Thursday, November 17, 2011


Last time I mentioned some of the image editing software options available to you for free download or bundled with certain digital cameras you purchase. So you’ve all installed yours on the computer, right ?

Editing technique number one to know is how to crop effectively. It is the ideal fix for photos that were badly composed (shot in a hurry!) or contained unwanted distracting objects. The cropping tool in the software is normally denoted by a boxy looking icon depicting scissors.

An effective photograph is like a good essay that puts across one story, or an idea. Think about that when you crop. Dismiss the notion that your subject needs to be at the centre of the photograph. Think about what story you are trying to tell, or what looks interesting. Consider how you would like the eye of the viewer to travel.

Experiment. Remember first to save your original image from the camera, and always work on copies only. The beauty of modern high resolution cameras is that you can crop away the majority of the image and still end up with a highly viable image.

The photos in the article below come from a very interesting editorial shoot I recently did at the South African Astronomical Observatory centre near Sutherland. At close to 5.45 am in the middle of winter, a vehicle driven by curious astronomers going off duty pulled up alongside my camera in the dark, which was busy with a 15 minute timed exposure and mounted on a tripod. 

This was a key shot at a crucial time with no opportunity for repeats on the same day, so I was forced to perform a horizontal crop. I also performed quite a complex edit on the original raw image.


 I decided to leave the lens flare (the star-shaped red artifacts) because they add interest to the pic. The results tell the story.

CROPPED SHOT - much better - note the star tracks!

This Digital Tips has been basic, maybe too basic for some. However, it is very important to beginners. You’re welcome to email me your queries of a more advanced nature or call 021 789 2560 during office hours.

I will be running a summer class early in December. Contact me if interested.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I'm available to do some group or individual training on the ins and outs of digital cameras. What I had in mind would be personal training of small groups of about 3 individuals. The Basics course would consist of 3 x 1.5 hour modules over 3 days as follows:
  • First session: Your camera - how to find the right buttons and ask your questions. (1.5 hours)
  • Second session: Practical photography session in the field. (2 hours)
  • Third session: Processing your images on the computer and optimising for prints. (1.5 hours)
The 3 sessions would not necessarily be on consecutive days and would be arranged to fit in with everyone's schedules as best possible. Bring some cash for tea / coffee. And of course bring your cameras and your questions!

More advanced training would include use of camera under difficult lighting conditions, understanding "magapixels", sizing of images for publishing or for the internet, etc.

Cost: R xxx for the full set of three.

Contact me via email :
Telephone (office) : 021 789 2560

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Published in the Peoples' Post - 27 September

Having a digital camera without a computer is like being in an or orchestra without a violinist. Although it is possible to get photos printed directly from your camera’s memory card at the photo shop, you miss out on a world of opportunities by not having a computer with some basic image editing software installed.

Most digital cameras come with some type of image editing software, but there are also a number of great free packages available via the internet. All you need to do is download them, assuming you have a reasonable internet connection. There is a big difference between comprehensive image editing software suites such as Photoshop CS and simple image manipulation software such as Irfanview. The most basic programme should allow you to make minor adjustments to the light levels in the photo, convert to grey tones, crop the image, rotate it, resize it and save it to a new filename. You can download Irfanview free at Remember to always work on a copy image and not on the original. That way you keep your original photo intact.

Another great free programme at a higher level is GIMP. My teenage daughter uses it with ease. You can download this for 3 operating systems – Windows, Linux and Mac, which makes it very versatile. The tools available are fairly sophisticated, too. See to download.
Picasa by Google provides the user with good free software with an emphasis on handling and storage of the photos – and there's also a free online album service that is more secure than Facebook. See to download.

The nifty thing about these free packages is that there is almost always great support or help from the internet community that uses them. We'll try and review some of these software packages in the weeks ahead.

Digital photography tips by Gareth Griffiths. Read his Blog at . Call 072 905 0252 or Email , or email the People's Post .

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


A selection of interesting accommodation establishments I have shot over the past few years.


The brief: To do an "Atmospheric" shoot

 Wish you were there ?
Food !

BRYNBROOK, NOORDHOEK - Clive and Iris Gibson

The brief was to show how relaxing and accommodating the Whale View was to visitors and in particular to whale watchers.


Finally, a bit of decorative detail ! Always important to help advertise your establishment to clients - show them what trouble to you to to make them feel comfortable !

Monday, August 15, 2011


Interesting pre-dawn shoot at the Southern Africa Large Telescope a the SA Astronomical Observatory near Sutherland.

Photo  taken over a 10 minute exposure at 5 mins 20 secs. Shutter button was pressed at approximately 6 a.m. This was about 1 hour 45 minutes prior to sunrise, but the reflected glow from the eastern horizon bounces off the side of the SALT scope.  Later, during the exposure, a vehicle occupied by off-duty astronomers pulled up alongside and spoiled the lower half of the picture with red and orange light from their brake lights and flashers. Fortunately this did not affect the upper area of the image, where the main action is. The lens flare near dead centre however comes from that vehicle.

