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From Pixels to Projects


This would be a good camera for sublimation and some photo lasering. ... And always buy extras! Exposure controls ... Other tips for great photos ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: From Pixels to Projects

From Pixels to Projects
  • Understanding and Using Digital Photographyby
    Jessica Heldman and George Privateer

What youll learn today
  • The basics of how a digital camera works
  • What to look for in a digital camera and how to
    choose the right one for you
  • How to take the best possible picture
  • The basics of digital photo adjustment
  • How to set up your photos for laser engraving

Digital Camera 101
How digital cameras work
  • At the most basic level, a digital camera works
    much the same as a film-camera
  • The camera captures images through a series of
    lenses that bounce light off a subject.
  • Where digital cameras differ is in the image
  • Film cameras process images chemicallyheck, you
    dont even need electricity to operate a camera!
  • Digital cameras convert images into a series of
    0s and 1s that represent the tiny colored dots,
    or pixels, that make up the image.
  • The number of pixels a digital camera can copy
    makes up the cameras resolution.

Learning the lingo
  • Here are some of the basic digital camera terms
    well beusing throughout the presentation
  • Resolution Refers to the number of pixels a
    digital camera can capture. Can be stated as
    either 3 mega pixel, 3 MP, or 2048 x 1536.
    Resolution is the most common term used to
    differentiate digital cameras.
  • Aperture Refers to the size of the opening of
    the lens and how much light gets to the digital
    camera sensor.
  • Shutterspeed Refers to how long the sensor is
    exposed to light.
  • Memory How a camera stores images. Can be
    internal and external. Also referred to as

Learning the lingo
  • Zoom How the camera zooms in on an object.
    Can be either digital or optical.
  • White balance Tells the camera what elements of
    a photo should look white, and, in turn, what
    should look black and all colors in between. Can
    be automatic or manual.
  • LCD Short for Liquid Crystal Display. It is the
    screen on the back of most digital cameras that
    allows you to preview photos.
  • File format (type) Refers to the type of digital
    file the camera will save images as. Most common
    are .jpeg, .tiff and RAW.
  • File size Refers to the size of each photo
    taken. This will vary based on resolution and
    file format.

Picking the right camera for you
What do I want?
There are literally thousands of options
available in digital cameras. When choosing a
camera, you should focus on what I call The Big
  • When choosing a camera, here is an easy way to
    determine what resolution you should be looking
  • 2-mega pixel (2 million pixels) cameras can
    create prints up to 4 x 5 that are similar in
    quality to a photo lab print. This camera would
    be fine for small sublimation jobs.
  • 3-mega pixel cameras can make decent 8 x 10
    prints. This would be a good camera for
    sublimation and some photo lasering.
  • 4-mega pixel cameras can make very nice 11 x 17
    prints, and still hold good quality up to 16 x
    20. 4-mega pixel is the current standard
    resolution, and would suit all sublimation and
    most photo lasering jobs. Also allows for better
    image quality after cropping in a photo-editing
    software package.
  • 5-mega pixel and up cameras will produce very
    large 20 x 24 prints with no loss of quality.

  • As stated earlier, there are two types of zoom in
    digital cameras optical and digital.
  • Optical zoom means the lens does the work.
  • Digital zoom means the computer processor does
    the work.
  • Optical zoom will produce better results, as the
    zoom happens before the image is captured.
  • Digital zoom simply magnifies the pixels of the
    zoom area after the image has been captured.
  • Buyer beware! Cameras often list Optical and
    Digital zoom together for a total camera zoom.
    The more optical zoom, the better.

  • This is the totally subjective part of the
    evaluation process.
  • If possible, use the camera before you buy.
  • How does it feel in your hand?
  • How easy is it to access the camera settings?
  • Is the LCD screen bright enough?
  • Is the camera menu intuitive?
  • While a camera might have all the features you
    are looking for, if its not comfortable to use,
    dont buy it! Being happy with the camera is the
    most important user feature!

Other considerations
  • Battery type
  • Digital cameras are battery hogs. If possible,
    buy one with a rechargeable battery or buy
    rechargeable batteries separately. And always
    buy extras!
  • Exposure controls
  • If you want to adjust the aperture and white
    balance manually, look for manual controls. Most
    cameras offer some level of control, with the
    more expensive models offering more control.
  • Memory
  • Your camera should come with some sort of
    removable memory, such as SmartMedia or Compact
    Flash cards. Youll want to add additional
    memory to store photos, so make sure you know
    what kind of memory your camera takes.

