Tom's Photography Tips


These items are on their own page.

Photo Battery Cross Reference Table    Various Local and National Photo Sources

Kodak Film Number Cross Reference Table     Fuji Film Cross Reference Table

Photo Tips

Digital cameras usually include video capability (my Nikon 5700 has this feature.) Techniques used in still photography and video photography can at times be interchanged. A book that can help you in the video aspect is Developing Digital Short Films.

Here is an index of Useful Photography Tips

Tom Philo's Photography Tips
Aspect Ratio for Film and Screen Aerial Almanac Camera Buying
Camera Vibrations Cleaning your lenses Color Wheel Close Up Lens
Color Film Correction Filters Digital Pixels and print sizes Digital / Mech Delayed Shutter Equipment
Extension Tubes Filters F Stops and Shutter speeds F16 Rule
Flash Guide Number Table Flash Card Printing The Future of Silver Based film Flash Guide Numbers
Field Guide Framing    
Gray Scale Geo Coding Humor Lens Field of View
Nodal Points 35 mm camera lens in other formats Matting Pictures Multiple Exposure Guide
Moon / Luna Guide Memory Cards and Image Size Misused Photo Definitions NiCads and NiMh Batteries
Organizing Photos Pre Soaking Film Tristimulus Projector Lumens
Pixels to Prints sizes Rule of Thirds Reciprocity Failure Shutter Speed
Taking Notes Teleconverters Transportation UPS your Enlarger
Soft Lighting      
Viewing Distance of Photos Viewfinder Light Wedding Tips Zone System


Filter Darkens Lightens F Stop Loss
Yellow (12) Blue Yellow 1/3
Green (58) Red/Blue Green 1/3
Red (25) Green/Blue Red 1/3
Blue (47b) Yellow Blue 1/3
Polarizer Sky (Blue) Glare 1 1/2 to 2

Most any filter that you can easily see what the color of the filter is will cause a 1/3 stop loss of light.

Black & White film people will use a Yellow 15 on occasion for landscapes to enhance it more than 12 would. 1/3 F stop loss.

A Red 23A is good to use on large bodies of water to darken sky and enhances contrast in these situations. 2 2/3 F stop loss of light.

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Magnification Light Loss
1.4 1 Stop
1.7 1.5 Stops
2.0 2 Stops
3.0 3.3 Stops

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Close Up Lens

These are diopter lens that allow you to perform macro type photography work. Macro means "life size." A +1, +2 +3 are the normal ones you can purchase as a set. The + numbers means how close you can focus. +1 is 1 meter, +2 is 1/2 meter, +3 is 1/3 of a meter and in all cases this is when the lens is set to infinity on a 50mm lens.

They works on all lens so putting them onto a 105mm lens has even a more magnification factor when a "normal" 50mm lens would.

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Extension Tubes

They act like Close up lens but they have no distortion and cause some light loss. They are hollow tubes that literally extend the focal length of any given lens. Also usually sold in sets of three.

Magnification is relative to the length of the tube compared to the lens that is placed in front of it.

50mm tube on a 50mm lens yields life size images.

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Color Correction Filters

Matching Color Films to Light Sources
  Filter Required to balance film to light source
Film Type Balanced for Daylight 5000K Photo Lamp 3400K Tungsten 3200K Flashbulb 3800K
Daylight Daylight, flash No Filter 80B 80A 80C
Type A 3400K Photo Lamps 3400K 85A No Filter 82A 81C
Type B 3200K Tungsten Lamps 3200K 85B 81A No Filter 81C

The background colors in the table are only approximate colors of the filter that is used.

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Color Wheel

Here is a standard color wheel that helps you understand colors.

Photography Color Wheel

Gray Scale

Black and White Grey Scale Chart
Sample Only: Do not use for production!! This is close but not perfect. Purchase a Kodak Color chart when calibrating your monitor and looking at prints.

This shows the full tonal range from white to black. This is good for not only looking at your negatives but when calibrating your monitor.

F16 Rule

The F16 rule is a "Rule of thumb" that will allow you to take a good image when you do not have a light meter.

In BRIGHT sunlight set the F stop to 16, set the shutter speed to the reciprocal of the ISO film speed. If the ISO film speed is between shutter speeds then with negative film use the closest lower shutter speed and for slide film round up. Example: An ISO 200 negative set shutter for 1/125 and for slides 1/250.

