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Photofocus Episode 87

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about photography magazines:

Question One – Photography Magazines

James Kniffen Jr. Raleigh, NC writes: I am currently learning more about the art of photography, and am interested in subscribing to a photography magazine. I know there are a lot out there, but do you have any specific recommendations?

Kevin: If you join an organization like PPA, WPPI, etc they generally will have a magazine that will be geared towards professionals. There are also ones like Popular Photography, Rangefinder, etc.

Scott: If you are a nature photographer, check out Outdoor Photographer. Scott Kelby now has a new iPad magazine called Light It which is great. In general, if you subscribe you will save yourself a ton of money.

Question Two – Hardware Delays Due to the Earthquake in Japan

Amy Alexander from Dallas, TX writes: Do you think that camera companies in Japan will start shipping product soon or will the tragedy there further delay camera/lens shipments?

Scott: We are starting to see some product trickle out of there so I think we are starting to come out of it.

Question Three – Portrait Lens Recommendation

Kyle Tyson from Brooklyn, NY asks: What is a good portrait lens for my Nikon D3100 and can you use a macro lens for a close up portrait so you can get a shallow depth of field?

Kevin: It’s the larger f-stop that will give you that nice shallow depth of field and not necessarily a macro lens. Start with a 50mm 1.4. An 85 1.4 would also be a nice lens on a crop sensor body and would be the equivalent of a 105mm lens. It’s also a good length to get closer to your subject.

Scott: I like a slightly longer lens myself so I typically will shoot portraits with a nice 100mm lens.

Question Four – Lens Suggestion for Photographing the Grand Canyon

Mark Baker from Australia: For the overseas traveller spending a day over the Grand Canyon, what lens should I plan to rent and have delivered to the hotel so I can travel lighter international?

Scott: Renting lenses is a great idea when you travel. I like to use a wide lens and a super long lens when I go to the Grand Canyon. Anything in the 16-35mm range is the preferred lens for photographing the Grand Canyon. If you’re flying over the Grand Canyon then a 70-200mm lens with IS would be a great choice.

Question Five – Entering Photography Contests

Christopher Eaton asks: I’m looking selectively at a few online contests such as those held by National Geographic, Outdoor Photographer, and the like, but am concerned by the “rules”… All of them at this level honor the submitter’s copyright, but basically take a license to do whatever they want with the submitted work whenever and for as long as they like. What am I sacrificing? Would an agency like Corbis or Getty frown on that? What am I giving away?

Kevin: I haven’t entered a lot of contests but when I do I’m very careful to read the rules.

Scott: Carefully read the rules. The thing that really bothers me about most of them is that even if you don’t win you are giving them the right to use the photo however they want. My advice would be to be very skeptical about these things. I never enter contests that require an entry fee. Also, if you enter an image in a contest, that might limit you from selling the image as an exclusive image later on down the road.

Question Six – Storage Needs When Traveling

Alexandre Bolduc Montreal On a trip how many gigs of storage by day do you use? 1 card of 16 gig per day? More?

Kevin: It will depend on the camera you are using and if you are shooting RAW or Jpeg. Cards are fairly affordable. I would say 8-16 GB cards per day if you’re really excited about what you’re shooting. There are other days where I am pacing myself and shoot less. I think a 16GB card should cover you for a day.

Scott: 16 GB should be enough unless you’re shooting video then you’ll want a couple of 32 GB or a 64 GB card. I prefer not to dump images in the field if don’t have to.

Question Seven – Getting Eyes to Pop in a Photograph

Gert-willem from Netherlands writes: How to get those eyes of a subject blast of the picture in portraits? If tried to use my 1.4, 50mm lens on a D80 and focus on the eyes. Indeed, due to the small depth of focus, the eyes “come out”, but not like in the picture above. What is the trick? Is it make-up? Is it sharpening the eyes in post? Tell me your secrets…

Scott: Make sure you have enough shutter speed so you don’t have camera shake. Check your camera for back focus as you’ll have a wafer thin depth of field at 1.4. Most of the time it’s operator error so just practice. Put the focusing point right on the eyeball and tell your subject to be very still.

Kevin: It’s definitely an art. If you’ are going to shoot at 1.4 then you have to be dead still. I like to shoot several in a row and keep checking your focus each time. There are definitely things you can do in post to enhance them but if it’s not sharp in the camera, you can’t save it in post.

