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Chapter 3. Photographs: From Camera to Web Page

Chapter 3. Photographs: From Camera to Web Page

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even5yearsagodigitalphotographyontheWebmightrate

onlyafootnote.Wherethemajorityof"webgraphicstime"had

previouslybeenspentworkingonsitedesignandcreating

graphicalbuttonsandmenus,moreofthatsametimeisnow

spentendlesslytweakingphotostopublishtotheWeb.Even

themostdeterminedlyamateurphotographerpostsdozens,

evenhundreds,ofphotostotheWebyearly.

Thedigiteratiamongusarefortunateinourinterest,too,

becausephotographylendsitselfwelltoautomated

manipulationaswellasstep-by-stepinstruction,whichmeans

manytechniquestoimprovephotoscanbereplicatedwithout

havingexpensiveequipmentoryearsoftraining.YouandI

haveanenormousnumberofeditors,converters,libraries,and

otherapplicationswecanusetomanagetheprocessoftaking

aphotofromacameratothewebpage.Frankly,youcan't

swingTexasroadkillwithouthittingtoolsandutilitiesfor

creatingand/ormanipulatingphotos.Fartoomanytocoverin

onechapterinabook.

Whatwondrousthingswecandowiththesetools,too.

Photographywasneverasfixedasmostpeopleassume.The

picturedidn'tendatthecloseoftheshutter,andamazing

thingshavebeenaccomplishedindarkrooms.Withdigital

photographyandtheassociatededitors,though,manya

mediocreimagecantranscenditsmeagerbeginningsto

becomeagood,ifnotgreat,workofartthroughsimple

manipulationsoflight.

Moreimportantly,youdon'thavetobeanAnselAdams,Walker

Evans,orAnnieLeibovitztopublishphotosonline.Photoscan

beusedtotellstories,highlightevents,shareexperiences,and

illustrateaconceptorideawithoutbeingmuseumquality.In

fact,theWebdoeslesswellwithartshow–qualityphotographs

becauseofthevaried,andlimited,displaysandsmallweb

spaces.

Inthischapter,I'mgoingtocoverthefirststagesofthe

photographer'sworkflow—thestepswetaketobringaphoto



fromcameratowebpage.I'malsogoingtosurveysomeofthe

morepopular,aswellasinteresting,photoeditorsandutilities.

Mostofthechapter,though,isfocusedoncoveringsomeofthe

waysphotoscanbemanipulatedtobeattheirbestwhen

publishedonline.

Systemrequirementsdifferforallofthetools

coveredinthischapter,butthetoolsallhaveone

thingincommon:theyareeitherfree-or

shareware,orhaveafullyfunctionaltrialforat

least30days.



3.1.TheWebPhotographer'sWorkflow

Photographicworkflowreferstotheprocesseswefollowtoget

aphotofromourcamerasallthewaytopublication.Different

peopleusedifferentapproachesandtools—anythingfroma

completeworkflowtool,suchasAperture,toavarietyoftools,

suchasaRAWimageconverter,photoeditor,FTPtooltoasite,

andaccessthroughaslideshowprogram.

InhisTheDigitalStoryweblog,DerrickStory,O'Reilly'sdigital

mediaevangelist,publisheda"BuildYourWorkflow"guideand

accompanyingpodcast(audiopost).Inboth,hedescribesthese

basicsteps:

1. Acquire/capture(incamera)

2. Uploadtocomputer

3. Organize(addmetadata,rate,andsort)

4. Edit

5. Share(publish)

6. Save(archive)

Thecameratowebworkflowfollowsthesesamesteps,withthe



singlevariationbeingthattheonlysharingwe'reinterestedinis

publishingthephotostotheWeb.Howmanytoolsyouuseto

completethisprocessisdependentmoreonyourinterest,and

perhapsbudget,thanonanyotherfactor—includingwhether

you'repaidforyourphotographsornot.



Derrick'sworkflowguidecanbefoundat

http://www.thedigitalstory.com/blog/2007/08/build_your_workflow.h



Bothamateursandprofessionalsalikemakeuseofphoto

workflowtools,suchasAdobe'sLightroom,Microsoft's

ExpressionMedia,Apple'sAperture,CameraOne,oreventhe

in-developmentopensourceblueMarine.Thesetoolscan

simplifyimageorganization,includingaddingbulkupdates,

suchasmetadataedits.Theycanalsobeusedtoeditphotos,

thoughmostdon'tprovidethesophisticatedcapabilitythateven

thesimplestdesktopeditorprovides.