Knowing this basic exposure guide other lighting situations can be exposed with a fair degree of sureness. Cloudy bright day expose 1 more F stop, overcast two more stops. Dusk three more.

This rule is handy for when the batteries in the camera goes dead.

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Photographing the Moon (Luna) Guideline

Moon Size ISO Speed F Stop
Full 1 / ISO F16
Gibbous 2 / ISO F16
Quarter 5 / ISO F16
Crescent 10 / ISO F16

Example: Using ASA 400 film to photograph a quarter moon the camera is placed on a tripod, F16 is set, and the shutter speed is 1/80 of a second: 5/400 = 1/80 - and the self timer is used to trip the shutter (or a cable release).

The moon is DAYLIGHT balanced - it is reflecting sunshine - so no filters are needed to correct for any color shifts at all.

Exposure will vary depending if the moon is on the horizon, overhead, clouds, mist, pollution etc is in the air and where you are on the planet. Always bracket +- 1 F stop to get a good shot.

Rule of Thirds

A simple explanation is to divide your frame into three sections vertically and horizontally so it looks like a tic-tac-toe game and place your subject or horizon on one of the intersecting points of the horizontal and vertical lines rather than centering it in the middle of the frame.


Centering the subject can be 'boring'.

This allows for a more dramatic effect when you place your subject on one of the "power points" where these lines intersect.

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Know your Equipment

One of the reasons 90% of my photos come out so good is that I understand the film, limitations of each, how to use filters (like a polarizer, yellow, skylight, 82a, star and a few others) and especially how to frame things. You need to anticipate the action (especially true in aviation shots where the planes are traveling at 200 to 450 MPH, you do not have much time to get the shot!) and to edit out in the viewfinder the background by using different angles or focal lengths. Each type of shot can be seen on my Web site.

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Camera Buying

The best is to borrow the camera from someone who has it and work with it for a month or so to see if it matches the way you work. If no one has a camera that you can borrow go to a camera shop and shoot film with it for an hour or so. Practice changing lenses etc to see how it really works. The store may not let you take the camera for an hour, but you can certainly cock the shutter and press the shutter release button and work all the controls. Try changing lenses, going from manual, to auto, to aperture preferred mode, flash mode etc. Also, look through the viewfinder with various lens attached to the camera body. Do you feel comfortable using the camera?

Digital Camera Considerations

With most modern digital cameras, there is a lag between shutter is pressed and the actual image is captured. The lag time happens because the auto focus lens is focusing and the camera's computer is determining the correct exposure to take the picture. This lag, latency, is not the shutter speed. The point is, you don't want the lag time to be so long that you miss capturing that special expression or action. How can you tell if the latency is too long? I would say that a latency greater than 1/4 second can be too long.

Cleaning your lenses

Microfiber cleaning rags are the best. They are washable and very delicate and they look like silk cloth. As long as you blow off any harmful grit before using them, microfiber clothes will wipe off almost anything without any risk to your optics.

Kodak tissue and the related cleaning can be used but READ the directions first. Put the liquid onto the LENS tissue, wipe the lens then use lots of new CLEAN tissues to remove the now loosened materials. Never put any liquid directly onto the lens Most people will use too much and could easily wipe off or damage the lens coating. Kodak tissue will leave paper fibers if you are not careful.

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Pre Soaking Film

As the developer first comes in contact with the film it can be absorbed into the emulsion at an uneven rate. If the negative has large areas of the same tone, such as a sky, uneven development will be noticeable. A presoak helps the developer soak into the emulsion at an even rate and usually eliminates the problem.

Ilford films have a wetting agent built into them and do not need a presoak.

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F Stops and Shutter speeds

F stops and shutter speeds have a symbiotic relationship. For any given type film, once a shutter speed and F stop is known to expose film correctly a table of relationship is immediately established:

Shutter Speed F Stop
1 / 2 F22
1 / 4 F16
1 / 8 F11
1 / 15 F8
1 / 30 F5.6
1 / 60 F4
1 / 125 F2.8
1 / 250 F2.0
1 / 500 F1.4

Each of these settings will expose the film correctly. What can be seen is an inverse relationship between F stop and shutter speed. When one goes up the other must go down to compensate to maintain a correct exposure.