Things to avoid
  • Digital zoom only cameras
  • Digital zoom doesnt give you enough flexibility
    and decreases image resolution and quality.
  • Cameras that use floppy disks or CDs
  • Believe it or not, there are still cameras that
    use floppy disks and CD-ROMS for storage. They
    are often bulky and slow. Avoid these if at all
  • Memory card readers
  • They sound like a good idea, but memory card
    readers can be unstable and accidentally erase
    your memory card, particularly multi-format
    memory card readers. Its best to just hook your
    camera up directly to your PC.
  • Basing your decision on video capability
  • Most digital cameras today offer the ability to
    capture video. While this sounds like a nice
    feature, video files take up A LOT of memory card
    space, and the video files themselves are often
    poor quality. Get a dedicated video camera for
    video projects.

Our recommendations
  • A camera with 4-mega pixels.
  • A camera with at least 2x optical zoom.
  • A camera with an easy-to-navigate menu system.
  • A camera with removable memory (SmartDisk or
    Compact Flash).

Taking the best picture possible
  • Besides your camera, the most important element
    to the success of your photo is.

Taking the best picture possible
  • Remember a photo is really an image of the light
    reflected through the lens of the camera.
  • While the built-in flash for your camera provides
    some illumination, you may want to consider an
    external flash.
  • At the very least, add some of your own
    artificial light through additional lamps.
  • Not only does poor lighting cause shadows, but it
    will also throw off your cameras white balance,
    giving you inconsistent color.

Some helpful lighting tips
  • When taking pictures of people outdoors, try to
    take the photo between 11am and 2pm, with the
    subject facing the sun. The sun is high enough
    in the sky to adequately light the subject and
    will minimize squinting.
  • In low-light situations, increasing the aperture
    on your camera will increase the amount of light
    the lens lets in, and will help your picture
  • Even small work lamps will help light a subject
    indoors. Have the subject face the light, and
    tilt the lamp either toward the ceiling or toward
    the floor to avoid washing out your subject.
  • If you do a lot of product photography for
    catalogs or mailings, consider purchasing a light

Other tips for great photos
  • Stabilize your image with a tripod. Tripods with
    built-in levels can cost less than 50, and will
    improve the quality of your photos.
  • Keep a lens cloth handy. There are cloths made
    especially for digital cameras, although a
    lint-free eyeglasses cloth will do fine and
    probably cost less.
  • Is your background too dark out? Try increasing
    the ISO speed. This will increase the
    sensitivity of the image sensor in your camera,
    and will bring the background into better focus.
    However, your camera will be more sensitive to
    movement, so this would be a good time to use a

Other tips for great photos
  • When you are shooting a subject that is far away,
    such as a performer on stage, dont use your
    flash. A typical internal flash illuminates up
    to 6. This means the subjects in the foreground
    will be brightly lit, while the subject on stage
    will be in the dark.
  • While the LCD screen is a great tool on digital
    cameras, dont forget about the viewfinder. The
    viewfinder is a true representation of what you
    are shooting, as it looks directly through the
    lens. Youll be able to detect shadows and other
    minor imperfections better through the viewfinder.

After you take the picture
Basic photo correcting on a PC
  • For the purposes of this presentation, we will
    refer to features in Corel Photo-Paint 11. All
    image editing software (like Adobe Photoshop and
    Paint Shop Pro) has similarly named features that
    will perform the same functions.
  • Once your image is loaded on to your computer,
    you may still need to make some adjustments.
  • Corel Photo-Paint 11 is pretty smart. Seven
    times out of ten, image imperfections can be
    fixed by using the Auto Equalize function.
  • This will automatically adjust the basic
    parameters of the photo based on the white
    balance of the image.
  • Remember, Photo-Paint is going to look for the
    color white in the image and base all of its
    color corrections off of that measure.

Basic photo correcting on a PC
  • When the Auto Equalize doesnt quite do it
  • Start with adjusting Brightness/Contrast/Intensity
  • Usually, making an image slightly brighter will
    help you determine what colors need to be
  • Beware! Dont make your image too bright or it
    will throw off the rest of your colors.
  • Once youve adjusted the Brightness/Contrast/Inten
    sity, try the Auto Equalize again. This time,
    you might get the results you want.
  • Adjusting the Color Balance
  • If you take a photo with a predominate color in
    the background, you may see other objects in the
    image taking on this colors characteristics (I.e.
    A person in a photo with a bright green
    background might have a slight green tint to
  • Use Color Balance to tame certain colors or make
    others more prominent.

