Usually when signing up for a new VPN deal, the longer you sign up for, the better the price. But with IPVanish's new offer, a short term contract could end up saving you more in the long run.
Offering 63% off its three month contract, IPVanish is allowing you to stay safe online without having to commit to a long term contract. But if you finish your three months and want to continue, the news only gets better.
As part of this offer, IPVanish won't increase the price if you decide to stay. That means you can pay just $ 13.50 every three months for as long as you want, the rest of your life if you're that committed to online safety!
Considering we rank IPVanish as one of the best VPN providers around, this is a deal offering brilliant value along with top of the line software. Between the quick speeds, large number of locations to use and most importantly, Netflix capability, IPVanish is one of the best options out there.
Do hurry though, like all good things in life this offer won't be hanging around for long. You have until June 1 to get this discounted price.
VPN deal: 63% discount on IPVanish
What can you do with a VPN
There are traditionally two main reasons you might want to get a VPN – protecting yourself online and avoiding internet restrictions. In terms of online safety, a VPN uses encryption technologies to mask your IP address so you can't be tracked. Simply, it makes it a lot harder for you to be traced on the internet.
Great photography subjects are all around us. You don’t have to go far to find interesting people, flowers, or wildlife. The real test is to use your skills to create a photo with genuine impact.
How do you make your subject really stand out in a photograph? It is tempting—but quite wrong—to blame the camera when your photo doesn’t work out the way you want. You need to know right now that a more expensive camera will not automatically make you a better photographer. In truth, the techniques in this article will work for almost any camera. All you need are manual aperture and shutter speed settings, and a decent zoom lens.
Here are a few simple tips for adding impact to your subject.
1. Highlight a Brightly Lit Subject Against a Dark Background
If you’re shooting a subject in full sunlight, with a shady background, the subject is always going to stand out. This is a simple principle to understand, but it is a little easier said than done.
When your photograph has two very different levels of light, the light meter in your camera can be confused. It may expose for the dark background, causing your subject to be overexposed. The trick is to expose for the subject.
You can’t do this on automatic. What you need to do is switch your camera to manual, and adjust the aperture and/or shutter speed settings until the photo is underexposed by one or two stops (according to the light meter). When you get the balance right, you should have a dark background and a perfectly exposed subject.
2. Use a Small Depth of Field to Blur the Background
You’ve seen plenty of photos where the subject is sharp and clear, but the rest of the picture is completely out of focus. You will find this an easy way to add impact to the subject and a three-dimensional effect to your whole photo.
To achieve this, use a combination of a large lens and a wide aperture. First, zoom in on the subject with your largest magnification. This will naturally reduce the depth of field. Then adjust the aperture to its widest setting. A wide aperture will reduce the depth of field even further.
The closer you are to the subject the more pronounced the effect becomes.
3. Use a Wide Angle Lens to Exaggerate Perspective
This technique is almost the opposite of Tip #2. A wide angle lens makes everything in your photo appear much smaller, so objects in the distance seem much further away than they really are. Meanwhile, you can stand very close to a subject in the foreground (a person, animal, etc.) and still fit it in the frame.
As a result, your close-up subject will appear to tower over a background in which everything else seems very small and distant. Although the surroundings will be mostly in focus (the wide angle lens has a much larger depth of field), they will seem relatively small and insignificant, making your subject seem larger and more dominant by comparison.
So there you have three fairly simple ways to add impact to the subject in your photos. Because my background is in nature, I usually think in terms of wildlife, but you can probably think of many subjects that will benefit from these techniques.
The great thing is that you don’t need a professional camera to try these ideas out. As I said earlier, if you have a zoom lens and manual control of your aperture and shutter speed, you can add impact to your photos with just a little practice.
Even better, in the age of digital photography, practice costs nothing…so get out there and start snapping!
About the Author Andrew Goodall writes for http://www.naturesimage.com.au and is a nature photographer based in Australia. He manages a gallery in Montville full of landscape photography from throughout Australia.
So far at the Monaco Grand Prix, so business as usual. Mercedes have had the best of things on the streets of Monte Carlo so far. You can watch the super challenging Monaco Grand Prix in all its Formula 1 glory with the teams taking to the tight streets of this tough street circuit. This guide shows you exactly how to watch the race with an F1 live stream from anywhere in the world.
