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Photofocus Episode 02

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

Question One – RAW & JPEG

Our first question comes from johnmichael on Twitter who asks why shoot both RAW and JPEG?

Rick: I wonder the same thing as I only shoot RAW. If they are in the field and need to do a quick slide show or a quick edit then having those JPEGs in folder can be very convenient.

Scott: I can also see a place for it particularly for people who are out in the field on assignment and need to get their shots into an editor quickly and don’t have time to process the Raw files and convert them to jpegs. Personally I shoot 100% Raw unless I’m just out taking some quick vacation snaps with my point and shoot.

Question TwoRAW Shooting Tips

Minibtweet from Twitter would like some tips for shooting Raw.

Rick ‘Raw Rules’ Sammon: Shooting Raw is the same as shooting in jpeg but the big benefit is working with the Raw processing software afterwards. Many people think that the Raw file is a digital negative but it is the different processing programs such as Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop, etc that really create the digital negative. Even though you are shooting in Raw and have some additional latitude when it comes to exposure, etc; always shoot with the end result in mind.

Scott’s tip related to that is that sometimes shooting in Raw is used as an excuse for not trying to get it right in camera so the tip is to spend the time to get it right in camera and don’t be lazy thinking you can always fix it in post just because you’re working with a Raw file.

Question Three – RAW vs. DNG

dmcvay85 on Twitter asks Raw or DNG? If DNG, do you embed the original Raw file in the DNG?

Rick: When DNG first came out I imported files and saved them as DNG (Digital Negative) but right now I’m just saving them as the Raw file.

Scott: The DNG file format has not quite been opened up for full access by everybody but hears that Adobe has plans to move in that direction. Everyone comments on what will happen if the current proprietary Raw formats aren’t supported in the future but you could say the same thing about DNG. It doesn’t quite have the wide adoption of the other formats yet, so Scott doesn’t currently convert his photos to DNG.

Question Four – Benefits of Speedlights

nmarques on Twitter wonders what are the benefits of speedlight flash units?

Rick: The benefits of using them over the built-in flash is that you have more power and since it has a swivel head you can bounce it off walls or ceilings to soften the light. With the use of a wireless transmitter you can take the flash off the camera for some really creative lighting effects. You can also control the flash output, put them on stands, shine them through a diffuser, etc.

Scott: In the Nikon world they call it the Creative Lighting System and the new flash is the SB-900 and it is very powerful. One of the big advantages is that you can use the ‘Through-the-Lens’ metering (I-TTL in Nikon and E-TTL in Canon). Basically what that means is that the flash sees the light through the lens making it much easier to use.You can basically throw it on aperture priority and use the TTL feature to get a good exposure.

Rick and Scott’s number one flash tip is to take the darn flash off the camera.

The Blog

Just a reminder that you can visit the blog at for the show notes and plenty of other photography related articles. Please email us your questions at [email protected] or you can follow us on Twitter and leave questions with the hashtag #photoqa.

Question Five – iPhones as Portable Portfolios

IanLacy on Twitter asks: “Do you feel the iPhone is a viable way to display your portfolio on the go and will the Palm Pre be able to compare?

Scott: Since I haven’t seen the Palm Pre yet I can’t comment but I’ve yet to see a smart phone with a better display than the iPhone. I do believe that its a viable way to show your work on the go. I’ve used my iPhone to show my pictures and it’s a great way to get your foot in the door.

Rick: I have tons of pictures on my iPhone but I also have my videos on the iPhone. When someone asks me about what it’s like to attend one of my workshops I can pull out my iPhone and show them some of my videos so as a professional photographer I find it’s a great tool to have.

Question SixHD Video on Canon Rebel T1i

xevious on Twitter is curious about the HD video on the new Canon Rebel EOS T1i as an upgrade to the current XTi.

Rick: I started shooting HD video with the 5D Mark II and it blew me away. I’m sure most people have also seen Vincent Laforet’s video that he shot with a 5D Mark II over a weekend. I think that this is going to be the future so we’ll start to see a lot of seminars and workshops on shooting and editing HD video. As photographers we are storytellers so we’ll still have to tell a story but we’ll also need to learn how to edit the video.

Rick: There is another good reason to do this with your old photos. I’ve been scanning some of my old photos and using Topaz Adjust to get some amazing results on some of my old photos. Topaz Adjust is a great plug-in for Photoshop that you can use to replicate that HDR look and feel.

Question Seven – Macro Lenses

TSPowel on Twitter wants to know about the advantage of using a Macro lens vs. a zoom lens for close photos of small items.

Scott: Magnification. You can get a 1-1 magnification with a macro lens which you can’t get with a zoom lens. You also have to think about close focusing distance.

Rick: A lot will have a macro setting with a flower but it’s really just a close up. You need a true macro lens to get that magnification and you can also use a ring flash on a macro lens to get that shadow less lighting or ratio lighting.

