get a feel for a camera’s usable ISO, read the online reviews of photography magazines and photography blogs. Reviewers often post photos at different ISO settings for comparison. You’ll also find plenty of discussions about useable ISO in online photo forums. Most people who hang out in these forums know lots about cameras. They can spend hours discussing the finer points of their gear. Don’t worry if some of the terms and jargon go over your head. Just take what you need of their advice and ignore the rest. Look for a camera that has a usable ISO of 800 or better. That will allow you to conquer most dim rooms, school auditoriums and other low-light situations.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Image Stabilization

Stabilize Your Image Beat the shakes with image stabilization

Stabilization can’t do anything for motion blur.

Any number of things can cause a blurry

That occurs when a shutter speed is too low to

photograph. But the No. 1 culprit is probably

stop a subject in motion. But stabilization works

you. No matter how hard you try to hold still, your

wonders to reduce the minor shakes caused by

hands shake. This can result in blurry, headache-

unsteady hands.

inducing photos. Stabilization technology gives you the ability to Image stabilization helps a lot. It’s perhaps the

capture a low-light photo at a slow shutter speed

best thing to happen to photography since digital

of 1/15 or 1/8 of a second without having to use a


flash or tripod. (If you find yourself in that situation, take several pictures in continuous mode to improve your odds of getting a good one.) Without stabilization, it’s difficult to get a sharp picture at a shutter speed of 1/30 or slower. Bulky telephoto lenses require even higher shutter speeds to compensate for a shaky hand. Sensor-shift vs. Lens-based There are two ways to accomplish image stabilization. Some manufacturers put gyroscopic sensors in their lenses. Floating elements within

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


the lenses compensate for horizontal and vertical

You’ll see sensor-shift stabilization in Sony Alpha


and Pentax DSLRs and in Panasonic and Olympus mirrorless cameras.

Other manufacturers move the camera’s sensor instead of lens elements. This is called sensor-shift

Both stabilization methods work well. Keep in

or body-based image stabilization.

mind that a stabilized lens steadies the image on the sensor and in the viewfinder. The view through

Nikon and Canon DSLR systems use lens-based

a nonstabilized lens will be shakier.

stabilization, which makes sense if you think about it. They began working on the technology when

Some image stabilizer zoom lenses can cost $500-

film cameras were still prevalent. It wasn’t possible

$1,000 more than their nonstabilized equivalents.

to move the film up, down, left and right to

On the other hand, digital camera bodies go

compensate for shake.

obsolete at a much faster pace than lenses.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Digital SLR Cameras

SLR - What to Buy Buying a Digital SLR

an electronic viewfinder instead of the mirror to

A digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR) includes

compose your image.

a mirror that flips up when the picture is taken. The mirror and an internal prism allow you to

The first thing to decide when buying a DSLR is

frame your shots through the attached lens. The

whether to get a full-frame or a reduced-frame

mirror flips up to reveal the sensor when you press

sensor. Cameras with full-frame sensors start at

the shutter. Additionally, SLRs allow you to use

upwards of $2,000.

interchangeable lenses. Full-frame cameras appeal to pros and advanced Don’t confuse DSLRs with the fast-growing

amateurs because, in addition to their big sensors,

category of hybrid cameras, which I’ll talk about

the cameras also capture more frames per second.

in the next. These are fine cameras that also

That’s very important in sports and wildlife

offer interchangeable lens systems, but they use

photography. Mid- to top-range DSLRs are also

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


more weatherproof than entry-level DSLRs. A full-

Sony’s line of SLT Alpha cameras veer off from

frame sensor is the size of a frame of traditional

traditional SLR design. SLT stands for single lens

35mm film - 24 x 36mm.

translucent. The camera’s mirror is fixed; it doesn’t have to swing out of the way like the mirror in a

Reduced-size sensors translate to lighter, more

conventional SLR.

compact cameras with a price range starting at $750. With megapixel ranges between 12 and 18,

The SLT lets a majority of light pass through it

they’re very capable cameras. They can produce

to expose the sensor. But a portion of light gets

stunning 16 x 20 prints or better and gorgeous HD

reflected to the camera’s autofocus system. That

video footage that’s worlds ahead of point-and-

means you can look through the Sony’s electronic

shoots and smartphone cameras.

viewfinder and use autofocus while shooting video. In this way, SLTs have much in common with

Most compact DSLRs have APS-C sensors. APS-C

the mirrorless hybrid cameras.

sensors in Canons are 60 percent smaller than full frame. (Canon also makes an APS-H sensor,

When you shoot video with a DSLR, the mirror is

which is 30 percent smaller than full frame.) APS-C

up, so you can’t see through the optical viewfinder

sensors in Nikons and others are half the size of full frame.

or use autofocus. You can shoot beautiful video with a DSLR using the live-view LCD screen on the back of the camera. But you’ll probably find yourself using a tripod a lot and pausing to refocus. It’s something to think about when investing in a camera, especially if video is as important to you as still pictures.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Hybrid Cameras A Camera ... Hybrid? Buying a hybrid camera

Hybrid cameras dispense with the SLR mirror

When Panasonic and Olympus invented this breed

altogether. Without the mirror, camera makers can

of mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera in 2008,

make lenses smaller because they’re closer to the

most digital SLR shooters yawned and went back

sensor. The lack of a mirror and bulky internal

to taking pictures. Today, hybrids are the choice of

prism also allows manufacturers to downsize the

many pros that need small, lightweight backup

camera body.

cameras; travel photographers; and people who specialize in street and documentary photography.

While hybrid camera makers were shrinking lenses and camera bodies, they were also increasing

Of course, hybrids are also ideal for anyone who

sensor sizes compared to point-and-shoot

wants to upgrade from a point-and-shoot or


smartphone camera and take better family and vacation photos.

Add to that the ability to switch high-quality lenses and you can see why hybrid cameras sales are surging. To see what a hybrid camera sees, you look through an electronic viewfinder (EVF). Some hybrids don’t have EVFs. To trim cost, they use only the live-view LCD display on the back of the camera. An EVF also gives you a live view, but it simulates the experience of an SLR’s optical viewfinder. You

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


can shoot with the camera up to your eye instead of holding it away from your face to compose as you do with a point-and-shoot. Some EVFs are built-in; others are detachable and fit into the camera’s hot shoe. EVFs can help you take sharper pictures because they allow you to magnify portions of the image to tweak focus. Most EVFs also let you fine-tune white balance and make other color adjustments before taking the shot. Most EVFs brighten automatically in low-light situations. Early EVFs were dim and a major weak spot of these cameras

lens, processes the view and projects the view

a few years ago.

onto a display. It takes only a fraction of a second, but that delay can translate into you capturing a

Shutter lag can still be a problem with EVFs, and

picture of a splash instead of your kid just above

that’s a turnoff for some photographers. You’ve

the water with a huge smile on his face.

probably missed a few action shots with your smartphone or point-and-shoot because of shutter

In the hybrid category, sensor sizes are all over the

lag. It’s the very slight delay that occurs when you

map. Sony packs an APS-C-size sensor into its

press the shutter and the camera actually takes

Alpha NEX line of hybrids. Seven E-mount zoom

the picture.

and single-focal-length lenses should cover all your bases. Some enthusiasts buy a NEX just for

Live view is a bit of a misnomer. In a camera with

the slim, pancake style wide-angle lens. It’s less

an EVF, the sensor records the view through the

than an inch long and weighs 2.5 ounces.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Fujifilm’s X-Pro 1 also uses an APS-C sensor.

shoe that accepts Nikon’s popular Speedlights.

Fujifilm invented a hybrid viewfinder that lets the

The sensor in it and the J1 are about half the size

photographer switch between an optical

of a Micro Four Thirds sensor. So far, the company

viewfinder and an EVF. At the X-Pro 1’s release in

has made a versatile, all-purpose zoom lens for the

late March 2012, only three lenses were available

cameras. It has Vibration Reduction (VR), Nikon’s

for the camera. More will come.

term for lens stabilization. A pancake-style wide angle is also available. A third wide-telephoto

The Panasonic Lumix and Olympus PEN cameras

zoom lens was made especially for video. The lens’

use the Micro Four Thirds sensor. It’s 25 percent

VR and a 3-speed, silent zoom motor turn these

the size of a full-frame sensor.

cameras into very capable camcorders.

Lens connoisseurs love Micro Four Thirds.

The only major camera maker left with no hybrid

Panasonic and Olympus offer a wide range of

offering – Canon – is expected to introduce a

zooms and exotic primes, such as fish-eye wide

system sometime in 2012. In the meantime, the

angles. They also allow third-party lens makers to

company has launched an interesting contender in

get in the Micro Four Thirds game. On the low

another fast-evolving class of cameras - high-end

end, you can buy plastic “toy” lenses. They’re

point-and-shoots. I’ll go over those a bit later.

popular for their soft-focus, grungy look. If you’re a stickler for sharpness and top-notch image quality, you can pay big bucks for Leica Micro Four Thirds lenses. Nikon came late to the hybrid party at the end of 2011, but its two mirrorless cameras are attracting enthusiasts. The flagship V1 has an EVF and a hot

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Camera Lenses A Lens for Every Occasion The ins and outs of lenses Earlier, I said the sensor is the most important part of a digital camera. Lens quality is crucial, too. When you shop for a DSLR or hybrid camera, you’re also getting married to a system of lenses. Make sure that system suits your needs now and in years to come. lens for 35mm because it gave a natural DSLRs and hybrids are sold as a camera body only

perspective, a field of view similar to normal

or as a kit with an all-purpose zoom lens. The kit

human vision. Focal lengths below 50mm were

zoom lens may not be the best in the

considered wide angle. Focal lengths above 50mm

manufacturer’s lineup, but it’s fine for most

were telephoto.

photographers who are just starting out. More advanced photographers who already have an

Landscape photographers love wide angles

arsenal of lenses buy camera bodies. As you gain

because they take in more than the eye can

experience, you’ll quickly learn which lenses will

normally see and make it easy to get everything in

help you grow in the hobby.

focus. Portrait photographers rely on moderate telephoto lenses in the 85-100mm range. They can

When camera makers invented new digital sensor

fill the frame with the subject’s face while standing

sizes, they also invented new focal lengths for

a comfortable distance away. Sports and wildlife

lenses. This can be confusing until you understand

photographers buy 200mm, 300mm or 400mm

the method behind the madness.

telephoto lenses depending on their needs.

In film days, 35mm cameras were often sold with

Let’s put that normal 50mm lens on a few cameras

50mm lenses. That was considered a “normal”

with smaller sensors. On a Nikon APS-C, the

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


50mm behaves like a 75mm lens. On a Canon

the crop factor is a bonus for a photographer who

APS-C, it’s like an 80mm. On a Micro Four Thirds,

uses longer lenses to capture sports action and

the 50mm doubles to 100mm.


How did that happen? Smaller sensors see less of

Fortunately, camera makers and retailers always

a scene than full frame. The smaller sensor crops

compare their lenses’ focal lengths to what the

the image, and that creates a magnification effect

equivalent would be in full frame, 35mm format.

similar to you having zoomed closer to the subject.

For example: Panasonic will say that it’s 20mm pancake lens is equivalent to 40mm in 35mm.

The ratio between a digital sensor size and the reference size of full frame is called the crop factor,

Crop factors are something you need to be

or multiplier. In the examples above, the Nikon

mindful of, but you don’t need to obsess about

crop factor is 1.5, the Canon is 1.6 and the Micro

them. I want you to be taking great pictures - not

Four Thirds is 2.0.

doing multiplication tables in your head.

In the early days of digital photography, shooting

When buying a new lens, you want to make sure

at wide angles was a problem. A

it’s sharp and doesn’t suffer from any distortions.

24mm lens behaved more

You can go into forums and read online reviews to

like a normal lens with

determine that.

digital sensors. Lens makers scrambled to

You also need to consider how “fast” the lens is. A

catch up. Today, it’s

lens’ speed is equal to its most wide-open

commonplace to see

aperture. Aperture is denoted by f-numbers. At a

10mm wide angles for digital cameras.

constant shutter speed, an f/2.8 lens is twice as fast as an f/4 lens. Put another way: It gathers twice the amount of light at the f/2.8 setting than the f/4

At the other end of the spectrum,


Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


That’s an important distinction if you like to shoot

Be careful of lenses with extreme zoom ranges,

portraits and indoor sports without using flash.

such as 18-200mm. By trying to do too much, they

With a faster DSLR lens, the viewfinder will also be

often come up short on image quality. Zooms that

brighter and the camera’s metering and autofocus

stay at a constant aperture throughout the range

systems will perform better. Of course, you’ll pay

are usually better quality than lenses that get

extra for speed.

slower as you zoom out - f/3.5-5.6, for example.

Landscape photographers often shoot at smaller

Be aware that Nikon DX and Canon EF-S lenses

apertures of f/11, f/16, and f/22 to get everything in

work only on their APS-C DSLR cameras. They do

focus from foreground to background. They can

this to make smaller and lightweight zooms for

save money by picking an f/4 lens instead of an

these cameras. All of Canon’s and Nikon’s full-


frame lenses will work on reduced-sensor cameras.

Primes and zooms You’ll see primes and zooms available for DSLRs and hybrids. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length. You’ll find wide angle, normal and telephoto primes. Zoom lenses may be wide angle - 1735mm, for example - or telephoto 70-200mm. Prime lenses aren’t as convenient as zooms, but they’re less bulky and usually very fast and sharp. Less engineering goes into making a prime, so it costs less to make than a fast zoom.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras



DSLR not for You? High-end point-and-shoots

video. Fujifilm even built a fun Film Simulation

Sometimes you don’t want to lug around a heavy

mode into this rangefinder lookalike that mimics

DSLR. Or maybe you don’t want to be bothered

the look of the company’s classic color slide films:

with interchangeable lens systems. You just want

Provia, Velvia and Astia. The Fujifilm X10 and X-S1

a compact, high-quality camera that’s simple and

have fixed zoom lenses.

fun to use. Leica and Sigma also make several models of high You should take a look at the new breed of high-

end point-and-shoots.

end point-and-shoots. They range in price from $600 to $1,200 and have larger sensors than

Canon just entered the category in 2012 with its

budget point-and-shoots. Some have fixed zoom

beefed-up PowerShot G1 X. Its 14 MP sensor is

lenses; others have a fixed prime.

slightly smaller than APS-C and can record 1080p video. The camera can be as automatic or manual

The Fujifilm X-100, for example, has a fixed 35mm

as you want it to be. The 28-112mm zooms lens is

f/2 lens. The APS-C, 12 MP sensor can shoot 720p


Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Controls & Modes Automatic Exposure Controls and Scene Modes Cameras you can grow with The great thing about most entry-level and midlevel hybrids and DSLRs is they include a lot of automatic exposure controls and scene modes that can help you take great pictures right off the bat if you’re a beginner. Let’s take a closer look at some of these helpful features. Auto mode will go a long way to helping you get great shots. The camera adjusts all the settings for you. But, there’s a downside to auto mode. The camera may make the wrong assumptions about the scene. Plus, it can’t read your mind. If you’re trying to accomplish something specific, the

Common scene modes include portrait, night

settings could be wrong.

portrait, landscape, night landscape, macro and sports mode. These cover the most common

Scene modes aren’t all that different from auto

shooting situations. Other cameras have more

mode. The camera still makes the necessary

scene modes: beach/snow, fireworks, sunset and

adjustments. However, you get more control over

foliage. You never know what you might want to

the shot. You specify the situation. The camera

photograph. You’ll be prepared for virtually any

makes adjustments based on what you specify.


Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Advanced Controls Be in Control Take complete control over exposure

want to lock in a high shutter speed to freeze the

When you feel ready to leave automatic settings

action at a basketball game. Or, you could select a

behind, you can take complete control over

very slow shutter speed to blur a waterfall.

exposure. In Aperture-priority, you set the lens aperture and Shutter-priority and Aperture-priority modes

the camera selects the most appropriate shutter

are especially helpful. In Shutter-priority, you set

speed. When taking a portrait, for instance, you

the shutter speed and the camera automatically

might want to set the lens at a wide f/2.8 aperture.

picks the best aperture. For example, you’d

That will throw the background out of focus and draw more attention to the subject’s face.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


In Manual, you set the shutter and aperture. When

buttons. These bring up settings that you specify.

looking at controls, you also need to consider

They’re more common on high-end cameras. But

placement and ease of use. You want buttons and

you may find them on mid-range models.

dials that are clearly labeled. The controls should also be easy to reach. They shouldn’t be too close

Likewise, look carefully at the camera’s menus.

together. The controls you will use most should

They should be easy to read, navigate and

be easily accessible. And look for programmable


This diagram shows how aperture (F-Stop) and shutter speed affect your image. A higher F-Stop restricts the amount of light that enters the shutter, but in turn, also brings more of your picture into focus at once. Likewise, a larger aperture (lower F-Stop) permits more light and enables you to focus on a single object in your photo, while leaving the foreground and/or background out of focus. Similarly, the faster your shutter clicks, the less time light has to enter the camera. A fast shutter freezes fast moving objects. A slower shutter speed, while allowing more light to enter, also gives fast moving objects more time to blur. Finding the right balance will depend on lighting conditions and the desired effect you are trying to achieve in your image.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Video Recording

Hollywood has Nothing on You Making movies

there’s a danger of the sensor overheating. More

You’re buying a digital camera because you want

expensive cameras will let you shoot longer clips.

to take photographs. But digital cameras have an added bonus. They record video, as well. Hybrids

Consider frame rates, as well. You want to be

and DSLRs are capable of taking spectacular

able to record at 30 frames for second for smooth

video. And the ability to switch lenses is a budding

video. The ability to boost the camera to 60

videographer’s dream.

frames per second is nice for fast action. Some cameras will let you record at 24 fps, which

You may not plan to shoot video, but you might

can be interesting and arty. That’s the speed

be surprised how convenient the feature is. To

movie theaters use to screen the latest Hollywood

keep the cost down, some cameras shoot high


definition 720p video. It’s pretty good. But if you’re serious about video, you’ll want a camera that

A few cameras record at 20 fps. I wouldn’t

records 1080p.

recommend this frame rate, unless you find jerkiness appealing. Those cameras aren’t taking

Some lower-end cameras will let you shoot only

video very seriously.

a very short clip - a few minutes. That’s because

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


External Flash Say Cheese ... Buying an external flash

work with the lenses you’ll be using? The flash may

If your camera comes with a small built-in flash,

not cover the entire frame in a wide-angle shot.

that’s good enough to start. It will do a decent

And a zoom feature is nice. It will adjust the flash’s

job for portraits and providing fill flash. External

output to the lens’ focal length.

flashes are more versatile, but they’re pricey. I wouldn’t buy a flash without tilt and swivel. As you Advanced flashguns give you room to grow, and

can guess, this allows you to point the flash. It’s a

their features will help you achieve better results.

must for bouncing the flash. Bouncing the flash will

Flashes made by the same manufacturer as your

give you softer, more pleasing light.

camera integrate with the camera’s metering system to regulate the light output and take perfect exposures. External flashes also offer wireless capability. You can place the flash elsewhere and trigger it from your camera. For example, you could use your camera’s built-in flash with an external flash off-camera for a more sophisticated portrait setup. Some flashguns receive only wireless signals. Others can also send them. Look for a flash with a high guide number and short recycle time. Do the focal lengths of the flash

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Tripods A Photographer’s Must-Have Buying a tripod

If nothing else, this book just saved you $150!

If all you’re going to be doing is candid

Tripod legs and heads are rated by how much

photography, you don’t really need a field tripod.

weight they can support. Compare that with

It’s convenient to have at least a tabletop tripod. It

the weight of your camera and heaviest lens.

can help you get that low-light, blowing-out-the-

Obviously, you can save money and get by with

candles-on-the-birthday-cake shot. A monopod is

less tripod if you’re using a hybrid camera or

very handy if you’ll be shooting a lot of soccer and

compact DSLR. If you need to support a full-size

football games with telephoto lenses.

DSLR with a big telephoto zoom, you’ll need to make a bigger investment.

A sturdy tripod is necessary for serious landscape photography, macro photography, still lifes and

Many tripods come with a head, but it may not be

product photography. A lot of photographers

the best for your purposes. It’s possible to buy the

balk at spending $200 or more on a good one.

legs and the head separately. Aluminum legs will

So they’ll buy a $50 model and curse at it for a

save you money; carbon fiber will save your back.

few months until it breaks or gets thrown in the

Make sure the tripod will extend to your eye level

garbage. Then they’ll buy a $100 tripod. That one

so you can compose and focus without bending

might last a year.

over. Also make sure it is sturdy at your working height. Extending the center column defeats the purpose of the tripod. Pan/tilt and fluid heads are a good choice for many photographers, especially those who shoot video and panoramas. Some prefer ball heads, which can be moved into position and adjusted very rapidly. Quick-release systems let you quickly clamp the camera down and remove it from the tripod.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Photo-Editing Software

Edit Photos like a Pro Don’t worry about software, for the most part Digital cameras typically include photo-editing software. The software is often listed on a camera’s product page in online stores. It’s probably also listed on the camera’s box. Often, you’ll find that the software is proprietary. It was created by the camera manufacturer. It will allow you to open the camera’s RAW files and do basic editing. More often than not, included software will be inadequate and unpleasant to use. If a quality program like Adobe’s Photoshop Elements is included, great. But don’t let the software influence your camera-buying decision. You can get plenty of free photo-editing tools online. These will often surpass the programs included with cameras. Photoshop Elements costs about $100.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras



Don’t Forget to Accessorize When you buy a digital camera, there are a few

these packages can be good or so-so. Accessory

accessories that you have to buy and a few that

kits often include a costly-to-you but profitable-

are nice to have. Many buyers get carried away

to-the-retailer extended warranty. Take a pass on

and spend a few hundred dollars more than

that. Here’s a rundown of accessories to consider.

they should and end up with stuff they never use. Others skimp and spend a few months in

Camera bag

photographic frustration before learning the error

This will keep you organized and protect your

of their ways.

camera, lenses, flash and filters from damage. There are a vast variety of shoulder bags and

Major retailers bundle accessory kits with cameras.

backpacks to suit your style.

These often include a couple of memory cards, a couple of lens filters, a camera bag, and maybe a

Rechargeable batteries

cleaning kit. The quality of the individual items in

Most hybrids and DSLRs come with a proprietary

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


battery and charger. Buy an extra battery or

Card reader

two. Batteries drain very quickly in cold weather

You’ll need a card reader if you buy a higher-

and also when you’re using flash, shooting video

end camera that takes the large Compact Flash

and using EVFs. Batteries always go kaput right

(CF) cards. A card reader is a very cheap USB

before you’re about to take the best photo in the

peripheral designed to transfer images from

history of the universe. An external flash will use

a memory card very quickly to your computer.

AA batteries. Get a charger and rechargeable

Hooking your camera up to the computer to

batteries for it, too.

download pictures is clunky and slow. Many hybrids and compact DSLRs use SD cards. Most

Memory cards

laptops have SD card slots.

Your camera will come with one low-capacity memory card. Buy several more. All you really

Air blower

need to know about memory cards is to buy the

This rubber gadget that you squeeze to produce a

correct size for your camera and buy high-quality,

stream of air will help you blast dust and particles

brand-name cards such as SanDisk and Lexar.

from your lenses.

Don’t skimp! These are your treasured family memories. Better and more expensive cards will write data much faster than standard cards. Keep that in mind when you’re shooting video or bursts of exposures to capture action. You’ll pay progressively more for storage capacity, of course. Don’t rely on just one card. What if it failed or you dropped it off a cliff? Get a mix of 4, 8 and 16 GB cards.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras


Lens cloth/sensor swabs

A neutral density filter and a split neutral density

Some cameras can vibrate their sensors to shake

filter are nice to have. A neutral density filter

off dust, but you’ll still need to clean the sensor

reduces the amount of light that enters the lens.

occasionally. You’ll also need to clean fingerprint

It lets you use a slower shutter speed or a wider

smudges and the like from your lens. Resist the

aperture that wouldn’t be possible on a bright day.

urge to clean your sensor and lenses obsessively.

The upper half of a split neutral density filter

Wait until they are truly dirty.

reduces light while the lower half is clear. Say you’re shooting a mountain scene. The best

Lens filters

exposure for the mountains will overexpose the

Protect your investment in good lenses by putting

sky. The split neutral density will help tame the

UV filters on them. UV filters were used with film

contrast. This may also be called a graduated

to cut down on haze. They have no effect at all on

neutral density.

digital sensors or color balance. Everybody buys them just to protect lenses. It’s better to crack a $35 UV filter than a lens element. The front of your lens is a dangerous place. Use lens hoods, too, to prevent lens flare and stray light from reaching the sensor. A polarizer will help control the glare and strong reflections you often see on water and glass. It’s like a pair of good sunglasses for your lens. A polarizer is the one filter that can’t really be duplicated in image editing.

Kim Komando’s Essential Guide to Digital Cameras




Essential Guide to


Contents Introduction ..................................1 Photo Composition ..................... 2 Lighting ........................................ 7 Flash .............................................10 Focus ........................................... 14 Exposure ..................................... 17 Metering Mode ......................... 23 Portraits ...................................... 26 Group Photos ............................ 30 Landscapes ................................ 31 Macro & Panoramic ................... 34 Motion Blur................................. 38 Sports ......................................... 40 Fireworks .................................... 43 Halloween .................................. 45 Christmas ................................... 46 Public Photography ................... 49 Looking Ahead .......................... 51

The Kim Komando Show © 2012 All Rights Reserved.


How to take the very best photos

THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO TAKING GREAT PHOTOS In the first part of my Digital Photography Guide: The Essential Guide to Digital Cameras, you learned about cameras inside and out. If you’ve recently taken the plunge on buying an entry- or intermediate-level DSLR or hybrid camera, congratulations! You’ve already taken a giant first step on the road to taking great photos. Every photographer learns at a different rate and in different ways. Eventually, however, a great photo won’t happen by accident. You’ll know exactly why it happened. Then, great photos happen more often. One day, you’ll find that you even have your own distinctive style. Your photos have a “look” that says they were taken by you. That’s the goal of this book. It will get you to that point more quickly and easily. I know you can’t wait, so let’s get started!

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Photo Composition

Good composition makes your shots more exciting The subject is the most important aspect of a photograph. You take a photo because you want to remember a particular moment. It may be your son’s graduation or your daughter’s prom. But many people concentrate too intently on their subject, letting other aspects slide. Paying attention to other details can take a photo from ho-hum to wow. Technical skill can make or break a photograph. But technical expertise doesn’t make a photo truly memorable. Composition is what makes a photo truly stand out. Composition is the way you arrange elements in a photo. Pay more attention to composition, and your photos will improve dramatically. Let’s look at some tips that will help you compose better photos.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


best. Then, you would place the sailboat along the left or right vertical line, depending on which direction it’s moving. (Place an object on the left vertical line when it’s moving left to right - and vice versa.) Many cameras can superimpose gridlines in the viewfinder to help you with composition. If not, it’s easy to imagine the lines as you compose. In time, the rule of thirds will become second nature.

Rule of thirds Many people place the subject dead center in the frame. It seems like the perfect way to draw attention to your subject, right? Unfortunately, this can make for a boring photo. Instead, you want to use the rule of thirds. Imagine the frame divided by two horizontal and two vertical lines. The lines create a 3 x 3 grid. Place important elements in your photo along the lines or near the four points where the lines intersect. For example, say you’re photographing a sailboat on a lake. You would place the horizon along the top or the bottom horizontal line, whichever looks

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos

Balance The rule of thirds is one of the best ways to improve composition. But it can also lead to an unbalanced photo. The rule of thirds places your subject off center. That can leave a significant portion of your photo empty. Sometimes that’s desirable; most times it isn’t. Try balancing the photo’s subject with another object of less importance to create a stronger composition. For example, say you’re photographing your child on the beach. You’ve placed your child along the left vertical grid line. You could balance the composition by placing a sand pail to your child’s right.


Leading lines

vertically or horizontally. Each side is a mirror

Lines lead the viewer’s eye through the

image of the other. Both halves will have objects of

photograph. So, use the lines in your photo to

similar size, shape and color in the same location.

your advantage. Have them point toward the subject of interest. Or, use them to draw the

You will see symmetry virtually everywhere you

viewer deeper into the photograph.

look. For example, think of the human face. Or, think of the front of a house. It is common for

“S” curves are particularly effective. Their

windows to be positioned in the same place

rounded, meandering shape is pleasing to the eye.

relative to the door.

You’ve probably seen photos of a road or stream curving through a landscape. Think about how the

There is also radial symmetry, when elements of

photographer used the elements to draw you in.

the composition radiate from a center point in a circular fashion - a flower or starfish, for example.