Laser engraving your photo
Learning the lingo
  • Here are some of the basic laser engraving terms
    well beusing throughout the remainder of the
  • Halftones Refers to how the laser sees your
    photograph. Halftones are the series of small
    black dots that simulate the gray tones of a
    photograph. In order for a laser to read a
    photo, it must be converted to grayscale.
  • DPI Dots Per Inch. How many small black dots
    (halftone dots) there are per inch of a photo.
    The higher the DPI, the sharper the image (as far
    as the laser is concerned).
  • LPI Lines Per Inch. A term that originated in
    newspaper printing, it also affects the quality
    of the image. Halftone images have a maximum LPI
    of 150.
  • PPI (for your laser) Pulse Per Inch. How many
    times in an inch that a laser will fire. A PPI
    of 1000 means the laser will fire 1000 in an

Halftones and you
  • When you look at a photo in a magazine or
    newspaper, you eyes see a continuous grey image.
  • In reality, it is a series of black dots that get
    smaller or bigger, depending on the shading of
    the image. When printers make a halftone
    screen, they are creating the illusion of shades
    of grey.
  • Your laser, in raster mode, sees your photo as a
    series of black dots, and engraves all of those
    little dots at different sizes to recreate the
    image on your substrate.
  • The key to achieving a good reproduction of the
    original image is to render the halftone dots

Digital camera settings
  • Set the image quality of your digital camera to
    the best image quality available.
  • Youll probably be saving the picture at a higher
    resolution than your laser needs, but it is
    better to resize the picture down then to try and
    enlarge it. You will end up with better lasering
  • Once youve downloaded the picture, import it in
    to the image editing software of your choice.
  • For the purposes of this presentation, we will
    refer to features in Corel Photo-Paint 11. All
    image editing software (like Adobe Photoshop and
    Paint Shop Pro) has similarly named features that
    will perform the same functions.
  • Under the Image/Resample menu, adjust the image
    to the size you want. You can also adjust the
    DPI at this time.
  • NOTE Photo lasering can be done between 72 and
    300 DPI (180 to 250 is recommended). An image
    DPI more than 300 will dramatically increase the
    file size, but not improve the rendering of your
    halftone screen.

Rotary engraving a photo
  • A rotary engraving system uses three axis
  • X, Y, and Z.
  • The software that drives the engraver is designed
    to move from one point to another along a
    vector or line.
  • The engraver was not designed to recognize each
    pixel of a gray scale image. If that were the
    case, it would have to raise and lower for each
    pixel, and engraving would take hours or days to
  • The laser was designed to pulsate at short
    intervals very quickly, thereby re-creating the
    gray scale image.

Setting up your picture for the laser
  • After resizing, convert your image to grayscale.
    Do this under Image/Color Mode/Grayscale.
  • Check the brightness of the image after
    conversion to grayscale. If the image is too
    dark, your laser will have to remove a lot of the
    cap layer of your substrate, which can cause
    overheating, warping, and loss of image quality.
    If the image is too light, your laser will not
    cut through enough of the cap and the image will
    appear faint.
  • Adjusting the contrast of the image may make the
    grayscale image more defined. The best way to
    see if this helps is to play with the contrast
  • The ultimate goal is to have the image on your
    screen look as close as possible to the desired

Basic laser settings
  • For the best possible engraving, use the smallest
    available lens size.
  • A 1.5 lens produces a beam that is .003 in
    diameter, meaning it will be able to render
    extremely small dots in your halftone.
  • In general, combining this small lens size with a
    laser software setting of 1000 DPI and 1000 PPI
    will give you the greatest potential for success
    and rendering a detailed halftone screen.
  • The more accurately the halftone dot is rendered,
    the clearer and sharper the image will be.

Source and reference materials
  • Howstuffworks
  • http//
  • Yahoo! Shopping
  • http//
  • CNET Reviews
  • http//
  • http//
  • Olympus Cameras
  • http//
  • Digital Camera HQ
  • http//
  • Rowmarks Laser Guide Online
  • http//


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