The 2019 F1 season has reached that inevitable point where the streets of Monaco are shut to Sunday drivers and, well, all drivers except the very best of Formula 1. This course is filled with tight turns, steep hills and even a very loud tunnel section. It's challenging to say the least.
Last year Daniel Ricciardo was the winner of this race with Sebastian Vettel taking the top spot the year before, Hamilton the year before that and Rosberg before that. So this is clearly an exciting race where the winner could be anybody. That said, this season sees Hamilton leading the drivers table with Valtteri Bottas then Max Verstappen behind and Vettel down in fourth.
If Hamilton can win the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix, that will be his third time taking the title which puts him alongside only two other legendary British drivers and knights of the realm: Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart.
You can catch all the Monaco Grand Prix racing action live from anywhere you are, using this guide. Read on to find out how to live stream this F1 race.
How to watch the Monaco Grand Prix from outside your country
To see how you can stream F1 live from the Monaco Grand Prix in the UK, Australia, the US, Canada and New Zealand, then scroll a little further down this page to see the broadcast options. But if you try and tune in to your native stream from outside your country, you'll quickly discover that it's geo-blocked.
Go out and photograph your pets doing something funny, kids laughing or doing something funny, laughter in general, or anything that is funny or quirky at all (as long as it isn’t distasteful). As usual, they can be color, black and white, moody or bright. You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge.
Share in the dPS Facebook Group
You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.
If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites – tag them as #DPSfunny to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.
Madden NFL is EA Sports’ long-running football franchise, and like clockwork, another one is headed our way with new features and improvements from last year’s game.
Madden NFL 20 is almost certainly shipping later in 2019 with a few tweaks to the time-tested formula. Here’s what the new game might bring to the table after last year's much-loved entry in the series.
Cut to the chase
What is it? The latest entry in EA Sports’ long-running football simulation series
When can I play it? August 2 is the release date, but early access starts on July 31
What can I play it on? Again, no official word from EA yet, but we would expect it to be playable on PS4, Xbox One and PC
Madden NFL 20 release date and special editions
Madden NFL 20 will officially be released on August 2, 2019, and will retail for $ 59. Pre-ordering will grant buyers five Gold Team Fantasy Packs as well as their pick of one out of 32 Core Elite Players from your favorite NFL team.
There will indeed be not one but two special editions. The first, Madden NFL 20 Superstar Edition, costs $ 79. For that extra cash, you get 12 Gold Team Fantasy Packs and one small Training Quicksell Pack in Madden Ultimate Team. Buyers also get early access to play the game on July 31, 2019, a full three days ahead of the standard launch date.
The $ 99 Ultimate Superstar Edition of Madden NFL 20 starts players off with 15 Gold Team Fantasy Packs, one large Training Quicksell pack in Madden Ultimate Team, one Past and Present Elite Player Pack, one Madden Championship Series Pack in Madden Ultimate Team, and your choice of one unique Legend Superstar Ability for your created player in Face of the Franchise: QB1.
Madden NFL 20 trailers
Madden NFL 20 news and rumors
EA Sports has already revealed a lot of the new features coming to Madden NFL 20.
Face of the Franchise: QB1 is the big new single-player mode: craft your player, pick their college, guide them through a draft and begin their big career. Thereafter, Madden’s new Scenario Engine generates personalized playable scenarios, events, and dynamic challenges, per the game's website.
The regular Franchise mode is back, and features the return of Pro Bowl. The whole mode has been refined with new scenarios and tweaks all around, from ratings spread to player progression.
There's also a new category for elite players: Superstars. 50 players in the game will fit the bill, and at certain points of play, they'll enter "the zone" and get bonus Superstar X-Factor abilities. These aren't ratings boosts or modifications, the game's site clarifies: "These are behaviors, characteristics, and situational outcomes, aspects of football, and it will be very clear to our players what impact they are having on the game by complimenting the player ratings, not modifying them."
The popular Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) mode returns as well, and it's got a couple new features. Missions is a new feature that acts more like guidelines than a task-and-reward system. "Think of it as a roadmap to upgrading your squad with the items you want, with a clearly laid out path of how to earn those items or rewards," explains the game's website.
In MUT, Solo challenges have been replaced by Ultimate Challenges, and the Superstar abilities and X-Factors are also supported. Only some chemistries have been brought over from Madden 19 to Madden 20, though new ones have been added. The mode will include player archetypes, a reorganization that clarifies player strengths with their roles on the field, and a return of House Rules.
