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Photofocus Episode 92
Welcome to Episode Number 92 of Photofocus with Scott Bourne and special guest Joe Farace. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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This week we kick things off with a question about exposure compensation:
Question One – Exposure Compensation
When I set exposure compensation (on my Nikon D7000) what actually gets adjusted? Shutter speed? Aperture? ISO? I mean something has to give, right? David Rabenau from Webster Groves, MO.
Joe: It will vary depending upon what mode your camera is in. If you are in Av mode – the shutter speed will vary. If you are in Tv or Shutter Priority – then your Aperture will change. As far as ISO, many cameras have an auto ISOs feature but I find they often pick to high of an ISO.
Scott: Make sure you read your manual and it will do a good job of explaining the settings on your particular camera. Auto ISO can work well with fast moving subjects where the lighting might change very quickly. Many of the high end cameras allow you to set an ISO range.
- Shooting in High Humidity Locations
What should I be concerned about when shooting in high humidity locations? I have a canon 5d Mark II. Kevin Banning Newburgh, Indiana
Joe: I would bag the camera. The change in temperature can cause misting and fogging. If you put it inside a sealed plastic bag and allow it to acclimate you should be fine.
Scott: You want to keep the condensation off the camera so if you put it in a bag then it forms on the bag and not on the camera. You don’t want condensation to get into the lens or it can create mold and that will ruin the lens. Check your manual for operating conditions for your camera.
Question Three – Shooting Sports with an ND Filter
I was shooting a high school football game recently in the middle of the afternoon. The opposing team, wearing all white, has a tendency to have their uniforms largely turn out as blown highlights with not a lot of detail even on a slightly overcast day. I was wondering whether it’s normal practice for professional sports shooters to use a neutral density filter to allow them to use a small f stop for short depth of field and blurry backgrounds, but also slow the shutter speed to not blow out the highlights in the uniforms? Scot from Cedarville OH
Scott: The way to avoid blown out hilites is to get the proper exposure. Sometimes we have more latitude in the scene than the camera can handle so adding an ND filter will just make the overall scene darker – it won’t reduce the range between the shadows and hilites. I’ve never seen any pro sports shooters use an ND filter. Understand that photography is always about compromise and the religion about blown-out hilites drives me crazy. If the exposure on the face is good, then I don’t care if the jerseys are blown out. If you shoot in RAW you might have more latitude in your shot.
Joe: He didn’t mention if he is using flash. If he is using flash, some fabrics might fluoresce.
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Question Four – Turning off Image Stabilization
I recently read advice that image stabilization should be turned off, even if the camera is hand held, when using shutter speeds of 1/1000 or faster. Others say, “it makes no difference.” As one beginning bird photographer to an experienced one for which I have great respect and admiration, should I turn off the image stabilization function when using fast shutter speeds to capture images of birds in flight or does it matter? Jerry G. Oak Hills, CA
Scott: Not all IS, VR, or OS is created equal. The newer ISs have horizontal tracking modes that allow you to continue to use the IS at higher shutter speeds. In general, my experience has been that there is no real benefit to IS over 1/1000 of a sec. My advice would be to do some of your own tests and experiments.
Joe: I agree with you Scott. When you’re shooting anything fast moving, the IS doesn’t settle down fast enough to capture the action. I find it’s very helpful with slow moving or static subjects.
Question Five – Stating the Effective Focal Length
When discussing lenses why do many photographers continue to feel compelled to add some version of “which is equivalent to XXX mm when using a 35mm film camera”? With rare exception everyone’s frame of reference is digital so other than demonstrating you can do math in your head or are old enough to actually have shot film what is the point? Larry ‚Äì Huntington Beach, Ca.
Scott: I don’t know what the point of it is. I don’t put a lot of information on my images. It’s one of those religious things again and I don’t think you need to worry about what the effective focal length of the lens is.
Joe: I think it’s a leftover from the transition from film to digital but I don’t think it’s needed anymore.
Question Six – Computer Tweaks to Speed Up Editing Tools
Since you work on Macbook Pro, have you made some tweaks to speed up Photoshop and other editing tools? Things other than maximum ram and SSD drive? I have an mid-2010 so no thunderbolt. Does a firewire drive in raid mode help to speed up process? Alexandre Bolduc from Montreal
Joe: I don’t do that much serious editing on my MacBook. It’s mainly used when I’m on the road. The big thing is the maximum RAM.
Scott: I do work with a MacBook Pro at the office and I plug into a Cinema display. Fast RAM and SSD drives are very helpful. Make sure that you have a 2nd disk drive so that your Photoshop cache isn’t writing to the same drive where Photoshop is installed. Sometimes trashing your preferences in Photoshop will also help to speed it up. Buying a computer with a fast GPU is also helpful as many of the new versions of Photoshop take advantage of the GPU.