Symmetry Symmetry can help make your photos more

A break in symmetry can add tension and interest

interesting. Imagine your photo divided in half

to a composition.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos



You’ll find frames virtually everywhere. Doorways

Repetition is a great way to add visual interest to

and trees make great framing devices. Just place

your photos. In fact, repeating patterns often make

the frame around the edges of your photo and

interesting subjects. Think of a skyscraper. The

focus on your subject. Then, snap your photo.

repeating window shapes can make an interesting abstract photo.

Experiment with framing to see what you like. You don’t have to frame your subject completely. In

But, be careful with repetition; you can have too

fact, you can frame your subject on only one side.

much of a good thing. Repetition is often more

For example, use branches to frame just the top of

interesting when the pattern is broken. For

your photo.

example, a row of windows is more interesting if one is open. Likewise, repeating shapes are often more interesting with objects of different sizes. Imagine a cluster of mushrooms photographed from above. The repetition of the round caps is interesting. But, if the caps are various sizes, they become even more interesting. Framing A great way to draw attention to the subject is through framing. You use an object in the photo to surround your subject. By framing your subject, you’re isolating it from the rest of the world. The viewer’s eyes will immediately be drawn to the subject.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos




The triangle is one of the most helpful

You should also think about viewpoint when taking

compositional tools. It can be an actual triangle

photos. For the most part, human height doesn’t

created by solid lines. Or, look for a grouping of

vary greatly. Many people tend to take photos at

objects that is somewhat triangular. You can also

eye level. That means most photos are taken from

create an imaginary triangle from three points in

a height of 5 feet, 7 inches, give or take.

your photo. Make your images more interesting by varying The triangular shape can be interesting on its own.

your viewpoint. Crouch once in a while. Move to

But there are other ways to use it. You can frame

higher ground. You might be surprised at what you

and encapsulate your subject. Or, think of the


triangle as an arrow. Use it to point to your subject. Vary your distances from subjects, too. Many people tend to stand in one place when photographing a subject. If the subject is too far, they zoom to get closer. Instead, get closer to your subject physically, when possible. You’ll see things you may have otherwise missed. You may also discover a new angle for photographing the subject. When it comes to viewpoint, there are virtually limitless options. Experiment. Try to find a new way of looking at your subject. You may not always be successful. But when you are, it will be worthwhile.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Lighting The importance of light Light is the most important part of photography.

As a photographer, you’ll want to pay careful

After all, the word “photography” is a

attention to light. Over time, you’ll get better at

conglomeration of two Greek words. It literally

making the most of light. You’ll also learn to spot

means “light writing.” A photo is created when

good lighting situations. You’ll also learn to

light hits a light-sensitive object, like a digital

compensate for poor lighting. But if you don’t

camera sensor. Painters use brushes to apply paint

think about lighting, you’re doomed to so-so

to a canvas and create an image. Photographers


use cameras to capture light to create an image. Use natural light Lighting can make or break your photos. It affects

Natural light is best for taking most photos. It is

the way objects in your photos will appear. And

the most flattering light for your subject. You’ll get

the right light can go a long way toward making

more accurate colors and better contrast in your

your photos more interesting. There are many

photos. That means your subjects will look more

ways you can use light. There are also many types


of light.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


When you’re taking photos, think about natural

hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. The

light. If you’re outdoors, natural light is all around

light will have a warmer, dreamier tone. The sun

you. But you can also use natural light indoors. Use

will be at a lower angle, so you won’t need to

a window to light your subject and create dramatic

worry about harsh shadows. And your photos

shadows on the other side of the face. If the light

won’t have too much contrast.

or the shadows are too harsh, soften the light with a diffuser and bounce light onto the shadow side

If you must grab a shot at high noon, position your

of the face with a reflector.

subjects in open shade. They’ll be lit by diffuse light, and you’ll avoid harsh shadows. If you can’t

In the evening, there isn’t enough natural light to

use shade, you’re not out of luck. Position your

light your subject properly indoors. Ambient light

subjects so that the sun is behind them. Use your

from lamps and candles is the next best thing. Try

fill flash to add light to their faces. This will help

to avoid a mix of color temperatures, however. A

eliminate unflattering shadows from their faces.

blend of fluorescent and incandescent lights in a room will create an odd color balance in a photo that will be very difficult or impossible to remove in editing. Avoid harsh light Harsh light is your enemy. It can cast ugly shadows. It can wash out colors and surface details, like texture. Harsh light will also rob your photo of depth. Objects will look flat and lifeless. If you’re taking photos outside, try to avoid midday. The best times are the golden hours - the

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Overcast days work well for photographing people

Use a tripod. That will avert the shakes. You can

outside. The clouds will diffuse the light. You’ll get

use a standard tripod or a smaller, tabletop one.

consistent lighting without harsh shadows or

Tripods are less than ideal when shooting kids and

highlights. Your photos will also have pleasant

work best with stationary subjects.

color saturation and contrast. If you don’t have a tripod, stand with your feet Shooting in dim light

shoulder-width apart. Hold the camera in both

Dim lighting is the bane of amateur

hands, with your elbows against your sides. Better

photographers. Even many professionals struggle

yet, stand against a wall, pillar or similar object.

with it. Your photos can come out shadowy and underexposed. To get decent photos, you’ll have

Boost your camera’s ISO to its highest usable

to use a slow shutter speed. So, blurriness from

setting. This will make the sensor more sensitive to

shaking hands is a problem.

light. Of course, your flash can be useful in dim light. Keep reading for help mastering your camera’s flash.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Flash Using flash the right way People tend to use flash in the wrong situations. They also neglect to use it when the situation calls for it. One of the best ways to improve an outdoor portrait on a sunny day, for example, is to use fill flash. Beginning photographers tend to use flash as a primary light. There isn’t enough ambient light, so flash illuminates the entire scene. In general, flash is a less-than-ideal primary light source. It has a limited range. On-camera direct flash often causes red eye and unnatural skin tones. Texture and depth disappears. Meanwhile, there are murky shadows behind the subject. Often, there are harsh hot spots in the background where the flash reflected off glass or a mirror. Try to think of flash as more of an indirect, secondary light source. Use flash to supplement other light. For example, it can soften contrast and shadows in harsh light. Or, use it to balance the light on the front of a backlit subject.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Flashguns are more powerful and versatile than

If you still have trouble with harsh shadows behind

built-in flashes. You can bounce the flash. Or, place

your subject, move your subject away from the

it off-camera to get light in the right place.

background. The shadows will fall on the floor instead of the background.

Bouncing your flash is a great way to get better results. You’re less likely to bleach out faces. And

Some camera systems offer an optional accessory

hotspots will be less problematic with mirrors or

called an off-camera flash cord. One end of the

reflective objects.

cord slides into the camera’s hot shoe and the other plugs into the flashgun. This allows you to

Flashguns can usually be swiveled and turned.

hold the flashgun off to the side with one hand

That makes it easy to bounce light off a white wall

and hold the camera with the other. It gives you

or ceiling. Bouncing your flash isn’t terribly difficult.

more possibilities for bouncing the light.

Just keep in mind that light will reflect at the same angle it is transmitted. Try to avoid dropping light

Of course, built-in flashes don’t offer this luxury.

too far behind, in front of or off to the side of your

Shop around. You should be able to buy a bounce

subject. With practice, you’ll be placing bounced

attachment. You can make your own bounce card

light exactly where you want it.

by fixing a piece of white card stock to the flash with a rubber band.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Diffusers are also made for most flashguns and built-in flashes. Diffusers soften the light, eliminating hot spots and deep shadows. Commercial diffusers are often made from plastic. If you’re handy, try making your own diffuser from a plastic container. Use white plastic to avoid tinting the light and experiment with different opacities. You may be able to attach it to the flash using tape, rubber bands or Velcro. It may be easier just to hold the diffuser over the flash. Remember that bouncing and diffusing the flash significantly weakens the light. If your images are under-exposing, bump up the ISO or increase the

1/3-stop increments. One full stop of light doubles

output of the flash if you have that capability.

or halves the light.

Flash compensation

Do not confuse flash compensation with exposure

More advanced cameras feature flash

compensation. Exposure compensation lets you

compensation. It lets you adjust the flash output.

make adjustments based on the light meter’s

That way, you can better mix the flash with

reading. It affects the entire frame. Flash

ambient light. You’ll get background details, and

compensation adjusts only the flash output. Lower

your subject won’t be so bleached out.

flash output if your subject is bleached out. Or, increase flash if your main subject is dim.

Flash compensation increases or decreases output by stops of light. You should be able to do this in

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos

More advanced cameras feature several flash


modes. Understanding how they differ will

Rear-curtain sync

improve your results.

With rear-curtain sync, the flash is fired right before the shutter closes. A moving object will be frozen

Slow sync

at the end of the exposure. Say, for example,

Slow sync combines a slow shutter with a small

you’re photographing a moving car at night. You’ll

burst of flash. The slow shutter lets the camera use

see the trail of lights behind the car with rear-

ambient light to pick up background detail. It also

curtain sync. With front-curtain sync, the trail of

prevents the colors in your main subject from

lights will be in front of the car.

bleaching out. The camera uses flash to illuminate your subject.

Fill flash With fill flash, most of the photo is lit by ambient

Slow sync will dramatically improve your night

light. Flash is used to remove shadows from a main

portraits and other low-light situations. You’ll be

subject. For example, it will help remove shadows

less likely to get dark, shadowy backgrounds. You

around a subject’s eyes and nose in bright light. It

also won’t have to worry so much about bleaching

can also be used to illuminate a backlit subject.

out your subject. However, you may still want to use a tripod and have your subject stay still to prevent blur. Front-curtain sync Front-curtain sync is the standard flash mode. The flash fires the moment the shutter curtain is opened. It works great in most situations where you need flash. This mode is generally not ideal when there is motion, though. The motion will appear ahead of the subject.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos



Getting it all in focus Most of the time, the autofocus (AF) systems on

subject, focus will be fine. But you won’t want to

modern cameras will focus more quickly and more

use it with moving subjects. By the time you press

precisely than you can manually. But you should be

the button all the way, the subject could be out of

aware of the different types of autofocus and the


occasions when it might be better to use manual focus.

Single servo mode has a distinct advantage when composing shots. You can aim the focusing point

Single servo

(usually in the center of the frame) at the subject.

In single servo autofocus, the lens focuses once

Press the shutter release button to lock focus.

when you partially press the shutter release. The

Then, reframe your shot while continuing to hold

focus is held until you release the button or press it

the button. Your subject will be in focus.

all the way. Better cameras allow you to customize focus and This is great for static objects. As long as you keep

focus lock to different buttons. Program whatever

the camera the same relative distance from your

feels most comfortable and natural to you. You can

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


also select off-center focus points to help you with


composition and the rule of thirds.

Manual focus lets you control exactly what’s in focus. In some cases, that’s the only way to go. AF

Continuous servo

systems often have trouble in low light. They can

Your camera will offer continuous AF. Like single

also be iffy when shooting macro/close-up photos.

servo, the camera will focus when you partially

You’ll save a lot of frustration with manual focus.

press the shutter button. But partially pressing the button does not lock AF. The lens will continue to

Rely on your judgment when using manual focus.

focus as you hold the button.

The more you use it, the better you’ll get at it. Some cameras’ viewfinders have an indicator to

Continuous servo is ideal when you’re

let you know when your subject is in focus. Check

photographing a moving subject. It will help you

your manual for details.

take sharp pictures when photographing fidgety children and pets, for example. Some cameras even have predictive autofocus. The camera tries to predict the subject’s next move. The camera will focus the lens accordingly. This can be handy when photographing sports, animals or anything moving fast. The trick with predictive tracking is to focus on your subject, then hold the shutter release button halfway. Wait a second or two before pressing the shutter release all the way. This gives the camera time to “learn” the direction and speed of the movement.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Many lenses now allow the photographer to

will make objects that are a little closer and

manually touch up the focus while still in AF mode.

somewhat farther than 15 feet in focus. With

This is a nice, time-saving feature to look for when

practice, you’ll get a feel for which parts of a scene

buying lenses.

will be in sharp focus.

Zone focusing can come in handy in when

Zone focusing can also help you in sports

shooting parades and crowd scenes. Lenses

photography. At a basketball game, you’re

include distance markings for focusing. You can

guaranteed to capture some good action shots

set the focus for 15 feet, say. Anything 15 feet from

by focusing on the rim. At a race, focus on the

the camera will be in focus.

finish line or any spot you know the participants will cross. You can worry more about capturing the

Combine zone focusing with a small aperture

right moment than getting the focus right.

(larger f number) to increase depth of field. That

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Exposure Understanding exposure You’ll hear a lot about exposure when reading

Shutter speed

about photography. It simply refers to the amount

The camera’s shutter opens and closes to control

of light that reaches your camera’s sensor. You’ll

the length of an exposure. It is activated by

also hear terms like overexposed and

pressing the shutter release button. The shutter

underexposed. If an image is overexposed, too

speed is the time between the opening and

much light hit the sensor. If it is underexposed, too


little light reached the sensor. Shutter speeds are expressed in seconds or It is relatively easy to spot overexposed or

fractions of seconds. For example, you’ll see 1/30,

underexposed photos. They will look washed out

1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and so on. Each increment halves

or dark and muddy, respectively. But it can be

the amount of time the sensor is exposed to light.

difficult to tell when you have the exposure exactly

Your camera may include 1/3- and 1/2-stop


incremental shutter speeds.

Correct exposure is a matter of preference, at least to an extent. You want dark, yet detailed, blacks. You also want clean whites that have not lost their detail. And you want a range of mid-tones. Shutter speed and aperture are two of the most important elements of photography. An understanding of how they affect exposure is fundamental for any photographer. Let’s look at them.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Some cameras offer a bulb (B) setting. It’s best

Full f-stop increments include: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4,

used with a cable release and when the camera is

f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22 and f/32. Your lens probably

on a tripod. When you press the cable release

will offer a subset of these f-stops.

button, the shutter stays open until you release it. It’s a useful setting for shooting fireworks, lightning

Each full stop doubles or halves the light coming

and taking exposures longer than 30 seconds - the

into the camera. Say, for example, that you go

maximum timed shutter speed of most cameras.

from f/4 to f/5.6. The amount of light is cut in half. Going from f/11 to f/8 doubles the amount of light.