We're also curious how the game will change given this is the first in the series without creative director Max Dickson, who left six months before the release of Madden NFL 19.
Madden 20 will be the third in the franchise running the Frostbite engine, and given the smoother action in last year’s entry with Real Player Motion, we're keeping an eye out for how this version has been tweaked.
What we want to see from Madden NFL 20
Madden NFL 20 for Nintendo Switch
We’ve put this on our wish list for years, and we’re still hoping the next Madden game comes to the Nintendo’s fantastic hybrid console.
EA has released a Switch version of the past couple FIFA games, and while they haven’t had the full list of features and modes that are present in their PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, owners of the Nintendo console did get to play a mostly intact port. We’re hoping Madden NFL players get to do the same.
Perhaps Madden 19’s next chapter of the single-player mode introduced in Madden 18, Longshot: Homecoming, was underwhelming. But it was still a favorite experience when it appeared two years ago, and we’re hoping EA Sports has course-corrected to tell better chapters in the stories of underdogs Cruz and Colt. Or maybe just start from scratch and give us a couple (or handful) of new characters to invest in.
Alas, Face of the Franchise: QB1 seems like the single-player story/campaign mode that's set to take Longshot's spot, but as the internet wisdom goes, 'Why not both?'
Okay, this is a bit greedy given EA only announced its cloud-based, stream-to-any-device service Project Atlas last October. But we’d love to see this Google Stadia-before-Stadia-was-announced service start showing up somewhere, somehow in Madden NFL 20.
How could it help? All that compute could give players much more context to their plays. In a Medium blog post introducing Atlas and explaining AI applications, EA CTO Ken Moss explained it this way:
“Imagine that you’re playing Madden, and you’ve just thrown your second interception of the game against the same cover 2 defense that caused the first turnover. Instead of the commentator simply stating that you threw a pick, the AI enables contextual, real-time commentary to reference the fact that you’re throwing to the sideline against a cover 2 defense and should have thrown against the weak zone over the middle to your tight end, who was open on the route.
“This would certainly push the game into a greater level of contextual and experiential realism. The AI is working with your gameplay. It’s responding to your needs as a player.”
Here's everything we're looking forward to at E3 2019
A content delivery network (CDN) works to accelerate almost any website by caching its files in servers around the world. Whether your visitors come from Europe, North America, Asia or anywhere else, content is automatically served from the nearest location for the fastest possible speeds.
If you're new to the technology then it might seem intimidating, and there's no doubt that prices can be high, but don't let that put you off. A CDN is not just for massive corporations. You can set up the simplest services in less than five minutes, and if you choose your plan wisely, it might not cost you anything at all.
Whatever your website, from a simple blog to a sprawling site for a big business, we've picked out some of the best services around to help point you in the right direction. If you find anything that looks interesting, give it a try – you can explore many of these CDNs for free, without handing over payment details or signing up for any contract.
Cloudflare is a hugely popular American content delivery service which combines novice-friendly ease of use with expert-level features and functionality.
Setup is simple, with no need to edit your code. Just update your DNS nameservers to use Cloudflare and the service kicks in automatically, caching content and serving it to visitors from their nearest location.
But there's much, much more. Web filtering can block bots, limit content spam, keep you safe from hackers or detect and mitigate DDoS attacks. Smart image optimizations can reduce image file sizes by up to 35%, further improving speeds. There's wide support for standards like IPv6, HTTP/2 and SPDY, clever page rules to help you manipulate traffic, and a REST API allows developers to take full control of what the service is doing.
Cloudflare's free plan allows you to see what the service can do, without making any commitments. It's very usable, with unlimited bandwidth and no annoying restrictions to try and force you to upgrade.
Upgrading to the Pro plan costs a reasonable $ 20 (£16) a month, and adds the image optimization rules, extra configurability and improved support.
Whatever you choose, Cloudflare delivers great performance. As we write, the benchmarking site CDNPerf ranks Cloudflare at seventh place for worldwide HTTP request response times out of a field of 20 top CDNs.
Fastly provides CDN tricks for some really big organizations, including the likes of Spotify and Reddit, and the firm lives up to its name, delivering impressively fast performance levels. Going by the rough guideline of CDNPerf’s rankings, it’s the second fastest CDN for the UK, and worldwide speeds are mostly good, too.
