Learn to Print Better Photos
Sitting at a computer and fiddling with a picture of dead fish, Carol Jobusch says the advantages of digital over film photography are obvious. "You can play God with your images," she says, using her mouse to flesh out fine detail on the gills. Of course, being a deity requires some practice, which is why Jobusch is taking a class on the finer points of digital photography.
Digital cameras have been popular for years, yet it is only recently that digital models of single lens reflex cameras (the type with interchangeable lenses) have become both good enough and cheap enough to attract the serious amateur photographer. (Nikon's new entry-level digital SLR, the D40, runs about $600 for the body and lens.) "Digital SLRs are finally better than film in terms of resolution and versatility," says Michael Gartenberg ofJupiter Research, a technology research firm.
Editing. But capturing images is only part of the process. Then comes the digital developing, or manipulating the images with software like Adobe's Photoshop, a powerful series of programs for photo editing that range from $100 to $650. Gartenberg says that the more high-end consumers are fueling a demand for basic and advanced photo software. "It used to be that digital photographers would just print their digital pictures like they once did from film; now, they want to alter and perfect them on their computers." But it's more than just a consuming phenomenon, shooters say. It's a whole new way to approach an artistic hobby. "Digital photography is like Nintendo for adults: It's challenging technically, artistically, and intellectually, and you can see the results right away," says Eliot Cohen, the photographer who teaches the class.
Electronic shutterbugs have many advantages over their film brethren. Once you have the gear, there are no developing costs; the photos are immediately visible on the back on the camera; and the digital files are easy to share with friends. Minnie Gallman once scanned her film slides into a computer to digitally manipulate them before upgrading to an SLR. "It's always been one of my favorite creative outlets, and with these new cameras I've got no inhibitions about clicking away because there's no wasted film," she says. So does digital make for more skilled photographers? Not necessarily. Talent can be developed, says Cohen, but mostly his students "either have a good eye or they don't."
This story appears in the December 25, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.