Aperture Aperture refers to the size of the opening in the

Importantly, aperture also affects depth of field, or

lens. This opening controls how much light comes

the area of your photo that is in focus. With a

through the lens. F-stops are used to denote

smaller aperture, more of the photo will be in


focus; you’ll have a greater depth of field. Objects in the foreground and background may be in focus in addition to your subject. A wider aperture gives you a narrower depth of field. Wider apertures are often used to blur background distractions in portraits. Balancing aperture and shutter speed To get a properly exposed photo, you must balance aperture with shutter speed. Smaller apertures will call for slower shutter speeds. Wider apertures need faster shutter speeds. Your

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


camera’s light meter will determine how much light is in a scene. If you’re using auto mode, it will set the aperture and shutter speed. In aperture or shutter priority mode, you specify aperture or shutter speed. The camera then adjusts the other for you. And in full manual mode, it will indicate if the photo will be over- or underexposed. You make the necessary changes. photos change. Very quickly, you’ll be saying, Of course, you can use different combinations of


settings in any given situation. You can shift the aperture up or down a stop, if you adjust shutter


speed to compensate. For example, you may

ISO also has an effect on exposure. ISO settings

decide you want to use a wider aperture. In that

let you adjust the sensitivity of the camera sensor

case, you would increase the shutter speed to

to light. You can use a higher ISO to make your


camera sensor more sensitive. Or, use a lower ISO for less sensitivity. Adjusting the ISO can help

If you have any difficulty at all grasping the

when you need control over both aperture and

concept of depth of field and the relationship

shutter speed.

between aperture and shutter speed, I highly recommend spending some quality time with an

You’ll see ISO settings like 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600

online camera simulator. (Here are a couple of

and 3200. Each step doubles the sensitivity of the

good ones: and kamerasimulator.

sensor. Some cameras will have incremental steps.

se.) Adjust the simulator’s settings and see how the

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Using the histogram We all like the ability to review a photo on the

The histogram’s horizontal axis shows the

camera’s LCD immediately after taking it. You

exposure latitude or the distribution of brightness

might see problems in the picture. Maybe a

across the image. The left side of the graph

telephone pole is growing out of Aunt Mabel’s

indicates dark pixels. The middle shows mid-tones.

head. The LCD is a great aid to composition, but

On the right are the light pixels. Don’t worry about

it’s a poor tool for judging exposure. For exposure,

the vertical axis. It measures the number of pixels

look to the histogram instead.

in each tone.

The histogram is a bar graph that displays the

Generally, you want to avoid an exposure where

exposure range and brightness values of an

the bars are all bunched up on the left or all

image. Learning to read a histogram may seem

bunched up on the right. That indicates the photo

complicated and confusing at first. However, it’s

will be woefully under- or overexposed. Although

actually pretty simple.

there is no such thing as an ideal histogram, an


Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


evenly distributed graph is desirable in most cases. It indicates an image with a good mix of tones and pleasing contrast. You don’t want evenly distributed histograms in certain situations. In a snow scene, for example, a majority of the bars will push toward the righthand side of the scale. As long as they aren’t pushing past the border and blowing out highlights, that’s OK. With a low-key image of a man in a dark suit against a dark background, most of the tonal values will shift to the left-hand side of the graph. Again, avoid pushing past the border or you’ll lose detail in shadow areas. In either of the above situations, a perfectly centered histogram would actually under- or overexpose the image. Checking the histogram after taking a shot is a good habit to develop. But don’t forget to also read what the scene is telling you.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


High dynamic range Sometimes, it’s impossible for a digital camera

This is a good time to shoot Raw because you’ll

sensor to capture the dynamic range of a scene.

need all the information you can get from the

The stretch from the darkest to the brightest levels

digital negatives when they’re blended together

is just too great. The correct exposure for the

later. Obviously, you must use a tripod and keep

mountain blows out the sky. Expose for the sky,

your aperture consistent. HDR won’t work if

however, and the mountain turns into a black

wildflowers are swaying in the breeze, boats are


sailing across the lake or waves are crashing against the shore. The blended images will never

A split-neutral density filter can often solve the

match up in post-processing.

problem. Not always. Often, you don’t have the option of waiting around several hours for sunset.

When done right, a merged HDR photo can be spectacular. If not converted correctly, HDR

Try producing a High Dynamic Range (HDR)

images can appear bland and washed out. Some

image. The HDR process starts in the field by

artists purposely push the boundaries of HDR

taking 3-5 pictures at different exposures. The

processing to create ultravibrant, surreal

differently exposed frames are blended together


later with specialized software. In our mountain scene above, you would take one shot that perfectly exposes the sky. You would also take a shot that gives you the best detail of the mountains. Finally, you will take at least one intermediate exposure. If the dynamic range isn’t too great, you might be able to get away with using a 2-stop deviation in auto-exposure bracketing.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Metering Mode

Select the right metering mode Your camera’s built-in light meter is the brain

Of course, there are drawbacks to evaluative

behind the operation that simultaneously

metering. It does not let you expose for a

measures lighting conditions and determines

particular object in your photo. Say you’re

aperture and shutter settings.

photographing a white flower in bright light. You want the flower properly exposed, but you don’t

On top of that, your camera offers several different

care about the rest of the photo. Evaluative

types of light metering. Understanding how these

metering will try to get the right exposure for the

options differ can help you select the best

entire scene. It will look for mid-tones, which are

metering method for the situation.

neither bright nor dark. The white flower might be overexposed.

Evaluative Evaluative metering is also called matrix,

Likewise, evaluative metering isn’t right for

honeycomb or multizone metering. The camera

situations with tricky lighting. For example, you

will look at the entire scene. It sets exposure based

may be photographing a scene with a lot of

on the distribution of light. It takes color,

contrast. There are lots of dark areas and lots of

composition and distance into consideration.

light areas. But, there are few mid-tones. This can trip up evaluative metering.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


However, evaluative metering is sophisticated and

weathered barn wood, for instance. Sometimes, a

works well, for the most part. Of your metering

mid-tone may not be available. Advanced

options, evaluative works most like the human eye.

photographers often use a gray card in such

So, this setting is ideal for most situations.

situations. The card is placed in the scene, and the photographer spot meters it. Metering the card

On many cameras, evaluative is the metering

should yield the correct exposure for everything in

default. Beginning photographers usually should

the scene.

stick with it. If you want to get creative, look to other metering methods. Or, if you’re not getting

Center-weighted metering

the shot you want, switch to a different metering

Center-weighted metering measures light in the


entire frame. However, it gives preference to the center part of the frame.

Spot metering With spot metering, the light meter does not consider the entire scene. Rather, it looks at a small portion of the scene. It usually measures light in 2 to 3 percent of the frame. On many cameras, you can use only the center focusing point for spot metering. That often requires you to meter something in the scene and reframe the shot. Check your manual to be sure. In tricky lighting situations, use the spot meter to read an object or portion of the scene that looks like a close match to middle gray - green grass or Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Some cameras let you select the weight given to the frame’s center. You may also be able to select the area given the most weight. The size of the weighted area may vary between cameras. Center-weighted metering is more predictable than evaluative. It is ideal for high-contrast scenes - a landscape with bright skies and dark ground, for example. In that case, I would center weight the bright sky. Remember, the ground would also be metered. It would just be given less weight. Lock the exposure and reframe the shot. This will prevent overexposed highlights. Exposure bracketing Usually, your light meter will determine the right settings. But not always. You can ensure a usable shot with exposure bracketing. When you set the camera to auto-bracket, it will take three shots at different shutter speeds. You can specify the variance: 1/3-, 1/2- and 1-stop increments, for example. One shot should have the correct exposure. You generally want to avoid bracketing by aperture settings. That will affect the depth of field for each shot.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos



Taking stellar portraits Most people buy cameras to capture important memories. That means they probably will be photographing people often. Whether they’re shooting friends or family, they want the best shots possible. Fortunately, practicing is fun! And no special equipment is needed. In portraits, the subject should be the center of attention. Be wary of objects in the background that could distract or draw attention away from the subject. The last thing you want is an appealing background! Shooting against simple backgrounds will give you the best results. That’s not always possible, though, especially outdoors. Fortunately, you can minimize distractions by blurring the background.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


It’s easy to throw the background out of focus if

Using a moderate telephoto lens for portraits puts

you use a portrait lens or moderate telephoto

you at a comfortable distance of about 6 feet from

zoom in the 85mm-135mm range and shoot at a

the subject. The key to getting great shots of

wide aperture, such as f/2.0. Experiment with the

people is to make them feel relaxed. You don’t

lens you like to use for portraits. It might not be

want them to feel that you’re crowding them.

very sharp or pleasing at its widest aperture. If so, test it at f/2.8 or f/4.0.

Think about camera height, too. The best photographs are generally taken at eye level.

With portraits, you always want to focus on the

That’s not much of a problem when

subject’s eyes. At an extremely wide aperture,

photographing adults. But, if you’re

such as f/1.4, depth of field might become so

photographing kids, you’ll need to kneel or crouch

shallow that your subject’s eyes will be in focus and

to get down to their level.

the tip of the nose will be out of focus. You or your subject might not like that effect. Find the sweet

Remember the rule of thirds to help you with

spot for your favorite portrait lens.

portrait composition. Place your subject’s right eye at or near the intersection of the left vertical line

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


and the top horizontal line (vice versa for left eye).

Talk to your subject as you’re shooting. This can

That almost always results in a pleasant

help the subject become less self-conscious. You’ll


also get more natural facial expressions. When people feel tense, they usually show it in their face

For most people, a partial profile will yield the best

and shoulders. Pause occasionally and let the

results. However, if your subject has, um, a big

subject take a deep breath. Playing music often

nose, avoid this angle. It will only accentuate the

helps to relax models.

nose. Instead, shoot your subject more straight on. This will compress the subject’s nose, making it less obvious. Stepping back a little and using a longer focal length will also help. Portraits can be a little like shooting sports. You never know when the perfect photo is going to happen. You just want to make sure you don’t miss it. That means taking a lot of photos. The more you take, the more likely you’ll capture “the one.” Help your subject loosen up Cameras are often intimidating to the subject. That’s particularly true if you’re using a big DSLR. This discomfort can result in stiff and unattractive photos. To overcome this, you will need to help your subject loosen up.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


You’ll want to direct your subject for some of the shots. Tell the subject how to stand and how to pose. Avoid overly formal and stiff poses, if possible, unless you’re taking a business portrait. Candid shots are fun. Your subject’s guard will be down. The camera may catch something the person might not otherwise show. So, keep taking pictures when your subject isn’t aware of it. Have your subject stand, sit and change positions.

Outdoors, light is more pleasing in the early

Give those hands something to do, such as hold a

morning and late afternoon. Use fill flash to

book or a pair of glasses.

eliminate shadows on your subject’s face.

Take intentionally goofy shots. This can relax the

Try to use natural light when shooting indoors, too.

subject. And, you never know, these shots may be

Position your subject close to a window. The

more interesting than formal photos.

natural light will be more pleasing than artificial lights. At night, you may have to use a mix of flash

Get the lighting right

and lamplight. You can change the color of your

Lighting is important no matter what your subject.

flash’s light with accessories called gels. An orange

But correct lighting is particularly important for

gel will help you match the color of incandescent

portraits. You’ll want to avoid harsh lighting. This

lights. Green gels are made to match fluorescent

can bring out imperfections in your subject’s skin.

light sources. (A warming orange gel can also help

It can also cast deep, unflattering shadows on your

when you’re using fill flash to take a portrait of

subject’s face.

someone outside during sunset.)

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Group Photos Taking group photos that wow Getting a good group photo is more challenging

That increases your chance of everyone having

than photographing a single person. You have to

their eyes open at the same time. If your camera’s

make sure that everyone is smiling with eyes open.

processor offers face-, smile- and blink-detection features, now’s the time to use it. When you’re

For groups, you’ll need to use a 50mm lens or

really struggling to get everyone’s eyes open, try

wider. Like a single portrait, the idea with group

an old trick. Tell everyone to close their eyes. Then,

shots is to fill the frame with the subject and to

tell them to open their eyes. Take the photo

avoid backgrounds that are distracting.


Try to put the group at ease. Start by taking some

Getting everyone in focus can also be a challenge.

fun photos to warm up. Give your subjects props

Try to place everyone more or less equidistant

or ask them to strike unusual poses. You may get

from the camera and use a small aperture, such as

some interesting shots. And having your subjects

f/11. This is one of those times when you might

laugh a little will loosen them up. Don’t be afraid

want to bracket by aperture rather than shutter

to experiment. That’s good advice for any

speed. Remember that you won’t be blurring the


background because you’re using smaller apertures and wider lenses. Make sure the

When photographing groups, take multiple shots.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos

surroundings are interesting.



Capturing spectacular landscapes There’s nothing quite like capturing the beauty of

the scene should be in focus. That means objects

nature. Many photographers focus solely on

a few feet away in the foreground and objects

landscape photography.

hundreds of feet away in the background. You can accomplish this with wide-angle lenses and small

We’ve all seen dramatic landscape photos of

apertures, such as f/11, f/16 and f/22.

exotic locations in National Geographic and in books. But you don’t have to travel far to get great

Recall what I said in the portrait chapter about how

landscapes. There’s wonderful scenery near your

a lens’ widest aperture may not give optimum

home. You just have to see it. Good technique is

performance. That’s true at the other end. A shot

essential, too. You can’t just point your camera at a

taken at f/22 might be slightly fuzzier than one

breathtaking vista and expect breathtaking results.

taken at f/16, for example. This is known as diffraction. As light passes through successively

Depth of field

narrower openings, it tends to diffract, or scatter.

With landscape photography, you usually want

It’s good to know if and when a drop-off occurs in

tack-sharp focus. Most of the time, everything in

a lens’ image quality.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Use a tripod Smaller apertures mean slower shutter speeds. With slower shutter speeds comes an increased chance of blurring. Landscape photography isn’t the time to be increasing ISO and hand-holding the camera. The best option is to use a tripod. Not only does it hold the camera still during longer shots, it also slows you down. It gives you time to think about composition and pay attention to details. Follow the lines Landscapes often include the horizon. As a rule of

bottom corners and meander through the

thumb, don’t place the horizon in the middle of

composition in an S curve.

your photograph. Ask yourself: What’s the most important part of this scene? If it’s the land, place

Conversely, try to avoid including a strong line that

the horizon high in the frame. If it’s the sky, move

offers the viewer a way out of the picture. That will

the horizon lower. The horizon should be level -

weaken the composition.

not tilting one way or the other. Create a strong foreground The horizon isn’t the only line in your photograph.

Many beginning landscape photographers

Pay attention to all lines. In particular, look for

become attracted to an interesting scene off in the

diagonal lines - a trail, a stone wall, a fallen tree -

distance and neglect the foreground. The

that will help lead the viewer into the photograph.

background and middle ground need to be

Have a stream enter the frame at one of the

strong, of course, but the foreground of a

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


landscape photo is just as critical. It’s where the

angle for landscapes. You’ll get warmer tones, lush

viewer starts. If the foreground isn’t interesting, it

color saturation and long, interesting shadows.

won’t draw the viewer in.