Beyondtheinitialstagesofphotomanagementcomesfinetuningindividualpictures.Nomatterhowgoodtheworkflow

tools,thistypicallyrequirestheservicesofaphotoeditor.The

betterknownofthephotoeditorsisAdobe'sPhotoshop,andit

isstilltheundisputedleaderinitsfield.However,it'snotthe

onlyoptionforphotomanipulation.Infact,therearedozensof

toolsforeditingphotos,manyofwhicharefreelyavailablefor

Windows,MacOSX,andLinux.Thisisinadditiontoan

increasingnumberofonlinephotoeditors,createdwithFlashor

someothertoolset.

Thefirststepinthecameratowebworkflow,though,is

downloadingthephotosfromthecamera.Camera

manufacturerstypicallyprovidesoftwaretomanagethisfor

you,butmanyphotoeditors,RAWmanipulationtools,and

otherutilitiescandothesamejob.

Inaddition,mostcamerasalsoallowyoudirectaccesstothe



memorycardfromyourcomputer,whereyoucanfindthefolder

withtheimagesandcopyitdirectlyusingwhateveryourfile

managementtoolis.Thiscanactuallybethefastestapproach,

andoncecopied,youcanthenuseanyphotomanagementtool

toimportthephotosoreditthefilesdirectly.

Whichtoolsyoucanusewiththephotosdirectfromthe

memorycarddependsontheformatinwhichtheyaresaved.

Manyoftheearlierinexpensivecamerasstorephotosonlyin

JPEGformat,butmostnowprovideseveraloptions:JPEG,TIFF,

PNG,andsomeformofRAWimage.IhavetwoNikoncameras,

andtheoptionsI'mprovidedareRAW—whichinthiscaseis

Nikon'sNEF(NikonElectronicFormat)—oravariationofJPEG.

Oneoptiondoesboth:capturesanimageinNEFandthena

JPEGfileinbasic,normal,orfinequalities.SinceJPEGisalossy

format(asdiscussedinChapter2),Ineveruseitandsuggest

thatyoudon'teither,unlessyoudon'thaveanyotheroption.

WhethertouseRAW,though,dependsonhowmuchyoutake

advantageofitspost-capturingcapability.



Chapter3.Photographs:FromCamerato

WebPage

AfewyearsbackIwasreadingonephotographer'sdiscussion

ofhisworkflowusingPhotoshop,whenhementionedsomething

aboutadefaultsettingbeing"goodenough"fortheWeb.Of

coursetherewasatimewhenprintwassynonymouswith

photography,butwecan'tassumethat,today,theultimateend

foraphotographisonpaper,withtheWebbeingnothingmore

thanawaytopromoteourpaper-basedendproduct.

Nowadays,theWebhasbecometheplaceforourphotos,and

realizingthischangesthewholeideaofdefaultsettingsintools

asbeing"goodenough"fortheWeb.

Digitalphotographyanddigitalcamerashavebeenaroundfor

years.Inmyopinion,itwastheconvergenceofthree

components—affordableconsumerdigitalcameras,personal

computers,andagrowingaccessandfamiliaritywiththeWeb,

aswellasanincreasingnumberofbroadbandusers—thatledto

theexplosionofdigitalphotographyandthehugenumberof

photosandphoto-specificsitesweseetoday.

Beforeallofthesecomponentscametogether,most

photographywasfilm,printedoutonpaper,withcopiesmade

andsenttojustafewclosefriendsandfamily.Nowtheuseof

filmisrapidlydecreasing,andmostphotosaretakenwitha

digitalcamera,uploadedintoacomputer,andeithersent

throughemailorpostedonline.Thetargetaudiencehasalso

changed:wherebeforewepublishedphotosforclosefriends

andfamily,nowwe'republishingphotosliterallytotheworld…

andfindingoutthatthereisafairlysignificantnumberof

amateurphotographerswhodoarathernicejobwiththeir

pictures,too.Evennewssiteshavestartedmakinggreateruse

of"amateur"material,apracticethatissomewhat

controversial.

Digitalphotographyhasbecomesoprevalentnowthatitforms

amajorcomponentofthewebgraphicsgenre,whereas10or



even5yearsagodigitalphotographyontheWebmightrate

onlyafootnote.Wherethemajorityof"webgraphicstime"had

previouslybeenspentworkingonsitedesignandcreating

graphicalbuttonsandmenus,moreofthatsametimeisnow

spentendlesslytweakingphotostopublishtotheWeb.Even

themostdeterminedlyamateurphotographerpostsdozens,

evenhundreds,ofphotostotheWebyearly.

