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Photofocus Episode 74

Host: Scott Bourne (www.scottbourne.com or www.twitter.com/scottbourne) and special guest Jerry Ghionis (www.jerryghionis.com or www.theicesociety.com or www.twitter.com/jerryghionis). Be sure to check out Jerry’s upcoming workshops in North America this summer in Portland, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, & San Antonio.

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

Welcome to Episode Number 74 of Photofocus with Scott Bourne and special guest Jerry Ghionis. 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 photographing into the sun:

Question One – Sunset Photographs

On your Sunset post (and I’ve seen it other places) you had a warning: “WARNING: Never look directly at the sun through your viewfinder – this can lead to serious eye damage.” With that warning in mind, what’s the safest way to shoot sunset photographs without damaging your eye(s)? Additionally, in your photos you have the sun in the picture, what did you do to mitigate the danger? John Reed

Jerry: When I shoot a sunset, I normally shoot in the opposite direction. I would say look at the sun as little as possible and use sunglasses when you’re looking at it to get things setup.

Scott: If your camera has Live View, It’s safe to look at the sun through the Live View to get things in position. Back in the old days before we had live view, I would put my thumb above the view finder to block the sun so I wasn’t looking directly into it.

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Question Two – Digital Workflow

Can you tell me your digital workflow, how do you import and where and if not into aperture, then what type of file do you import. David in Denver

Jerry: I outsource most of my workflow. We use Expressions Media 2 and Photo Mechanic for processing and sorting photos. I use Capture One for RAW conversion. I think often we get too caught up in post-production and I would suggest that new photographers spend more time on sales and marketing.

Scott: My workflow is based on the way I shoot so it may or may not work for another photographer. I use Aperture to process my photos. I shoot and then I drop everything onto a CF reader and import the photos into Aperture with just basic keywords. I then do a quick cull and reject any photos that I don’t want to keep (e.g. eyes closed, out of focus, etc). Then I give 4 stars to anything that might be a keeper. In post production we only spend 2 minutes or less on each image as I always strive to get it right in camera. I will also use some filters such as the stuff from Nik and onOne.

Question Three – Photographing the Reluctant Subject

How do you make someone who’s not interested in having their photo taken come alive. Dave from Boston.

Jerry: You have to find a connection. It’s all about the smile that you have on your face and how you greet them. If you want to get to know someone you need to massage the situation. You have to try and get them to play your game. When working with guys for example I might start with a simple portrait and then vary the mood by changing my voice, the pace of the shoot, etc. You have to build trust and confidence first and if you don’t build that trust they won’t open up. I think photography is 99% personality and 1% technique but personality is hard to teach.

Scott: It’s so important to get to know your subjects. Keep in mind that the camera looks both ways so make sure you are doing your part to stay engaged.

Question Four – Problem with a Memory Card

NOTE: Audience members suggest it might have been the card reader not the card. Just an FYI

Keith from Alaska sent in an audio question. Upgraded to a 32GB Lexar card and is having some trouble with it and is wondering if this is something that happens often?

Scott: All things man made can fail so the brand doesn’t matter. It sounds like you’ve had a bad run of luck with your cards. I’ve had every single brand fail on me but my experience has been that the name brand cards are much more reliable. I would advise you to try some other cards. It could be an incompatibility issue or an issue with your camera. It could also be a problem with the card reader. I own three of those cards and haven’t had an issue with them.

Question Five – Wireless Flash on the Canon 7D

I just upgraded to a Canon 7D ( the mighty 7D as I call it ). I am getting great results with it so far. My question is this: with the built in wireless flash function, do I really need to use something like a pocket wizard? If can get away without spending the extra money I will. Also where can I get a cheap flash stand? Kevin Grishkot

Scott: It will depend on your circumstances on which solution you will use. If you’re going to be in a situation where you can always have line of sight then you can use the built-in wireless but if you can afford it, the PocketWizards will be the way to go.

Jerry: Most of the built-in functions are line of sight which is limiting. I will often back light my brides and grooms so I use PocketWizards for more flexibility.

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Question Six – Making the Most of a Photo Vacation

I want to make the most of a photo vacation. How do you approach a new location for landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes? If I were interested in doing a workshop or group outing in a new location what should I look for? I don’t want to be stuck on a tour bus arriving at high noon with a group of people shooting snap shots. I want to chase the sun and be there when the light is ideal. How can I insure that the group will have that same goal? Trevis Thomas from Saint Louis, Missouri

Jerry: Scouting locations is useless unless you scout them at the same time when you’re planning to do the shoot but even then, lighting conditions can change. I’m always looking for great light when I do my shoots so I’d take great light with a bad location over a great location with bad light.

Scott: You can go online and do some advanced scouting of a location by looking at images on Google and trying to see what the lighting is like at different times. There are all kinds of great applications for this including things like NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association which will provide you with information on things like sunrise & sunset. There are also tons of iPhone applications, etc. If you’re stuck on a tour bus and it’s high noon, you can use techniques like HDR to overcome some of the issues you’ll encounter.

Question Seven – Tracking Down a Stolen Camera

Dan Blodel from New York City asks: I know there is a way to track stolen images online. How about stolen cameras? My cousin had his camera stolen and we were wondering if there was any way to find out if images from his camera have made their way online.

Scott: There is a great web site at www.stolencamerafinder.com which can find images posted online which were taken with a camera that has a particular serial number. The tool allows you to upload an image taken with the same camera. You can also put things like RFI chips in cameras these days.

