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  • Writer's pictureRebekah

RCP Photography School: Quality

Hello to all who’ve joined me on day 17 of this 26 day challenge to learn about the basics of photography.

If you’re doing this course, you probably already know a little bit about me but if you don’t, please check out who I am.

Do you ever wonder why your images aren't sharp? Or why they look blurry or pixelated when you print them? Hopefully today, I will be able to ask some of the most common questions surrounding this.

Today I’m going to talk about...

Q for Quality

Why does quality matter when you take a photograph?

Depending on what device you take the photo on or how you plan on using that photo i.e. printing 6"x4" or A3, the quality of the image always matters. You should always print your photos as any piece of technology can fail at any time, but that is another blog post in itself. The quality of the photograph will matter when you come to print it - whether you order online or in a local printing shop, the machines will tell you whether or not the image is of good or bad quality (most do anyhow). But you should be able to see this yourself when you zoom into the photograph. Is it pixelated? Blurry? Lacking sharpness? If not, then your photograph is of good quality.

What is the difference in JPEG and RAW? Which is better?

JPEG is a smaller, compressed file used to store easily. There isn't as much data stored in these images, which as a result means the are a smaller file.

RAW (Canon user terms) is a larger, more detailed file, that stores a lot of data of the image, meaning you can edit it without the quality being reduced until you save it into another format.

Here is a visual difference below. When zooming into these different formats, you can see the difference. Not all JPEG files will be this pixelated, however, when printing large, this is what it might look like. The first image is a RAW file, nice and sharp. The second image is a JPEG, not the best quality. Again, not all JPEG files are like this but just bare this in mind when you are photographing.

Does it matter what size the image is cropped to before printing?

It all depends what size you are printing but if you are editing the photograph in professional editing software, or sometimes even your phone (but very limited), you can crop the image to generic sizes such as 8"x10", 5"x7", 4"x6" or 16"x9" (which is usually the length and height of your TV screen or phone screen (or to some variation). Cropping a photograph at 4"x6"but wanting to print it at 20"x24" isn't a good idea if you want the quality to remain, and vice versa because the photograph will be compressed and the quality will still be bad. Try and crop it at the size you hope to print it.

Does the printer matter?

YES - Many people will say it won't but if you want to your gorgeous photographs to look just as gorgeous on paper, then choosing the right printer is always a must. Cheaper brands such as Boots or Tesco, or even the instant print machines, you will always have lower quality in printing. That's why, as a professional photographer myself, I advise my clients to order from a professional photo printing lab - these are specifically used for the quality above anything else.

I have been guilty of printing photos off using my own home printer (HP Envy 5000 series) for really small scrapbook projects, but ultimately, I always turn to a professional printer to 'show off' my photographs - it's worth every penny!

What happens when I take a photo on my phone vs when I take a photo on my digital camera?

When you take a photograph on your phone, the quality is limited, especially when you go to do a few basic edits, such as adjusting exposure, blacks and whites, shadows and highlights, and maybe even getting rid of a colour cast on your subject. With photographing on a phone, you are unable to adjust the aperture, shutter speed or ISO and sometimes are left with bad quality photos. Now, saying that, there are so many things you can do on your phone - photographing your kids during walks, or photographing your local landscape and I have a beginner's course to help with that!

But, if you are wanting to create professional looking photographs, and print them larger than 8"x10", the the quality will always be better on a digital camera. Not every one can handle a digital camera, however, with the right training and practice, you can turn your next-to-none knowledge into basic skills.

But, if you are wanting to create professional looking photographs, and print them larger than 8"x10", the the quality will always be better on a digital camera. Not every one can handle a digital camera, however, with the right training and practice, you can turn your next-tonone knowledge into basic skills.

Why does the quality of the image look terrible when I upload my photo to social media?

This is a great question, and so many people get frustrated when they share a photograph on their social media, from their phone, and it looks really bad - even myself! Social media compresses the photograph, making the data within the photo smaller and as a result, the photo is less detailed as it was before.

Through showing your photographs via your computer, and as long as the photo is sharp anyway, when shared it will still maintain most if not all of the quality.

It's not something we can control, really, from our phones but by sharing them from a computer, they should retain the quality.

Does it matter if I don't care about quality, as a beginner?

Maybe you don't really care about this blog post at all, and that's absolutely fine. I want to share with you some basic knowledge to knowing what a good photograph is, and quality will always be one of them. Whether you take these photographs for your own personal therapy or to display in your home, or to gift to a grandparent, the quality of the photo will always be noticed, especially once it's printed.

What can I do to improve the quality of my photo now?

Try and work on getting the quality of your photographs - steady your hand or use a tripod; upgrade your camera if it's affordable; upload your photos from a computer to retain most of the quality; try not to over-sharpen the photo when you are doing basic edits; and hopefully, you will begin to see an improvement. These tips won't make you a professional over night, that takes years of practice, spending money on various courses and building a reputation, BUT it will start your journey in getting better at taking photographs.

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