Thedigiteratiamongusarefortunateinourinterest,too,

becausephotographylendsitselfwelltoautomated

manipulationaswellasstep-by-stepinstruction,whichmeans

manytechniquestoimprovephotoscanbereplicatedwithout

havingexpensiveequipmentoryearsoftraining.YouandI

haveanenormousnumberofeditors,converters,libraries,and

otherapplicationswecanusetomanagetheprocessoftaking

aphotofromacameratothewebpage.Frankly,youcan't

swingTexasroadkillwithouthittingtoolsandutilitiesfor

creatingand/ormanipulatingphotos.Fartoomanytocoverin

onechapterinabook.

Whatwondrousthingswecandowiththesetools,too.

Photographywasneverasfixedasmostpeopleassume.The

picturedidn'tendatthecloseoftheshutter,andamazing

thingshavebeenaccomplishedindarkrooms.Withdigital

photographyandtheassociatededitors,though,manya

mediocreimagecantranscenditsmeagerbeginningsto

becomeagood,ifnotgreat,workofartthroughsimple

manipulationsoflight.

Moreimportantly,youdon'thavetobeanAnselAdams,Walker

Evans,orAnnieLeibovitztopublishphotosonline.Photoscan

beusedtotellstories,highlightevents,shareexperiences,and

illustrateaconceptorideawithoutbeingmuseumquality.In

fact,theWebdoeslesswellwithartshow–qualityphotographs

becauseofthevaried,andlimited,displaysandsmallweb

spaces.

Inthischapter,I'mgoingtocoverthefirststagesofthe

photographer'sworkflow—thestepswetaketobringaphoto



fromcameratowebpage.I'malsogoingtosurveysomeofthe

morepopular,aswellasinteresting,photoeditorsandutilities.

Mostofthechapter,though,isfocusedoncoveringsomeofthe

waysphotoscanbemanipulatedtobeattheirbestwhen

publishedonline.

Systemrequirementsdifferforallofthetools

coveredinthischapter,butthetoolsallhaveone

thingincommon:theyareeitherfree-or

shareware,orhaveafullyfunctionaltrialforat

least30days.



3.1.TheWebPhotographer'sWorkflow

Photographicworkflowreferstotheprocesseswefollowtoget

aphotofromourcamerasallthewaytopublication.Different

peopleusedifferentapproachesandtools—anythingfroma

completeworkflowtool,suchasAperture,toavarietyoftools,

suchasaRAWimageconverter,photoeditor,FTPtooltoasite,

andaccessthroughaslideshowprogram.

InhisTheDigitalStoryweblog,DerrickStory,O'Reilly'sdigital

mediaevangelist,publisheda"BuildYourWorkflow"guideand

accompanyingpodcast(audiopost).Inboth,hedescribesthese

basicsteps:

1. Acquire/capture(incamera)

2. Uploadtocomputer

3. Organize(addmetadata,rate,andsort)

4. Edit

5. Share(publish)

6. Save(archive)

Thecameratowebworkflowfollowsthesesamesteps,withthe



singlevariationbeingthattheonlysharingwe'reinterestedinis

publishingthephotostotheWeb.Howmanytoolsyouuseto

completethisprocessisdependentmoreonyourinterest,and

perhapsbudget,thanonanyotherfactor—includingwhether

you'repaidforyourphotographsornot.



Derrick'sworkflowguidecanbefoundat

http://www.thedigitalstory.com/blog/2007/08/build_your_workflow.h



Bothamateursandprofessionalsalikemakeuseofphoto

workflowtools,suchasAdobe'sLightroom,Microsoft's

ExpressionMedia,Apple'sAperture,CameraOne,oreventhe

in-developmentopensourceblueMarine.Thesetoolscan

simplifyimageorganization,includingaddingbulkupdates,

suchasmetadataedits.Theycanalsobeusedtoeditphotos,

thoughmostdon'tprovidethesophisticatedcapabilitythateven

thesimplestdesktopeditorprovides.

Beyondtheinitialstagesofphotomanagementcomesfinetuningindividualpictures.Nomatterhowgoodtheworkflow

tools,thistypicallyrequirestheservicesofaphotoeditor.The

betterknownofthephotoeditorsisAdobe'sPhotoshop,andit

isstilltheundisputedleaderinitsfield.However,it'snotthe

onlyoptionforphotomanipulation.Infact,therearedozensof

toolsforeditingphotos,manyofwhicharefreelyavailablefor

Windows,MacOSX,andLinux.Thisisinadditiontoan

increasingnumberofonlinephotoeditors,createdwithFlashor

someothertoolset.

