Screen vs print

I have a decent photo printer but often the picture I see on the screen of my computer is different color and shades of darkness than the final print. How do I make my prints look like my screen?  Jonathan

Jonathan, this is an extremely complex issue. The very basic difference comes from the fact that a computer screen is backlit (light coming through the colors) and a print is reflective (light bouncing off the paper). Every screen and every printer has a set of variables affecting contrast, brightness, color rendition, etc. The short answer is you need to calibrate your screen to match the printing profiles of your printer. Easy to say, but beyond my ability to advise. There are many online resources. I refer you to Google under heading “screen calibration for photography” as a starting point. Get comfortable, it is complex. Wish you the best of luck. Get close, stay focused, and keep shooting.  

Snow exposure study

The photos below show the effect of using average metering in snow conditions. These photos were taken about 2 seconds apart, with the first being set to auto exposure. The  next was set to compensate for one stop over exposed, the next was 2 stops over and the last just over 3 stops. The snow appeared pure white to the eye and you can see how tricking the meter to overexpose gets truer color, and if you go too far, you lose your highlights. One and a half stops over would have probably been about right, but remember in digital it is easier to adjust for the highlights than it is to take a chance of blowing out the highlights with overexposure. Safer to slightly underexpose and adjust in computer, especially is you are shooting RAW format.

The more snow in the picture, the more compensation is needed. For example, a shot of a skier on a broad snow slope needs more than a skier on the edge of slope with lots of trees behind. Try to think like a camera and adjust accordingly. The same holds true for very white sand. If there is lots of ocean and sky in frame, average probably OK. If most of shot is just the sand and kids playing, overexpose a bit to keep the sand white.

3.3 stops over ISO 500, f 5.6, 1.50 sec

2 stop over, ISO 500, f 5.6, 1/100 sec

1 stop over, ISO 500, f 5.6, 1/200 sec

Average reading, ISO 500, f 5.6, 1/320 sec

Preserving your images

Digital photography makes taking lots of photos quite easy. One of the major concerns is how we store them for the long term. Not every picture needs to be saved, some tell the story of the moment, however most of us have old black and white photos of ancestors, vacations as a child or family members that are dear to us. We like those, and they will be here for hundreds of years still. The future of digital storage and review is pretty bleak. Try to get a picture off of a floppy disk from just 30 years ago. Storage of digital files is cheap, but may not be accessible in just a few years. Every month or so go through your photos, pick 10 or 12 and get them printed. You can do it online, put them on a jump drive or disk and go to places around town, but turn them into analog hard prints. The special ones, take to a photo store and have them printed with archival paper and ink. Your kids and grand kids will appreciate it. The camera is just a tool to make a record of an event, feeling, person, or thing. Keeping the record accessible into the future takes a little care.

My son and daughter in law gave us a beautiful book with prints of their wedding carefully selected, curated and mounted to the pages. It is so much more special than scrolling through a screen of images. If you don't want to prepare the book, look into one of the many services that you can email your photos to and they will print them into a book for a very nominal fee. Enjoy the taking of the photos, but make sure they will be there to enjoy for years to come.

Here are some general tips on improving your photos. These Tips are also found under the Galleries subsection for the dates of the shows when they were raised. We do not yet have an index but you can find some simple Tips by scrolling through these. If you have any suggestions to post in the Tips section please send them to me at

Exposure Issue

The faces in my photos look darker than they should!

Most cameras take an average light reading of the entire scene to set the exposure. This leads to faces being dark, sunsets being washed out, or sand or snow looking grey. On phones or cameras with touchscreens, you can touch the area of the photo you want to be in focus, and most will also use that point to adjust the proper lighting. If a face with light behind it is properly exposed and focused, the background may be a little light, but that is generally a better picture than a silhouette with a proper exposed sky. Fill the frame with your subject and you will get better exposures. So remember, move close, stay focused and keep shooting. 


Why do my smartphone pictures look blurry?

Camera shake is one of the biggest causes of blurry photographs, especially in dim light situations. Tapping on the button on your phone can blur your picture. On the iPhone you can use the up volume button to take a picture while in camera mode. This allows a gentle squeeze on the camera and gives it more stability. You can also use the up volume on your headphones in the same way, helping you keep the camera very steady, or even held against a stationary object. If you do use the button on the screen, remember to touch it very gently, not tap it. Your pictures will be sharper. So remember, get close, stay focused and keep shooting.


get close, stay focused and keep shooting

Composition Issue

My subjects always look too small!

A frequent disappointment is how small the person or object ends up being in photos. Most snapshots tend to focus on the person in the center of the picture without realizing how much wasted space is around their subject. One of the reasons people like selfies, other than they usually have their own face in focus, is because it is all action. It is only an arm’s length away. Move in closer before taking the picture, and then take another step still. Unless it is a mountain or a sunset, try to fill the frame with your subject. You get better lighting and focus, and more of what you are after. Remember, get close, stay focused and keep shooting

improving your everyday photos​