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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11
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Lecture Comments (3)

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Post by Professor Brown on November 15, 2014

Glad they were of help. It is always most important to get the best photo you can IN THE CAMERA, and then you can do some fun enhancement with Elements.

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Last reply by: Professor Brown
Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:27 AM

Post by Christopher Langham on November 15, 2014

Thanks for the camera tips

The Importance of Quality

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • The Mantra of Quality 1:02
    • 'Garbage In, Garbage Out'
  • Setting Up Your Camera 1:50
    • Camera Settings: JPEG vs. RAW
    • Setting Your Camera for RAW Files
  • Some Tips on Taking Quality Photos 8:23
    • Fill the Frame
    • Check Your Focus
    • Camera Shake
    • Exposure
    • Shoot Several Shots of a Scene
    • Shoot Multiple Angles and Different Focal Lengths
  • Lesson Summary 18:40

Transcription: The Importance of Quality

Hi, everybody; Michael Brown here again; welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop Elements course.0000

In this lesson, before we dig into the nuts and bolts and features and techniques of Photoshop Elements itself, I wanted to talk to you about a subject of vital importance.0007

That is the importance of quality.0017

We're going to talk about my mantra for quality, and how to always get the best possible quality you can in anything you do, not just Adobe Photoshop Elements.0021

Then, we're going to talk about setting up your camera to get the highest quality images you can out of the camera, that is from the settings within the camera, technically.0033

Then, I'm going to give you some photography tips, based on my 35 years of location experience, to help you capture the best quality images you can from a compositional point of view and an artistic point of view, and also a quality point of view--the things that you can do when you take the image, to ensure that it will be the highest quality.0043

Let's get started by talking about the mantra for quality.0062

It's pretty simple, and it is: Garbage in, garbage out.0066

If you begin with poor quality, the best you can hope to achieve is a poor-quality product with icing on it.0072

This is true, not only in the creative process--this is true in anything you do.0080

Starting with the best possible quality and doing your very best at every step of, in this case, the creative process, but anything you do in life, will result in the best possible finished product.0088

You give it all you have; that is all you can do.0102

You start with the best you can, and work it all the way along, and you will get the best out.0105

Now, quality begins--in the case of what we're dealing with, Photoshop Elements--it begins with your photograph.0112

Digital cameras today, like this one I have here, all of them shoot two different format choices: you can choose to shoot a jpeg, or you can choose to shoot a raw file.0120

I will explain the difference between the two.0133

Let's start by talking about the raw file itself: the raw file is exactly what the sensor captured inside of your camera, period.0136

This gives you the maximum number of pixels and no compression loss whatsoever.0147

It's the best the camera has to offer, right there.0153

The secondary option is a jpeg.0156

Jpeg is a very common format; this is what your images on the Internet are--mostly jpegs.0161

Jpeg is a file format that compresses the file to make it smaller; so, in other words, the same file that was a raw, that was captured by the sensor, will be taken in jpeg format and compressed.0169

It is a lossy compression: in other words, it loses data, because as it compresses it, it throws away some data.0184

The more it compresses, the more it throws away.0192

When you open it back up, the computer has to fill in the blanks, and sometimes it misses spots here and there; it just will.0195

That is just the way it is: it can't get them all back; it has to fake it.0205

You begin to get a little degradation, and you see it in color noise.0208

The more you compress it--the more data that is thrown away--the more noise and compression you're going to get.0213

If you're going to shoot jpeg at all--which there is nothing wrong with--shoot it at the minimal amount of compression, so that you lose as little data as possible.0219

If you at all can, shoot raw.0233

The other thing about jpeg is: whether you have any internal settings set to make corrections to your image in the camera--and I suggest don't; do it in Elements; that is what it's for--when it takes the image, it does exposure, sharpening, and color corrections to your image automatically, to the pixels.0236

So, what you see is already altered slightly, whereas the raw file is absolutely unchanged, and you get to work it any way you want to, starting with the best raw works.0258

The other thing about jpeg is: the sensor has a range of exposure that it can capture; in other words, that is the light all the way up into the brights and down into the really dark shadows.0271

Jpeg--the range is smaller than the raw file, so automatically, even if there was no compression--or no corrections--the range of light and the range of exposure in a jpeg is smaller than that is in a raw file.0283

So, if you start to work on your image, and you're trying to pull detail out of the brights or the darks, you are restricted with a jpeg; so I recommend, if at all possible: work with a raw file.0298

Let's take a look, now, at exactly how to set your camera up for that.0311

Here we are: what you see here--these are a couple of screenshots from the menu on the back of one of my cameras, a D7000 Nikon.0315

These are your choices for format and shooting.0325

In this case, you see there are four choices for raw and three for jpeg.0330

NEF, by the way, is Nikon's raw format; it's a Nikon electronic format; each manufacturer of camera has their own: Canon's, I believe, is CR.0335