Question Eight – Lens and Flash Recommendations

Dave Murray from St Louis, MO writes: In places where a tripod isn’t allowed is it worth the trouble to bring a monopod?

Kevin: Sometimes I will use a monopod but I’m generally a hand-held shooter. If you can get away with one then any extra support will be better than nothing.

Scott: It makes a huge difference if you’re shooting sports with a big long lens so it is good to have something to rest it on. One thing I like to do is stick the monopod in my shoe between my foot and that gives it some more stability. Monopods are cheaper than tripods and generally smaller as well.

Question Nine – Mobile Applications in Cameras

Peter Syrett writes: Now cameras have larger and sometimes touch screens, how long before we see mobile phone type apps like Snapseed in future cameras?

Kevin: We are starting to see some of these features in digital cameras but I’m sure we’ll see touch screens on the pro cameras soon.

Scott: Some of the $500 cameras have features that the $5000 cameras don’t.

Question Ten – Best Format For Storing the Final Image

Jens Pasgaard from New Zealand asks: What is the best format to keep the final image in? I know jpeg is lossey, but the Tiff is rather large. What would you do? I want to use a universal format so I can send them to people without them having to have Photoshop or Olympus Master/Studio

Kevin: TIFF is large but you can compress a Tiff which you can’t do with a PSD. Normally after they’ve been worked from RAW, I would either save them as a PSD or a Tiff. However, if you send this to people without Photoshop, some older software can’t read layered Tiff files. I also keep my originals in Lightroom.

Scott: As an Aperture user, we don’t render anything until we export it for printing or sharing so it’s always stored in it’s master file format.

Question Eleven – Right-Angle View Finder

Debbie Allford, London England What is a right angle view finder and what does it do?

Kevin: It’s so you can get to a better angle to look through your camera. If you’re doing a lot of tabletop work or macro work on a table then it can be handy to change the way you look into your camera. With many of the dSLR cameras now you can flip the screen so I haven’t used one in several years.

Scott: When I’m shooting macro I will put it on as often I have to get my camera into positions that my body just won’t go into. In the old days we used to call them a prism finder.

Question Twelve – Settings for File Scanning

Emily Jones, New York City: I want to scan some old photos but my scanner has 10 different settings. How do I know which size, file format and resolution to select?

Kevin: I would scan it at the best native optical resolution that the scanner is capable of for the best quality.

Scott: Scan at the native resolution and at the exact size you want to output it to and save it as a TIFF. For online, 72PPI is fine. If you’re scanning for prints then 150 DPI or 300 DPI is good.

Question Thirteen – Shooting B&W with a Red Filter

Howard Wayne from Portland, OR writes: My photo buddy shoots mostly black and white film and swears by a red filter to bring out detail in the sky. Will this work if I shoot digital?

Kevin: You can do that in Photoshop. Basically it will darken a blue sky. You could also try an orange and a yellow filter.

Scott: I prefer the red but you can also get the same effect in post. The only filters I use these days are ND filters and circular polarizers because they do things that you can’t duplicate in post.

Question Fourteen – Fabric for Maternity Photos

Helen Henderson from Las Vegas Nevada asks: I want to shoot maternity photos. What sort of material should I use to drape around the expectant mothers’ bodies?

Kevin: I love to shoot maternity photos. We just go to the fabric store and get yards of beautiful, colorful, drapy material. I would buy more than you think you’ll need. You can use the extra fabric on the floor or up in the air, etc.

Question Fifteen – Recommendations for Photography Conferences

Orlando Gomez, from San Juan PR: I am thinking of coming to one of the big photo conferences next year. I know you and your guests are frequently speakers at these conferences. Which are your favorites and which should I consider as a new portrait photographer?

Kevin: I like the smaller master classes and groups at some of the larger conferences. New people find they get overwhelmed at the larger conferences sometimes. Look for great instructor teachers.

Scott: I really like the smaller conferences too. Skip’s Summer School is a great one to attend. I think you stand a better chance to network and meet other photographers at the smaller conferences and you’re more likely able to get closer to the instructors.

Wrap Up

We want themes and questions from you. Be sure to visit the blog at 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.

Kevin Kubota is at

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