Scott: Both Canon and Nikon have some great ring lights for macro photography. Ray Flash has also come out with an adapter that you can fit onto a speedlight to achieve that ring light effect.

Scott: I’ve always leaned towards the longer end of the scale when it comes to macro lenses. Where do you fall Rick?

Rick: I have a book called Flying Flowers which is devoted to macro photography of butterflys. When I started out I was using a 50mm macro lens and liked working close but then I switched to a 100mm macro lens because the working distance wasn’t as great which meant I wasn’t disturbing the subject matter. Something else to keep in mind is that with a 50mm you have a greater depth of field. There is always a trade off between the working distance vs depth of field.

Special Guest – Andrew Darlow author of ‘301 Ink Jet Tips and Techniques

Question EightUses of Inkjet Printers

First question for Andrew is from Tony Scott via email and he asks “What can I do with my printer besides making prints? Can I use it to make other items such as calendars, greeting cards and other fun projects?

Andrew: Absolutely and actually this is one of the best uses for your inkjet printer. It’s easy to send out your photos to be printed on good quality photo papers at a reasonable price but when it comes to making things like greeting cards you generally want that to be on paper that is glossy on one side and has no printing on the other side. That is where an inkjet printer really comes in handy and there are a tremendous number of papers available to print on. You can make double sided prints on virtually any inkjet printer and do fun projects like 3D sculptures.

Scott: It sounds like inkjets printers can really be a great source to exercise your creativity?

Andrew: For sure. As an example, Canon has a great website with hundreds of 3D paper sculptures that you can print out on your inkjet printer and assemble.

(Links and info provided by Andrew:

1. At this page on the companion site for 301 Inkjet Tips (Chapter 8’s links), the following links to hundreds of free printable items can be found:

L8.59 Epson Creative Zone
L8.62 HP Activity Center
L8.54 Canons Creative Park

2. When people subscribe to my Inkjet and Imaging Tips Newsletter, they are sent a link to download a PDF Resolution Chart and a link to an article to learn more about how to determine image resolution for inkjet printing. Your readers/listeners can find the same article here:

Question NinePrinter Resolution

Tom Boyle via email asks “What printer resolution should I use? I hear all kinds of stories out there and I’m really confused!!”

Andrew: Always think about what you want to print at the actual size of your output. If you want to make an 8×10 print you should set that in your software and look at what your pixels per inch are. On the low end it would be around 120 – 150 pixels per inch but ideally you should be up around 300 pixels per inch. I actually do a test print at a few different resolutions and see which one looks the best. As important as resolution is it’s also important to consider how much you are sharpening your photos and what you captured it with to begin with. Garbage in – garbage out. You can get away with a lower resolution if the printer is really good and the printer and software work together. Also the medium you print on is important to bear in mind. A glossy paper will be less forgiving than something like canvas or watercolor.

Question Ten – Exposure Compensation

Cyclemackhead on Twitter asks for an explanation of exposure compensation and when you should use it?

Rick: You should think about it all the time whether it’s natural light or flash exposure. Basically it lets you compensate for a situation that might be too light or too dark. For example, suppose you were shooting at the beach or in snow you should set your exposure compensation at +1. If you don’t your image is going to come out too dark because all those bright elements in the scene will trick your camera into thinking it’s brighter than it really is. I do -1/2 when photographing a sunset or a sunrise when I want more saturation in the colors. When walking around I have it set at -1/3 so it reminds me that I want to expose for the highlights.

Scott: As great as the cameras are these days they are still dumb and will try to make a scene 18% gray so as photographers if we don’t want everything in the scene to be 18% you can use exposure compensation as your weapon. Our goal is to keep the colour range and tonality in the range where I want it and not where the camera wants it. Be sure to practice your exposure compensation all the time.

Question Eleven – Traveling with a Camera

This question is from reboot95 on Twitter and they are asking for some insight on traveling with a camera and a laptop on an airplane.

Scott: Never, ever, ever check any of your camera or computer equipment. Make sure it can fit in the overhead or under your seat. I keep my laptop in a separate bag and I carry one of my bodies around my neck and then my other gear in a bag.

Rick: I agree with everything you said. I have two laptops. One is a larger 17″ MacBook and one is a smaller one that I can take on trips where space is a concern. Be aware of the type of plane you are going to be flying on and pack accordingly. I always take an extra battery with me so that I don’t run out of power while I’m flying and can continue working. Be very careful where you have your laptop if you put it in the overhead.

Question Twelve – Back Button Focus

Bousquetp on Twitter asks Rick if he uses the back button focus on his Canon?

Rick: The idea behind it is that you can use the back button to focus and then use the shutter button to take the photo which seems to be a technique that is popular among younger photographers. I’ve been shooting for a long time and I use the shutter release button to focus and take the picture. You should experiment and find the method that works best for you.

Scott: For me, the disconnect brain fart is hard to overcome trying to use a separate button to focus. There is no right or wrong answer.

Wrap Up

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

Show notes by Bruce Clarke