Tag Archives: digital

The Rise and Fall of Digital and Film

[tweetmeme]This guest post was written by Jason Acar. Jason is currently a content writer for MyCamera.co.za. He has extensive journalism experience and a keen interest in photography.

Many budding photographers still debate whether to buy digital cameras, or opt for older analogue film models. The truth is, technology has advanced so much that digital cameras can achieve just about anything you want when it comes to photography.

To easily display the rise and fall of both digital and film eras, we have compiled this interesting timeline, highlighting some of the most important moments in the history of photography:

1826 - Nicephore Niepce took the first permanent photograph in history. Although there may have been other photographs taken during this time, the photograph of the exterior of his home is the oldest photo on record. He took the image using a camera obscura and a sheet of pewter coated with bitumen of Judea, which hardened permanently when exposed to light. Capturing the image took eight hours.

1839 – William Fox Talbot invents the positive/negative process. Although essentially a negative photograph, which he dubbed as the “photogenic drawing process”, he streamlined the process a year later and renamed it the calotype. This effect remains popular today.

1854- André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri became known for the introduction of the carte de visite (French “visiting card”). Disdéri’s rotating camera could reproduce eight individually exposed images on a single negative.

1861 – Renowned physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell took the first ever first colour photograph. He created the image of a tartan ribbon by photographing it three times through red, yellow and blue filters before combining them into one colour image.

1868 - Louis Arthur Ducos du Hauron of France became a pioneer in the field of colour photography. Using additive (red, green, blue) and subtractive (cyan, magenta, yellow) methods, he turned colour photography into an art form. He would go on to patent some of his methods, while one of his most famous, and earliest, photos is a landscape portrait of Southern France, taken by the subtractive method in 1877.

1887 - Gabriel Jonas Lippmann, a physicist and inventor, landed the Nobel Prize in 1908 for using the phenomenon of interference to reproduce colours on a photographic basis. This later became known as the Lippmann Plate.

1888 – The Kodak No. 1 Box camera was introduced, allowing the mass market to finally try their hand at photography. Once one hundred photos had been taken, owners would ship the camera back to Kodak and have the images printed at a price of $10.

1900 – If the No 1 Box introduced the average Joe, the introduction took things a step further. This camera made low-cost photography popular and introduced the world to the snapshot. This basic cardboard box camera offered simple controls and a price tag of just $1.

1902 - Arthur Korn discovered practical photo-telegraphy technology, meaning that images could be sent via wires. Europe quickly adapted the technology, sending photographs locally by 1910. Eventually inter-continental delivery was done by 1922.

1923 - Doc Harold Edgerton introduced the xenon flash lamp and pioneered strobe photography. This paved the way for improved portrait pictures, as well as photographs in areas with little or no light.

1936 - The world was introduced to the first single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. This 35mm SLR camera was named Ihagee Kine-Exakta and made in Germany.

1948 – Edwin Land, who founded the Polaroid Corporation in 1937, released the instant film camera in this year. This device would become their most popular product line for decades to come.

1959 – There was a time when AGFA was close behind Kodak as a leader in the world of photography. It was at this point that the company introduced the first ever fully automatic camera, the Optima.

1972 - The rise of digital happened a lot earlier than many people realise. Texas Willis Adcock, a Texas Instruments engineer, actually created a design for a filmless camera and applied for a patent in 1972. Unfortunately, nobody knows if it ever came into existence.

1973 – Fairchild Semiconductor paved the way for digital imaging, releasing the first integrated circuit, just ahead of Texas Digital.

1975 –Steven Sasson unveiled the first digital camera using CCD image sensor chips. This groundbreaking device took black and white (recorded onto a cassette tape) and offered a resolution of 0.01 megapixels. The first image ever captured on this prototype took 23 seconds to record.

1981 – Sony released the Mavica, the first commercially available digital camera. Although this was a revolutionary product in the photographic industry, it was actually digital video recorder that took freeze frames.

1986 – Leading photographic company, Kodak, brought out the first megapixel sensor, which was able to record 1.4 million pixels. By 1991, the company had created the first professional digital camera system (DCS), a Nikon F-3 which was targeted at photojournalists.

1994 – Only a select few were able to enjoy digital technology up until now. Apple introduced the Apple QuickTake 100 camera in February 1994, a digital camera aimed at the average Joe which was able to work with a home computer. Others soon followed including the Kodak DC40, Casio QV-11 and the Sony Cyber-Shot.

2006 – Digital photography steadily edged out the use of a film camera, so much so that Polaroid announced that it was halting production on all of their instant film products.