Thefirststepinthecameratowebworkflow,though,is

downloadingthephotosfromthecamera.Camera

manufacturerstypicallyprovidesoftwaretomanagethisfor

you,butmanyphotoeditors,RAWmanipulationtools,and

otherutilitiescandothesamejob.

Inaddition,mostcamerasalsoallowyoudirectaccesstothe



memorycardfromyourcomputer,whereyoucanfindthefolder

withtheimagesandcopyitdirectlyusingwhateveryourfile

managementtoolis.Thiscanactuallybethefastestapproach,

andoncecopied,youcanthenuseanyphotomanagementtool

toimportthephotosoreditthefilesdirectly.

Whichtoolsyoucanusewiththephotosdirectfromthe

memorycarddependsontheformatinwhichtheyaresaved.

Manyoftheearlierinexpensivecamerasstorephotosonlyin

JPEGformat,butmostnowprovideseveraloptions:JPEG,TIFF,

PNG,andsomeformofRAWimage.IhavetwoNikoncameras,

andtheoptionsI'mprovidedareRAW—whichinthiscaseis

Nikon'sNEF(NikonElectronicFormat)—oravariationofJPEG.

Oneoptiondoesboth:capturesanimageinNEFandthena

JPEGfileinbasic,normal,orfinequalities.SinceJPEGisalossy

format(asdiscussedinChapter2),Ineveruseitandsuggest

thatyoudon'teither,unlessyoudon'thaveanyotheroption.

WhethertouseRAW,though,dependsonhowmuchyoutake

advantageofitspost-capturingcapability.



3.2.WorkingwithRAWImages

UnlikeJPEG,GIF,orTIFF,RAWdoesnotstandforanything

otherthananimagethat'sstoredina"raw,"unprocessedstate.

Nocompressionroutineisused,thedataisnotprocessed,and

allcamerasensorinformationpossibleisstoredwiththeimage.

TheadvantagetotheRAWformatisthatyoucanmodify

certaincharacteristicsoftheimage—exposure,colorsaturation,

sharpness,whitebalance—aftertheimagehasbeentaken.

Abouttheonlycharacteristicsyoucan'tchangeareISO,

aperture,andfocallengthofthepicture—thecharacteristicsof

film,infact.

ThedisadvantageoftheRAWformatisthattheimagefilesare

quitelarge.However,withthemulti-gigabytememorycards

nowadays,thisisn'ttheissueitoncewas.My4GBmemorycard

canstoreover200photos,whichismorethansufficientformy

needs,andifitisn'tIhaveadditionalmemorycardsonhand.

StoringRAWdatacanalsobeslower,butnotnecessarilytothe

pointwheremostofuswouldnotice—especiallywiththe

increasingnumberofoptimizationsintoday'sdigitalcameras.

IfallcamerassupportedthesameRAWformat,ourliveswould

besomuchsimpler,butunfortunatelytheydon't.Asmentioned

earlier,IhaveNikonD200andD70cameras,andtheRAW

formatNikonsupportsisNEF.CanonsupportsCRWandCRW2

(CanonRAW);Sony'sisSRF(SonyRawFormat).Ratherthan

continuethisproliferationofdifferentformats,Adobehas

proposedaRAWfilestandard:DNG,orDigitalNegative.In

additiontoAdobe,othercompaniessupportDNGintheir

products,includingApple,Leica,Hasselblad,andsoon,though

notNikonformycameras.Atleastnotyet.

AdobehasprovidedaDNGConverterforboththeMacand

WindowsthattakesformatslikemyNikon'sNEFandturnsthem

intoDNGfiles.Oncestarted,youinputafolder,andthetool

thenconvertstheRAWimagesinthefolder,asshowninFigure



3-1.

Regardlessofformat,sometoolscanworkdirectlywithRAW

images,butothersworkthroughasecondaryapplicationthat

manipulatestheRAWsettingsbeforesendingtheimageon

throughtotheapplication.

Figure3-1.RunningtheDNGConverteronNEFfiles



TheDNGconvertersarefree,availablefromthe

AdobeDNGsite

http://www.adobe.com/products/dng/.



WheretheRAWpre-processorendsandthephotoeditorbegins

variesbasedonpeople'spreferencesandtheirownworkflow.

WhatIwantfromaRAWtoolisawayofmanipulatingthe

camerasettings,suchasthewhitebalanceandexposure.Ifeel

thatsharpeningandcolorbalance,aswellascontrastand

brightness,arebettersetinthephotoeditor.Other



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