Worth a Thousand Words: Issue #016


Worth a Thousand Words, Issue #016 — A Honey of a Creativity Project For You

August 17, 2011

What’s All the Noise About Noise?

What the heck is "noise" in my image? Can I do anything about it? Image noise is the digital equivalent of film grain. It manifests as "speckles" in an area of an image that should be of constant color or brightness. In technical terms, it is a (usually undesirable) variation of brightness or color information in images produced with a digital camera sensor.

Did you know? More mega-pixels are not always better. "A small sensor containing lots of pixels will have more noise than a larger sensor with the same number of pixels. This is because the pixels are packed in tighter together on the sensor, causing signal interference."


Creativity Exercise

A Honey of an Idea

I’m always hunting for fun projects to do with my macro lens. In the past, I’ve tried photographing colored water reflected in aluminum foil. You can get all kinds of great abstracts, although it is challenging to come up with a simple and effective image. To find out how to do this, check out my instructions here:

Foil and Honey

I would often drip water onto the foil to get more interesting shapes and reflections in the drops. The problem with water is that it is not too stable, and the droplets don’t always go where you want them, or stay put. As a twist on this, I tried using honey the other day, and loved the results. I skipped the colored water altogether, and just drizzled a small amount of honey onto a flat piece of foil. The honey retains its shape, and has its own texture and color. Now you can have more hours of fun on a rainy day, shooting these patterns with your macro lens!

Something Every Photographer Needs to Know: Tip of the Month


Bracketing is a photographer’s insurance policy for getting the right shot. Typically, it’s used to make sure you get a correct exposure. The idea is that you shoot one image "on meter" (i.e., according to what your camera’s meter says is a correct exposure), and then one or more images above and below this "correct" exposure.

You can bracket by adjusting any of the factors that affect exposure: ISO, aperture or shutter speed.

Today, with the help of your camera’s histogram, you can get instant feedback as to whether or not you got the exposure you want. So, do you still need to bracket? The answer is yes, you may very well want to. Since aperture affects depth of field, in addition to exposure, you may wish to bracket your aperture to get the exact depth of field you want. That’s not something that’s easy to see on your camera’s viewing screen, so having a few options when you look at a large image on your monitor is a good idea. Since shutter speed affects the way in which motion is captured (frozen or blurred), in addition to exposure, you may wish to bracket your shutter speed for a moving subject. This ensures that you capture the motion in the way that best suits your creative vision.

Finally, you will definitely want to bracket your exposure if your goal is to create an HDR (high dynamic range) image. HDR images are created by merging several exposures of the same scene using software. This enables you to capture a higher dynamic range (the number of shades from darkest to lightest tones in your image) than the camera can capture in a single image.

Check out my Two Minute Tips podcast to learn more about bracketing:

Cool Link of the Month

Take a picture of a picture of the past in the present.

What a wonderful idea! This gets at the essence of photography, and capturing memories. These photographs pull you through time, with one foot in the past, and one in the present. I’ve already had a try at making one. How about you?

What’s New this Month at Ultimate Photo Tips

We’ve Added Comments!

Now you can share your thoughts on any page on Ultimate Photo Tips! I’ve just added a commenting feature. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find it. It’s done using Facebook, but you can comment using your Hotmail, AOL or Yahoo account if you’re not on Facebook. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

You can also "Like" a page (from the bottom of the page) or the whole site (from the top of the right nav bar) on Facebook. So please, if you like what you read, then "Like" what you read :-).

Your Thoughts

In last month’s poll, I asked you what your favorite thing is to photograph. Here’s what you had to say: "people" and "landscapes" were tied for first at 28% each. Next in was "nature/wildlife" at 16%, followed closely by "flowers" at 12%, "travel/vacation" at 8%, and "events" and "my kids" coming in at 4% each.

Do you post-process your images? If so, what software do you use? I’ve just posted a new poll on my website today. Find it in the right-hand navigation bar on any page. Cast your vote, and then find out what others are saying.


Don’t Forget to Join Us on Facebook

Ultimate Photo Tips is on Facebook too. Follow us there to keep track of what’s new, find creative inspiration, network with fellow enthusiasts, and check out an occasional photo or two!


Photo Challenges

The topic of July’s photo challenge was "Flowers," one of my favorite subjects! There were many gorgeous flower images submitted, with a whole range of flower personalities show-cased. Check out the winning image in soft, gentle pastels, by Katherine Keates here:

The topic for August’s challenge is "Elevating the Ordinary." A good part of photography is about making the ordinary into the extraordinary. That’s what we’re concentrating on for this month’s challenge. Look for ordinary objects in your everyday world, around home or your neighborhood. See if you can photograph them in such a way that you turn them into something a little more.

Submit your extraordinary image here:

Happy shooting from Ultimate Photo Tips!