Perhaps Fastly’s strongest point, however, is just how configurable the service is. For example, there’s diverse support for different types of video caching, and tons of low-level controls for those who want to get stuck into the likes of manipulating HTTP headers to customize how content is served.
Of course, some know-how is required to set up everything, and novices to the CDN world will doubtless be confused by all the options on offer. But for those who need this level of flexibility and configurability, it’s priceless to have.
Speaking of the price, Fastly operates a pay-as-you-go model with a minimum charge of $ 50 (£37) per month. In addition, you can test up to $ 50 of traffic for free.
KeyCDN is an easy-to-use budget CDN that might be a good pick for first-time users.
Getting started couldn't be much simpler. Sign up with your email address and you get an immediate 25GB to play with, no payment details required. A well-designed web dashboard enables creating your first zone with the minimum of clicks, and there are guides to help you integrate the service with WordPress and other apps.
Worth mentioning is that as of late November 2018, KeyCDN fully supports IPv6.
More experienced users will appreciate options like Origin Shield – this allows you to specify a KeyCDN server to be the source for updates rather than the origin, reducing your server load. You're able to manipulate headers, cache or strip cookies, or set up a custom robots.txt. Once the service is running, a capable set of reporting tools enable watching CDN performance in near real-time. Also, all customers have access to Image Processing feature, which is great for image optimization.
KeyCDN's standout feature has to be its low prices. Bandwidth charges start at $ 0.04 (£0.032) per GB, less than half the price you'll pay with some of the high-end competition. The minimum charge is a tiny $ 49 (£39) a year. (Yes, really – a year.) The company doesn't even try to cash in on the extras, for example offering shared SSL and custom Let's encrypt SSL certificates for free.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these low prices don't get you leading-edge performance, but there's still plenty of power here and you do get a lot for your money.
MetaCDN is an Australian company which combines the CDNs of Amazon Cloudfront, Fastly and Verizon's EdgeCast into a single speedy service.
Why? It's all about performance. When a visitor accesses your site, MetaCDN has three networks and more than 120 locations to choose from – way more than anyone else. In other words, there’s a much greater chance any visitor will have a server near them.
This matters because every CDN delivers its best performance in different areas. EdgeCast scores highly in North America, for instance, but Fastly is quicker in the UK. MetaCDN automatically chooses the best network for every visitor's location, giving you the best of all worlds.
This approach does have a catch. When you sign up with a single CDN, you can get access to all its individual settings and options, but combining three means you only get settings which apply to all of them (for obvious reasons). Which essentially means MetaCDN has barely any configuration options at all. (Check the Support site to get a rough feel for how the system works.)
Still, MetaCDN is nicely user-friendly and it could be a good pick if speed is your top priority. Pricing is complicated (although not bad for access to enterprise-level CDNs) and there are three plans, Basic, Lite and Pro. The most popular one, Lite, is $ 50 on a monthly basis (you can also choose a yearly rate, for a $ 39 a month).
This CDN provider focuses mainly on the West, with 14 points of presence (PoPs) in North America, and nine in Europe. There are only five PoPs in Asia, and two in Australia and South America (Brazil).
StackPath is user-friendly, complete with a straightforward web console to manage your settings, and if you do get stuck, there’s extremely efficient technical support available via either live chat or phone.
Performance seems good in the US and UK, and indeed Europe, but further afield you may see things tail off a bit, which is hardly a surprise given StackPath’s aforementioned focus on Western nations.
Another strength here comes on the security front, with this CDN giving users free shared SSL (or the option to use your own SSL certificate, if you prefer). There’s also anti-DDoS technology and a capable Web Application Firewall.
All in all, this is a tempting offering with a baseline plan that charges $ 10 (£7.6) for up to 1TB of bandwidth per month. The first month is also free.
Update: The service has been now integrated with StackPath – "Everything you love about MaxCDN is being integrated into the new StackPath CDN service."
MaxCDN is actually owned by StackPath now (the previously mentioned CDN), but provides a standalone service of its own which is well-suited for novices. You get 24/7 tech support with speedy responses promised (and indeed these claims stood up to our testing), and it’s easy enough to set up, and indeed use going forward.
You don’t get as many settings to play with as some of the more advanced services, but that’s hardly surprising when trying to keep things more user-friendly.