That is just a designation; now, you can shoot raw--as you see, the fourth one--just purely the raw file, or raw plus three different quality levels of jpeg: a jpeg fine, a jpeg normal, or a jpeg basic--basic being the least, the most compression.0348

Me personally--I see absolutely no reason to shoot a raw file and a jpeg; if you are shooting raw at all, the reason you are shooting it is that you're going to take the raw file, take it into Photoshop Elements, and work on it!0370

You have the best quality file, and you're going to work on that file to get the end result, and the end result is what you're going to be using.0387

If you shoot them both, that means you have to do one of two things...well, the only way to work it is to take both of them and work on them.0395

You're wasting time, and besides, the jpeg image is not of the quality level of the raw; it's just taking up extra space.0403

If you need a jpeg for whatever purpose, once you work on your raw image and you have it enhanced the way you want it, you can save it out as a secondary file, as a jpeg, and send it out to anybody you want to.0410

I recommend: either shoot jpeg fine or pure raw.0426

Now, if you're shooting jpeg, jpeg fine is the highest of the image quality--that is the least compression.0431

The physical image size is another choice you have with jpeg--you have the compression ratio and the number of pixels that the image opens up to.0438

In this case--and this is the same as for raw--with my camera here, almost 5000x3200 in change, 16.1 million pixels--that is how many pixels there are in the sensor.0448

That is how many pixels there are in your image.0460

If you shoot medium, look: it has already cut it to 9 million pixels.0464

If you shoot small, it's one-fourth the number of pixels; whereas the large has 16 million, the small has 4 million.0469

Your image is much less quality, simply because it has less pixels; the resolution is smaller; you don't have as fine detail.0479

Shoot raw; shoot jpeg fine; and image size of large; and that takes care of how to set up your camera.0490

Let's now talk about some photographic tips.0499

My tips on taking quality photos: I have a whole bunch of them, but I'm just going to give you these basic ones that will help you get the best you can.0504

First of all, fill the frame; the frame, meaning your monitor on the back of your camera.0511

Fill it up with the scene; if you are shooting a picture of a person, don't make them really small and have all of this excess space around that you are never going to use, because you're going to crop in to print that image, and you're throwing away a lot of data; it's like shooting a jpeg at a small compression ratio.0519

You're wasting; fill the frame!0536

Let me give you an example of filling the frame: here is a shot: on the left, this is the raw file, and this is the finished shot.0539

This is a photo I took out in...I'll just zoom it up so you can see it...Death Valley.0549

I love this photo; this is actually...I'll zoom it up so you can see it...there is a raven that just landed on this branch and sat there for a while; it's not a prop; that was really there.0555

I have a nice composition; from side to side, it looks really good; there is a little excess space on the top, and maybe a little excess on the bottom, but for this composition, I didn't want to come in any more on the side.0568

I composed it as tightly as I could in the camera, and if you will notice, my finished image--the exact width is the same as the raw file; all I did was trim a little bit off of the top and the bottom.0581

I got the maximum quality level I could by filling the frame of that image.0595

In addition to that, be conscious of a couple of things.0603

It amazes me--whether it be with your smartphone, or whether it be with a camera of any quality level--human nature is, "Take a picture of me!" "OK!" and you hold it up, and you shoot it just like this--horizontally.0609

Most of the pictures you take are of people, and people are vertical items, unless they're lying down; they're vertical!0625

Why would you take a horizontal image of them?0632

Even if you fill it up on the monitor, you have all of this extra space on the side, and when you trim it, you are not getting all that the camera can give you.0634

Very simple tip: if you're shooting people, and you want to fill the frame, just turn the camera vertically!0647

Zoom it in so that the people fill the wider area of the image; you get higher detail and a better quality picture.0654

When you are framing, make sure that you leave a little extra space, so that you have a little latitude on your cropping.0665

You don't want to get in too tight, and think, "I want to axe this," but you don't want too much extra space.0672

Play with that; that will give you more pixels, higher definition, better quality.0677

Check your focus on the monitor on the back of your camera.0684

For maximum image clarity, take time to zoom that image up; you can do that very simply--each camera has a different way; here I do it with a zoom control.0688

Look at your image to make sure that the focus is exactly where you want it.0699

Autofocus: I don't care how high-quality the camera is; autofocus--it's not you; it's just a piece of technical product.0705

It's going to autofocus where it thinks the point should be, and a lot of times, that will go to infinity.0719

You're taking a portrait; the camera focuses back on the wall; you open it up in the computer; it's out of focus.0725

You go on vacation; you want to take a picture of your significant other with a backdrop of this beautiful place; you pick up the camera; you take the picture.0734

You get home--a place you're never going to be again, or a situation or experience you're never going to have; you open up the image; it's out of focus.0743

Photoshop Elements can do a lot, but it can't fix terribly out-of-focus things.0751

