Monthly Archives: February 2010

Meta Data for Sports Photography (Exif) – Part 1

 

One of the beautiful things about digital photography is that with each photo you take the camera records all kinds of information about your camera settings. Information that if you know how to view and understand can help you take better photos the next time. This information or data is often referred to as EXIF data or Meta data. Simply put it’s additional data or information that is included in the file with your photo. My next few posts will explain this meta data, how to view it, use it, change it and improve your photography with it.

This information can’t be seen as you look at the photo, but most photo viewers are able to display this data. A couple of pieces of meta data we are all familiar with is the file name and date. Those pieces of information are attached to your photo and is information you see and use regularly. You can of course change the file name, and it’s also possible to change and add other meta data with the right photo viewer or editor.

Did you know though that beyond just the simple file name and date you can also see information about the settings of your camera at the time you took the photo. This includes aperture setting, the shutter speed, focal length, quality, resolution and much more. Imagine how useful this information is once your get home and want to see which photos turned out best and why! Looking at this additional data is a great way to improve your photography.

Pretty much any photo viewing and editing software will provide you a view of this information. Programs from Adobe including Photoshop, Photoshop Elements provide this data as well as free products such as Picasa will also provide you with this information. In addition to photo editing programs your operating system, such as Windows 7 will also provide you with a quick view of some of the basic meta data such as ISO and aperture settings. Below you will see three examples of metadata displayed, the first is a screen shot from Picasa the second from Exif Pilot and the third is Windows default information.

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meta data

Converting your photos to black & white

If you haven’t spent much time in a photo editor you may be thinking there is only one way to convert your photos to black & white. In the past many people would just turn the saturation down to zero and be done with the conversion. This works but you can actually get a photo with more impact by using the existing color in the photo to convert it to black & white.

Let’s take the following photo for a reference.

Now let’s see what the photo looks like if we just take the saturation of it down to zero.

As you can see the whole image starts to blend together and just the players pants really stand out. Using the black & white adjustment layer tool in Photoshop you can adjust how the color of the photo effects the gray levels. If you wanted your blue sky to have a very dark look to it, you could drag the blue sliders to the left. If you wanted to brighten it up, slide them to the right. Now let’s take a look at what we can do with our photo.

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Below is the result we get by using the above settings.

You can now see that we were able to darken the background a bit and give much more contrast on the player.

Luckily you don’t actually need to own a copy of Photoshop to take advantage of this technique. Some of the free solutions are including basic functionality. Below is a shot of the original photo with the Red Black & White filter applied to it in Windows Live Photo Gallery.

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The next time you want to convert your photos into black & white I highly recommend looking into using some of these features.