This means as F stop gets to a lower number (allows more light in) the shutter must be open less time and the depth of field is lessened.

Conversely, as shutter is lowered the F stop must be "Stopped down" to lessen the amount of light that reaches the film to avoid overexposing it. It has the effect of increasing the "depth of field".

The shutter also will stop "action." A person walking will be blurred at 1/60 of a second at 10 feet but "frozen" at 1/125. An eye blink is 1/30 of a second so if you always shoot at 1/15 of a second or slower no one will ever have their eyes shut. One reason everyone in the 1800s never were seen with their eyes shut was that the exposures were usually around 5 to 15 seconds and any blinks were minute in the overall time the film was exposed.

Now once you know a SINGLE film's proper exposure for morning, early day, midday, overcast, night then you can determine any film's proper exposure.

Film DIN (ASA) numbers are usually a single F stop apart. ASA 25, 50,   100, 200 400, 800 are each separated by a single F stop. If ASA 100 is properly exposed at 1/30 second F 4 then with ASA 400 film - - a two F stop faster film - - you would have to either increase the shutter speed by two to 1 / 125 to get a proper exposure, or increase the F stop to F 8, or some combination of the two. Like 1/60 F 5.6. By sliding up and down the table you can see what any proper exposure is once a single one is known.

A Lens best (fastest) F-stop is calculated dividing the focal length of the lens by the diameter.

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Digital and Mechanicl Shutter Delay

The early didgital cameras - and still true with a lot of the low end point and shoots - all have a shutter delay. This is the mechanial / electrial delay from the time you press the release and tell the camera to take the image compared to when the mechanics and electronics REALLY take the pictures. Time is usually expressed in milliseconds - and 20 ms is considered great.

The mechanical shutter system is usually the fastest.

Newer cameras though have more problems - autofocus, auto flash, and white balance all contribute to a severe delay. For any image this is a problem. You press, nothing happens, and then the camera takes the picture. Autofocus in low light will cause the camera to hunt to focus, lock, then a preflash, THEN the shutter is released and the image captured. If you are taking any photos with people then this can make you miss the shot.

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Flash Guide Numbers

From Dibert: "Recently the Southern Hemisphere was treated to a total lunar eclipse. During this event one Induhvidual standing in my street suggested that we photograph it. Someone explained that the moon would be difficult to photograph because it was completely darkened by the shadow of Earth. Her response was, "What about if I use the flash?""

Every flash has an intensity / distance rating called a Guide Number. This number is a universal way of comparing one flash to another.

It works by using a base ASA film speed of 100. It then rates how much power that flash put out based on it. You take the number, divide by the distance and that result is the F stop you are to use to get a proper exposure.

Using my Vivitar 285 as an example (set to the normal 50 mm focal length of a 35 mm camera):
ASA 100 Guide number 120
At 10 feet I should use an F stop of 12
At 25 feet I should use an F stop of 4.8

If you have three flashes, and they have a guide number of 60, 80 and 100 you can set them equal from your subject and the first would need an F6, the second an F8 and the third an F10 to give proper exposure.

The advantage to this is by placing them equal distance from a subject in a semicircle you can light it up and have just a two stop lighting range! One flash is the primary, the second will lessen the harsh shadows, and the third will be fill giving a pleasing effect. This assumes no diffusers, bounce lighting etc.

Knowing the basic guide number, and allowing for various film speeds using the film speed, F stop relationship rules, you can calculate the guide number for any film speed. Remember!! Lighting is a LOGARITHMIC function! Double the distance and your 1/4 the light!

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Electronic Flash Guide Number Table

Use the appropriate guide number in the table below as a starting point for your equipment. Select the unit output closest to the number given by your flash manufacturer. Then find the guide number for feet or meters.

To determine the lens opening, divide the guide number by the flash-to-subject distance. If negatives are too dark (overexposed), use a higher guide number; if they're too light (underexposed), use a lower number.

Unit Output (BCPS)* Guide Number Distances in Feet/Meters
GOLD 100 GOLD 200
350 40/12 60/18
500 50/15 70/21
700 60/18 85/26
1000 70/21 100/30
1400 85/26 120/36
2000 100/30 140/42
2800 120/36 170/50
4000 140/42 200/60
5600 170/50 240/70
8000 200/60 280/85

*BCPS = beam candlepower seconds

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Softening the Light When Using Flash

To gain a softer light to fall on any subject when shooting with a flash you can bounce the flash off a card, or a wall (watch out for color casting if the wall is not pure white). Some cameras have built in diffusers that you can pop out over the flash head to scatter the flash to have it become more omni directional.