Check that focus!0755

Be careful of what is called camera shake, especially with the digital cameras of today.0758

In film days and back, cameras had viewfinders; this one happens to have it--you can probably not see it, but it's a little one here, rather than just the screen.0764

I can put the camera right up to my eye, and I can take the picture.0773

That, right there, puts me in a position like this, where it helps to stabilize the camera, and it doesn't shake.0778

But, all of the digital cameras--you hold them like this; if the light is low and the shutter speed gets longer than a thirtieth of a second, it's very, very difficult to make sure that camera is going to be in focus; even though the focus point is right, you can't physically hold that camera steady at a slow shutter speed.0786

For anything less than a thirtieth of a second, I recommend that you use a tripod, if you have it, or brace the camera against something solid, if you are outdoors--a tree, a rock, or your car--and if you can't do that, the best thing you can do is, instead of holding the camera like this--way out--bring it in a little bit, put your elbows on your side, and try to stabilize it as much as possible.0808

Breath smoothly and shallowly, get it in, and squeeze the shutter carefully.0834

That will help get the best you can.0840

In addition to that, make sure that you get the best exposure--that is, the amount of light: too bright or too dark.0845

Do what is called "bracketing" your shots, if possible: shoot a couple of shots incrementally underexposed and a couple incrementally overexposed; what that means is the camera is going to try to get, if it's on auto, the best exposure it thinks; that may not be the best exposure.0853

You can actually set in your menu to bracket; what that means is you take the nominal image, and then you shoot one that is a little brighter, and then you shoot one that is a little brighter than that.0872

Then, you shoot one that is a little darker than the nominal, and a little darker, so that you get a range of exposure, from a little underexposed to a little overexposed.0883

You can go through those images and pick the absolute best exposure that you want.0891

Let me show you an example of that one.0897

Let's go to Vasquez Rocks.0904

If you look at this top row right here, you will see--it's hard to see on this thing--but you see, I'm just going to walk my way across, and see, that one is a little bright, a little less bright, a little darker, a little darker, a little brighter, bright, bright, bright, bright.0906

It's the same scene, but I changed the exposure, and obviously, this one is too bright, and obviously this one is too dark; the one that is nominally right is this one.0920

That way, by bracketing, I made sure I had the best exposure, and by having the best exposure, you don't either lose detail in the high lights or lose detail in the shadows; you get the best you can, the highest quality image.0932

Shoot several shots of a scene, if you can; that is, the same shot; in other words, don't just take the camera and go, "Click!" and walk away.0947

Check that image, and make sure that it's right, and if you can't make sure that it's right--you don't have the time or anything--click the shutter a couple of extra times.0958

How much does it cost you?--this is digital!--the cost for multiple shots: zero!0969

Just click the shutter and put it on the memory card.0976

You want to make sure you have the best exposure and no camera shake: shoot it, shoot it again; shoot it again; I mean, if you're shooting a sporting event, where it's in action, you have to only shoot one; but if you can, shoot extra, even--especially--the shots you are taking of people.0980

You smile and take the shot; you don't know if you caught the best smile in that shot exactly, so shoot two or three shots to make sure that the expression on the person is correct, so that you are, again, getting the best quality we possibly can.0996

Finally, shoot multiple angles and different focal lengths.1011

Just because you saw a scene and thought, "Oh, that looks really nice," and you click the shot, that doesn't mean that that is the optimally best composition or shot of that scene.1017

The other thing is that human nature, especially with the digital cameras today--when you take a photo, what do you do?--you hold it out at eye level at arm's length, and that is the viewpoint that you shoot.1028

That doesn't mean that that is the best view of that scene.1042

You can try getting lower for a more dramatic angle; getting higher and looking down on something; move over in different directions to see if the scene looks better or worse, by shifting the actual viewpoint right, left, up, and down.1047

Not only that--you have a zoom on your camera, even in the phones!1060

It looks different when it's wide-angle and you are close to it than it is when it's telephoto and you're far away.1065

If you have the time, and you want to get those quality images, shoot the different angles; shoot different focal lengths.1071

Once again, just to very quickly sum this all up on the tips: Fill the frame; maximize the number of pixels; check your focus--make sure that that image is crisp; watch that camera shake when it gets dark--brace the camera; make sure you get the best exposure by taking a couple overs and a couple of unders; make sure you get the right one so that you can get all the detail.1078

Shoot more than one shot of anything you do if you can--it costs you nothing--it ensures that you get the best shot; shoot multiple angles and different focal lengths for artistic creativity; all of this to get the best quality possible that you can.1102

Back to the beginning: all of this...where is my mantra of quality?--there it is!...I want to stress again: quality is incredibly important, and the mantra of quality: Garbage in, garbage out.1119

The camera: set it right and get the best quality possible that you can.1135

All right, I will see you in the next lesson in Adobe Photoshop Elements.1141