Celebrating Another Anniversary: Five Years of PhotoTips
On October 21, 2001 I published my first weekly PhotoTips article here on Earthbound Light. That was five years ago this weekend. Gosh. This week we'll look back at how things have changed in the world of photography over this period and revisit some of the greatest hits here on Earthbound Light.
Digital photography is the order of the day, and to get the best results possible many photographers choose to shoot in raw format. In the early days, this meant using the raw converter made by your camera manufacturer since raw formats tend to be rather proprietary. Being a Nikon shooter, I was therefore a Nikon Capture user, even though early versions were less than user friendly. Adobe shook things up quite a bit when then they released the first version of Adobe Camera Raw as an add-on to Photoshop 7. Since then, there have been quite a few upgrades and it has become the most popular raw converter out there. Nikon has upgraded Capture too of course, releasing Capture NX just a few months ago. Thankfully, they've finally stopped installing their severely limited Nikon NEF Plug-in which was notorious for overriding Adobe Camera Raw for Nikon shooters. If you have the Nikon plug-in and need to know how to get rid of it, I've covered that too as well as the lowdown on how Nikon color modes work. Not everyone shoots Nikon and other raw converters do exist of course. My own personal favorite currently is DxO Optics Pro.
With more and more photographers switching to digital, Color management has become a hot topic. Unfortunately, it's not always the easiest topic to wrap your head around. Color management is a topic I've returned to frequently, covering monitor profiling, printing, camera and scanner profiling and other topics. I've also written on how color management is implemented in popular programs including Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Nikon Capture NX.
But since Photoshop is the most popular image editing program, I've written more about it than any other program. Some of the more popular Photoshop topics have included Levels and Curves and which you should use, unsharp mask and high-pass sharpening.
Photoshop Elements is popular too of course. As it is considerably less expensive of course, it doesn't come with all the features of its big brother CS2. Being curious by nature, I decided one day to see just what I could make it do. The result was the Earthbound Light Solution for Elements that allows you to add Curves, the Channel Mixer and other missing features to Photoshop Elements versions 1 through 3. Unfortunately Adobe threw a monkey wrench in things with version 4, "fixing" the hidden capabilities I was exploiting. No word yet on whether the brand new version 5 will be any better, but I do now have a copy so I'll see what I can do. By the way, don't get your hopes up for the touted Curves feature Adobe includes in the new release. It's really a rather pale imitation of what Curves should be.
Other hot topics in the world of digital photography that have been covered include converting to black and white, the difference between 8-bit and 16-bit as well as the difference between sRGB and Adobe RGB (and ProPhoto RGB). And your monitor is not really 72dpi.
When Adobe released Photoshop CS2, they unleashed a new feature called HDR, or "High Dynamic Range." In so doing, they gave birth to the 32-bit file format that what should grow in support over future releases. At this point, the capabilities of HDR are somewhat limited but good results are quite possible with a bit of trial and error, either with the native features of Photoshop CS2 or by using a third-party product called Photomatix.
Some people do still shoot film of course. I used to myself. And some topics are relevant no matter what you shoot including the use of filters, close-up and macro photography, hyperfocal focusing, and how to keep warm and dry in the field.
The extensive series I wrote on composition back in the winter of 2003/2004 has also proven to be quite popular. Even if you are an experienced photographer, it can be helpful to return every now and then to the basics of making good pictures. If you come away with a new way even one new way of looking at things, it can be time well spent.
Then of course there are classics such as how to carry a tripod and New Years resolutions for photographers. Somewhat tongue in cheek, but with a point.
Don't forget you can access the entire run of PhotoTips on the Archives page, or search for what you are looking for on the Search page. You can also receive notification of each week's article when posted, by subscribing to the RSS feed on this page.
If you would like to suggest a topic for a future PhotoTips article or have feedback on what I've already written, please contact me. Due to my schedule and the volume of email I receive, I don't have time to personally reply to all messages, but I do read and appreciate every one. And if you feel so moved, let your friends know about Earthbound Light, add a link on your own website, or stop by and post an entry on the Comments page.
Five years — time sure flies when you're having fun. Here's to celebrating future anniversaries together.