The light of golden hour also brings out the texture of trees and rocks and adds dimension and

Flowers, boulders, shrubs and other objects add

depth to the landscape.

interest to foregrounds. Try placing your camera low to the ground to make them look bigger. It can

Bad weather often equals great photography.

add real depth and impact to a photo.

Looming storm clouds or fog can turn an average landscape into an atmospheric wonder.

Choose the right time to photograph The best time to photograph landscapes is usually

Take advantage of an overcast day to shoot

during the golden hours. This is roughly the 60

streams and lakes. The water won’t reflect harsh

minutes after dawn and the 60 minutes before

highlights as it does in bright sun. A boring sky is

dusk. That’s when the sun is at the most pleasing

also a good time to try macro shots.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Macro & Panoramic

Getting up close with macro photography Are you fascinated by close-up photos of flowers

The easiest and cheapest way to do that is to

and insects? Then you’re interested in macro

attach a close-up filter to that 100mm lens. It’s like

photography. “Macro” probably brings up images

putting a magnifying glass on the end of your lens.

of large, majestic photos. But macro shots are

Better close-up filters use two glass elements to

really close-ups of small objects.

reduce distortion.

Choosing your macro gear

You’ll get the best image quality with a dedicated

With a standard 100mm lens, the closest you can

macro lens. A macro lens is a prime lens that has a

stand to a subject and keep it in focus is about 3

lot of elements to correct for distortion. It usually

feet. In macro photography, you need to work 6-12

has an effective focal length of 100mm. For that

inches away from your subjects. That’s how you

reason, macro lenses often make very good

get small objects to fill the frame and appear

portrait lenses as well. If you have a zoom lens that


claims it’s also a macro, don’t believe it. It won’t

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


have the magnification of a true macro lens or be able to focus as close. Taking macro shots Macro photography can take time to master. It’s a magnified world. It will magnify your focusing and composition mistakes. Don’t worry, though. You’ll get the hang of it with practice. Macro lenses are too heavy and bulky to handhold. Use a tripod and cable release. The slightest

using a flashgun with an off-camera cord to pop a

shake of the camera will cause a blurry photo. If

little fill flash into the scene.

you’re shooting flowers, work on a calm day. Let’s say one of your prized roses in the backyard Spend a little time walking around the subject and

has just bloomed. Treat it like a portrait and use a

looking through the viewfinder to find the most

wide aperture to throw the background out of

appealing camera position. Soft light coming from


the side or back of the subject can result in very dramatic macro shots. If the sun is behind you,

Careful, though. Depth of field is very limited when

take care that you or the camera doesn’t cast a

doing macro photography. If you focus on the

shadow on the subject.

stigma, for instance, the petals closest and farthest away from the lens could be way out of focus at

When the available light isn’t perfect, use a

f/2. You may need an aperture of f/8 or f/11 to get

reflector to bounce more light into shadow areas

everything you want in focus.

or a diffuser to soften harsh light. You can also try

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


You have to make these decisions and

panoramas while hand-holding the camera. It will

compromises all the time when doing macro. You’ll

be less hit-or-miss if you use a tripod with a

quickly develop the habit of bracketing your focus

panhead, however.

and bracketing your apertures. This will give you more options to choose from when you’re looking

For panoramas, it’s better to use a normal focal

at macros later on your computer.

length lens (50mm equivalent). With a wider angle of view, the stitching software will crop more. You’ll

Set your camera on aperture-priority so you can

lose detail and resolution.

let it worry about shutter speed and exposure. You’ll probably find manual focus easier. At close

You also actually want to avoid strong foregrounds.

range, autofocus tends to struggle.

You’ll be rotating the camera from left to right in a slight arc. Without a special panoramic head to

Seeing the really big picture

correct for parallax error, a tree or bush in the

Panoramic photography is a lot of fun and can

foreground will get misaligned by the stitching

produce some truly stunning prints. Like HDR, it

software. It’s like what happens when you look at

requires taking a set of good pictures in the field

an object with your left eye while your right eye is

and using specialized software in the digital

closed, then suddenly switch eyes. The object

darkroom. Unlike HDR, great panoramas are easier

appears to change position, even though it’s

for beginners and intermediate photographers to


pull off. Scenic overlooks and mountain tops are good Stitching software now is so sophisticated and

vantage points for panoramas. You also want to

easy to use that you can often capture great

avoid having any moving objects in your

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


composition. Watch out for rapidly changing light conditions; that could lead to surprising exposure mismatches when your photos are stitched together later. Once you’ve identified a composition, set your tripod down and level it. Decide about where you want your panorama to start and where you want it to stop. You’ll want to take at least two photos, maybe as many as five or six. Take a couple of tests shots to determine the best exposure. Keep your aperture setting, exposure and white balance consistent throughout the sequence. Don’t use a circular polarizer. Although

Landscape photography is an area where

a polarizer can give you a more pleasing blue sky

minimalism and asymmetry can be your friend.

in a single shot, it will create inconsistent results in

Want to emphasize the isolation of a windmill on

a panorama. For best results, you’ll also want to

the prairie? Place the windmill on the far left of the

shoot in Raw.

frame and show nothing else but sky and negative space.

Focus on a distant object - at infinity or near infinity. As you take the series of pictures, make

Not everything has to be representational, either.

sure each shot overlaps the adjacent photo by

Look for interesting patterns, colors and textures

about 25 percent. This will help the stitching

on forest floors, sand dunes and creek beds that

software connect the photos and blend them

you can turn into abstracts with your macro lens.

together without visible seams.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Motion Blur When blurry is good Generally, you don’t want blurry photos. Your want

But blur isn’t always a problem. You can use it for

your child’s face to be in focus. And you want your

creative effect. We’ve all seen photos of waterfalls

landscapes tack-sharp.

in which the water is blurred. The rocks and surrounding scenery, meanwhile, are in sharp

Blurring can be caused by poor focus. It can also


be caused by shaky hands. To use blurring creatively, you need manual Then there’s the third cause: movement. A fast-

controls or shutter-priority mode. Let’s talk about

moving subject will blur if the shutter speed is too

how a waterfall picture would be shot. You’d need

slow. Usually, you want to avoid motion blur.

to put your camera on a tripod. It would require a relatively long shutter speed - 1 or 2 seconds. This might be difficult to achieve on a sunny day. A neutral density filter will help. Because they are gray, they cut light of all colors. They allow slower shutter speeds. With a long exposure, the moving water will blur and look dreamlike. The background and rocks will be in sharp focus. This technique isn’t just for photographing moving water. Think of a Ferris wheel at night. Try to creatively blur a spinning ice skater or a dancer.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Panning You’ve probably also seen photographs where a

Hold the camera close to your body. Press the

moving object is in focus but the background is

shutter release and turn your torso. Follow the

blurred. This effect is common in photos of

moving object with the camera. Make sure you’re

bicycles and cars.

moving the camera horizontally, not vertically. You can also use a tripod with a panning head. The

These photos are taken through panning. They’re

tripod will hold the camera level. You turn the

much more difficult than the long-exposure

camera with a handle.

waterfall shot. Beginning photographers may find panning particularly difficult. But keep trying.

Panning can be difficult with an SLR. While the shutter is open, the SLR’s mirror flips up and the

Panning also requires a long shutter speed. So,

viewfinder goes dark. Use Live View if your camera

put your camera in shutter-priority mode (or

has it; you can watch the action on the LCD. Or,

manual mode). Use a shutter speed of about 1/15

look over the top of the camera’s prism box while

of a second. Slightly slower or faster shutter


speeds might provide the effect you want.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos



Sports photography Shooting sports is very challenging but also very

For outdoor sports such as soccer and football,

satisfying when you nail a great action shot.

you’ll appreciate the reach of a 70-300mm zoom. You can use slower lenses for outdoor sports.

You’ll want a DSLR if you find yourself shooting a lot of sports. Most DSLRs are capable of rattling

Camera settings

off four or more frames per second in burst mode.

You’ll probably use shutter-priority mode most of

You won’t see many sports pros shooting with

the time when shooting sports. Indoors, you may

hybrids because of shutter lag.

need to crank up the ISO to get a shutter speed of 1/500. That’s about the bare minimum for freezing

You’ll also need a good zoom lens or two. If you

sports action. If you’re close enough for it to be

shoot a lot of indoor sports, such as basketball, a

effective and it’s allowed, flash will also freeze

fast telephoto zoom is essential; 70-200mm is a


good choice.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Use your camera’s continuous or burst shooting

lens. You need to anticipate the action. To do that,

mode. As you hold the shutter release button, the

it helps to understand the sport. Knowledge of

camera will continue to take photos. You’re more

your sport will help you choose the best locations

likely to get the shot.

for shooting. You’ll know where interesting action is most likely to occur.

Consider shooting large JPEGs instead of Raw files. In burst or continuous mode, you can shoot

It also helps to understand the team you’re

more frames without the buffer filling up so fast.

photographing. If you know the coach, you can

You’ll go longer between memory card changes,

better predict the next play. If you know the

too. You don’t want to be changing a memory card

players, you know who’s going to get the ball in

as a receiver plucks the football out of the air for

clutch situations.

the winning touchdown. Keep your eye on the ball Understand the sport

Sports are all about capturing strong, up-close

Timing isn’t just about having a fast camera and

action shots. You have to get as close as you can, even with a telephoto. If a majority of your shots include the ball in them, you’ll be pretty successful. Isolate opponent against opponent to demonstrate conflict. Do the best you can to get faces in focus and properly exposed, even if they’re hiding under helmets. Faces portray a lot of emotion during sports games. It’s a great feeling to capture your daughter scoring a goal. Often, a player’s expression after a score or a near-miss makes an outstanding shot, too.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Look behind you Sports action isn’t limited to the playing field. The contest also electrifies the crowd. Take photos of the fans. Catch the excitement surrounding the game. You’ll also want to watch the cheerleaders, coach and mascot. They will also be showing emotion. It’s just another part of the game story. Be patient and keep shooting When starting out, you may not get good action shots. Even professional sports photographers often fail to get good action shots. So, keep shooting while the action is slow. You’ll at least have shots to remember the event. Slow moments are great times to get tight shots of players. And, if things explode, you’ll be ready. Remember, taking more shots increases your odds of good shots. You may get only one good shot every 20 or 30 frames. So, don’t stop at 10 or 15. Give yourself the chance to get something great.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos



Photographing fireworks when using a wide aperture. Use a moderate Fireworks help communities celebrate national

setting of f/8 or f/11 to help intensify the colors

holidays and other special occasions. With a little planning and preparation, it’s easy to capture the

If your camera has a bulb (B) setting, try using that.

rocket’s red glare and great family memories.

If you don’t have bulb, take a mix of one- and two-second exposures.

Since fireworks require exposures of about 1 second, you’ll need a tripod and cable release for

Use manual focus. Fine-tune your focus on the

best results. Dial in a low ISO setting of 100. You

fireworks at the start of the show and forget about

don’t want noise to speckle the black portions of

it for the rest of the show. You’ll probably be at

the sky and distract attention from the colorful

infinity or near it. Put your camera in the vertical/

patterns of light. A low ISO setting will prevent

portrait orientation. You want to avoid cropping

that. Fireworks can also look a little washed out

the tops and bottoms of starburst patterns.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Your camera’s auto-white-balance function will go crazy trying to correct the colors of fireworks. It’ll give you dull, de-saturated streaks of light. Set white balance to Daylight for better and more consistent results. (Daylight refers to color temperature - not time of day. It’s a cooler temperature setting than Shade or Cloudy.) With a 100mm lens, the fireworks should fill the frame. To capture city buildings and more of the surroundings, use a 50mm lens. A zoom lens can be adjusted as you like. Positioning is everything. Try to pick a spot where smoke from the fireworks will blow away from you. Smoke will make your photos hazy. You should also watch for distractions like street lights and tree branches. Timing can be difficult. Try opening the shutter as the rocket nears its apex, then closing it before the pattern breaks up. Take plenty of shots and check your results periodically. You’ll bring home plenty of keepers. Remember one more thing: Don’t fill up your memory card before the finale!

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Halloween Taking ghoulish Halloween photos Halloween is always a fun family event. Too often, a family’s record of the evening is a series of pictures of kids and adults who have that washed out, deer-in-the-headlights look. Start taking better Halloween pictures by turning off the flash. Halloween is supposed to be dark and eerie! Boost your camera’s ISO setting and use wide apertures. Turn on the table lamps and light some candles. I told you in the chapter about portraits that candid photos are usually the best. That’s especially true on Halloween. Group shots are easy on Halloween because everyone’s having a good time and hamming it up anyway. Remember to kneel or crouch when shooting pictures of kids. Don’t wait until the kids are in their costumes to take photos. Get shots of them applying gloppy makeup and getting ready. Be ready to capture spontaneous saber fights and zombie attacks. Take shots of the kids inspecting their hauls at the end of the evening.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos

Experiment with lighting faces from below. Use a table lamp, flashlight or off-camera flash. You’d never do this with a normal portrait because it has such a ghoulish effect! If it’s your job to follow the kids around the neighborhood with a camera, you’ll probably have to resort to flash. Go out at twilight if you can, before it is pitch black. Try using a slow sync speed and fill flash to capture a little ambient light and to illuminate faces and costumes. Get yourself in a position to get reaction shots of your child receiving candy. Don’t forget to take pictures of spooky jack-o’-lanterns and the houses of those neighbors who always go all-out on decorating for Halloween.



Taking Christmas photos to remember Being together as a family is what it’s all about at

you have big windows and the room is bright

Christmas. You’ll want to remember everything

enough to take photos without a flash. Find the

about this most special day of the year with

ISO setting and aperture that will let you use a


shutter speed of about 1/125 or 1/60. That will let you capture most of the action.

