Week 6: Digital Imaging

This week we talked about digital image editing (cropping, retouching, resizing, etc.) and the various programs used for that.

  • Adobe Photoshop is the best known image editing software and has many powerful features. It is available on both Mac and Windows, but very expensive. Thankfully, there are many free alternatives:
  • GIMP offers most of the basic features of Photoshop but uses a very different user interface, so it may be confusing to people who are used to Photoshop. It’s an open source program and available for Mac, Windows and Linux.
  • Pixlr is an online image editing service and has an interface very similar to Photoshop. Since it is web-based, it can be used on any operating system.
  • Picasa is more of an image organizing program, but offers editing and retouching functions, too. It’s made by Google and available for both Mac and Windows. It is especially useful for batch resizing/editing images!

Until next week!

Image Sources: adobe.com, gimp.org, pixlr.com & picasa.com


Photography Assignment #3

This week’s photography assignment was to demonstrate how shifting between portrait & landscape can improve the framing of an image.

In this example, landscape is more suitable as it allows more of the sunset atmosphere to be captured in the picture. The portrait format cuts off the edges of the scenery and only adds single colors at the top and bottom.

In this example, the portrait format is obviously better, since landscape inevitable cuts off parts of the main motive.


Week 5: Podcasts

This weeks lecture taught us how to create and host podcasts.

What is a podcast?

First, let’s clear up what a podcast actually is: A podcast is any media file (audio, video or even PDF) which can be subscribed to on the internet. Podcasting is different from webcasting (streaming), because it enables the listener/viewer to download the media content for offline consumption. Podcasts consist of the media file(s) and a web feed (usually RSS) which informs the user if there is new content or downloads it automatically.

What steps are involved in creating a podcast?

  1. Creating an audio file: See last weeks post!
  2. Polishing the audio file: Polish your audio file using any audio editor to remove distracting noises, add in background music and/or create effects like Fade-Outs. In Audacity you can use the features ‘Remove Ambient Noise‘ and ‘Dynamic Range Compressor‘ to make your audio more clear.
  3. Upload your audio file: There are various websites you can use for uploading audio files. PodOmatic is free, easy to use and helps you in the next step as well.
  4. Turn your audio into a podcast: Create a correctly formed RSS file which includes all the basic information on your podcast. Use FeedValidator to check if your file works. PodOmatic automatically does this for you when you upload an audio file and provides you with a link to the RSS file.
  5. Include your podcast on your website: Finally you should include your audio file and a link to the RSS file on your website or blog.
    1. Include audio directly on WordPress: [ audio http://yourwebsite.com/audio/podcast.mp3 ] (without spaces)
    2. Or include link to audio file: <a title="Subscribe to my podcast" href="http://yourwebsite.com/audio/podcast.mp3">Listen to my podcast!</a>
    3. Include link to RSS file: <a title="Subscribe to my podcast" href="http://yourwebsite.com/audio/rss.xml">Subscribe now!</a>
  6. Spread the word: To get even more listeners, consider uploading your podcast to iTunes! Make sure your RSS file matches the iTunes guidelines.

Now everyone can enjoy your podcast!

Image Source: evepodcasts.com


Week 4: Audio

This week we talked about audio formats and recording in preparation of the podcast project.

Audio Wave

Audio Wave

There are a number of different audio formats, which can store audio information uncompressed or compressed, and the latter in loseless (original can be restored) or lossy (reduces file size a lot, but original can’t be restored) compression.

  • .mp3 (MPEG-2 Audio Layer III) is the most common and standard for playing music digitally. It uses lossy compression to reduce the file size.
  • .wav (WAVE, Waveform Audio File Format) is the common format for storing uncompressed audio data on Windows
  • .aiff (Audio Interchange File Format) is an uncompressed file format used mainly on Macs
  • .ogg (OGG Vorbis) is an open-source audio format using lossy compression, intended as an alternative to the patented MP3

Now, things to pay attention to while recording an audio:

  • If you record your audio with a manual recording device, the data has to be digitised first. This can be done through re-recording, which however always causes a certain loss in data.
  • Be aware of the background noises in your surroundings. A bit of ambient noise can add to the atmosphere of your recording, but too much will distract from your actual content.
  • Try to record in a room with limited flat surfaces, as sound bounces off these and can disturb your recording. Things like wall-paper, carpet and textured surfaces in general can help dampen down the noise.

Good luck!

Image Source: sherhaps.wordpress.com


Week 3: Digital Photography

This week we learned about basics of Digital Photography: Aperture, Shutter Speed & ISO.

Larger Aperture. Source: digital-photography-school.com

Larger Aperture

Aperture is the opening through which lights enters the camera. It is measured in f-stops (f/4, f/8, f/22 etc.), and – which may be a bit confusing – the smaller the number behind the f, the larger is the opening. Aperture influences the Depth of Field (DOF), which is the area of the photograph which is in focus. The higher the DOF, the more of the image will be in focus.

Smaller Aperture. Source: digital-photography-school.com

Smaller Aperture

In summary, a higher aperture (= smaller numbers in f-stops) results in a smaller depth of field, meaning fewer objects in focus! In contrast, a smaller aperture (larger f/x) means a larger depth of field and a wider area in focus.

Shutter Speed refers to the internal shutter of a camera which blocks out the light, and is defined as the amount of time in seconds that shutter is open. A fast shutter allows to capture fast movements (such as water splashing), while a slow shutter creates motion blur, so only the static parts of the image will be clear.

Fast Shutter Speed

Fast Shutter Speed

Slow Shutter Speed

Slow Shutter Speed

ISO measures the sensitivity to light, with a lower number meaning less sensitivity. So when photographing in a dark environment, a higher ISO setting may be appropriate.

Finally, Reciprocity is the understanding that all those three factors are involved in the effective exposure of the image. To understand this concept, it helps to visualize the camera as a window: The size of the window (aperture) controls how much light enters the room. However, light can only enter the room while the shutters are open (shutter speed). The effect of ISO can be understood as wearing sunglasses inside that room, thus being less sensitive to the incoming light.

Images Source: digital-photography-school.com. Unfortunately I couldn’t take example pictures on my own, as I currently do not have access to a camera with adjustable aperture/shutter speed.