Question Seven – iPhoto vs. Aperture
I currently load my pics into iPhoto..then if they need work..I send them into Aperture. Do you think there’s any difference between storing pics in iPhoto or Aperture or even Lightroom when storing a ton of photos? Iphoto to me seems to not be very strong when it comes to handling a large amount of photos..I’m experiencing this after loading Lion on my MacBook Pro. Wondering if Aperture or Lightroom would be a good choice then to store several thousands of pics. Dave Kallaway WIFC Morning Dude
Scott: Yes, I think Aperture is a much better cataloging tool than iPhoto so I would stick to using Aperture. iPhoto is probably great for amateurs or hobbyists who aren’t dealing with a large volume of photographs.
Joe: I don’t have a lot of experience with Aperture but from what I’ve seen it does a much better job than iPhoto.
Question Eight – Checking Images
I recently went on a cruise for my vacation, and while on-board I noticed the ship’s photographers rarely looked at the back of their camera while taking photos of guests. Most had a stationary setup with lighting equipment and so on, however I was impressed by their speed and confidence even when walking around from guest to guest in various lighting conditions. What is their secret? I find myself checking my images constantly. Is it just the sheer amount of photos they take? All carried the same model camera Nikon D200, and are shooting Manual only. Wayne – Miami, FL
Joe: I think that they are like experienced wedding photographers. They know their lighting and what they are going to get.
Scott: Experience, experience, experience. The more you practice, you get good enough to where you don’t need to check things constantly.
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Question Nine – Powerful Lights
My lights are bright- too bright. At the lowest power setting I find myself shooting at f/11 even when using a beauty dish with a diffusion cover over it. My studio is 24×24′ and I could back the lights away from the subject, but I want soft diffuse lighting that a small distance provides. An ND filter on the camera will make it impossible to focus. Are there ND filters for the lights themselves? Other solutions? Greg West
Joe: I’m assuming that he is using strobes but I’m astonished that his lights would be too powerful at their lowest settings. I’ve tested a lot of different lights and I could always dial them back to get less than less than f11. I would be curious what his ISO setting is.
Scott: There are no ND filters made for lights themselves. In the old days they did make polarizers for lights. You could try putting lots of diffusers between the lights and the subject. Review your manuals as well to see if there is some setting that you are missing.
Question Ten – Adjust Color Tones in Camera
I have a Canon 5D MkII and I was told by a photographer mentoring me a couple of years ago to adjust the color tones graph in the menu (Red, Green, Magenta, Yellow). Does that affect RAW files in anyway? If not, should I even worry about that or changing the contrast, saturation, etc in the picture styles menu when shooting RAW? James Gates, Carrollton TX (Dallas)
Scott: There is no reason to make these changes if you’re shooting RAW because you can do all that in post. That is why you’d shoot in RAW.
Joe: Picture styles only affect JPEGs so sometimes I’ll use it when I shoot RAW + JPEG.
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Question Eleven – Focusing in Low Light
I am trying to get used to focusing my camera in low light. Can you share any tips for improving auto focus in low light? Matt Holiday, St Louis, MO
Joe: Fast lenses. Watch were you put your selection point. You are usually better off picking one point and using that one to focus.
Scott: Look for an area of high contrast at the same focal plane where white meets black. Pick up a $1.99 LED flashlight and point it at the subject so your camera can grab focus. Check your custom functions to make sure that your AF assist beam is turned on.
Question Twelve – Low Light
I noticed that on all the camera forums, the first question most photographers ask about a new camera is how well it does in low light? When I shot film we never talked about things like this. What’s changed? Tom Jackson, Brooklyn NY
Scott: This is an example of another religion. Look at some of the old photographs from Time and Life magazine and you’ll see that there is a little bit of grain in the photograph. Let’s get away from all of these religions. Any $500 dSLR today will produce better images than what you could get from film. Spend time on trying to tell stories and less time focusing on low noise performance, color tonne maps, etc.
Joe: These cameras continue to improve in low-light performance. There is no film ever made that can compete with the performance of the new cameras today.
Question Thirteen – Lytro Cameras
Do you think that the new Lytro field cameras will take off? Won’t we actually have to become experts at post-processing to take advantage of this technology? Von Roberts Toronto, ON
Joe: It’s a cure for an unknown disease.
Scott: This technology has been around for awhile. It’s interesting and fun at the moment for the low-end point and shoot. I do wonder if Grandma is going to learn to use the software to move the focus point around. At this point in time, I’m taking a wait and see approach.
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Question Fourteen – Budget for Professional Results
Simple question – how much money should I expect to spend to get a new camera if I am hoping to get professional or nearly professional results? Sam James Los Angeles, CA
Scott: Anything from $500 you’ll get image quality that you will be able to publish.
Question Fifteen – Buying Gear at Retail
My local camera store sells cameras at retail price. Am I out of line in trying to haggle with them or should I just give up and order online? Blue Holden, London, UK
Scott: I would haggle. What do you have to lose? I think you want to support your local camera stores. See if they’ll meet you halfway. If they aren’t willing to negotiate even a little bit, then you can always take your business somewhere else.
Joe: Don’t be bashful. There can be no harm by asking.
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