There’s always so much to do during the holidays, but if you spend a little time preparing to take

If the room you keep the tree in is just too dim - or

photos, it’ll pay off with a Christmas album you’ll

if your kids get up before sunrise - you’ll have to

treasure for years to come.

take pictures with flash. Composition at Christmas can get a little tricky. You want to fill the frame and

You don’t want to be fumbling around with camera

minimize background distractions, but not lose the

settings on Christmas morning. You might miss a

context that this is Christmas day. You can crop a

few great shots of the kids opening presents. Take

photo later to create a really tight portrait if you

your camera into the family room on a morning

prefer. Remember to focus on the eyes. You’ll

before Christmas. What’s the light like? Hopefully,

probably be using a wide aperture. Parts of the

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


background or foreground might get a little soft. That’s OK as long as the eyes are sharp. When friends and family members visit, let them get comfortable for 15 or 20 minutes, then start taking candid shots of them while they’re interacting with the kids and other guests. If someone insists on a group shot, follow the old advice of putting tall people in back or in the middle of a single row. Let people put their arms around others’ shoulders or cross their arms whatever comes naturally. You’ll end up with a better result than the family portrait where everyone looks stiff and lined up like soldiers. Tell a story of the whole day. Take a picture of Christmas dinner, the kids enjoying an outdoor toy, the family going to church and the kids going to bed. This will give your story a beginning, middle and end. Finally, don’t become too obsessed with taking pictures. Take time to enjoy your family and celebrate!

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Shooting holiday decorations

the lights will look washed out and will barely

Decorated Christmas trees and displays of

register. If it’s too dark, you’ll capture the lights but

outdoor lights add to the holiday magic.

little else. Use a tripod for best results.

Take a portrait of your tree at night with all its

This is another situation where automatic white

lights glowing. Put the camera on a tripod and

balance could lead to dull results. Try using your

expose for the available light. Your tree also offers

camera’s Shade or Cloudy setting to enhance the

a world of close-up opportunities. Get in there

warm glow of the lights.

with your macro or a portrait lens and compose vignettes of ornaments. Use a wide aperture to let

Your camera’s exposure meter might also get

branches and other background elements go soft.

fooled, especially if there’s a lot of snow in the scene. Keep an eye on the histogram and bracket

The key to capturing outdoor lights is shooting at

your exposures.

twilight with the flash off. If it’s too bright outside,

Know the rules for taking

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Public Photography

photos in public Many people snap photos in public without thinking much about it. But this can lead to problems. The police may question you. Business owners may confront you. You may be told to stop. If you’re unsure whether you can take photos, ask. But I can tell you certain situations where it is generally OK. This should not be construed as legal advice. See an attorney for that. Remember, laws may differ from place to place. Say you’re vacationing in New York. You’ve found an interesting angle to shoot the Empire State Building from a sidewalk a few blocks away. You’re in the clear. It is legal to take photographs in public places. That includes sidewalks, public parks and streets. Just don’t obstruct passersby; this may preclude the use of a tripod. Things are different for military bases and nuclear power plants. It doesn’t matter if you’re on public property. The military and Department of Energy

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos

can prohibit photos because of national security concerns. Standing on public property doesn’t give you the right to slap a telephoto lens on your camera and peer into bedrooms, changing rooms, or restrooms. People have a reasonable expectation of privacy in those situations. You could get into


legal trouble for invasion of privacy.

emergency workers. If asked to move, do so.

National, state and local museums and other

There are times when it’s just unwise to take some

public buildings can set their own rules regarding

photos, even if you have the legal right to take

interior photography. It’s best to check websites in

them. If you go around taking pictures of kids in a

advance for what is allowed. Some may ban flash

park without parents’ permission, you’ll raise

photography, for example, in order to protect

suspicion - and possibly ire. Likewise, you probably

historic documents. Some sites might allow

don’t want to specialize in photographing public

cameras but not tripods.

transportation, strategic bridges, chemical plants and oil refineries.

Private property owners can allow or restrict interior photography however they see fit. If you’re

Do you want to spend your time taking pictures or

snapping away inside a shopping mall and a

answering police questions?

security guard asks you to stop or leave, you must obey. He can’t, however, demand that you delete

As you’re out taking pictures, keep in mind that

photos or hand over a memory card. Most professional sports arenas restrict or ban photography. Look for posted notices. Don’t be surprised if point-and-shoots are allowed but DSLRs are not. You can photograph accident scenes, fires and emergency workers if you’re on public property. You cannot, however, interfere with the police or

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos


Looking Ahead File Format you’ll likely want to make prints of your best images and share them online. Most advanced cameras let you shoot at a JPEG + Raw setting. This is very convenient. The JPEG image format is the standard for the Internet. The file sizes are small and compressed so Web pages load faster. You can upload and share a JPEG immediately. If it’s a large enough file size, a well-exposed JPEG can also make a fine

camera’s sensor captured. A Raw file gives you


more flexibility in the digital darkroom. You can adjust white balance and make exposure

So why shoot Raw files, too?

corrections without degrading the image.

When you take a JPEG, the camera makes a

Of course, the tradeoff is larger file sizes. You’ll fill

decision about which data are going to get

up your memory cards and hard drives faster. Raw

discarded. That’s how the smaller file size is

images are more time-consuming and require

achieved. Subsequent edits and saves of a JPEG

specific conversion software to open and edit.

file will also degrade the image. This is called lossy compression. If you have a JPEG that’s

I think you’ll find that the advantages outweigh the

underexposed or has a bad color cast, it will be

disadvantages, however. And when you’re ready to

very difficult to save in post-processing.

take your photo-editing skills to the next level, I’ll be there with Part 3 of my Digital Photography

A Raw file is more like a digital negative. It contains

Guide: Creative Photo Editing.

every bit of data and dynamic range that your

Kim Komando’s Guide to Taking Great Photos




Essential Guide to


Contents Introduction ..................................1 Before You Begin ........................ 2 Photo Editing Sites ...................... 5 Build a Workflow ..........................7 Image Editors ............................. 12 Raw Image Editing ..................... 17 Using RawTherapee .................. 19 Layers .......................................... 24 The Three Rs .............................. 26 Sharpening ................................. 30 Printing ....................................... 31 Color Management ................... 33 About Kim................................... 34

The Kim Komando Show © 2012 All Rights Reserved.


How to edit your photos like a pro


In the first part of my Digital Photography Guide:

and share them in online galleries. To do that, you

The Essential Guide to Digital Cameras, you

need to develop your digital editing skills.

learned all about DSLRs and hybrid cameras and how they can help you take better photos.

After reading this book, you’ll be making swift and dramatic improvements to your digital captures.

And thanks to my Digital Photography Guide: The

You’ll also discover that you’re taking yet another

Essential Guide to Taking Great Photos, you’re

fun and creative journey - an adventure that began

shooting at a whole new level. You consistently

when you tripped the shutter.

bring home beautiful landscape images. Family members and friends love the pleasing portraits you take of them. You understand the rules of

Let’s get going!

good composition and know when to break them. You’ve reached a point now where you’d like to make expressive prints of some of your images,

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


Before You Begin Getting Organized Before you start working on digital photos, it’s a

the free Windows Live Photo Gallery. Google’s

good idea to have a filing system in place that

Picasa is an excellent third-party image-organizing

makes sense for you. I know - you’d rather spend

program that also includes very basic editing tools

time being creative. But it’s hard to be creative

such as crop and red-eye removal.

when you want to work on a photo you took a year ago and can’t find it.

What’s important is getting into the habit of arranging your photos into descriptive folders and

Most image-editing programs have very effective

sub-folders. Use a combination of dates and event

built-in organization tools that let you geotag and

names or location names. That works well for most

face-tag images as you import them.


If you have a Mac, for example, you can use the

Let’s say you’ve made it a project to shoot the

included iPhoto software. PC users can tap into

Saturday Farmers Market over the summer. You

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


just got back from the first one of the season and need to get your 47 photos off the memory card and filed away on a hard drive. Create the folder Farmers Market 2012. Next, create a month-day sub-folder: 0526. At this point, you could choose to rename your 47 image files something like Farmers Market 2012 Week 1. The program will give each picture that name plus a sequential number, 1-47. That won’t help you much in a search later, but it’s

Sometimes, splitting an import into separate

better than the meaningless alpha-numeric

operations can help the organizational cause. Say

numbers your camera assigns to image files. It’s

27 of your 47 pictures from the first week are of a

too tedious to give every picture a unique name at

jazz band that was performing at the market.

this point. You’ll only end up working on a handful of them anyway.

It would be difficult to remember two years from now that those band photos are in Farmers Market

What will really help you find these photos later are

2012>>0526. Create a new top folder with the

keywords. Keywords are tags or descriptions that

band’s name. Select the 27 band photos and

become embedded in the image files.

import them to the folder. Then select the 20 vegetable/vendor photos and import them into

Maybe you took some nice photos of strawberries


and bunches of asparagus the first week. Add those as keywords when you import this batch.

If most of your photos are of family and friends,

You can add more keywords later to individual

you’ll definitely want to take advantage of your

images and groups of photos.

organizing program’s face-matching technology.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


As soon as you start tagging photos with names,

Organization programs always include a method

the software learns how to apply those name tags

for rating image files with stars or other labels.

to all your other photos.

While you’re reviewing, flag images you know you’ll want to work on later. Ratings can also be

When you’re done importing a batch of photos,

used as a search filter.

take a few minutes to review them. Delete obvious clunkers, such as those accidental shots taken of

Finally, don’t trust your computer’s hard drive to

your feet.

keep your image library safe. Hard drives can fail - often with no warning. Backup your collection

If you’re just beginning photo editing, however,

regularly to external hard drives. For the ultimate

don’t get too zealous about deleting photos.

in backup - and peace of mind - store your photos

Something that looks hopeless now might be

online at a photo-sharing site or use a cloud-

fixable down the road when you have more

based backup service.


Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


Photo Editing Sites Basic Online Photo Editing Thanks to online photo editing sites, you don’t

These tools alone are enough to save many family

need any software other than a browser to begin

snapshots and scenic travel photos.

working on digital pictures. These services are fine for editing small JPEGs that you want to share on

The most creative tool you have at your disposal,

social networking sites. They also provide a

however, is the humble crop tool. Many times, the

convenient way to retouch photos you’ve already

crop tool gives you a second chance to create a

posted online.

pleasing composition.

PicMonkey is a good example. It was created by

The tool superimposes a 3 x 3 grid over your

the same team behind the wildly popular Picnik,

image so you can crop with the rule of thirds in

which was gobbled up by Google. Photoshop

mind. Place important elements in your photo

Express condenses Adobe’s flagship Photoshop

along one of the two vertical lines, one of the two

program into a quick and easy online experience.

horizontal lines or the points where the lines

Signing up for a free account also gives you 2GB

intersect. This will keep your horizon line or subject

of online storage.

from being dead center in the frame.

For something a little more powerful, look at Pixlr or Phoenix. Phoenix is part of the Aviary suite of media-creation tools and the built-in image editor of Flickr. With a click of a mouse, online image editors allow you to straighten horizon lines and automatically enhance colors and exposure. You can also instantly fix red eye and remove other blemishes.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


Many casual portraits lack impact simply because

Be careful how much you crop, especially if you’re

the subject doesn’t fill the frame. There’s too much

going to be printing later. Today’s 16+ MP cameras

space around the person. Crop to remove

allow quite a bit of room for cropping. Just don’t

extraneous or distracting information and to

expect to make a decent print after cropping a

emphasize faces.

tiny portion of a photo. There won’t be enough pixels left to form a detailed image.

A landscape photo might benefit from a “panoramic” crop that reduces the amount of

Images that have a resolution of 72-100 ppi (pixels

visible sky and foreground. Just because a

per inch) are fine for the Web. Ideally, you want to

camera’s native aspect ratio is 3:2 or 4:3 doesn’t

be at 240-300 ppi for a sharp, detailed inkjet print.

mean you can’t crop to a dramatic 2:1 or 3:1 aspect ratio.

You can’t save every photo with a crop. But you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t - and this will

Stick to common aspect ratios, however, when you

impact your shooting. Soon, you’ll find that you’re

want to make standard 4 x 6-inch, 5 x 7-inch prints,

cropping less frequently because you’re creating

and 8 x 10-inch prints. The crop tool can be

better compositions in the camera.

constrained to preserve a specific aspect ratio and print size.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing

That’s the true power of the crop tool.


Build a Workflow Building an Editing Workflow When you feel ready to use more-sophisticated

individuality and creativity. It’s just that it’s better

editing tools, you’ll want to step up to desktop

to perform some tasks before others when editing

software. There are several very good programs

digital photos.

that are open-source and free. Not all paid programs cost an arm and a leg; most also offer

For example: Adjusting a photo’s color balance

30-day free trials.

first often corrects poor saturation and contrast.

After test-driving free and commercial programs

Here are the general steps to take when editing a

for a few weeks, you’ll find the image editor that’s

JPEG photo. Keep in mind that every photo is

the most comfortable fit for your skills and your

different. You won’t need to perform every step on


every image. Always work on a copy of the file so you can return to the original and start over if

Whichever program you choose, you’ll edit more


effectively if you follow a logical workflow. The workflow concept isn’t designed to stifle your

Crop If necessary, crop your image before moving on to more-advanced edits. When you adjust things like color balance, exposure and saturation later, your editing software won’t be influenced by unwanted pixels. You also don’t want to spend a lot of time correcting a flaw that ends up being cropped out of the image.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


Exposure It’s not always possible or practical to get a perfect exposure when you’re out shooting. If an image is slightly underexposed or overexposed, you should be able to save it.