You can purchase aftermarket attachments that are dark white plastic that fit over flashes to accomplish this. They cause usually a 2 f stop loss of light.

You can also put old white nylon stocking, t-shirt type material, bandage gauze to accomplish the same thing.

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Wedding Tips

If you are using a flash by all means talk with the Official wedding photographer first to ensure that you do not get in their way or conflict with any gear they are using. This will put you in good graces and they will then be able to work with you rather than be annoyed when you stand in front of shot they MUST get to fulfill their obligations to the couple.

B&W forgives a lot, it also allows natural lighting to subjects that can be blown away by a direct flash (400 ASA here of course, unless outdoors). It can also do a lot more for "mood" shots since it has a larger contrast range than color film does.

Indoor lighting usually ends up being 1/60 sec F4 (if lucky) in a church so you will get blurred movement at times if you shoot at normal recommended exposure. At 1/125 F 2 real shallow depth of field. So focus has to be perfect. Best to go to 800 or even 1200 and manual process it to get higher shutter and more depth of field.

Color film often requires the use of a flash in a building (well, unless you want to use Tungsten) and you will get harsh shadows unless you put two flashes on your camera (as I do) and use a reflector / diffuser (lose two stops of light this way). But I also put three to 6 slave flashes around the church to get rid of the harsh shadows and ensure good lighting no matter what. I only have to worry about other people's flashes and I talk with them before hand to warn them - - and the couple - that with others using flash along with me some pictures may not come out as planned since they used "my flash" when they took their shots. I have not invested in a radio linked units (yet) since I have yet to have any difficulties due to my two on-camera flash units cover this possibility and talking with other camera people first.

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UPS your enlarger

Having your own enlarger at home is a great convenience. The ability to just leave things where they are and resume where you left off the next day and the saving of travel time to a lab is well worth the cost of setting it up. However, when you do go back the next day you may find that the exposure has changed. A factor that will affect exposure time the most is the color temperature of your bulb. That a light's color spectrum and intensity will vary over the life of the bulb is a given. A change from one day to the next is most likely the result of the power being supplied to your enlarge is different than it was yesterday. 120 Volt A/C is the "standard" that is supposed to be supplied but in reality it will vary from 106 to 125. It is just the way it is. Below 106 a "brown out" is technically in effect. This voltage fluctuation will affect your enlarger's color temperature and luminance the most. So place a UPS - - Uninterruptible Power Supply - - in your darkroom and plug in your enlarger and timer into it. A "Surge" protector will not do it. A true UPS will take the a/c, convert it to DC, then convert it back (after passing through a DC battery) to a/c at the same predetermined voltage regardless of what is being fed to it. This will ensure that you light will not change in intensity due to voltage fluctuations.

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The Future of Silver Based film

I think silver film will always be there - but maybe at only 25% of all "film" taken. Silver based film will be there mainly for non-time critical publication work. The mass market will convert to digital due to marketing campaigns and lack of need nor desire for large size images at high print quality. 99% of images taken by the mass market never get enlarged to more than 4 x 6. That's the main reason why I see it succeeding.

I do not see the digital film resolution getting to the 1500 lines per mm like that of film anytime in the next 5 years at least (as of June 2002). Right now I think the digital resolution is something like 150 lines per mm. Someone could always build a camera with a 15 x 15 inch digital imaging area that will equal film resolution of a 35 mm camera using KodaChrome 25 right now (if you could get it, it was discontinued in 2002) - but at a million dollars a copy I doubt if the mass market could afford it!

It's took 6 years to go from the $1800 200x300 pixels camera to the $250 640 x 480 consumer camera in 1998. Another 5 years from 2002 and I would think most consumer cameras sold will be digital and not 35 mm film cameras in the US, Europe, Asia market areas. This will accelerate due to chemical restrictions and environmental laws concerning film developing. Trying to meet film processing and dispose of waste water and chemical is getting expensive. This will force people to digital. Some ads will hype the environmental aspect of digital cameras. Most will just hype the end user ease of taking and printing images at kiosks.