Another definite benefit is a range of useful reports, and a solid core network. MaxCDN offers eight edge locations in the US, five in Europe – and you can add additional locations in Asia (and Australia), but you have to pay extra for those.
Overall, though, pricing is a strong point, starting from $ 9 (£6.75) a month for a 100GB account, with a clean pricing structure which isn’t confusing in the slightest (often not the case with CDN offerings). Performance is, generally speaking, solid enough, and this CDN does pretty well for speeds in the UK and US.
Amazon CloudFront is the CDN facet of AWS (Amazon Web Services), so it’s certainly part of a heavyweight operation. And indeed CloudFront offers a raft of advanced features as you might expect, and you can customize all manner of things such as enabling automatic GZip compression for better speeds.
Another strength here is the in-depth analytics on tap, showing you details of your visitors’ device type, OS and so forth. There’s also the handy ability to set up alerts, meaning you can be warned when data transfer usage goes above a certain level.
The downside to all the options on offer is that relative novices to the CDN world may find CloudFront’s control panel a little intimidating, at least initially.
The other slight sticking points are that calculating pricing can be a rather tricky matter, and if you aren’t an experienced user familiar with CDN basics, tech support isn’t free – if you need help, you’ll have to fork out for it. Prices vary depending on region, but the good news is there’s a free tier (which gives you 50GB of data per month for one year).
Performance levels are fairly average, too, but there’s no denying the power and configurability that Amazon offers to the slightly more tech-savvy user.
As you’re doubtless aware, Microsoft Azure is a big old stack of integrated cloud tools for building and managing applications and services, with a wide range of coverage including a CDN offering, which is what we’re focusing on here, naturally. Note that this doesn’t use Microsoft’s own edge servers, but rather three plans that use other CDN networks: Standard Akamai, Standard Verizon, and Premium Verizon.
We fully discuss these various plans in our review of Microsoft’s CDN service, linked below, but suffice it to say that in terms of pricing – which can be somewhat confusing to work out – this isn’t the cheapest offering around. Still, those who want integration with other Microsoft technologies and services may well find the price worth paying.
You get a web dashboard which is absolutely crammed with features, although as ever, this means it’s not particularly easy to use for beginners (and the setup process is pretty involved, too). Performance levels are impressive, and at the time of writing, according to CDNPerf, Azure CDN is the second fastest content delivery network in the US and fourth worldwide.
This has to be a tempting prospect if you’re using other Azure services, or if you’re a developer who will appreciate the likes of .NET or PowerShell management features. You can create a free account and get started with 12 months of free services.
CDN77 is a big-name player in the content delivery game, with some heavyweight clients signed up including the European Space Agency. It has an expansive CDN network with 33 data centers across the globe, with many of those in Europe and the US, but there are also locations in South America, Asia and one in Australia.
The web console interface is very streamlined and keeps any jargon to a minimum, making it suitably user-friendly for novices to the CDN world. The flipside of this is that there aren’t a huge amount of options, although you can do some tweaking of various settings.
In terms of performance, CDN77 is solid enough, and it ranks as a lower-to-mid pack player that’s unlikely to disappoint, but certainly isn’t the fastest CDN network we found when reviewing these various services.
You get a free Let's Encrypt SSL certificate, and CDN77 is pretty good value for money overall in terms of its per-GB pricing, although it’s not the cheapest outfit we’ve highlighted here. Pricing starts at $ 0.049 per GB of data for US and European locations, with Asia and Latin America being more expensive. If you want to test the waters, there’s a 14-day risk-free trial, and you don’t need to supply any payment details for this.
If you need a powerful CDN, look no further than Leaseweb, an enterprise-level operation which is still suitable for regular business users – just about, although we should say upfront that it isn’t cheap, as you might imagine.
Pricing starts at $ 113 (£88, €99) per month for an entry-level plan with a 2TB data allowance, the good news being that even with this ‘basic’ subscription, you get all the same security and CDN features as the heavyweight enterprise plans.
That includes a smartly designed console for overseeing your CDN needs, complete with an extensive raft of potential settings and tweaks, featuring many options you don’t get with your average service (like the ability to set the cache-control header, or determine how long to cache 404 responses).
There’s also an in-depth statistics section which displays graphs and charts showing many interesting stats, such as visitor and traffic breakdowns, cache performance and the top file types which are seeing action.
