Digital Focus: Experiment With Black and White
Black-and-white photography is a technique born of necessity: color photos were once expensive and hard to make. These days, folks shoot in black and white for very different reasons. For some, the monochromatic palette evokes emotion that color can't easily achieve. Blank and white also has nostalgic value. Whatever the reason, lots of people like to dabble in black and white, even though their digital cameras are more than capable of shooting color.
Color film and black-and-white film are very different animals. But to a digital camera and your computer, there's really no difference between the two. It's very easy to convert a color photo to black and white, since a monochrome image is simply a color image that's been robbed of its saturation. The easiest method, of course, is to do it in the camera. Many digital cameras offer a black-and-white mode--anything you shoot with this setting will be captured in black and white. Easy, right? The downside, of course, is that there's no full-color version. So if you later want to see the image in color, too bad.
A better option is to bypass the black-and-white mode on your digital camera and shoot in full color. Once you get the picture onto your PC, you can explore the wonders of monochrome. Some image editing programs, like Paint Shop Pro, have a black-and-white conversion tool. Just open the image file, choose
One potentially negative side effect in Paint Shop Pro is that by default the program converts the image into an 8-bit (256-color) file, which is bad because you need a true 24-bit image to perform most editing functions. So after using this tool, be sure to choose
Want to have a little more control? Bypass the Grey Scale menu command and desaturate the image manually. It's easy: Just choose
While you're in the Hue/Saturation/Lightness dialog box, don't forget to experiment. A really cool trick is to mess with the Hue in an image that is lightly saturated. Once you drag the slider down to minimize the colors in your scene, try moving the Hue slider left and right. You can change the color tones in your picture this way and create some strangely compelling, if somewhat abstract, images. I edited a trio of pictures to show you what these techniques look like: Start with the
We've become a nation of shutterbugs, taking pictures everywhere we go. That's because we don't need to remember to haul a dig camera around anymore; these days we can just whip out a PDA or mobile phone.
Consider Palm's newest PDA, the Zire 71. This amazing little handheld costs just $299, yet it has a built-in digital camera that takes surprisingly good photos. The camera is cleverly hidden in the belly of the PDA; you need to slide the front of the device up to reveal the lens in the back of the case. At the same time, the PDA automatically enters camera mode (the screen becomes a digital viewfinder) and a shutter release appears at the bottom of the device.
You can store pictures in the PDA's system memory or on the removable Secure Digital card, then transfer them to your PC with ease. The 640-by-480-pixel images are sized just right for e-mail and Web pages.
While such a PDA camera will never replace an ordinary digital camera, it just might change the way you take pictures. With a simple camera in your pocket all day long, you might be more inclined to take day-to-day lifestyle shots of friends, family, and coworkers. That's the hook Sprint is using to lure people into buying a PCS Vision phone, and I think it's reasonable. I know that I've taken a lot more pictures with the Zire 71 than I expected to. What can I say? It's fun.
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I read that if you shine a remote control at a digital camera and you see a red light on the LCD, then it can do infrared photography. But what if the light is a cool white or blue? I see a light from the remote very clearly, but it is not red.
It sounds like you're missing one important piece of the puzzle, Lisa: the infrared filter.
Infrared photography can lend an otherworldly aura to everyday scenes, since it captures the infrared part of the spectrum instead of visible light that we're used to seeing. But in order to take infrared photos with your digital camera, you need a special filter that cuts out all the frequencies of light except for infrared. Most camera stores and online retailers sell infrared filters that screw onto your digital camera lens. When you use that filter, the remote control's light will appear reddish because blue is cut out.
Looking for an infrared filter? Any well-stocked camera store should be able to help; filters cost between $50 and $75. I got mine at
Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality and technique. Every month, the best of the weekly winners gets a prize valued at between $15 and $50.
Here's how to enter:
About this week's winner, Judith says: "I took this picture of my daughter with a Nikon D100. I began in black and white and bumped up the brightness and contrast. I then colorized the eyes and lips, and finally, using the gradient tool in PhotoShop 7, I created the background."
Congratulations to Judith and to everyone who won the Hot Pic of the Week last month. Keep those entries coming!
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