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Photofocus Episode 34
Welcome to Episode Number 34 of Photofocus with Scott Bourne and special guest host Kevin Kubota. Photofocus is the show devoted to your 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 [email protected]. We will try to answer as many as we can but we get a lot of questions so we’ll try to take a collection of questions that represent a particular topic and present them together.
This week we kick things off with a question about getting your pictures noticed on Flickr
Question One – Getting Found on Flickr
Brian from Anchorage, AK wrote to us to ask: Just a quick question about getting my photos seen on Flickr. I have quite a few photos on Flickr and seem to get relatively low views & comments. I use what I consider good tagging/keywords and have interesting subject matter. What can I do to get more exposure on Flickr?
Kevin: Try to get in as many groups as possible. Try to incorporate your Flickr feed in all of your social networking sites to get the multiplication effect and more traffic to your stream.
Scott: Participate in groups and be active in commenting on other people’s photos.
Question Two – Beach Wedding at High Noon
Adam Marin writes: I got hired to photograph a wedding on the beach in Jacksonville FL. What tips would you offer to get the best photos on the beach. Unfortunately, the wedding is at noon, so I am mostly wondering how to get good photographs with the high hot sun. I know that you have recommended shooting at ISO 800 and f/2.8 inside say a church, but what about outside?
Kevin: If it’s possible, try to suggest that they move the time of the ceremony up a few hours when the light will be better. Sometimes they are flexible and just didn’t think about the sun factor. If possible, see if they can put up some kind of a cover or canopy over the bride and groom. Try using a diffuser or some other type of scrim to block or soften the light.
Scott: My old friend Dean Collins taught me about subtractive lighting. Try working with L-shaped objects in the natural environment to block the sun. If you’re going to be on a beach, see if there are any palm trees that you can use as a natural scrim. If you use a diffuser, try getting it as close to the subject as possible without it being in the frame. If you hold far from the subject then it turns into a scrim.
Question Three – Referencing Images on Multiple Hard Drives
Donald Phelps asks: I have several hard drives of images from the past, and I would like to be able to search through them, add keywords, when needed. I want to keep them on those hard drives. Should I just create separate libraries for Aperture on those hard drives with the corresponding pictures or store the library on my computer referencing the images on the hard drive?
Kevin: I create a separate library in Lightroom for each shoot. There is one other option and it’s called CD Finder and it’s a cataloging software that will let you catalog anything on a drive or disk in one master catalog.
Scott: I used to have one large Aperture library but now I do split them up so that they perform better and have less problems. I create a library for each job. It’s really a personal choice.
Question Four – Getting the Eyes Sharp
Ron in Pittsburgh wrote to us at [email protected] to ask: I often hear the advice to focus on the eyes and try to do that but maybe am not getting the best results possible. For example, 1. I use the center focusing point most of the time. 2. I usually use single focus, sometimes AI Focus, seldom AI Servo. 3. Mostly Manual mode. 4. Almost always AF on.
Kevin: It sounds like Ron is doing most things right. It could be a back focusing issue or perhaps Ron is drinking too much coffee?
Scott: We don’t know the shutter speed or depth of field that Ron is using. There could be subject movement or camera movement. Perhaps if he’s shooting at 1.2 then he can move up to 1.4 or 1.8.
Question Five – Neutral Density Filters for Video
Jonathan Ocab has a question for Scott: I saw you on the most recent D-Town episode and you brought up the use of neutral density filters for dSLR video. You made an excellent point regarding difficulty getting the 1/50 and 1/60 shutter speeds in bright sunlight. I’ve noticed this issue myself when experimenting with dSLR video on my 7D. I know you mentioned B&W ND filters. I understand they are stack able for aggregated effect. Which ones (stop reduction values) should I acquire to get started?
Scott: You can stack those filters but you’ll spend about the same amount of money to get a Vari ND filter. I recommend the Singh-Ray Vari-N filter.
Question Six – 50mm 1.8 vs. 50mm 1.4
mschocker7 asks: I have a Nikon 50mm 1.8. I was wondering if there is a difference besides the one stop for the $300 price difference for the 1.4. Basically, is it sharper?
Kevin: I use the 1.4 and the newer G series is sharper than the previous version. I like to shoot wide open so I think it’s worth the extra money.
Scott: The sweet spot on most of these lenses is not wide open or fully stopped down but somewhere in the middle. When you get a faster lens, you move the sweet spot closer to the wide open side meaning the sweet spot will give you a softer background.
Question Seven – Benefits of a Lens Hood
Ryan Gerritsen from Toronto, Canada writes: I am new to photography and was just wondering what are the benefits to using a Lens hood? I noticed my Canon lens does not come with one, nor do any Canon lenses.
Scott: Most Canon lenses should come with a lens hood. In addition to reducing stray light from entering the lens and decreasing contrast, a lens hood offers protection. Always, always, always keep that lens hood on your lens.
Question Eight – Ambient Light in your Editing Room
Ania asks: I am aware that pros preferably needs to be able to control the light in the room they´re editing etc, and that you should calibrate the screen w/no light in the room (unless I’m too mistaken..?). But what when you can´t control it because you´re sharing the room with others.. Should you still turn off the lights when calibrating the screen or should you rather leave the lights on the way it normally is in the room when you edit..?
