Book Review: Digital Imaging for the Underwater Photographer by Jack and Sue Drafahl

Digital Imaging for the Underwater Photographer by Jack and Sue DrafahlThe book is written for the underwater photographer who is taking a serious plunge into digital photography and digital processing for the first time. The diver who is transitioning from film to digital will find this quite useful. Even the beginning digital photographer who is not a diver will find the book very instructive.

If you’re a geek and a diver at the same time, there are other books for you. Digital Imaging for the Underwater Photographer is for the diver-photographer who is only beginning to get his feet wet in digital imaging.

Authors Jack and Sue Drafahl have written an easy-to-read book that explains stuff in a pleasant tone that can remove the novice’s initial hesitation with digital imaging. The book effectively equips the underwater photographer with a good working knowledge of the digital process.

The scanning procedure, for example, is fully explained so that the diver-photographer who already has a sizeable collection of films, slides and prints will be able to properly convert his underwater photos into digital form.

The book also walks the diver through many digital techniques to edit and enhance his photos. The use of Photoshop and other image editors is explained via examples illustrated by high-quality photos. Towards the end of the book, the authors instruct the reader how to be able to make his own digital slideshows and author his own DVDs for presentation.

Most, if not all, of the image enhancing techniques described in the book are also applicable to photos taken in any environment, not just underwater. The book of course takes special note of the blue color cast of photos taken under the sea, the occasional backscatter and the more challenging lighting situations underwater. But while the photos used are of marine life, all the techniques described in the book can also be useful for the novice digital photographer.

This book covers the digital editing process after you have downloaded your underwater photos into the computer. To learn more about the process of shooting underwater digital images, the Drafahls have another book, The Master Guide to Digital Underwater Photography (Amherst Media, 2005).

Digital Imaging for the Underwater Photographer, Computer Applications for Photo Enhancement and Presentation by Jack and Sue Drafahl, 2nd Edition. Amherst Media, 6″ x 9″, 219 pages. $39.95 USA, $55.95 Canada.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Digital Process
Input – Digital Camera Images, Film Images
Edit – Hardware, Software,
Output – Inkjet Printer, Dye Sublimation Printer, Film Recorder, Digital Slide Shows
Taking the Plunge

3. Scanning Your Underwater Images
Film Choices – Slides, Color Negatives, Black & White Negatives
Scanning Techniques – Software Controls, Bulk vs. Single Scan, Scanning Cleanliness, Sharpening
Editing Tools
Color Management – Color Balancing Your Monitor, Color Management Software

4. Digital Resolution
Perception of Quality
Pixel Dimension
Scanning Resolutions
Rescan to Change Page Size or Resolution
Scanning for the Internet
Scanning for Inkjet Printers

5. Photo Software Basics
Adobe Photoshop and Elements
Pull-Down Menus
Plug-in Filters
Palette Menus
What’s Ahead?

6. Basic Image Adjustments
Quick Fix and Auto Smart Fix
The Three Autos – Auto Levels, Auto Contrast, Auto Color
Adjustments Command

7. Image Compression
Image Compression Types – JPEG, Fractal, Wavelet
Final Thoughts

8. Selection Tools
Rectangular and Circular Marquee
Lasso Tools – Lasso, Polygonal Lasso, Magnetic Lasso
Magic Wand
Color Range
More Selections

9. Photographic Curves
Levels – Other Options
Final Thoughts

10. Noise Reduction
Film Grain – Higher-ISO Films, Depth of Field, Underexposure, Blue Layer, Enlargements
Digital Camera Noise – Underexposure, Color Corrections, Image Compression and Resolution
Solutions for Film Users – Digital GEM, Despeckle and Dust & Scratches Filters
Solutions for Digital Camera Users – nik Multimedia Dfine, Alien Skin Image Doctor
Final Thoughts

11. Sharpen And Focus Solutions
Unsharp Mask
Focus Magic
Other Solutions
Creative Focus

12. Working With Channels
Black & White Conversions
Blue Water Film Scans
Alpha Channels

13. Working With Layers
Naiâ’a Nudis Project – Selecting a Subject, Getting Started, Adding Images, Layer Styles, Saving the File, Poster Output

14. Backscatter
Clone Tool
Polygonal Lasso Tools
Magic Wand

15. Scratch Repair for Film Images
Digital Repair
Clone Tool
Healing Brush
Patch Tool
Select a Similar Area
Lasso Your Area
The Image Doctor

16. Processing Errors
Missing Black Detail
Missing Color
Underexposed Images
Color Streaks

17. Burning and Dodging Techniques
Digital Options
Flash Fill
Light Traps
Shadow Play

18. Printing Techniques
Color Management
Image Rescaling
Paper and Ink Types

19. Digital Slide Shows
Computer-Driven Slide shows
Video-Editing Programs
DVD Authoring – Presenting Your Underwater DVD

20. Archival Data Storage
Temporary Backup Storage
Archival Storage
Multi-Session Recording
Final Thoughts

21. Photo Database Systems
Drafahl Numbering System
Photo Database Programs
Color Negatives
Digital Camera Images
Thumbnail Images

22. The Future of Digital Imaging Underwater
Enhancement vs. Manipulation – Photo Enhancement, Photo Manipulation
Do You or Don’t You?
Do We or Don’t We?



Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.