Understanding Your Camera's ISO Control

A few weeks ago, I wrote that photography is often called "painting with light." In response, a reader asked me what you do when there isn't any--light, that is. Well, unless you're shooting inside a closet or at the bottom of a mineshaft, there's always some light around. Your job as a photographer is often to make the most of whatever light you have access to. I've explained how to get the best results with your flash, but there's a way to maximize the natural light in your scene as well: Using your camera's ISO control.

ISO in a Nutshell

I get a lot of questions about ISO--many photographers don't seem to understand exactly what it does. Your camera's ISO control determines how sensitive the camera's sensor is to light. On most cameras, ISO starts at 100 and goes up from there; the higher the number, the more sensitive the sensor will be.

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Finding an Alternative to the Free Picnik Photo Editor

If you haven't yet heard the news, allow me to bring you some sad tidings: Google is shuttering Picnik, the superb free online photo editor that Google had acquired back in 2010 and that I've recommended in the past.

You have until April 19 to get your fill of Picnik--that's when the site crops its last pixels. If you've used Picnik and have some photos there that you'd like to preserve when the site goes offline, that's easy to do. Picnik Takeout is a one-click tool that collects all of your online photos and zips them up for download.

There is some good news in all of this. While you previously had to pay for the advanced features found in Picnik Premium, Google has shut down the cash registers and made the premium edition free for all from now until the doors close in April. So you have another 6 weeks or so of full-strength Picnik goodness at no cost.

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Watermarking Photos, Removing Date Stamps, Erasing Power Lines, and More

Have a question about digital photography? Send it to me. I reply to as many as I can--though given the quantity of e-mails that I get, I can’t promise a personal reply to each one. I round up the most interesting questions about once a month here in Digital Focus.

For more frequently asked questions, read my newsletters from October, December, and January.

Protecting Photos With a Watermark

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Four Secrets About Light and Flash

Photography, it's often said, is "painting with light." In fact, understanding how to use ambient light and your camera's flash is generally the best way to improve your photos, since you can do everything else right, but if the light is wrong, you won't like your photos. I've written about using your flash before--such as "Two Ways to Freeze Action With Your Flash." This week, let's focus on five critical tips for getting better photos with light and flash.

1. The More Diffused Your Light Source, the More Pleasing the Light

I'll call this the First Law of Lighting--in fact, I'd say that it's the fundamental principle behind most of the advice you hear about lighting a photo.

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Hang Your Favorite Photos at a Virtual Museum

Ask any photographer who owns more than one lens for their digital SLR, and they'll probably admit that they've long dreamed of someday getting their own photography exhibition. Well, no matter what kind of camera you own, and even if you never get your own show in real life, making it look like you've got one on your PC is a snap. In the past, I've told you how to incorporate your photos into fun projects like lifestrips and photo booth photo film strips. This week, let's treat ourselves to a photo exhibition by compositing photos into a museum scene. Or a billboard. Or on a giant screen in Times Square.

One-Click Exhibitions on the Web

Recently, I discovered a cool little site called PhotoFunia, where you can paste a photo into any one of hundreds of settings--museums, photo galleries, billboards, and many, many more.

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Must-See Digital Photography Websites

We all have our favorite websites for those subjects that are near and dear to our hearts. There are sites I visit for tips on playing drums, for example, as well as improving my fiction writing. But what of digital photography? Obviously, you already read Digital Focus. And while you're here at PCWorld, you might also check out the monthly Hot Pic photo contest slideshow and check in on the latest camera reviews. But what's going on elsewhere on the Internet, you ask? Great question. Follow along while I take you on a tour of some of my favorite online resources.

Digital Photography Review

If you're shopping for a digital camera, there is no question that Digital Photography Review, known more commonly just as dpreview.com should be on the list of sites you visit. No other site is quite as thorough in its analysis of cameras, and it has just about the most complete library of reviews you'll find anywhere--for both cameras and lenses.

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Organizing Photos, Fixing Dark Prints, Solving File Format Problems, and More

Have a question about digital photography? Send it to me. I reply to as many as I can--though given the quantity of e-mails that I get, I can't promise a personal reply to each one. I round up the most interesting questions about once a month here in Digital Focus.

For more frequently asked questions, read my newsletters from September, October, and December.

Printer Prints Are Too Dark

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