This article about a new digital camera chip from an September 2000 issue of The New York Times talked about change coming. That chip showed up in September of 2002 in the Sigma D9 camera.(The D10 came out in spring of 2005 with a better Foveon chip.)

Film is also more permanent than digital right now. We can still do prints from film taken in the 1840s - - I wonder how digital media, let alone the software and hardware that originally created it, will have the same printability in 150 years!

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Digital Camera Delayed Shutter

Want to "freeze the moment" when using a digital camera? You will not with a digital (or any GP auto-focus camera)! They all have a 1/4 to 3/4 second delay from press of the shutter release to when the real capture occurs so that moment has already passed by. This is when their auto focus kicks in and all the other "consumer" aids they have put into the modern cameras do their magic. These are all embedded to take the technical decision making (learning curve) away from the casual user so they can just get the image and not worry about the technical details of how a camera works.

The only way to get the precise moment it to press the shutter in advance of when you really want the image to be recorded. Course if you have no idea that "moment" is about to happen you will always miss it!

Some cameras allow a user to lock the auto focus to eliminate that item as well as other overrides. You must read the manual to understand the limitations of the equipment in order to get some images. Red-eye reduction is another delay enabling feature that will cause all sorts of problems when trying to capture fast-moving subjects. Any static (posed) subject are usually not affected by the delay.

Remember to hold the camera perfectly still till you hear / see the film (image) advance or being processed. Camera blur will occur if you fail to brace the camera properly for images taken below 1/60 of a second .

Only once they design a camera to take the picture the instant the shutter button is depressed (i.e.: like traditional film cameras) will serious "amateur" and professional photographers move completely to digital cameras.

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Digital image size to print size

The number of pixels (short for Pixel Elements) that a digital camera captures will directly equate into a maximum print size that it should be printed at without extensive software manipulation.

Submegapixel 1 Megapixel 2 Megapixel 3 Megapixel 8 Megapixel 24 Megapixel
4 x 6 5 x 7 8 x 10 11 x 14 16 x 20 20 x 30

Not until a camera gets to capturing 8 Megapixels worth of information will it really approach the basic capabilities of a 35 mm negative. If you want to same image quality from a digital camera as a medium format Mamiya 645 or Hassablad then you will need a at least a 64 megapixel digital camera.

You need 225 pixels in an image to create a good electronic image and it is non-negotiable. Anything less and you will not get a decent image quality in any desktop publishing program.

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35 mm Camera Lens Field Of View

Lens Size Field of View
50mm 44-46 degrees
35mm 63 degrees
28mm 75 degrees
24mm 84 degrees
14mm 114 degrees

A person has an 180 degree field of view.

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Mass Market Flash Card Printing

The proliferation of digital cameras has spawned a new service at some major retail outlets like Wal-Mart® - - digital printing from your flash cards onto regular photo paper.

This means that you can take your pictures digitally, go into a Wal-Mart® drop them off at their one hour photo lab (they use Fuji paper) and then one hour later you can have your digital images ready for you in 4x6 prints.

The cost is around 39 cents per print (prices will vary of course). This is actually cheaper than printing them out on your inkjet printer once you count the cost of paper and ink - - not to mention it would take you 2 to 4 hours to print out 100 images from a camera whereas it takes them only an hour to do the same amount of prints from their machine.

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Film, Print, and Movie Screen Aspect Ratios

16:9 is the aspect ratio of a theatre standard movie screen and HDTV

2.35:1 Some movies are in this wide screen mode (Vistavision®, Panavision®)

4:3 is a normal TV

1.5:1 is 35mm (24 x 36 mm actually) film.

1.33:1 is what most Digital cameras are at.

1.5:1 is a 4 x 6 print

1.25:1 is a 8 x 10 print (Which means part of the frame MUST be cropped to fill the 8 x 10).

1.272:1 is 11 x 14 print

This means that a regular movie displayed on a TV screen has either the left or the right side of the frame chopped off from the way it was filmed in order to show it on Television.

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Projector Lumens

Amount of lumens needed for room and screen size for digital projectors

This matrix allows you to pick the correct digital projector you will need to show your images correctly.

Pixel to Print Sizes

Photo Size Pixel Equivalent
Wallet 142 x 218
4 x 6 512 x 768
5 x 7 768 x 1152
8 x 10 1024 x 1536

Note: this is based on 72 ppi (PC) screen resolution.