2010 – Digital cameras are introduced monthly, if not weekly. Each with more advanced features, better quality picture quality and enough on camera space for thousands of images. To top it off, printing of images is quick, cheap and never wasteful as you select the images you want without have to deal with overexposed or dud images.

This guest post was written by Jason Acar. Jason is currently a content writer for MyCamera.co.za. He has extensive journalism experience and a keen interest in photography.

Link Roundup 07-17-2010

Before we get to the links, I apologize to anybody that visited the site recently and found it to be infected with a malicious redirect exploit. I became aware of the issue this morning (thanks to an email from a reader) and I had it fixed within an hour. These things happen from time to time, and I appreciate folks letting me know when something is wrong with the site. Now for some weekend reading!

Fool-Proof Photoshop Airbrushing for Dummies

Guest post by Alexis Bonari… A quick and painless way to “airbrush” a picture in Photoshop. I showed a method for digital airbrushing using Photoshop in a past article, but this method takes a slightly different approach.

[tweetmeme]Hi dummy! So glad you could join us today. Just kidding, just kidding. With the advent of Myspace, then Facebook, and who knows what’s coming next, the whole world has become an endless source of perfect skin and magazine cover worthy supermodels. Now that Photoshop is a verb and household name, you might as well get in the know and make yourself (or your girlfriend/boyfriend) uncommonly perfect.

Here’s what you do.

We’ll be using this image, available through Wikimedia Commons:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bangalore,_India_Model.jpg

Save it to your computer.

1. Open your image in Photoshop. ( FILE -> OPEN )

2. Immediately duplicate your image’s layer. ( LAYER -> DUPLICATE LAYER )

3. Make sure your new layer is selected, and then Surface Blur that layer, so that your image looks like this one. Play with the Radius and Threshold to achieve this effect.

4. Now, create a layer mask with this newly blurred layer, and make it set to HIDE ALL.

5. Select your paintbrush, make it big, and reduce its “hardness” considerably. Then change your brush color to WHITE (#FFFFFF).

What has happened so far? You will notice now that you are back to your original image. What has happened behind the scenes is that that blurred image is still there, only that it is now hidden behind the layer mask. This mask will only show parts of the image that are painted in white. So, your next step is where the fun begins!

6. Making sure that your blurred layer’s Layer Mask is selected, you will now generously paint over the areas you want to “airbrush”. You will notice that as you paint, the blurred image will start appearing. Be cautious to not paint over eyes and lips, as you will want their defined textures. You will also find it useful to change your brush size to accommodate around the eyes and lips or any other nooks and crannies that might need you to get in there. It doesn’t have to look perfect at this point. We’ll fix that in a minute.

7. This is what my layer mask actually looks like.

8. Now, with that all done, we’re going to smooth this out even more. Select your GAUSSIAN BLUR filter and blur stuff even more. I like setting it to about 5.0 pixels for this image.

9. Finally, making sure that your blurred layer is selected, adjust that layers Opacity, to blend the blurred effect with the original. In this case, I settled on 72%

Once your image looks the way you want it to, it is ready for saving or exporting for web, or whatever you would like to do.

Less than 10 easy and quick steps, and you’ll have your images looking like the pros! I knew you could do it. Great job!

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at onlinedegrees.org, researching areas of online degree programs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Link Roundup 07-02-2010

Are You Film, Digital, or Both?

Earlier this month, I wrote a post on the film blog about the different types of film photographers and ran a poll asking the readers to categorize themselves. It was no surprise that we had zero “film haters” chime in ;).

I want to take a step back, look at the question in a broader sense, and open it up to a wider audience (you guys). I’m fascinated by the film vs digital thing, and I see a lot of people doing both (but that could just be the crowd that I associate with). So what I want to learn here, is what percentage of the Epic Edits readers shoot film, digital, or both.

[tweetmeme]

For those who know me even a little bit, you know that “I Do Both!” Give it a few years and I might get rid of my digital stuff though… j/k, calm down.

I’ve been noticing a renewed interest in film photography over the last year or two, but I’m wondering if it’s just me or if it’s really happening. What do you guys think? Are people coming back to it? Or am I delusional?

Also, don’t forget to check the results from the last poll: How often do you shoot? Looks like we have a pretty good mix of votes.

Link Roundup 05-28-2010

Photoshop Technique: Digital Airbrush

[tweetmeme]Airbrushing is (or was) a process typically used to remove minor imperfections in portrait, model, and fashion photography (among other uses in photography). I’ll be presenting a digital airbrush technique in Photoshop intended to slightly smooth out skin textures in close up portraits. Sharp lenses and good lighting can produce very detailed captures, including all the small wrinkles and pores. Sometimes you just want to smooth out all those little things.

