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Okay you asked for it you got it. Get your photo questions answered at Photofocus. Rick Sammon and I have recorded and uploaded our first episode of Photofocus. It’s a photo Q&A show. We rely on your questions (send to photofocus@me.com or leave them on Twitter with the hashtag #photoQA) to build the show.

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NOTE: This is just a placeholder episode to get listed in iTunes. Starting with our second episode we will publish regularly on the 5th, 15th and 25th of each month.

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Photofocus Episode 01

Hosts: Scott Bourne (www.scottbourne.com or www.twitter.com/scottbourne) and Rick Sammon (www.ricksammon.com or www.twitter.com/ricksammon)

Show notes by Bruce Clarke (www.momentsindigital.com or www.twitter.com/bruceclarke)

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Photofocus with Scott Bourne and Rick Sammon. The show devoted to your photography questions about anything photography related including gear, technique, locations, etc. Your questions will shape the direction of this show so be sure to send your questions to photofocus@me.com. You can also send your questions via Twitter to either Scott or Rick. We will try to answer as many as we can but since the announcement we’ve already received over 300 questions so we’ll try to take a collection of questions that represent a particular topic and present them together. For example, Scott has already received over a dozen questions about monitor calibration so Scott and Rick will try to answer them collectively.

Question One

Demena60 on Twitter wants to know “What is monitor calibration and what tools do you recommend for calibrating LED and LCD monitors?” Rick likes the Spyder and Huey but the main thing is that you need to calibrate your monitor. Scott asks Rick to explain what calibration is. Basically it involves setting the color space and the brightness of your monitor so that what you see on your screen matches to your prints. You should do this at least once per month. Scott adds that ff you use a CRT monitor then you want to calibrate more often since the phosphors are dying since they day they were born. Scott make a great analogy that calibrating your monitor is like sending in your change of address to the post office. Once you send it in, now the postal carrier knows where to deliver your mail to. Much like once you calibrate your monitor, now your printer knows how it is interpreting colors.

For devices, Rick is using the Spyder 3 and Scott is using the I1 from X-Rite which is a little more spendy than the Spyder. Rick does a lot presentations so he also points out that you should also calibrate your projector if you are using one.

Question Two

G Angelo from Twitter has a D300 and wonders is it worthwhile shooting 14 bit vs 12 bit and what are the advantages/disadvantages of that decision?

Scott thinks that the decision is up to the photographer if they are willing to trade off the extra space they are going to need on their hard drive for the extra quality they are going to get out of a 14 bit image. In the average photographers world Scott doesn’t think the differences are that stunning but there are some photographers for whom every pixel counts – they are normally referred to as the pixel-pushers or measure beaters even though many won’t do anything with the extra pixels. Scott uses 14 bit because he thinks that he can do something with them. Most people probably won’t notice unless you are a working pro and very serious about your photography.

Rick shoots 14 bit and thinks that it’s really important in high-contrast situations because you may just want to take a small portion of an image and make it bigger so you can obtain a better result if you have more detail to work with. In the future, who knows what kind of amazing processing programs are coming down the line that we’ll be able to pull information out of these photos so go for the max if you can.

About Rick Sammon

People ask me all the time, Rick what is your specialty? I tell them that my specialty is not specializing. I do everything including underwater, aerial, architectural, landscapes, etc. I love to travel and taking photos in foreign countries, I like people and getting involved in different cultures. I’m really a generalist and I put all this information together into 34 books, thousands of articles and I love teaching and sharing this information with other people and that’s why you see me out there doing workshops and I love learning. The reason I’ve written so many books is because I once had someone tell me the best way to become an expert on something was by writing a book on it.

Scott: You’ve been on the DIY network on TV? Rick: Yes I did 10 shows there and 10 shows on the Canon Photo Safari.

Scott: Where can people go to learn more about you? You can find out more about me on my web site at www.ricksammon.com

Question Three

Next question is from Nick Franklin on Twitter. With the recent popularity of books such as the ‘Hot Shoe Diaries‘ do you see speed light systems and flash systems being viable for the amateur photographer?

Scott just finished reading the book and thinks Joe is a great guy. The book isn’t just about the Nikon system but it’s also about light so Scott thinks that books like this will always spur interest in this aspect of photography. Just for the record, Scott is a Nikon shooter and Rick is a Canon shooter so both camps are represented on the show. Scott also mentions guys like David Hobby with his Strobist web site and Zach Arias from One Light who are doing very cool stuff with flash and whether you’re a fan of their techniques or not, you can certainly learn something from them. These systems such as I-TTL from Nikon and E-TTL from Canon have made flash photography so easy compared to several years ago that it’s much easier for people to use today.

Rick says that first of all this question was not just a setup question because he has a new book coming out called “Studio Lighting Secrets” and in this book he talks about that a lot. Rick’s number one flash tip is take the darn flash off the camera. He tries to bounce his flashes off of reflectors and fire them through diffusers to soften the light. There are also soft boxes that you can put your flash in so you can get studio strobe lighting with the flash you have already so this type of flash photography is definitely becoming more popular. Rick wants to start a session call ‘Rick Sammon’s Speed Lite Speed Sessions’. You can get beautiful studio type lighting even if you have just one flash and put it in one of these soft boxes.

Question Four

Our next question is from neverhappened on Twitter and they ask “What metering mode do you use and when?”

Rick: Many people will be surprised to hear my answer on this one but I always use the average or the evaluative system because the most important thing in photography is learning to see the light in the scene. If you know how to do that you can look at a scene and there is really only one right exposure. I normally shoot on the aperture or shutter priority mode with my exposure compensation set at 0 but as soon as the sun comes up the contrast in the sun changes dramatically so I’ll use the wheel to dial down my exposure which might sound like I’m underexposing the image but I’m not really underexposing – I’m exposing for the highlights.

Scott: I work in Aperture priority if I’m shooting landscapes because the DOF is the most important aspect. If’ I’m doing wildlife photography I’ll normally shoot in shutter priority but let’s not forget about the third leg which is your ISO setting. Cameras like the Canon 1DS Mark III and Nikon D3 have a feature called Auto ISO which will allow you to go to manual, set your Aperture and Shutter speed and then let the camera adjust the ISO automatically as the brightness level in the scene changes. That means I don’t have to change my aperture and shutter speeds while I’m shooting – the camera will adjust the ISO to achieve the proper exposure.

Question Five

Last question comes from ajresq2 on Twitter. “For general or street photography, how significant or useful would it be to move from a 24mm lens to a 14mm lens?

Rick: I’m a zoom lens person so my favorite street lens is a 17 -40mm and a 24-105mm. If I could only choose one I’d choose the 17-40 mm.

Scott: I’ve seen a lot of street photographers who like to work close so I’d tend to go with the 14mm. Don’t be doing any close portraits with the 14mm or people will look like Mr.Ed. I have the 14-24mm Nikkor lens which gives the best of both worlds.

Wrap Up

We want themes and questions from you. Be sure to visit the blog at PhotoFocus.com for articles, how-to’s, videos and more. You can also subscribe to the blog on a Kindle. Email us at photofocus@me.com follow us on Twitter. Don’t just take pictures – make pictures.

Scott Bourne www.scottbourne.com or www.twitter.com/scottbourne

Rick Sammon (www.ricksammon.com or www.twitter.com/ricksammon)

Show notes by Bruce Clarke www.momentsindigital.com or www.twitter.com/bruceclark