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Memory Card Size and Image Storage Count

Every film or digital camera system has a limit to the number of frames that can be taken before film must be reloaded or a memory card changed. Here is a quick reference table to memory card size and the number of images that can be taken before it is filled up.

Memory Card Capacity by Megapixel and Image Count
Camera Size File Size (JPG, NO compression) Memory Card Size
    32 64 128 256 512 640
2 Megapixel 900 KB 35 71 142 284 568 711
3 Megapixel 1.2 Megabyte 26 53 106 213 426 533
4 Megapixel 2.0 Megabyte   31 64 128 256 320
5 Megapixel 2.5 Megabyte     51 102 204 256
6 Megapixel 3.2 Megabyte     40 80 160 200
8 Megapixel 4.4 Megabyte       58 115 146
16 Megapixel 12.8 Megabyte       20 40 50

Storing and Charging Rechargeable Batteries

Discharge NiCads batteries if you plan not to use them for more than a few weeks.

When NiCads are getting weak, discharge them and put them in the deep freezer overnight. The next day, after recharging, there will be much more power than before.

Two important items: NiCads and NiMh both only have 1.2 volts of charge: not 1.5 of normal alkaline batteries. So some devices may not work well when using them.

Use a battery cycler to keep NiCads fully charged. NiCad will retain a "memory" if not fully discharged before a new recharge. NiCad must be fully discharged, charged, discharged charged to obtain full capacity by using a battery cycler type charger. NiCads can also go into "reversal" if discharged too much. Battery cyclers will take them down till they are fully discharged (without them going into "reversal") and then charge them back up to their full 1.2 or 1.25 volts.

NiMh do not retain a "memory" of the last base charge start value. They can be used for 5 minutes then recharged and they will still completely discharge.

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Organizing Photos On Your Computer System

There are variations on this method, and how recursively you go down in organizing items, but there are three basic ways to organize at the top level: date, subject (topic, function or what-ever), and a normalized database.

If you organize by date then you can easily locate items if you know the general time frame. "I received this in July of 2003" and if you named your directories 2003 / 07 / DD then you can quickly find anything for that date DD. however, this means if you receive 150 items over the year from company X then those items are scattered all over the file system and are hard to assemble unless you always prefixed the file name using the company. Requires more work to gather all into a single source to distribute.

If you organize by subject - the company itself - at the top level - then you can create the same hierarchy above with dates under the company and everything is located in a single structure - easy to locate and archive and distribute. You can then actually abstract one level above to have companies in folders of their own like vendors, suppliers, customers, government etc and repeat the subject structure under each one of those top levels. Thus the same structure exists in all and are easy to navigate. You can even easily write programs to view and find files within this structure and file system act like mini-database without it being a true database. (This is what I do for my photographs, but organized at top level by year taken).

If you go and put things into a Normalized database (always the most efficient) you can then search the DB to find things - but it means ALWAYS requiring the program to put items into it AND to retrieve items for anyone who wants to find items. It also means programming to assemble and export documents from a single firm / time / subject to be distributable.

A Non normalized method of locating items would be to use an Excel spreadsheet to store information about where the files are located then sort that XLS file to group items then locate them. Note: an Microsoft® XLS worksheet has a 64,000 row limit. The XLS file would then point to the directories where the file is stored plus now you can have comments on the files to be metadata about the file. You then search the spreadsheet to find the file and from it you can then locate the file in the storage system.

Each method has advantages and disadvantages and once down a path it may require lots of work to change to a new structure. If anything, pick a method that allows it to be easily changed in the future.

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Matting Pictures

Mat boarders should be twice the width of the frame edge. If the frame is 1 1/2 inches wide then the mat border should be three inches wide.

The mat should be lighter than the frame.

The frame should be darker than the wall that it will be placed upon.

Scotch brand Adhesive Transfer Tape works good for any project.

Linen hanging tape ca also be used.

Always use acid free archival mat boards behind UV absorbing glass.

Inkjet printed pictures should be sprayed with a sealant on both the front and the back before being matted.

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Turn off the engine of your car and place a bean bag on your window then place your camera on it to when using a telephoto lens at slow shutter speeds.

Use of a window tripod mount works too when in a location that does not allow people out of the car (like in wildlife parks) or in areas where the window cannot be rolled down due to lions and such.