The one somewhat bleak spot is Leaseweb’s performance, which seems somewhat off the pace going by CDNPerf’s findings, although it’s difficult to gauge exactly what results you’ll get in practice. Users who want a powerful range of features in their CDN could give the 30-day trial a go to find out.
Said Hiroki Sugahara, General Manager of the Marketing Communication Department:
Currently, mirrorless is a newcomer, so of course many users are very interested in the new systems, they want to use [them]. But after one or two years, some users who changed their system from DSLR to mirrorless [will] come back to the DSLR again.
When questioned by the interviewer, Sugahara further explained:
The mirrorless camera is very convenient to shoot, because users can [preview the final] image before shooting. But I believe the DSLR has its own appealing point, because users can create their own image from the optical viewfinder. People can see the beautiful image through the optical viewfinder, and then think how they can create their pictures–for example, exposure level setting or white balance or ISO [sensitivity]–and then imagine how they can get [the result they’re seeking].
So the DSLR market is currently decreasing a little bit, but one year or two years or three years later, it will [begin] getting higher.
Could Sugahara be right? Might DSLRs soon be making a comeback?
Personally, I don’t think so. While some people do follow the latest trends, mirrorless cameras have the specs to back up their popularity: they’re lightweight, they’re compact, and they produce top-notch images. And mirrorless systems will just keep getting more and more appealing, as electronic viewfinders improve and mirrorless lens-lineups expand.
Of course, there are reasons to stick with a DSLR. For one, DSLRs tend to be more rugged than mirrorless cameras. And electronic viewfinders can have lag issues. But mirrorless technology is improving, and how many photographers will switch back to DSLRs for a more rugged body?
Not to mention the questionable reasoning employed by Sugahara. Sure, the occasional photographer may not be happy with an electronic viewfinder. But will photographers really prefer the greater challenge provided by a DSLR optical viewfinder, as Sugahara seems to be implying? In my experience, capturing stunning photos is hard enough. Photographers won’t want to make it harder on themselves.
What do you think? Will DSLRs rebound? Or is mirrorless the system of the future?
Now group calling on Google Duo is available globally on iOS and Android, and means that you can video call up to seven other people at one time. According to a blog post by Google, "group calls are also encrypted end-to-end so your conversations stay private" – which is how video messages are handled on the service.
Save your precious data
Google has also announced a new data saving mode for the app in select regions, "including Indonesia, India, and Brazil". In these countries, turning on data saving mode in the app's settings will limit data usage on mobile networks and WiFi, "for both you, and the person you're calling".
This feature is only available on Android right now, but Google says it will be "rolling out to more markets in the coming months"; whether that means it will also come to iOS remains to be seen.
As well as that, Google has updated Duo's video messages feature, which allows you to send quick recorded messages to your contacts. Now on Android and "coming soon to iOS", you'll be able to personalize video messages by "adding text and emojis, or even drawing on your message using brushes".
Whether these new features will prove a problem for Apple's FaceTime isn't clear yet; after all, Google Duo allows up to seven users per chat, which pales in comparison to FaceTime's 32 users per chat.
That being said, who really wants to speak to 32 people at once? Seven sounds far more manageable.
Just as cleaning the lenses of your eyeglasses clarifies what you see, cleansing your pictures of dull lighting will put the sparkle in your photos.
Have you noticed how many individual tools are available in your favorite editing software for changing the values of pixels? The array is dazzling, and most of this editing involves “localized” procedures (dodging, burning, painting, cloning, masking, etc.) affecting specific areas.
But here’s something to consider.
Unless the image you are working on is either damaged (either completely blown-out highlights, plugged-up shadows) or just contains too much unwanted clutter, you rarely need to create specific detail with these tools. The detail is usually right there just below the surface waiting for discovery. You need only make global adjustments to the tones within the darker and lighter ends of the range to achieve pretty amazing results.
When I took this shot of my wife Barbara fifteen years ago, I put it in the reject file because it was so dark. But carefully adjusting and lightening the shadow and middle tones in the picture separated the deep shadow tones from the middle tones. Now both she and the picture are definite keepers. No local editing was necessary, and there is no tell-tale evidence of a touchup. The image contained all the necessary lighter tones – they simply had to be uncovered.
