Q & A
I want to buy a graphics tablet for
my Apple Mac. Can you recommend a suitable one?
intuos 5 medium - pth-650, pen & touch
Wacom is the most popular brand of tablet
and is favoured by the majority of photographers. There are numerous models to
choose from, starting with the entry-level $62 Bamboo Pen Tablet. If you want
more sophisticated features, look at the Wacom Intuos range - the A6-wide
lntuos4 Small is the baby and costs $264, while the new A4-wide lntuos5 Touch
Large is a top of the range professional tablet and costs $638.4.
Which laptop for image editing?
My laptop has recently broken and
isn't worth repairing so I'm in the market for a new one. The thing is, I can't
decide between a PC or an Apple Mac. Which would be the best for editing images
That's rather like asking us if a Nikon is
better than a Canon -it's horses for courses. Long-term users of PC laptops
often swear by them, but Macintosh fans wouldn’t use anything else either. That
said, Apple computers tend to be more intuitive, so if you head in that
direction you'll soon get to grips with how everything works. You don't often
hear of Mac users switching back to a PC, but lots of PC users are happy to
switch over to Apple Macs.
The one downside to Apple Mac computers is
the price. You can pick up a capable H P, Sony or Dell PC packed with RAM, a
large hard drive and a fast processor for $650-$910, but you'll need to spend
at least $1,600 on a Mac to get the same.
The super-slim Macbook Air (from $1358.4)
looks fantastic and is great if you travel, but they don't offer much in the
way of memory (256GB maximum), have a slower processor, lack an internal DVD
drive and only offer USB ports, not Firewire. For photographers, these
omissions are limiting.
A MacBook Pro is well worth consideration.
The entry-level 13in model with 4GB Ram, 500GB hard drive and 2.4Ghz dual-core
processor costs $1598.4 and will give any PC a run for its money, so if you can
afford it we'd say go for a Mac. They're used widely in the design, publishing
and photographic industries because they're so well suited to the job.
I read all the time about how it's
important not to 'blow' the highlights when shooting digital images. Does that
rule always apply, or are there exceptions?
There are no 'rules' as such in
photography, only guidelines that are intended to help you produce successful
images. However, having learnt those guidelines, there's nothing to stop you
ignoring them and taking your own creative path if you so wish.
Avoiding 'blown' highlights is one such
guideline. It's recommended because if you do blow the highlights, there will
be no detail recorded in those areas and usually that's not a good thing. For
example, if you shoot a landscape at dawn or dusk you will normally want to
record the colour and detail in the sky, but unless you use a Neutral Density
grad, large areas of the sky will end up blown out due to the high contrast
nature of the scene. If that happens, there's little you can do to reverse it.
highlight is when the highlight of the shot is blown
However, in some situations, blown
highlights can be used to your creative advantage, adding atmosphere and
helping to capture the true feel of a scene. Backlit scenes are a perfect
example of this. Left to its own devices, your DSLR will usually underexpose
backlit scenes so your subject comes out dark or even as a silhouette. But you
may not want that -you may want to record detail in the shadow areas, which
means you need to increase the exposure by a stop or two.
In doing so, the highlights will almost certainly
'blow out', but far from being a bad thing, it can work brilliantly. The same
applies if your subject is against a bright background such as a white wall.
Set an exposure that's correct for their face and the background may overexpose
to the point that it blows out. However, the person is more important than the
background, so ignore those highlights.
It's important that you understand how to
avoid blowing the highlights, and recognise situations where detail needs to be
recorded in them. But at the same time, don't be afraid to throw caution to the
wind and use overexposure creatively.