Digital Photography of Plants and subsequent manipulation

John Lonsdale
Wed, 18 Dec 2002 05:55:12 PST
Many thanks to all of you who have responded to my plea and jumped into the
discussion with some very valuable advice and comments.

I would agree wholeheartedly with those who say Photoshop is overkill for
99.9% of us interested in plant digital photography, myself included.  I
really do only scratch the surface, although purchase on Saturday of the
book 'Photoshop for Dummies' should help me go deeper.  For example, I
haven't done it yet but shall start using it do get rid of annoying labels
in images that I didn't have time to physically remove or never noticed when
shooting.  I have Photoshop for reasons other than because I have the
dollars or am a photo editing pro - I was the lucky recipient of a gift of
it (legally and licensed of course !).  I would be in big trouble though
without the batch process facility as I use this to automate every process -
buy a program with this if you can.

One of the huge advantages of digital photography that mark M brought out
should be emphasized.  You can shoot the equivalent of a roll of slide film
very quickly on each and every subject to get that one image that you can
use for slides, web and print - at effectively no cost in time or money,
once you've made the original capital outlay.

With respect to printers that have flash card slots, or readers, built in.
I advised a friend a few weeks ago who wanted a good new printer not to go
this route simply because a lot of extra dollars have gone into non-print
related features that I'm unsure of the utility of.  In addition to the card
reader there are a variety of buttons and an LCD screen.  You always need to
do something to the image before printing, hence my recommendation to go
down the separate card reader route.  Incidentally, on that note, SanDisk
have now just brought out a reader than reads 6 different cards, flash,
secure digital etc) and is USB2.0 format - i.e. 40 times faster than
standard USB - all for $45.  To my mind this is the best way to go - and
your photo transfer from camera to computer is lightning fast and
independent of other hardware and/or software.  Mark - does the card reader
on a printer allow transfer to the computer or just to the printer ?

Mark M also brought up TIF vs. JPG choices for saving images and is quite
right that an uncompressed TIF file is higher quality than a high quality
JPG.  There is an issue though with taking all your images in TIF format, as
I found out !  If I set my 995 to capture 2048 x 1536 TIF files it takes
over 20s to save the image to the flash card memory, and I use a SanDisk
Ultra card which does this 2-3 times faster than a standard flash card.
This is unbelievably frustrating ! You also end up with a file that is 9Mb
in size so it takes longer to move around.  I did a comparison between TIF
and the best JPG format offered, which has minimal compression, and to all
intents and purposes the results are indistinguishable until the image is
blown up to huge proportions.  I concluded that for my needs the high
quality JPG worked best because the quality was still superb, I could
capture the image in 2 seconds and the file was only 1-2Mb in size.

With respect to compression - the images you see on my web site have been
compressed to 40% of their original quality.

I concur wholly with Mark and Tony's comments on the quality and utility of
the Nikon Coolpix 99x range for close-up macro photography.  It can still be
frustrating occasionally to capture very thin subjects close up by you can
get there by fooling the camera.  A trick I use is to shove the lends right
up against the subject (too close), so that it 'realizes' that it is looking
at something really close-up, then back off whilst the autofocus is seeking
the focus.  This usually results in it finding the subject rather than the
background !

This is wonderful topic and I say again - please keep the comments flowing !


PS.  For those looking for that last stocking filler (Mark - you wife hinted
to me that she'd love a digital camera that she would let you use
occasionally) I looked at prices on the web last night and the Coolpix 995
can be had for around $420.

Dr John T Lonsdale
407 Edgewood Drive,
Exton, Pennsylvania 19341,  USA

Phone 610 594 9232
Fax 801 327 1266

Visit "Edgewood" - The Lonsdale Garden at http//

Zone 6b

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