April 2014 - Optimising your digital capture files

We were treated to an outstanding discussion and advice about optimising digital files for prints and EDI. The advice from some of the club's most successful digital image makers were invaluable. So, let's begin with thanks to: Gary, Greg, John and the committed film and wet dark-room master, Barrie.


Significantly, the contributions; print and EDI examples and thorough discussion by all participants, made the meeting very rewarding for all.


Beginning with in-camera capture tips, the focus was on post-capture file optimisation and preparation for the print and/or EDI. Here is a summary of the tips discussed (not necessarily in process or priority order):

1. File preparation for prints differs to EDI use - highlights and bright areas will bow-out faster in EDI use.

2. In capture mode - it's recommended that the histogram is the optimal exposure guide.

3. Shoot RAW whenever possible. Simultaneous JPG capture can be helpful when post-processing software allows use of the in-camera settings

4. In-camera "pixel-peeping" is of limited use because we are only seeing a JPG image on the screen.

5. When preparing files for printing, consider the paper type the image will be printed on.

6. When composing an image consider the 3 dimensions - foreground, middle-ground and background and their impact - creative and exposure.

7. Consider how and what will make the image standout - in capture and when post-processing.

8. Don't be driven by pleasing a competition judge - focus on your own objectives in making the image.

9. Decide on how the file will be used along with your creative intent - framed print, EDI, extra-large print...

10. Beyond your own objectives, bear in mind the basic visual interpretations others may apply to help maximise its appeal.

11. Sharpening: "capture" - after importing the file; "creative" - localised image elements; "output" - after sizing and all other processing and ready to print.

12. When using a camera sensor without anti-aliasing filter, there is no need to do capture sharpening.

13. Be sure that exposure treatments and image elements do not compete with the image's primary subject and objectives - e.g. highlights and brighter areas.

14. When resizing an image, always use photo processing software due to the algorithms used by the software.

15. For EDI use: keep image contrast lower than for a print (high contrast images do not project well); high-end projectors have greater ability to "punch through" shadows well (advisable to test show images).

16. Do not simply rely upon digital camera exposure readings to get the best result - the histogram is there for good reasons.