Push tones instead of pixels
Post-processing digital images is usually a process of subtraction; removing the visual obstacles that are covering the underlying detail in a photographic image. This detail will reveal itself if you merely nudge the tonal ranges instead of the pixels.
The fact is…all the detail in every subject has been duly captured and is hiding in either the shadows or the highlights, waiting to be discovered.
The digital camera’s image sensor sees and records the entire range of tones from black to white within every image it captures. What is hiding within this massive range of tones is the detail. Unfortunately, the camera sensor has no way of knowing the detail that may be under (or over) exposed within that range. It simply captures everything it sees inside the bookends of dark and light.
Camera image sensors can capture a range of tones up to 16,000 levels between solid color and no color. This doesn’t mean that all 16,000-pixel values are actually present in the picture; it just means that the darkest to the lightest tones are stretched out over the significant detail that is hiding in the middle.
Adjustments made to the image in Alien Skin’s Exposure X4.5 revealed detail in the sunlit walkway and darkened archway that appeared lost in the original capture. No painting or cloning tools were necessary.
The purpose of this article is not to get geeky about the science, but to assure you that there is an amazing amount of detail that you can recover from seemingly poor images.
A basic JPEG image can display more than 250 tones in each color. While that doesn’t sound like much, you should know that the human eye can only perceive a little over 100 distinct levels of each color. No kidding! Technically, 256 tones are too many.
The balancing act
Here’s a sobering truth. Your camera can capture more detail than your eye can detect and more tones than your monitor can display. As a matter of fact, it can capture up to 16,000 levels of tones and colors. That’s more than any publishing resource (computer monitor, inkjet printer, Internet, or even any printed publication) can reveal. Each of these other outlets is limited to reproducing just 8-bits (256 levels) of each color. The camera’s light-capture range is even beyond the scope of human vision. The range (light to dark) of your camera is immense compared to any reproduction process. What this means is that the editing part of the photography process needs MUCH more attention than the image capture process.
This introduces a complex but interesting phenomenon. Your post-production challenge is to emphasize the most important details recorded inside the tones captured by your camera and then distinguish them sufficiently for the printer, your monitor, or the Internet to reveal.
Your camera captures an incredible amount of detail in each scene that isn’t initially visible. However, with the right software, this detail can be uncovered just as an electron microscope can reveal detail buried deep inside things that the naked eye cannot perceive.
Image editing is all about discovering and revealing what is hiding in plain sight.
Bringing a picture to life doesn’t always require additional touchup procedures. Sometimes, just massaging the existing detail does the trick. The Highlights, Shadows, and Clarity sliders were all that were required to transpose this shot from average to special.
Clarity is the process of accentuating detail. The dictionary defines clarity as “the quality of being easy to see or hear; sharpness of image or sound.” When we clarify something, we clear it up. We understand it better. We view an issue from a different perspective.
Many image editing software packages have a slider called “clarity.” The function of this slider is to accentuate minor distinctions between lighter and darker areas within the image. Each of the other tone sliders (Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks, Clarity, and Dehaze) all perform a clarifying process on specific tone ranges.
The real beauty of shooting with a 12/14-bit camera is the level of access you receive to the detail captured in each image. If you want to think “deep,” you can start with the editing process of your digital images. You’ll be amazed at what you will find when you learn to peel away the microlayers of distracting information in well-exposed photos.
Just as cleaning the lenses of your eyeglasses clarifies what you see, cleansing your pictures of dull lighting will put the sparkle in your photos.
Adobe Camera Raw controls reveal significant detail in the darker portions of the image by simply adjusting the Basic slider controls.
Learning to expose images correctly
The information you learn from excellent teaching resources like Digital Photography School teach you how to correctly set your equipment to capture a variety of subjects and scenes. Study the articles in this amazing collection and learn to shoot pictures understanding the basic tenets of good exposure. Poorly-captured images will hinder your discovery of detail. However, correctly exposed images will reward you with, not only beautiful color but, access to an amazing amount of detail.
Learn to harness the power of light correctly for the challenge that each scene presents by balancing the camera controls of ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. The more balanced your original exposure, the less post-processing will be necessary.
Every scene presents a unique lighting situation and requires a solid understanding of your camera’s light-control processes to capture all possible detail. Any camera can capture events and document happenings, but it takes a serious student of photography to faithfully capture each scene in a way that allows all that information to be skillfully sculpted into a detailed image.