Tag Archives: photo quality

How to compose a photo to get your message across

If the cliché that a picture is worth 1,000 words is true, what is your picture saying?

Is it saying that someone has a telephone pole sticking out of her head? That your subject seems to have his eyes closed a lot? That your subject turns away from people when she is talking to them? Or that he doesn’t have any hands?

Chances are that none of these is the message you want to convey when you are snapping a photo, but often times that’s what they say. By spending just a few moments thinking of one of the most important subjects of photography — composition — we can turn even the most humdrum image into something visually appealing.

Before you start to shoot…

Look around the room and the area in which you are going to shoot. What is in the image? Do you want that trashcan in your photo? Or that car? What about the water bottle? Remember that everything in a photo is another piece of information for the viewer, so select what information you do – or don’t – want to convey. Too much clutter in the background distracts folks from the image you want them to focus on.

What is that coming out of your head?

Much like you look around the room to see what is in your image, make sure there are no odd looking shapes behind your subject. It not only distracts from the image, but a poorly positioned phone pole can look downright ghoulish. Simply moving a few feet to the side may solve this problem. Likewise, be sure not to cut off any body parts that make a person look odd.

Action! Or not…

If you are trying to show that your program is fun and engaging and hands-on, then why is everyone sitting down or just standing in a straight line looking at the camera? This is a chance to take good action shots to show your folks doing something. A bad action shot can be more interesting than a good grip-and-grin. You have to take a lot more of them to get one that works, but the pay-off is worth it.

Bend your knees!

Look for interesting angles to shoot from. Try from down low. Or up high. Or put the camera over your head and shoot blindly. The most boring thing you can do is to take a photo from exactly the same perspective all the time.

Be in control

If you are setting up a shot to illustrate a program, you have complete artistic license to manipulate the shot. Don’t like the way that person is sitting? Ask them to move! Think it would be better in a different part of the room? Ask them to move! The key is that you are the artistic director, which means you have to direct people to get what you want.

Back of your head

It is hard to emotionally connect to the back of someone’s head. So get in front of the people and make sure you can see their eyes and faces – it will make for a much more engaging, interactive shot.

Take lots of shots

The beauty of digital photography is that you can take an inordinate amount of images, so don’t be shy with your shutter finger. You can literally take 100 shots and only get one or two good ones. And always, always, always review your shots at the moment to see if you have what you are looking for.

And have fun!

Photography is an art and a very approachable one at that. So have fun with it, mix it up, and try new things. You’ll like what you see!

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A picture can (usually) say a thousand words

Images play a very relevant role in publications. When used with thought and care, they can evoke emotions in the viewer. Photographer Susan McConnell said good photographs make us feel. Strong feelings create appreciation, compassion, and urgency, which mold the choices we make as individuals and as a society.

Viva Virginia Master Class; string quartet members; music.

Graphics engage our imagination and heighten our creative thinking by stimulating other areas of our brain (which in turn leads to a more profound and accurate understanding of the presented material).

Choosing the right photo(s) is crucial when designing a publication, website, etc., while the wrong photo or a poor-quality photo can easily destroy the message. For example, an image of a dimly-lit classroom with the participants’ backs to the viewer would not be a good choice for a publication promoting a workshop or conference.

Writer Helen Stark says text gives our ideas a precision that we can rarely approach with images alone. Text also plays the central role in SEO (search engine optimization), being the only data we can say with certainty that search engines understand perfectly. Although text can be enough to invoke imagery without the use of pictures, a compelling image will usually engage the viewer more quickly.

Following is an example from the blog “Letting go” (Nov. 23, 2015) of how text can create an emotional response much like a photograph.

Apricot season in the countryside, calls from friends in the city asking where they can buy ripe red apricots. In a fortnight, there will be water melons and honeydew melons (our “spanspek” melons) ready for stalls along the roads through farmland. High summer, abundance and fullness, the wheat harvested, white crystal grapes swelling on vines, the deep shady embrace of old oak trees.

Without graphics, an idea can be lost in a myriad of words; without words, a graphic can be vague. Robert E. Horn, an award-winning scholar at Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information, said, “When words and visual elements are closely entwined, we create something new and we augment our communal intelligence … visual language has the potential for increasing ‘human bandwidth’ — the capacity to take in, comprehend, and more efficiently synthesize large amounts of new information.”

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Providing the right artwork to vendors

At some point, many of you will have to order t-shirts, stickers, brochures, or posters from a local or online vendor, and you will need to submit artwork for the project. The first step is to get a quote specifying the details, price, and scope of the project to prevent a misunderstanding should the finished product be incorrect.

Once you have agreed on the quote, the next step is to provide artwork to the vendor. The best way to ensure a successful project is to know what file format your vendor needs for the artwork.

There are two basic types of digital art files: bitmapped and vector art.

1. A bitmapped file (for example, JPEG, PNG, or GIF) is composed of a matrix of dots. Each dot can be assigned a color and combined with other dots to create shapes. When you zoom in on a bitmapped image, you will see the individual dots, which make it look blocky. The quality of a bitmapped file is indicated by its resolution (dots per square inch or dpi.) As a general rule, 72 dpi is suitable for the Web, while 300 dpi and above is required for print. It is important to consult with the vendor if these files are being used in a project.

2. Vector art is any digital artwork in which the shapes are represented by mathematical equations within a computer. This allows the art to be scaled to any size without increasing the file size or losing picture quality. The most popular software programs used to create vector images are Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. Files created using these programs are popular with screen printers and sign companies.

The key to working with any vendor is communicating and asking the right questions.

Read more at www.ehow.com/info_10030697_bitmapped-graphics-definition.html and www.ehow.com/about_5043089_definition-vector-art.html.

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7 lessons to learn from using your camera phone

As smartphones become a mainstay of daily life, you should make sure you know how to use them in the best way possible, especially when it comes to sharing our work. One way to effectively use them when you’re out and about is to take pictures!

One of the best things about having a camera phone is that it keeps you from having to carry around a large digital camera when you’re out in the field or at a meeting. And while you might love your larger camera, you can’t beat the convenience of being able to use your phone to take photos.

To help get you started, I found this great article by Jason Little, sharing lessons you can learn from shooting photos with your camera phone.

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Photograph guidelines for submitting photos for publications

In order to produce quality printed and online materials, the actual photo quality is very important when selecting which photos to use. Use the following guidelines when submitting your photos for publication:

  • Photos should be high resolution. 300 dpi (dots-per-inch) or higher. When taking photos, make sure that your camera is set to take large format photos.
  • Do not resample (change the dpi settings) of your photos. This can result in much poorer quality than leaving it lower resolution.
  • Please do not submit images/jpegs in a word document.
  • Please submit jpegs either as a zipped file or individually.
  • Please do not copy images from websites for print.
    Images copied from websites are low resolution unless the website offers high-resolution images. If you zoom up to the image once you have copied the image, you will see it break apart and become blurry. This means that the image is low resolution and not good for print. Web versions of images and print versions are very different.
  • NOTE ON COPYRIGHTS : Copyright laws apply to web images. Please be aware of copyright laws to any image you use from the web. Please do not use or submit an image without receiving permission from the owner.

The easiest way to determine if a file is high enough resolution is to look at the size of the file based on the size of the image.

If you are submitting an image that is larger than 2×3 inches and it is less than 1 megabyte, the resolution is too low and the image will print blurry.


  • 2×3 inches, approx. 1 MB
  • 5×7 inches, approx. 5-8 MB
  • 9×14 inches, approx. >24 MB
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