Color balance Color Balance controls usually include a Temperature slider to make a picture’s overall ambience cooler or warmer. A Tint slider will correct images that shift too far toward magenta or green. Color casts occur when you take photos in shade or inside using fluorescent or incandescent light. If there’s a white fence, white shirt or similar object in

The image’s histogram will identify clipped shadow pixels in blue and clipped highlights in red. For an underexposed photo, use the exposure compensation slider to slightly increase exposure. Don’t overdo it. If you increase exposure too much, noise will get worse in the shadows. Try using the Shadows slider on an underexposed photo if your software allows it.

the photo, examine it closely. If it looks a little reddish-yellow or greenish-blue, your photo will benefit from a color balance adjustment. If the software offers a “dropper” tool, take advantage of it. If there’s an area of the picture you know should be white or neutral gray, click on the appropriate dropper and click on that point in the picture. This will re-balance the entire image.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


For a slightly overexposed photo, decrease exposure and use the Highlights slider if available. Decreasing exposure too much will draw even more attention to blown highlights. At this stage of the workflow, you’ll know whether you can move on with an image, or stop and try a different photo. Raw images and Raw image editors give you more leeway in recovering detail from overexposed and underexposed images. We’ll take a closer look at that in the next chapter. Contrast controls When you hear someone say “that photo really pops,” he’s talking about contrast. Unless you’ve purposely captured a moody fog or rain scene,

Levels Tool from GIMP

most low-contrast images feel flat; the colors seem

Levels allows you to remap the histogram. Move

washed out. It’s time to unleash the magical Levels

the white point slider to the left and the black

and Curves tools.

point slider to the right. The image will now have a full tonal range and exhibit dramatically better

In an overexposed image, too many pixels bunch

contrast. (Be careful not to go too far and

up against the right boundary of the histogram. In

introduce clipping.) To fine-tune, adjust the mid-

an underexposed image, too many pixels bunch

tone slider slightly to the left or right.

up against the left boundary of the histogram. In a low-contrast image, the pixels tend to bunch up in

Feel like the image could still use a little more

the middle of the graph.

oomph? Open up the Curves tool.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


Although it doesn’t look like it at first, Curves is very similar to Levels. The anchor point (small square) in the lower left corner of the graph is the black point. The anchor point in the upper right corner is the white point. Go ahead and click on the middle of the curve. You’ve just created an anchor point that corresponds to the mid-tone slider in Levels. Unlike Levels, Curves allows you to put as many as 16 points along the curve. That’s rarely necessary, of course, but it demonstrates why Curves is such a powerful tool. Even tones that are very close to each other on the curve can be teased apart. For now, put an anchor point on the quarter point and an anchor point on the three-quarter point. Moving these anchors up or down with the anchored mid-point will create a gentle S curve or an inverted S curve. Saturation The S curve will darken the shadows a bit in the

Boost Saturation if the overall colors in your image

quarter tones and bump up the three-quarter tone

still seem a little dull. Don’t overdo it, though.

highlights. The inverted S curve will do the

Oversaturation seldom benefits either landscape

opposite. This simple adjustment alone will rescue

photos or portraits. The Vibrance slider, if your

many images.

image editor has it, is a terrific tool. It increases or

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


decreases the saturation of skin tones and other

wish to lighten. The dodging tool is also a good

less-saturated colors without affecting colors that

way to whiten teeth and brighten smiles. Do the

are already saturated. The Saturation slider adjusts

subject’s eyes seem a little fuzzy? Spot-sharpen

all the pixels in an image.

the area with a brush.

Selective Enhancements

Create a master file

Up to this stage, all your edits have affected the

By now, you should feel as though you’ve taken

image globally. Now it’s time to inspect the image

this image about as far as it can go. This is a good

for smaller areas that can benefit from local or

time to stop and save it as a master file. Let’s call it

selective enhancements.

Sylvan Lake MF (for Master File).

Get out the healing brush or clone tool to remove

Everything you do subsequently to Sylvan Lake MF

blemishes such as dust specks that were on your

will involve downsizing it for sharing or optimizing

camera’s sensor. (They look like UFOs in the sky.)

it to make a print. You don’t want to repeat all the hard work you’ve just done. Work on copies of

If an area of the image is a little too hot exposure-

Sylvan Lake MF to create Sylvan Lake Web, Sylvan

wise, tone it down with the burning tool. Grab the

Lake 8x10, etc.

dodging tool if there’s an area of the print you

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


Image Editors Popular Image Editors Photobie

Photo Editor


This is a good step-up program for photographers


• Free

who outgrow Windows Live Photo Gallery. It has


• PC

Some of the Best Features

• • • • •

Photo Editor



• Free

GIFs in addition to other standard file formats.


• PC

It contains most of the photo-editing tools you

Some of the Best Features

• • • • •

Photo Editor



• $15 after 30-day free trial

Curves and a host of other color-correction tools


• Mac

to perfect your photos. There are also dozens of

Some of the Best Features

• • • • •

tools for all the most-needed picture-editing functions. More-advanced users can work in layers for more precision. Photoscape Another good intermediate photo editor for Windows users. It supports Raw files and animated

need, plus fun templates for creating comics and collages. Pixelmator A full-featured, layers-based image editor that appeals to the artistically inclined. Use Levels,

tools for making selections, drawing, painting and retouching. Create special effects with more than 150 filters. 30-day free trial.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing

Basic photo editing tools Layers Photoshop filter plug-in support Photo image browser Templates and scrapbooking

Intermediate photo editing tools Layers Batch editor Special effect filters Raw image converter

Advanced photo editing tools Painting and drawing tools Layers 150 special effect filters Sharing to social sites


PaintShopPro X4

Photo Editor

PaintShop Pro X4

Despite its paint-centric name, this is powerful


• $80 - $100 after 30-day free trial


• PC

Some of the Best Features

• • • • • • • • • •

Photo Editor

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11


• $100


• PC and Mac

Some of the Best Features

• • • • • • • • • • • •

photo-editing software that supports a Raw workflow and adjustment layers. With this version, Corel added HDR tools and a tilt-shift effect to create miniatures and photos with extreme selective focus. 30-day free trial. Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 This slimmed-down sibling of Photoshop allows you to quickly and easily fix common photo flaws. More-advanced tools offer sophisticated blending and layering capabilities and support for Raw editing. There’s also a stitching function for panoramas and a basic tool for creating a High Dynamic Range photo from two exposures. Guided Edits walk you through some of the more involved editing tasks. Family memory keepers love Elements for its organizational powers and ease of creating text and scrapbook pages and cards. Aperture 3 Aperture combines the streamlined Raw workflow

Advanced photo editing tools Photo organizer Layers High Dynamic Range tools (HDR) Raw image editing 162 effects and adjustment filters Screen capture Batch editing Sharing to social sites Learning center

Advanced photo editing tools Photo tagging and organizer Layers 100 effects and adjustment filters Batch editing High Dynamic Range tools (HDR) Panoramic stitching tools Raw image editing Templates and scrapbooking Video support Sharing to social sites Adobe online services

that busy pros need with the easy learning curve

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


of iPhoto. With the unified photo library, you

Photo Editor

Aperture 3

can move back and forth between iPhoto and


• $80


• Mac

Some of the Best Features

• Advanced photo editing tools • Advanced photo tagging and organization • Nondestructive environment • Raw photo editing • Set auto buttons and quick tools • Batch editing • Expansive effects library and custom effects • Photo books and slide shows • Video support • Sharing to social sites

Photo Editor

Adobe Lightroom 4

editing environment encourages experimentation.


• $150

The newest version offers superior lens-correction


• PC and Mac

and noise-reduction tools, plus enhanced highlight

Some of the Best Features

• Advanced photo editing tools • Advanced photo tagging and organization • Nondestructive environment • Raw photo editing • Special effect filters • Advanced hue, saturation, and luminance editing • Batch editing • Photo books and slide shows • Video support • Sharing to social sites

Aperture without having to import, export or reedit photos. Aperture includes powerful one-click white balance and curves adjustments, plus brushbased edits on selective portions of photos. Lightroom 4 Photoshop has a lot of stuff that professional graphic designers, 3D artists and illustrators need - and photographers don’t. Adobe built Lightroom from the ground up for photographers. It’s a powerful catalog management program and Raw image processor in one. The nondestructive

and recovery algorithms. A new module makes it easy to create photo books. ACDSee TThis program has been around a long time and is a favorite of many photographers. The Pro 6 version for PC ($100) and Pro 2 version for Mac ($100) aim to compete with Aperture and Lightroom with nondestructive Raw editing and

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


speedy workflow. Look at ACDSee 15 (PC, $50) if

Photo Editor

ACDSee Pro

you want a home photo editor and organizer more


• $140 after 30-day free trial

akin to Elements.


• PC and Mac


Some of the Best Features

• • • • • • •

curves and highlight and shadows. There are also

Photo Editor


multiple ways to sharpen and enhance details, as


• Free

well as reduce image noise. RawTherapee works


• PC and Mac

Some of the Best Features

• • • • • •

without taking your credit card there, too, give

Photo Editor


GIMP a try. It’s a free photo editor originally


• Free


• PC and Mac

Some of the Best Features

• • • • • • • •

This is a robust Raw editor. Better yet, it’s totally free to use. It sports a lot of the same features as pricey programs like Lightroom and Aperture. Make sophisticated adjustments to exposure, tone

with most DSLR Raw files, but check compatibility with your camera before downloading. GIMP If you want to take your pictures to the next level

created at UC Berkeley. It has many of the same features as Photoshop, but it’s 100 percent free. In the past, GIMP was notorious for its steep learning curve and hard-to-use floating window palettes. Thanks to a recent overhaul and a new singlewindow mode, the user interface is easier. The next upgrade should provide support for 16-bit image editing.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing

Advanced photo editing tools Photo tagging and organization Nondestructive environment Raw photo editing Special effects and filters Batch editing Sharing to social sites

Basic photo editing tools Photo tagging and organization Advanced color correction tools Raw photo editing Special effects and filters Batch editing

Advanced photo editing tools Advanced color correction tools Drawing and painting tools Layers and channels Customizable interface Special effects and filters Edit Photoshop files (PSD) Extensive plugins and support


Adobe Photoshop CS6

Photo Editor

Adobe Photoshop CS6

Photoshop is the gold standard and the


• $700

professional’s choice in image-editing software.


• PC and Mac

Some of the Best Features

• • • • • •

Content Aware technology allows photographers to patch, move objects and retouch images with incredible ease and precision. Automatic Saves in the background speed up the workflow and reduce the chance of losing edits. Add creative blurs to images with new tools. Photoshop includes Adobe Camera Raw - the same Raw editing engine that Lightroom is based on - and Bridge for organizing your photos.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing

• • • • • •

Advanced photo editing tools Raw photo editing Drawing and painting tools Layers and channels Auto corrections Superior High Dynamic Range imaging and toning (HDR) Preset migration and sharing Special effects and filters Customized workspaces Video Support Auto-recovery Adobe Marketplace and Community Help


Raw Image Editing Raw Workflow & Nondestructive Editing When you shoot a JPEG, your camera sets the white balance, sharpens the image and makes some decisions about color saturation and contrast. Depending on the level of compression you choose, pixel information may get thrown away in order to make a smaller file. A Raw file is more like a digital negative. It contains every bit of data and dynamic range that your camera’s sensor captured. A Raw file gives you more flexibility and editing latitude in the digital darkroom.

Let’s see why

Aggressively manipulating the histogram of an 8-bit image with Levels and Curves runs the risk of causing posterization. Unsightly bands run across a posterized image because there’s too little tonal information and the tones are too far apart. Posterization is revealed in the histogram, too, as spaced vertical spikes that resemble the teeth of a

First of all, a Raw file starts its journey in the editing


process as a 16-bit image. A JPEG is always an 8-bit image. An 8-bit image can produce 256

Even if you don’t want to work in Raw, editing in

unique colors, while the 16-bit image has 65,536

16-bit mode where possible will minimize the risk

discrete colors available in its palette. The 16-bit

of posterization. If you have a JPEG that needs

image is capable of producing a lot more subtlety.

some hard editing, for example, change it to a

Because it contains more information, it also holds

16-bit TIFF before you begin, if your image editor

up better in processing.

supports it. (TIFF is a standard file format in

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


publishing and can be either uncompressed or

You can change white balance and perform other

compressed without losing information.)

edits without destroying any of the image’s pixels. Your changes appear in a live view of the image,

In our basic JPEG workflow, everything we did to

but the adjustments aren’t actually applied until

fix blemishes and correct color and contrast

they’re exported from the Raw imaging processor.

destroyed pixels and degraded image quality.

Everything you do in Raw is reversible - and you always have that pristine, data-rich Raw file to fall

That sounds scarier than it actually is. A well-

back on.

exposed, large JPEG that has been minimally compressed won’t require a lot of editing. It will

In a Raw editor, you can take advantage of built-in

contain more than enough information to make a

tools to reduce a photo’s noise, apply sharpening

fine print.

and correct lens distortion.

For those times when you need it, though, a Raw,

Here’s how to adapt your workflow using a Raw

nondestructive workflow really comes in handy.

editor such as RawTherapee.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


Using RawTherapee

Edit Raw Images Using RawTherapee RawTherapee is a robust - and totally free - Raw

Once you’ve chosen a photo to edit, you can start

editor. Getting started with the program is simple.

adjusting it. Click on the Transform tab to bring up

Once it’s installed and opened, you’ll see it’s made

the crop panel and to experiment with different

up of a few different parts.

options. You can also rotate, flip and straighten the image.

First is the file browser in the lower-left corner. Use it to search your computer for your Raw files. In the

Next, click on the Colour tab (the program uses

center is the main image viewer. Here you can see

British spelling). You can adjust White Balance

the picture you’re editing. And finally, on the far

quickly and easily by using the Spot WB button.

right is the adjustment panel. This is where you’ll

Click a portion of the photo that should be white

tweak most of the settings to edit your photos.

or neutral gray. You’ll see the image automatically fix itself. This typically does a pretty good job on

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


its own. But you can adjust the Temperature and Tint sliders to fine-tune it. Under the Exposure tab, you’ll see a long list of tools for fixing exposure. The big ones here are Exposure, Tone Curve and Shadows/Highlights. Using the different sliders in Exposure will help brighten or darken photos. Keep in mind that this isn’t the same as adjusting Brightness. Instead, Exposure works to simulate the picture if more or less light hit the sensor. It will give you more or less detail. Tone Curve is an advanced way to control contrast for the overall image. Like Curves in other programs, you just click and drag on the curve to create gentle S-curves and other tonal adjustments. Each point on the curve affects a certain tonal range. As you move from left to right, you affect darker to lighter tones. Shadows/Highlights will let you adjust the brightest and darkest areas of your photos. In this section, you can make the blacks in the photo

Exposure tab from RawTherapee

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


darker. Inversely, you can make the whites in the photo brighter. Now is a good time to reduce noise if the image needs it. If you took the shot in low light at a high ISO setting, it’s likely that the image will benefit from de-noising. Click on the Detail tab. You’ll see two noise reduction options: Luminance and Colour. Luminance Noise Reduction will blend noisy pixels based on their brightness value. Colour Noise Reduction will blend noise based on the pixel’s hue. The goal is noise reduction - not noise elimination. A little noise adds character and increases the perception of sharpness. An absence of noise will make your subjects look unnaturally smooth. All Raw images benefit from “capture sharpening,” so this important function is built in to Raw editors. Unlike JPEGs, Raw captures are not sharpened in the camera. Don’t get the idea that you can save

Detail tab from RawTherapee

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


an out-of-focus photo with sharpening. All you’re doing is bumping up the acutance level of your photo. Despite its name, the Unsharp Mask tool is the classic way to sharpen an image. Derived from an old darkroom technique, Unsharp Mask lays a fuzzy copy of the image over the original to help the algorithm detect the presence of edges. The unsharp overlay is subtracted away and contrast is selectively increased along these edges. The result is a sharpened image. You can control the overall effect of Unsharp Mask with the Radius, Amount and Treshhold sliders. Radius affects the size of the edges; too much Radius will produce halos around edges. Amount controls the strength of the sharpening. Threshold controls the minimum brightness range that will be sharpened. If set to 0, everything is sharpened, including noise. A value of 0.8 to 2 works well for most pictures. Enabling Sharpen Only Edges will prevent any sharpening of noise pixels.