Question Eight – Photographing B&W Moving Subjects

Is there any chance of you giving some tips in your podcast, or on your blog, on how to get the correct exposure on black and white moving subjects? I have been trying to photography horses but they are either over or under exposed. How do I get it right? Kerry (Wales UK)

Jerry: I think everyone needs to understand exposure and how your camera handles it regardless of whether the subject is moving or now. The first thing I do is set my ISO to as low of an ISO as I can. Then I choose my white balance. Then I choose my depth using my aperture and then I’ll adjust my shutter speed based on what the camera thinks. I’ll take a shot and then evaluate the scene and adjust my shutter speed.

Scott: If you are photographing something in B&W, you want to try to protect the hilites. If you were to set your camera on automatic and photograph a room with a white wall and a black wall, the camera will make both walls gray so knowing that will help you override the cameras settings to get the exposure you want.

Question Nine – Exposure Compensation and Flash Exposure Compensation

Can you explain the difference between exposure compensation and flash exposure compensation? Kanna Kunchala from London

Scott: On your camera you have an exposure compensation dial and on your flash you have a similar dial. The exposure compensation dial affects the camera’s exposure whereas the one on the flash only affects the output of the flash. Basically, all you have to remember is that FEC doesn’t affect the overall camera exposure – it just affects the flash output. I normally just want a kiss of flash in the scene so you can’t tell that flash was used in the scene.

Jerry: With the 5D Mark II and the 580 EXII you can also control the output of the flash from the camera. If you’re using on-camera flash, my suggestion is to leave the flash down and point it left or right 90 degrees to create a shadow on the side of the face facing the camera. In a nutshell, turn the flash head the way the people are facing.

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Question Ten – Gear for Panoramic Photography

What kind of gear do I need to do panoramic photography? Joel from Columbus Ohio

Scott: You can make a panoramic photograph with just about any camera. You can use Photoshop to stitch the images together. It’s helpful if you can get a camera that you can mount on a tripod to help get it level but today’s software is so good that it’s not as important these days. If you’re going to shoot landscapes, shoot verticals and overlap them. You’ll get more data and a better photograph.

Question Eleven – Aperture Training

As an Aperture user I feel like I am on an Island alone when it comes to training, books, seminars, web sites, etc.. I know you are an Aperture user. Where is this kind of support that Lightroom users enjoy? Thor Hansen from Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Scott: It’s not there. Lightroom is a cross platform product so it gets the opportunity to be adopted by Mac and Windows users whereas Aperture is only for the Mac. However there are some resources out there including Lynda.com, MacWorld, CreativeLive, as well as several books. KelbyTraining and RhedPixel also have resources for Aperture training.

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Question Twelve – Photography and Facebook

I do not consider Facebook to be a photographer-friendly social media web site but many photographers use it to display their images. In the TOS we agree to license our images to Facebook and to also allow Facebook to re-license those images. Anyone who clicks on an image posted on Facebook is given the opportunity to ‘Download’ that image. The owner of the photograph cannot opt out of this option. I do not post my images on Facebook but I wonder what people can do with the images that they download from Facebook. I assume that the download option gives the end user the permission to download the image, but what can they do with the image once they download it? Has anyone who posts an image on Facebook given up all rights to their image because of the TOS that we all agree to? Scott From Hawaii

Jerry: I use Facebook but not very often to promote my wedding photography. If they are low-res then I wouldn’t worry about it too much as even if they download them there isn’t much they can do with them.

Scott: I’m pretty well-known as a defender of copyright and frequently go after people who infringe on my copyright by stealing my work. If I were a wedding photographer I would probably bite the bullet and put a few low-res images up on Facebook with a watermark because that’s where the young brides are. For myself, I recently spent a lot of money to capture some eagle pictures and if I shared them online and they were stolen, that would cost me some money so I just don’t use Facebook for my work.

Question Thirteen – Baiting Birds of Prey to Get the Shot

Last year I went on a fishing trip in northern Ontario. My friends were pretty bad fishers and all they were catching were little fish that were not worth keeping. I ended up using these fish to bait osprey from 3 viewable nest sites. I ended up with some great shots, however I was criticized for using fish to bait birds. Have you ever baited birds of prey for a shot? John Ryan

Scott: I have done it to get shots but I do it responsibly. I think you should use your own ethics when deciding what you want to do in your photography.

Question Fourteen – Getting the Viewers Eye to Travel a Certain Way

How do you get someone’s eye to travel a certain way through a photograph? Tamara Evans from Toronto Canada

Jerry: The way you light the subject will help direct the eyes. Post-production techniques using things like vignetting will help. There are also compositional things like leading lines, rules of thirds, etc that will help. Shallow depth of field and the subtraction of light will also help sculpt the image.

Scott: Layering is a great way to guide the eyes by having something in the foreground, mid ground, and background. We live in a 3D world but we’re working in a 2D medium so it’s hard. You can also use shapes or repetition to guide the eyes.

Question Fifteen – Tripod Leveling Head

Why would I need a tripod leveling head? Can’t I just level the tripod by moving the legs up and down? Brenda Allen Baltimore.

Scott: A leveling head is easier to work with than trying to level the legs. If you’re shooting video it’s really important.

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. E-mail us at [email protected] follow us on Twitter. Don’t just take pictures – make pictures.

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

Jerry Ghionis is at www.jerryghionis.com or www.theicesociety.com or www.twitter.com/jerryghionis

Show notes by Edmonton Wedding Photographer Bruce Clarke at www.momentsindigital.com or www.twitter.com/bruceclarke