Scott: The light that you work in. If you calibrate in a daylight room, but then you work in fluorescent lights, then that won’t work. In our studio, when doing serious color work, we have a dedicated monitor that only has a child’s nightlite in the room. Ambient light does affect color.
Kevin: The ideal way to do it is to have the light controlled so the light doesn’t change. Realistically, most of us don’t want to work in an environment like that all day. I used to do that and what I realized over the years is that as crazy as I get about color control, the client isn’t going to see the prints in exactly the same light as you see it.
Question Nine – Planning For Your Passing
Mark Boadey from Liverpool, UK writes: I’m not normally a morbid person but the thought crossed my mind the other day, what’s going to happen to all my pictures once I pass! Now I’ve kind of made plans to pass them on to family and I just wondered what you or your listeners have done to insure that their picture are there for future generations.
Kevin: This is a great question. I think it’s important to have your important images archived on a Gold DVDs or CDs and also back them up on the Internet. I have a login and a password that I’ve given to my wife and other family members to get these images. I put a plan for my passing on a thumb drive and give it to important people in my family.
Scott: If you’re a professional and you have a significant library of photos then you have to consider tax issues. There are taxes that come into play when there is an inheritance so I’ve setup a trust so that only the income becomes taxable. If they inherit the entire library then they could be hit with an un payable tax bill. As always, consult your attorney or certified public accountant.
Question Ten – Value of Photos to a Newspaper
Paul Bilodeau from St. Johnsbury, VT writes: Say you’re Joe Amateur and you happen to get the only photos of a local historic building burning down. How much would those photos be worth to a local newspaper? At the other extreme, say you had the only photos of the airliner as it smashed into the World Trade Center. What would something like that be worth?
Scott: Photos are worth what they are worth. The size of the paper, the circulation, and many other factors will affect what it’s worth. Given the economy and the state of photojournalism in this nation, essentially your photo might be worth $50. There are a few photographs such as the Monica Lewinski hugging Bill Clinton photo that brought in a lot of money but generally these type of photographs don’t bring in a lot of money.
Question Eleven – Medium Format for Prosumers
Thomas Beck from Fayetteville, AR writes: You, among others, seem to say that full-frame will continue to drop in price to become reasonable for the average consumer. With your recent review of the Hasselblad H4D40 and the release of the Pentax 645D, although only in Japan at current, but still a sub-$10,000 medium format camera, do you think that medium format will also continue to drop in price and become widely available and if so should it be something the “prosumer” should aspire to get, or is full-frame enough?
Kevin: I don’t shoot medium format but the final part of the question of whether full-frame is enough is a question you have to answer. It will all come down to the subject matter that you’re shooting. If you’re shooting people, often if you have too much detail you have to soften it down. I feel that 10-12 mp is plenty for wedding and portrait photographers. I know there are definitely situations that call for medium format.
Scott: The average American thinks and 8×10 is a large print so it won’t matter what you shoot it with. As a prosumer, unless you have a lot of money to spend, then you probably don’t need to worry about medium backs. The detail from the H4D40 is scary so if you’re shooting a bride, you probably don’t need that much detail. I do see prices going down but not that much more. Perhaps 15 – 20 years from now we’ll have holographic photography. If you are a product or commercial photographer then you should consider one. As a landscape photographer, I would love to have one but the problem for me is that I can’t get a long enough lens for them.
Question Twelve – When to Buy a Camera
Matthew Swinnerton asks: I am going to start getting back into photography and have narrowed down my search to the Canon 7d. My questions is, is this a good time to buy or should I wait 6 months till a new one comes out. I am wondering if the new digital SLR’s are much like buying a Mac, 6 months later there is something always new and better.
Scott: There is always going to be a new one so if you employed the strategy of waiting then you would never buy a camera. If you can’t afford it, then there isn’t a reason to buy a camera every time a new model comes out. If you’re using a D3 and you’re happy with it, it doesn’t mean that you have to buy the D3s.
Kevin: If you can use it, buy it now and start using it. If it’s going to help you make more money, then it doesn’t make sense to wait. There will always be something new on the market.
Question Thirteen – Arca Swiss
Matt Barnett from Atlanta GA asks: I have a question about ‘arca-swiss’ I keep hearing about it, and i have an understanding of what it is. but i have no idea what is required to have an arca-swiss set-up. Could you please share some example of what I would need?
Scott: Arca Swiss is a brand-name like Xerox. Other companies like Kirk Photo and Really Right Stuff make arca swiss style system. Essentially it is a tongue and grove system. What you need is a camera plate which mounts with an allen wrench and are form fitted to your camera. You can also buy lens plates that mount on your lenses. Then you want a ball head that matches up with that. They are much more accurate and much more stable compared to other systems where the camera can twist off the
Just a reminder that you can visit the blog at www.photofocus.com for the show notes and plenty of other photography related articles. We are here on the 5th, 15th and 25th of each month. Please email us your questions at [email protected]. If you can tell us where you’re from and how to pronounce your name that would be great too. Be sure to join our Flickr group where you can upload and share your photographs with other members of the Photofocus community and follow Scott on Twitter at www.twitter.com/scottbourne for lots of photography new and tips, plus chances to win great prizes. Also, for more coverage of the iPad, check out http://padpundit.com/ and be sure to listen to the new podcast featuring Scott and Andy Ihnatko.
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