Tips on Low Light Photography

Dusk is one of the most amazing moment for photography and to get a good picture at this moment is pretty easy if you know your basic.  First you’ll need a steady tripod, then make sure you are familiar with your camera &  system, the more you know the better your chance at getting beautiful photos as dawn fade away very fast, especially the best duration of ‘golden hour‘ is only about 10minutes at most;  You really do not want to be wasting your time finding a feature or setting of our camera.  So,  study your manual and understand your camera before you go out and shoot!

Generally, your will be shooting with a relatively long shutter speed to get the nice colors from the horizon.  In order to get the longer shutter speed we preferred,  we will be using low ISO together with a small aperture.  In this series of photos,  I used mainly Nikon 24-120VR, Nikon 18-35 and Nikon 50 f/1.4 on a Nikon D700.  Generally I used aperture smaller than f/5.6 to f/22 on some cases.   I’ve adjusted the ISO from 100 – 1600 depend on my subjects and the motion blur effects I wanted to archive.

Attached here with some of the photos I shot from a local theme park at Queensbay, Penang, there are edited with Adobe Lightroom 3.  Please feel free to comment or share them to your friends.

&. btw,  I am planning for an intensive class of Adobe Lightroom 3 for intermediate users,  do send me an email if you are interested.

&.&. btw,  if you are looking to turn your hobby into profession, please check this out.

 

 

How to get a sharp picture for Facebook

Have you ever got frustrated that your high quality picture turn low quality when you shared them on Facebook?  This is because Facebook is having a very bad compression system and low quality re-size method.

What happens here is when you post and uploaded non-treated photos to Facebook;  The system will automatically re-size and re-compress your photos to smaller file to save resources.  Sadly, there are no way we could bypass this at the moment, but there are some tricks on getting the best out of the system.

Like the most of you, I am very active in Facebook and sharing photos is now a part of my lifestyle.  I found out that by preparing the photos to be Facebook-friendly prior to posting,  I am getting much better picture quality in the album.  They generally appear sharper, and clearer compare to non-treated photos.

How do I do it?  Here’s my recipe for Facebook-friendly photos,
This tutorial is based on Adobe Photoshop CS5  and the steps are more or less the same with other editing software.

Step 1: If you need to make adjustments to your photos, just go through all the tweaks and settings.

Step 2: Once you have finalize your adjustment, go to ‘Image Size’ [Alt + Ctrl + I], and re-size your photos with the following settings.

*1 – Make sure the longest side of the photo is set to ‘720’, this is the longest supported size in Facebook currently.
*2 – Resample Image using ‘Bicubic (Best for smooth gradients)’ to get the best possible results.
*Notes: Resolution here served no purpose but I put it at 96dpi anyway, as most modern PC are now displayed at 96dpi.

Step 3: Once re-sized, you may view the photo at 100% by pressing [Ctrl + Alt + 0].  At the time being, you Photo may not look sharp enough as you lose details when re-sizing.  So, in this step, we are going to sharpen the photo by using a filter called ‘Unsharp Mask’.  You can call the filter out by going to ‘Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask’.  Adjust your setting with the following settings.

*Amount: 350% – 500%
*Radius: 0.2 pixels mostly and 0.3 pixels at most
*Threshold: 0 levels
*Notes: I usually start with 0.2 pixels in ‘Radius’ and 500%, if the photo appear over-sharpen (White lines around the subjects),   then I will slowly lower the value of ‘Amount’.  On some rare cases, I will use 350% & 0.3 pixels.

Step 4:  Alright, now you got a good Facebook-friendly photo and now you are ready to save it for posting later.  To get the optimum quality with smallest possible file size.  I recommend saving the file using the following setting from ‘Save-For-Web & Devices’ by pressing [Alt + Shift + Ctrl + S].

*1 – I used Jpeg with custom setting.  I turn on ‘Progressive’ option, but Facebook will make it into ‘Interleave’ anyway.  I set the Quality to ’95’ instead of the usual ’60-80′ ranges recommended by most,  as I noticed that at ’95’, after downgraded by Facebook, I am getting better photo compare to quality of ’80’.  I do not use ‘100’ as I don’t see any difference between ’95’ and ‘100’ with my bare eye.
*2 – Some of you might have shot the photos with Adobe RGB profile.  So, remember to turn on ‘Convert to sRGB’ for compatibility and since Facebook does not store and show exif data, so you can safely remove all Metadata here to conserve file size.  You can safely ignore this setting if you have no idea what it is.
*Notes: Once you are done with the setting, press ‘Save’ and export your file.

Step 5: Now you got a Facebook-friendly photos,  it’s time to post them.  Make sure to select ‘High resolution’ option when you are uploading using the new Uploader.

Once uploaded, you and your friend can enjoy your photos at better quality now!

Thanks for reading and if you think this tutorial is useful, please share it to your Profile, sharing is caring.  Stay tuned for more tutorials.

Updates (27th Oct 2012):

If you are sharing a lot of photos using Facebook, you may notice that facebook has done a lot of updates/changes since this tutorial, originally published on Feb 2011.

The sharpening tricks here still works basically, but the maximum size of the photos can now be as large as 1024px at the long side rather than 720px I mentioned earlier, I have yet to try anything larger yet, but at this moment, you can consider using 1024px with the same sharpening amount as above.

Do leave me a comment or two if you encounter anything interesting by using this tutorial on Facebook.