I’ve also created a Photoshop action to speed up the process described below. All you have to do is open up the original image and run it. The action stops at the filter dialogs and allows you to adjust them before proceeding. At the end of the action, you’re all set up and ready to start airbrushing.

DOWNLOAD THE DIGITAL AIRBRUSH PHOTOSHOP ACTION

I should also mention that I learned this technique from at least one or two other sites out there (can’t find the source for the life of me right now). I’m definitely not the originator — I’m just passing along my own interpretation of the process.

So here’s the image I’ll be working with… a very close-up and well-lit portrait. What you see immediately below is the final image after applying this airbrush technique. I’d show you the before image, but you wouldn’t be able to see much of a difference at this size.

Amazing Portrait of Merunisha Peel

A couple of things to remember before I get into it: don’t go overboard with the processing, experiment with the numbers to suit your image, and what I’m showing here is not the only way to do it. So let’s get started.

1. ORIGINAL IMAGE

This is a crop of the original image after being processed in ACR for exposure, contrast, white balance, etc. The crop is a 50% zoom so we can see more of the image while retaining some of the important details. Take note of the small skin wrinkles and pores — these are the things we’re going to smooth out a bit.

2. DUPLICATE BACKGROUND

When you open it up into Photoshop, duplicate the background layer. We need to do this because we’re going to apply some destructive modifications to the top layer, and we’ll be applying a layer mask later on. Essentially, we’re going to make a “new skin” that can be airbrushed over the existing image.

3. SMOOTH IT OUT

Now it’s time to make that skin into plastic. Apply the “Dust & Scratches” filter (Filter >> Noise >> Dust & Scratches…). Start with a 5px radius and adjust until you get something almost cartoon-looking. You want to get rid of the small details while maintaining the bigger details.

4. ADD BLUR

After smoothing out the little things, we want to add some blur to soften up the bigger things. Apply a “Gaussian Blur” filter (Filter >> Blur >> Gaussian Blur…). Again, start with a 5px radius and adjust until you lose that cartoon look. You want to soften the hard edges while maintaining some amount of contrast in the larger details.

5. ADD NOISE

This one is nearly impossible to see even at a 50% zoom — it’s very subtle. Apply a small amount of the “Noise” filter (Filter >> Noise >> Add Noise…). Start around 0.7px with a uniform monochromatic noise and adjust until you can barely see it at 100% zoom. You want to break up the plastic look just a tiny bit with some texture.

6. MASK IT

Now that you’ve completely destroyed the working layer, mask it all out. Add a layer mask and fill it in black (Layer >> Layer Mask >> Hide All). Now your image should look like the original because we’ve masked out the modified layer.

7. AIRBRUSH TIME!

Grab your brush tool, soften up the edges, set the color to white, put the opacity to around 10 or 20%, and select the layer mask we just created. Adjust your brush size to suit your needs and start painting in some of the fake skin. The key here is to do a little bit at a time while varying your brush size and edge hardness. Paint over the areas where you want to remove small details. You want to brush in a little more fake skin than you need — we’ll fix it in just a second.

The image above shows the mask applied to the image. You can see that we’ve removed most of the skin texture while keeping the details in the eye.

The image above shows the mask for the entire image. You can see that I focused mostly on the areas… in focus. I also made it a point to avoid the eyes, mouth, and hair. We don’t want to soften up these areas.

8. BACK TO REALITY

At this point, you probably have something slightly resembling a plastic doll. No biggie — we can fix it. Simply adjust the opacity of the modified layer until you bring back some of the original skin texture. I ended up with an opacity of 70%, but you’ll need to judge and adjust your own image based on how heavy you modified the skin during the airbrushing.

9. BEFORE & AFTER

As you can see from this split image, the final adjustment is not very harsh. The intent was to smooth out the very small wrinkles and skin pores visible in on the face.

And for those of you viewing this on the site, you can mouse over the image below to see an after and before effect. RSS and email readers will need to visit the site to see it (there’s a JavaScript mouseover making it all happen).

I don’t use this technique very often, but it’s a good one to know. Useful for close up portraits, but that’s about it. And don’t abuse it — soft and subtle is the key here. A bit of skin texture is actually a good thing!

Link Roundup 05-01-2010

Film is Better than Digital?!