Transform tab from RawTherapee

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


When you’re done with sharpening, correct for

the horizontal and vertical perspective tools to

lens flaws if your image needs it. Some lenses

straighten up buildings.

cause vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion that can be corrected - to varying

Once you’ve finished all of your edits in

degrees - in RawTherapee’s Transform tab.

RawTherapee, you can either save the image or export it to another editor to make selective

Vignetting often occurs when using a low f-stop,

adjustments. Save it as a 16-bit TIFF if your image

such as f/1.8. Light falls off at the corners, making

editor supports it; make it an 8-bit TIFF otherwise.

the corners darker than the center of the image. A little vignetting can be desirable in some cases,

To do this, click on Preferences. A new window will

since it tends to draw attention to the subject. If

pop up. Select the Output Options tab at the top.

you want it gone, however, this tool will take care

In the file format area, use the dropdown menu to

of it. Be aware that this adjustment can increase

select your desired format.

noise in the corners. Bargain lenses often suffer from chromatic aberration, a failure to correctly focus different wavelengths of color. It appears as purple fringing along boundaries that separate dark and light parts of an image. This tool will reduce the fringing - but don’t expect miracles. Extreme wide-angle lenses can distort horizontal and vertical lines in an image. This usually only presents a problem in architectural photos. Use

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


Layers Working with Layers By using layers in GIMP, Photoshop and some other image editors, you can make further nondestructive changes and create composites by combining different photos. Layers can be a little puzzling at first, but once you get used to them, they will become one of your most powerful editing tools. Layers are like sheets of plastic that you stack over an original image. You can increase or lower the opacity of a layer to show less or more of an underlying layer. Brushes that paint black (to obscure) or white (to erase) can be used to block or reveal an element from a different picture. This is how black-and-white photos with selective areas of color are usually created. Levels, Curves, Brightness/Contrast, Hue/ Saturation and other adjustments can also be done on layers. In programs such as Aperture, Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, you can fix sensor dust spots and other local blemishes nondestructively. You

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing

can’t make selective corrections like that in RawTherapee. In Photoshop or GIMP, however, you can create a duplicate background layer to perform tricky healing, cloning and patching edits without damaging the original background pixels. If you edit yourself into a corner, you can always delete the layer you’re working on and try again. Layers can be turned on an off with a click so you can make quick judgments about the effects your actions are having. With layers and your available selection/extraction tools, it’s possible to pluck a nice shot of a bird or a cloud formation in one photo and paste it into a


layer for a landscape photo that needs added

A duplicate background layer is a great way to


selectively sharpen parts of an image. Sharpen the entire image on this layer. If you overdo it, scale

When an object’s shape is simple and well-defined

back the layer’s opacity. Next, add a black layer

against the background, it’s pretty easy to remove.

mask. Use a soft-edged brush and a white

If the subject blends into the background or is very

foreground color to reveal portions of the image

detailed - you’re trying to trace around a person’s

you want sharpened. If you make a mistake and

hair, for example - you’ll be looking at hours of

reveal too much, switch to black and re-paint.

painstaking work. Layers don’t permanently take effect until you That’s why pros who know a background will be

flatten the image. If you wish, you can save the

removed later shoot against a green backdrop.

master image file with all its layers open. That way,

That way, they can select the background color

you can always fine-tune the adjustments. When

with a single click and remove it.

you go to print, save a copy of the master and flatten the image.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


The Three Rs

Resizing, Resolution & Resampling Images The Three Rs confuse many photographers who

18MP.) A Small/Normal JPEG will come into your

are just beginning to upload photos to the Internet

editing software with a pixel dimension of 2592 x

and make inkjet prints. With a little practice,


however, you’ll get to the “aha” moment in no time.

Even the small JPEG is overkill for posting on the Web. You need to downsize and resample it.

Every digital image contains a specific number of pixels along its width and height. The pixel

In Adobe Photoshop or Elements - GIMP handles

dimensions are governed by your camera’s sensor

resizing differently, which I’ll explain later - open

size and the capture quality settings you chose

the Image Size dialog box.

when taking the image. You’ll see an upper box for Pixel Dimensions and a Let’s use an 18MP camera as an example. When

lower box for Document Size. The boxes for

image quality is set to Raw or Large/Fine JPEG,

Constrain Proportions and Resample Image

your image size will be 5184 x 3456 pixels. (Multiply

should be checked.

those numbers and you get 17.9 million pixels, or

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


It’s OK to throw out data for Web pictures. You want them to be a small file size so they’ll load fast on a webpage. Adobe offers a variety of interpolation methods when resampling. These algorithms more or less intelligently decide which pixels are best removed or added. Bicubic Sharper usually works best when reducing image size for the Web. Click OK and Image Size box from Adobe Photoshop

you’ll have an image that’s resized for Web use.

Change the Resolution value to 100 ppi (pixels per

Use GIMP’s Image Scale dialog box to accomplish

inch). Specifying a resolution any higher than that

the same thing. Make sure the interpolation

won’t improve the display quality of the image on

method is set to Cubic. GIMP uses a separate Print

a computer monitor.

Size dialog box for printing, which disables resampling.

Most Web images don’t need to be any more than 600-800 pixels on the longest side. Enter a value

Now let’s run down how to prepare an image for

for the longest side, and Constrain Proportions will

printing. Although a digital image contains a

automatically adjust the other side to preserve the

specific amount of pixel data, its specific output

photo’s aspect ratio.

size and resolution is negotiable.

Resampling instructs the software to throw away

Return to that 18 MP image with a pixel dimension

pixels - or add them when you’re upsizing.

of 5184 x 3456. If you uncheck Resample Image,

Whenever you add or take away pixels, image

you’ll see that you’re now prohibited from adding

quality deteriorates to some extent.

or throwing away pixels. To keep the total number

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


of pixels the same, the image editor compensates by increasing or decreasing the resolution and document size. At a resolution of 240 ppi, an 18 MP image will make a very nice print measuring 21.6 x 14.4 inches. What if you want to send this image to a custom lab, and it requires a resolution of 300 ppi? Change the resolution to 300; print size decreases to 17.3 x 11.5 inches. What if you just want to print a 6 x 9 on your home photo printer? Adjust the width and height; resolution will increase to 575 ppi. When resolution increases, pixels become smaller so more of them can be packed together. The tradeoff for smaller physical size is a smoother, higher-quality print. The trouble is that a 575 ppi image looks exactly like a 100 ppi image on your computer monitor. Because it looks like resolution doesn’t matter, many beginning photographers think they don’t Image Size box from Adobe Photoshop

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


need to shoot at higher resolutions; or, they

Smoother interpolation method usually works best

downsize and resample an image at the beginning

for upsampling.

of the editing workflow. This can compromise the image for printing later on.

If your image editor allows, switch your document size measurement from inches to percent and

For most prints, it’s best to resize your image

enter 110, then repeat. It doesn’t take much

without resampling. Depending on the quality of

enlarging before a picture starts looking blocky

the printer, most larger prints will look good at 240

and blurry.

ppi. Aim for 300 ppi or higher if you’re making a photo book or making smaller prints that will be

Adding pixels is a much more complex job than

viewed at a close distance.

removing data for editing software. If you’re really keen on making poster-size images, check out

Many images can be enlarged 10-20 percent

third-party programs, such as Perfect Resize

without too much harm. In this case, you want to

(formerly called Genuine Fractals).

resample the image to add pixels. The Bicubic

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


Sharpening Output Sharpening Before printing, your image will benefit from one last sharpening pass - especially if you upsampled. Be aware that effective output sharpening can take a lot of trial and error and will often make an image appear oversharpened on screen. It can be done on a duplicate background layer. For an average image - one that’s neither high detail nor low detail - a Radius setting between 1.0 and 1.5 is a good starting point. Set Amount between about 125 and 175, and Threshold between 4 and 8. Tweak from there. A finely detailed image requires a much lower Radius - under 1.0 - to avoid halos. You may have to go down to 0.3 or 0.4 for some images. To compensate for the smaller radius, increase Amount to 200-300. Set Threshold at 4 or less. It’s important to not oversharpen a portrait or a smoothly textured image. Use a low Amount setting of 75-125 and a high Threshold of 8-12. You’ll probably need a larger Radius of 2-3 to find and bring out those edges, though.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing

It’s not a coincidence that automated sharpening solutions are among the most popular plug-ins for GIMP, Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture. These complex algorithms calculate optimum sharpening based on print size, resolution, and the type of printer and paper you’re using. Topaz InFocus, PhotoKit Sharpener and Sharpener Pro are some of the leading commercial contenders in this category. If a plug-in undersharpens or oversharpens to your taste, “trick” it by telling it to sharpen at a slightly higher or lower resolution.


Printing Basic Inkjet Printing It’s very satisfying seeing one of your images come to life on paper as a finished print. Thanks to huge improvements in paper quality and inkjet printer technology, it’s easier than ever to make large, professional-quality prints from the comfort of your home office. The first step to success is buying a photo printer. You can make good prints with multifunction 8.5 x 11-inch inkjet printers in the $100-$200 range from HP, Canon and Epson. Stepping up to a dedicated

Once you decide on the size of your printer, you

13-inch photo printer offers a corresponding leap

need to make a decision about ink type - dye or

in quality, and price - $300 and up. A 13-inch

pigment. Pigment inks can’t quite match the color

printer can handle cut paper sheets of 13 x 19 and

gamut and high saturation levels that dye inks can,

11 x 17 in addition to 8.5 x 11. Some printers in this

but they’re much more stable and archival.

class can also use roll paper 50-100 feet in length. Paper Choices Although small printers handle standard photo

Most color landscapes and portraits look best on

papers OK, they’ll balk at heavier premium papers.

semi-gloss papers. These are more subtle than

Prosumer photo printers have 6, 8 or more ink

glossy papers and may even include a bit of a

cartridges in their arsenals to produce exhibition-

textured surface. You’ll also see them described as

quality prints. Ink cartridges are larger, too, making

luster, pearl, silver or satin. They’re capable of a

larger format printers cheaper to operate than

wide color gamut and produce deep, rich blacks.

smaller printers over the long haul.

Matte papers offer wonderful surface textures,

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


which benefit some photos, but produce more

After you’ve made some great prints this way, go

muted colors and weaker blacks.

ahead and dive into the wonderful ocean of thirdparty inkjet papers. Vendors supply profiles of their

When you first start printing at home, buy paper

papers for the most popular printer models. Most

from the same manufacturer as your printer. The

of them are good but may require some tweaking.

major manufacturers go to great lengths to develop profiles that will help you make prints that

Printing an Image

match what you see on your computer screen.

Printing is handled in your editing software’s print

When you call up a specific paper profile in your

dialog box. First, check that your document is set

print menu, it tells the printer how much ink to

to the right color space - sRGB or Adobe RGB.

spray on the paper and how fast the print head

Next, make sure your editing software is in charge

should pass across the paper.

of managing the color - not the printer. If the software allows you to choose a rendering intent, Perceptual works well for images with intense colors. Portraits and prints with more subtle tones will benefit from the Relative Colorimetric setting. Make sure the Black Point Compensation box is checked. Don’t hit Print yet. It’s also very important to go to the Print Driver dialog box and make sure that the printer’s Color Mode is turned Off. If On, the printer will take over color management. The Print Driver dialog is also where you choose your paper type and print quality.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


Color Management Color Management 101 Entire books - and an entire industry - have sprung up to help photographers get a grasp of color management. The goal of color management is to get a very good approximation - not a perfect match - between what you captured with your camera, what you see on a monitor and what comes out of your printer. It starts with your camera. Most DSLRs and advanced hybrids allow you to set a color space when taking photos - either sRGB or Adobe RGB. sRGB is the standard for color on the Internet and works great for a JPEG workflow and all-in-one printers. Most online printing services also prefer the sRGB color profile. Adobe RGB is a wider color space that produces vivid greens and reds. It’s a good choice for landscape and travel photographers who edit in a 16-bit workflow and use mid- to upper-range inkjet printers. If you shoot Raw, color space doesn’t matter until

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing

post-processing. You can decide on a color profile when you take your photos from Raw to JPEG or TIFF. When prints come out of the printer with a sickly green cast, the computer monitor is usually the culprit. Calibrating it using your computer operating system’s built-in controls is better than nothing. You’ll get better and more consistent results if you invest in a calibration software package with a colorimeter. Calibrate your monitor two or three times per year. Don’t fiddle with any contrast or brightness settings after you calibrate. The last stop in the color management journey is the printer. However, advances in printer technology have largely eliminated the need for custom printer and paper profiles. Using profiles supplied by printer manufacturers and third-party paper vendors usually provides excellent results.


About Kim Kim Komando’s interest in the digital landscape dates back 20 years to include both her first business venture and her college education. Ms. Komando attended Arizona State University, which offers one of the leading Computer Information Systems degrees in the nation. She left her first major in architecture when research convinced her that the opportunities in CIS were better. During her college years, Ms. Komando started her first business. She taught people how to use personal computers. In her classes, she realized how confusing these machines were, especially to adults. She knew that if she could make things easy and fun, people would listen. After college, Ms. Komando accepted a position with IBM selling computers. She later marketed computerized phone systems for AT&T, then mainframe computers at Unisys. But her dream was to go on the radio and teach many more people to improve their lives through computers. Ms. Komando’s reality far exceeded the dream. Her network radio shows run on more than 470 stations in the USA and around the world on American Forces Radio. Her Digital News Network delivers more than 10 million informative and up-to-the-minute digital newsletters to subscribers each week. And, as the digital world has expanded far beyond computers, so has Ms. Komando’s coverage, unraveling the mysteries of smartphones, apps, tablets, Wi-Fi and more. Leading a multimedia empire, Ms. Komando, in addition to hosting radio and television shows, offers a deep, informative and newly redesigned website; offers the best of digital solutions in her specialized boutique shop online; and is a prolific writer of books, e-guides, and author of two weekly columns appearing in more than 100 newspapers including USA Today.

Kim Komando’s Guide to Creative Photo Editing


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Complete Digitl Photography Guide  

Learn the best and easiest ways to take digital photos.

Complete Digitl Photography Guide  

Learn the best and easiest ways to take digital photos.