Astronomers posted at SALT and the other SAAO scopes are not only permanent staff but also come from all over the world to do observations and research. SALT is one of only two such facilities in the world. The other unit is at Austin, Texas.

Yes - and it was cold. Especially the chill factor (-5 degrees guesstimate)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Food photography along with various other types of photography can be very demanding and require a good understanding of the way that light and camera lenses work.

Although best done with a digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera, it is possible to take reasonable pics using a compact digicam.

The trick is to find your focal point on the plate of food. First, decide what story you about the food you are wanting to portray. The stronger your lighting and the more steady your camera the larger the area on the plate that will be in focus. Remember to choose your ISO setting carefully. The higher the ISO setting, the lower the image quality will be. However the lower the ISO, the slower the exposure will be meaning that any shaky hand movement will spoil the pic. It is also about coming close up to the subject. Clever cameras won't let you press the shutter if the image is out of focus – so check very carefully. Often digicams have “closeup” or macro settings, so by all means use these.

Professional photographers and serious amateurs use special macro lenses or adapters such as extension tube to shorten the focal length of the lens. The photo shown was set up to feature the foreground.

Pic: Food shoot on site - Boulders Beach Lodge - 'Pacific Rim Cuisine'

DO pay attention to dressing up the table and the background of your photo. Use flower petals, glasses of wine, cutlery and napkins to achieve this. Remember that all items in the background will be visible, even if not in focus!

And don't forget, the tripod is your best friend. Hint: set your camera to take on shutter delay (2 seconds or even 10 seconds) if you do not have a shutter release cable. Set the photo up under lowest possible ISO and highest possible aperture and then press the shutter button. Take your hands off the camera and stand back. This should ensure minimal vibration.


Lovely wedding between 2 favourites in the Noordhoek Valley. At Cafe Roux, a great place to be ! Lots of pics on my Picassa Page for those who would like to visit.

Deo and Margaret tie the knot at Cafe Roux Saturday 6th August

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


No, not about shooting nudes, although a worthy topic!
Learn about the use of your camera's "RAW" image mode and shoot pics that can be adjusted post-shoot for unfavourable lighting conditions.

Download and print my latest article:

Friday, March 25, 2011


How often do you use the timer setting on your digital camera? This useful feature is not taken advantage of enough. Two big advantages of this feature are;

-          In low light or when taking close up pictures, compose the pic, select the delay, press the shutter and then remove your hand from the button. The camera will be as steady as its support base. No blur!
-          Include yourself in the photograph. I’ve often done this on hikes or with friends. Snag is, you need to be quick on your feet to join the group, so make sure you don’t trip. Plus, you need a solid base to support the camera while doing the under 10-second sprint!

Those who have scratched their cameras, had the wind blow them over while doing the 10-second sprint, or simply come out with skew looking pics will enjoy learning of a great portable beanbag product from Canada, which I discovered last week. Called “the Red Pod”, it has a screw adapter that mates with the centre mounting hole found under most cameras. You simply screw it onto the base of the camera and squeeze the beanbag part so it hugs the surface you are working from. Nice and steady, lightweight to carry, cheap, and it prevents damage to your camera from the outdoors.  Useful from the car window, too. I got mine at a big photo warehouse in the city.

Digital Tips is written by Gareth Griffiths, a professional photographer based in Noordhoek. Contact him by calling 072 905 0252 and leave a message, or email   Digital tips and other information are also on the web at

As published in the Peoples' Post, Cape Town, South Africa  - 22 March 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


It is important for digital camera users to grasp the basics of digital image sizing. Should you be sending photos to the People’s Post or another newspaper, then a photo taken in JPEG format at medium resolution (around 5 megapixel) is suitable. However, should you need to keep this photo for printing and possible enlargement, it becomes important to shoot at the camera’s maximum digital resolution.

An additional setting available on your digicam is compression or image quality. This is normally selected by setting the camera to take  “fine or high  quality” or on the other hand, “medium or standard” quality. Some cameras also have a low quality or high compression option. The significance of this setting is as follows:

·        Low compression means a large file (around 3 megabytes) on your memory storage card but the photo is rendered at highest quality. There is a minimum of digital noise or blurring of detail.

·        High compression means a smaller sized file (around 1 megabyte) on memory storage, but the image quality is poorest.

·        High compression files further deteriorate in quality if they are edited on the computer by using a programme such as Photoshop Elements. It is a good tip to always take your photos at the highest quality setting, even is taken at a low digital resolution – assuming your camera memory card has available space. Smaller files are also easier to email, however.

Digital Tips is written by Gareth Griffiths, a freelance pro photographer based in Noordhoek. Contact him by calling 072 905 0252 and leave a message, or email   Digital tips and other information are also on the web at