After I posted my Digital is Better than Film post last week, I expected some amount of rebuttal… but this is outrageous! Those goobers over at FeelingNegative.com had the nerve to mock me by posting a Film is Better than Digital article.

At any rate, I’m only posting the link here because I’m trying to be the bigger person in this situation. Feel free to go read it (I haven’t done so myself), but I’m assuming that it’s a load of crap and easily disputed.

Film is Better than Digital: 5 Situations

If anybody needs me, I’ll be outside burning some film and old cameras out of spite.

Digital is Better than Film: 5 Situations

[tweetmeme]I hate love film… I really do. But there are occasions when I opt for my digital camera over my film cameras (shh… don’t tell them I said that).

I know, most of you might be thinking “digital is always better than film”. And certainly, the word “better” is open to interpretation. But my point here is that digital photography has certain advantages over film photography for specific situations. I plan to post a follow-up article that explores the situations when film is better than digital (and I might post it on my film photography blog, naturally).

[UPDATE 4-12-2010] I posted a Film is Better than Digital article on my film blog.

So here are 5 situations when digital is usually better than film.

WHEN YOU NEED TO SHOOT A LOT OF PHOTOS

And when I say “need”, I don’t mean shooting a thousand photos on your stroll down the road. I’m talking about situations that require you to photograph hundreds or thousands of photos for some type of event or job.

2010 Parker 425 Car #1532

I can think of several such events that I recently shot with my digital: The Parker 425 race, the Green Man T-Shirt event, the Long Beach Grand Prix, and I’m sure there are others I’ve done. The point is: these types of events (whether you’re shooting as a professional or as a hobbyist) will require that you take many hundreds of photos. Others that come to mind are weddings, concerts, sporting events, product shoots, fashion shows, races, and many more.

It’s not to say that these situations can’t be shot with film, but it becomes very tedious and expensive with ultimately fewer results (unless you’re downright awesome).

WHEN LIGHTING CONDITIONS CHANGE RAPIDLY

One of the major inconveniences of film is the fact that you can’t change your film sensitivity on the fly — you either have to finish the roll or wind it back up and write down where you left off. Digital cameras overcome this inconvenience by allowing you to change the ISO setting at any given time.

We Have Liftoff Moray Eels

One such situation that comes to mind is at a theme park or zoo. One minute you’re outside in the sun, then you’re inside a dark aquarium, then you’re back outside, then you’re back inside, etc. Pain in the butt if you’re shooting film. And again, things like weddings and concerts might have rapidly changing lighting conditions that will require a quick ISO change.

WHEN TRAVELING FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME

At just a “few” shots per roll of film, you could really accumulate a collection of spent film on a long trip. This poses two problems: the cost of the film and developing, and the space needed to lug it around. Digital photos, on the other hand, don’t take up much space — especially if you’re packing a laptop or other mass storage device.

My baby stash. 1,629 shots.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Hillary Stein

Again, not saying that you can’t (or shouldn’t) shoot film on a lengthy vacation, but I wouldn’t leave the digital behind. When traveling, I bring both film and digital cameras, but I always pack way too much film. That’s the other downside to film — you bring more than you need, “just in case”.

WHEN YOU NEED A QUICK TURNAROUND

Not all paid shoots will require a ton of photos, but some will require a quick delivery of images. In this case, dealing with the film might be more work than it’s worth.

Even for personal stuff, sometimes you just need a quick shot of something that you can toss on the web. This is true for things such as blogs, eBay or Craigslist postings, quick family/friend emails, and other such situations. Obviously, digital rules in this area.

If you want to send a film photo through the interwebs, you have to shoot the entire roll, develop it, let it dry, chop it up, scan it, process it, and finally output it for the web. Digital… shoot, download, process, downsize, done. Hell, you could even shoot it on your cell phone and upload it straight to Flickr or Facebook. At any rate, film just takes a bit longer (and more money) to process and digitize.

WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO SPEND THE MONEY

There is certainly an ongoing cost associated with shooting film, and that’s not always a bad thing when you can pick up a camera for less than $50. But not every situation you encounter will justify that film & developing cost.

I shoot a lot of film, even for personal stuff and family get-togethers. But sometimes I just don’t see the benefit of going analog. If you know you’re going to be taking a lot of personal shots that you’ll never have time or money to develop and/or print, just take the digital camera. Or maybe you’ve been shooting a lot of film and falling behind on developing and scanning — shooting digital for a while can be a nice break and allow you to catch up.

WHAT DID I MISS?

Besides the default “digital is always better than film” answer — that doesn’t count (and I’ll prove it wrong with a follow-up post).