Stand on the roof of your car to get height. Note: This is dangerous since you can forget you are up there and fall off; plus most roofs are so flexible you could put a dent in the roof! If you must then stand at the corner posts since they are designed to withstand a rollover and standing there you should not cause any problems.

Get a pickup truck - - they are so high no one could see the top of the roof if you did put a dent in it. Plus, if you forget and leave camera gear on the roof as you drive off they will fall into the bed and you will not lose them!

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Zone System

Developed by Ansel Adams to properly expose film the whole idea is that all exposures range from zone I - Black - to zone X - (10) White.

The film you use then has its own ability to capture those a range of zones. Each zone is 1 F stop. So the idea is to measure the scene's range of contrast so you know what will be rendered on the film to be white and if the contrast range in the scene can fully be captured on film.

So if a B&W film has 7 stops of range, and you measure a scene that shows 9 F stops, then you know that if expose the film so that the upper end of the films' capture range is set so that it falls just at zone 10, then anything in the scene that falls below zone 3 will be black when printed.

Field Guide

Put Film and cameras in Zip Lock® bags when not in use to keep moisture out. When going from cold to warm areas put lens and cameras in them before going inside. Buy reusable moisture absorbent and put inside the bags. If a lens / camera falls into water, they just might float.

Carry towels to put equipment on and not the ground.

Get a space blanket to cover equipment in hot sun areas.

Keep spare batteries inside your jacket to stay warm when the temperature is < 50 degrees F.

Use car sun shades as a reflector.

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RGB being combined together creates the Tristimulus color space.

Picture Framing

Use aluminum foil as a seal in the back of picture frames to keep out moisture.

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Viewfinder Light Leaks

Light from any direction that hits the light sensor in a camera sets the reading. If the light is strong behind your camera and is able to pass through the viewfinder and hit the mirror then it will affect the sensors and it would lead to underexposure of the shot.

If you have TTL (Through The Lens) type camera metering system for flash images then that will not happen since the mirror comes up blocking the light coming in through the viewfinder. TTL exposure systems reads the exposure off the film.

The easiest way to tell if light coming through the viewfinder will affect the exposure is to look through the lens and get a reading. Move you eye away, take a new reading, turn on exposure lock to fix the reading when light is shining though the viewfinder, then compare the two readings. If they are different then you will have an underexposed image. I've seen exposure vary 1/4 to 1 stop from what it should be when light is allowed to come through the viewfinder.

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VP of R&D asks person to evaluate digital cameras to use for photographing products. When it comes time to present his results to company owners, person brings his own digital camera to demonstrate.

"Where do you put in the film?" one owner asks.

Says person: "It's a digital camera."

Owner: "We'd better not purchase one right now, in that case, since neither of us knows where to get digital film developed."

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Preserving Inkjet Prints

Be sure to use a spray sealant on both the front and back of any inkjet prints. (Lumijet™ works well.)

This will keep air from reacting with the dyes in the prints and let them last longer.

It is also best to frame them behind UV glass.

Solvent based clear coats designed for watercolors work best with most inkjet media.

Always test first - water based clear coats don't work well water-solutable dye based inks.

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Nodal Points

In order to do true panoramic, you must rotate the camera around the nodal point of the lens.

A trip when the camera body is attached is not the same as the Nodal Point of the lens. It is the point of foci of the lens that needs to be the rotation point.

20% overlap of image is required in order to stitch multiple exposure images together to create a panoramic landscape correctly.

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Film Dates

Keeping film in the freezer will extend its shelf life past its printed expiration date. However, the length of time that it will stay accurate in color and exposure rating is dependant upon the film type.

Ilford Pan-F, for example, will deteriorate regardless of how it is stored and after three years and will not be useable.

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Camera Vibrations

When a 35mm camera shutter is tripped and the mirror moves up out of the way it sets off a vibration that can last around 1/15 of a second. This causes the image to blur on long exposures of 1/30, 1/15 1/8, 1/4 of a second or more. Whenever possible, use the self timer or the mirror lock up feature of your camera to move the mirror up so that the vibration goes away before the shutter actually opens.

To avoid camera shake when the camera is on a tripod in wind attach weight to the center pole of the tripod. You can use your backpack, rocks (or water) in a bucket to increase the mass of the tripod so that it does not move in the wind.

