Digital Photography

I attended a 3 days event FOSS-IN 2006. One of the sessions was on about digital photography where the speaker Klayan shared his experience, gave some tips and suggested some steps to improve the photograph. Klayn Varma is a wild life photographer. His work can be seen at We got year 2007 desktop calendar, which contains excellent wild life photographs taken by him.

He suggested some open source tool Gimp, f-spot, g-thumb etc. He did live demonstration, he took our audience photograph, transfer to PC. He suggested to take the photo in raw format. Never take in auto format. Because, with auto format if camera does some adjustment then it can not be revert back. Gimp has some plug-ins to read row format files. Alas, the entry level digital camera model does not support raw format. Raw format means how the camera sees without any correction or optimization. When we saw on PC. The photo was very ugly. He explained the steps to make it better.

  1. Optimize the brightness. He demonstrated photos with different exposure and advised that in case of over exposed, some portion is saturated and we loose data. It is always better to underexpose and then increase the brightness.
  2. Adjust the saturation.
  3. Adjust the white balance.
  4. Adjust the contrast.
  5. Now adjust color level. Optimize the temperature. The Red and Blue color balance is called temperature.
  6. Optimize the green color.
  7. Last do the sharpening of image if required. The sharpening number should be between 20 to 30 (may be in the Gimp tool).
  8. Save the image as JPEG with compression ratio 96%. The default may be 75%, where we loose some data in the image. The default setting for Nikon camera is 95% He demonstrated that with from 96 to 95% the reduction in file size is very less. From 97 to 96%, the significant file size decrease without much impact on quality of photographs. So thus with trail and error he found this magic number 96%

Few Tips.

  1. He reminded us that aspect ratio for camera is 2:3 Monitor is 3:4 we should keep this thing in mind. One person added for movie it is 16:9
  2. While cropping the image, always maintain this 3:2 golden ratio.
  3. If the original photograph has poor focus, and we want to improve the sharpness, off course we can use tools. However it will increase noise in picture. He suggested one better way. Increase the picture size by several % and then decrease it to its original size with help of photoshop. The decrease size algorithm will try to detect the edge, that will improve the sharpness.
  4. jhead is a command line tool, used to see the meta data of the photographs. One should save the meta data along with photograph.
  5. We have heard about SLR cameras. He suggested one more better lense cost around 5000, it is '50mm Aperture F 1.8 prime lense'.
  6. He also highlighted some issues with proprietary file format and support from the vendor for old cameras.
  7. Yes we do all kind of color adjustment, however when we see the print, the colors are different!!. We did adjustment for RGB, printer works on CMYK. We need to know and apply the printer's color profile, also know as ICC profile. People also goes upto the extent of matching the paper's white color, ink's color etc. He himself bagged to G.K.Wale for ICC profile of the printer, but... :(

At last we had interactive question answer session. We collected his e-mail ID

One person from the audience was from analog photography world. He added some relevant information, like 'dourge and burnt' tool at Gimp, here this phrase originally came from analog photography and what does it mean in the roll development process. Klyan also confesses that yes, he do not know much about analog photography. He himself was carrying big size of cameras. He was explaining its feature, outside of the conference hall. Overall it was quite interactive, informative and useful session.

You can download the slides at :


Manish Panchmatia said...

Manish Panchmatia said...

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