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Whether you're just learning photography basics or you need some advice on an advanced photo technique, our How-To section offers tips for shutterbugs at every level.

July 2008 Helpline
Bang For The Buck

About a year ago, you helped me decide on an SLR camera, and I love it. I've taken a short camera class only to learn there's so much more to learn. Now I want a versatile lens, so I can carry just one lens with me. I'll need a zoom (150mm to 300mm?) as I'm sure to be far away when I want to take pictures of tennis players and capture action shots. I know from friends that the lens can't be too long or you can't take it into sporting events, and I need a lens with stabilization. Also, I teach first-grade speakers of other languages, and I enjoy taking their pictures, too.

Pro Tips: Turning Pro
How a course in photography inspired big changes
Pro Tips: Turning Pro

A mid-career switch from electrical engineering to photography wasn't exactly what Paul Kline had in mind when he began taking pictures again. But photography is how he makes his living now, with corporate and editorial clients demanding his services, including Random House, The New York Times and Ketchum.

Pro Tips: Black-And-White
The classic look of monochrome is as popular as ever. Here’s how to get the best results.
Pro Tips: Black-And-WhiteGetting good black-and-white prints used to mean mixing batches of chemicals, being secluded in a darkened room, calculating exposure times, dodging and burning, then finally watching an image magically appear out of the developer soup onto a sheet of paper. While digital photography made it easier to get images without the effort or cost of processing film, it wasn't until the last few years that software applications and, more importantly, inkjet printers were equipped to handle the ever-growing desire of photographers to create and print black-and-white images that rival—or sometimes exceed—what once was the domain of the traditional darkroom.

Selective Sharpening
For the best image quality, focus your sharpening on the areas that need it most
Selective Sharpening

Digital photos typically need some sharpening in Photoshop to bring out the original sharpness of the scene as imaged by the lens. But not all photographs have everything in sharp focus, so they don't need overall sharpening.

A Cloning Primer
Use these tips to master the subtle power of the Clone Stamp tool
A Cloning Primer

No matter how hard you try to keep everything looking good in the picture area, sooner or later something creeps in that doesn't belong. Visual trash creates a distraction from your subject and your composition. It keeps you from enjoying your photo as much as you'd like, and every time you look at the image, that junk just seems to taunt you.

The Need For Speed
Must-know techniques for capturing fast-paced action
The Need For SpeedMy guess is that most of you won't be in a situation where you'll be photographing a subject speeding toward or past you at 220 mph, but that's exactly the challenge for Barry Zeek, who specializes in capturing lightning-fast motor-sports action. You may, however, find yourself photographing fast-moving subjects such as darting birds, dashing animals and running athletes or skiers, high divers, snowboarders, skateboarders and wakeboarders flying through the air. Shooting action can be tricky, but with these tips, there's a much better chance that you'll come home with successful images.

The Secret To Perfect Travel Shots? - 6/30/08
Check the postcard rack
The Secret To Perfect Travel Shots? - 6/30/08When it comes to travel photography, knowing all about your destination is a great way to begin. In the grand scheme of vacation prep, however, photo research isn't always high on the list. For someone whose journey is sure to encompass serious photography, however-even if it's squeezed into a family vacation-a little research can go a long way.

Ideally, when you're planning your next getaway, you'll get a good idea of where you want to photograph before you leave. Notable locations, scenic overlooks, historic settings-all are common tourist spots no matter where you're traveling. Even if you like to fly by the seat of your pants, a little online investigation before you depart will help you come back with great photos.

Get Grand Vistas - 6/23/08
Using people for scale to improve your photos
Get Grand Vistas - 6/23/08 Sometimes great scenes aren't as powerful through the camera as they are to the naked eye. Often it's because little two-dimensional photographs can make it difficult to comprehend the size of a subject-especially if it's a big subject. In those situations, it's best to consider including something as a point of reference for scale. Be it a sailboat or a sign or a building or a car. All these things help give a sense of scale to photographs-as long as the "thing" you're adding to the picture is so recognizable that it instantly registers as a yardstick for the picture. And what is most recognizable to humans? Other humans. That's why they're the best indicator of size you could ever want.

Perfect Architecture Shots - 6/16/08
Seven simple steps for correcting vertical convergence
Perfect Architecture Shots - 6/16/08 Some photographers spend a lot of their time keeping things straight: horizon lines, roofs and walls, interior decor… No matter how straight the line started, leave it to the camera to make it crooked. One of the best ways to deal with these off-kilter angles is to correct for them in the computer.

A common example of crooked lines that should be straight is in an architectural photograph. Even if you're not an architectural pro, sometimes the goofy convergence that shows up in shots doesn't do a scene justice. When this optical distortion strikes, try these few simple steps to correct for that vertical convergence-and then apply the same principles to fix all sorts of other distortions in your pictures.

Create Faux-Infrared Images - 6/9/08
Get infrared film effects from digital shots with a few image-editing tricks
Create Faux-Infrared Images - 6/9/08 Not everything in the digital era is better than the film equivalent. Think of black-and-white infrared film, for example. This analog process created totally unique results that were as much fun for the great photos they created as for the surprises they delivered along the way. When you clicked the shutter, you never knew exactly what you were going to get.

Though the surprise isn't quite the same, you can actually create similar infrared effects in the computer. True infrared film records light that's invisible to the human eye-in the reddest region of the light spectrum. Similar in-camera effects can sometimes be created digitally (depending on a particular CCD's sensitivity to near-infrared light, or whether you've had it converted to a true IR sensor), but why not skip the in-camera filtration techniques and turn any image into infrared after you've got it in the computer?

Hot Hyperreal Sharpness Effects - 6/2/08
You’ve seen this hip look everywhere. Now you can make it your own.
Hot Hyperreal Sharpness Effects - 6/2/08 Fashionable trends make their way into all aspects of life-from clothing to television to music and art. The hot trend right now in photography seems to be a hyper-sharp look that's everywhere in advertising and editorial. It's tricky to describe, but it looks like a super-detailed, overly sharp image with extra detail in the shadows and what appears often as heightened grain. [To see examples, check out the work of Matthew Clark, Mitchell Funk and Gary Land in recent issues of PCPhoto and Digital Photo Pro.]


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