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Taking Notes

I usually carry a pocket pad of paper (those 2" x 4" size) and write down notes about where, when and sometimes the settings of the camera when taking pictures. This notepad I also use for writing down people's names, information about what you are taking an image of (aircraft type, owner, monument information, etc) and other pertinent details.

I then transcribe those notes into a cover page concerning the pictures on that roll and put that page as the first page of that set of images.

I don't write onto the back of the prints any info. Unless you use pens designed for photo paper it will smear and fade over time and could transfer onto prints behind when stacked.

Some digital cameras have ability to do voice annotations for each frame but you would still have to transcribe them. The convenience of this method has not stood the test of time and is more of a novelty so far.

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Multiple Exposure Guide

Number of
F Stop
Compensation is how much you underexpose each image from whatever the meter is a proper exposure.

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Reciprocity Failure

This is a failure of the film to accurately record the scene due to excessively long or short exposures. Typically, exposures longer than 30 seconds will experience a color shift or invalid exposure than what was calculated to be a correct exposure. This also occurs with shutter speeds above 1/2000 of a second. Thus if you light meter says a correct exposure is 1 minute at F4 it might really need to be two minutes at F4 to get a correct exposure.

This varies by film type. You have to experiment to find out how your camera / film combination works on long exposures.

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Misused Photo Terms

Any language is always in flux. Photography has its own set of terms and meanings and, like any specialty, it is always better to know and converse in its language in order to be to ensure what you are talking about is the same as the listener is understanding.

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35 MM Camera Lens Equivalent In Other Camera Formats

Use this chart to find a lens focal length equivalents between camera formats.

35 mm Camera lens focal length equivalents in other camera formats

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Shutter Speed and Camera Shake

Avoid shutter speeds between 1/30, 1/15 and 1/8 second when taking handheld picture with a 50mm lens. On any camera where a mirror moves out of the way to allow the light to hit the film the movement of the mirror will cause vibration and will soften the image becasuse of it. Even true when on a tripod at those speeds, though much lessened due to the weight of the tripod dampening the movement.

This means you should use a tripod or monopod, and the mirror lockup feature (most SLR cameras do not have this feature anymore), to get around this problem.

The speed range will vary with lens length. for a 200 mm lens it goes up to 1/60 of a second and down to 1/2 a second exposure.

1/15 of a second is the worse speed of all to use.

Even applies to digital cameras.

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Aerial Photography

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Geo Coding

One way to track your photos is to embed their GPS coordinates into them either as your take them or afterwards. There are add-ons for cameras that feed the GPS into the camera and embed that data into the EXIF file as you take them. Other programs allow you to lookup the coordinates then manually add them into the images. Google, via Google Maps, also allows them to be pinpointed within their map system.   This feature is called Geocoding / Geotagging. Very useful for surveyors, hikers, travelers, wildlife photographers, newspaper reporters, and so on where knowing where you took the picture is just as important as having the picture

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Viewing Distance of a Photo

The proper viewing distance of a photo is defined as being twice the diagonal of the print.

Proper Viewing Distance to be from the Print
Print Size (in inches) Diagonal Minimum Distance from Print
4x6 7.2 14.4
8x10 12.8 25.61
11x14 17.8 35.6
16x20 25.6 51.22

Looking at a print from the minimum stated distance will give a person the proper perspective of the print and enable them to see the print as how the photographer intended.

This is also valid for paintings.

Moonrise, Sunrise, Tides and other Almanac Data for Photographers

A central place to go that has all of this information is the US Naval Observatory web site for Astronomical Observations. This will allow you to figure out when and the compass / true course to where the moon, sun will rise and set over the earth.

A good source for using this info in regards to photography is Thom Hogan. He is a writer for Outdoor Photographer Magazine. He has other URLs on his site dealing with this type of information also.

Film base sequence (most popular):

Metal, glass, cellulose, nitrate, then polyester.
Nitrate 1893-1937
Cellulose acetate (acetate, cellulose acetate propionate, and cellulose acetate butyrate): 1935
Cellulose diacetate (diacetate): 1937
Cellulose triacetate (triacetate): 1947 (Film industry, 1950s public)
Cellulose triacetate (triacetate): 1950s

Polyester based film (polyethylene terephthalate - aka Kodak 'Estar' Base) 1950s onward. Kodak as well as other firms converted to this base for their films.