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Photofocus Episode 28

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

Correction. In the last episode I misspoke and said you can’t have an f/1.2 lens on a Nikon due to the narrow width of the mount. In fact, I simply let my mouth get ahead of my brain. I thought I said that you can’t have any NEW 1.2 lenses on Nikon bodies due to the narrow width of the mount – the new electronics won’t fit into that system. The only 1.2 Nikon lens made was launched decades ago. I got this information directly from a Nikon engineer – there cannot be under any circumstances ANY 1.2 lens going forward on a Nikon under any circumstances and unless it’s a manual lens. Those of you who proudly touted the decades old current 1.2 50mm lens rightly pointed out my error.

Also people were looking for suggestions on software for doing panos. A couple of readers wrote in to tell us that Photoshop Elements does panos. There is also a great open source program called Auto Pano Sift.

This week we are starting things off with a question about pressing the shutter button on a DSLR.

Question One – Technique for Pressing the Shutter Button

Mimi Waters asks: Is there a right way and a wrong way to press the shutter button on a DSLR?

Scott: Most people have never been taught how to press the shutter button. There is a best practice – roll your finger from front to back across the shutter button. This minimizes impact on the camera which minimizes shake.

Question Two – Reducing Noise on Long Exposures

Karl Evers from Sweden asks: When I make long exposures – starting at about one minute – I get noisy pictures. Is this normal and is there anything I can do to minimize it?

Scott: There is a setting in your camera called Noise Reduction or Long Exposure Noise Reduction which you can turn on. Another method is to increase your ISO. While you will get more noise, my experience tells me that turning up the ISO is a better trade-off compared to in camera noise reduction.

Question Three – Exposure Compensation vs. Manual Exposure

Dave Miller wrote us and says: Could you discuss the benefits of shooting manual vs. exp. compensation? I generally shoot manual only.

Scott: There is no real benefit to exposure compensation other than if you need to get into a different mode like Av or Tv priority. If you are shooting manual you have full control. I tend to shoot in either Av or Tv priority and Exposure compensation comes in handy to allow for things like snow or fog where you want to open up a little bit.

Question Four – Pricing Video Footage

Tom Downs wrote to us at [email protected] to ask: With the new emerging market of video on dslr’s what have you found to be the best way to price video footage to clients? Any thoughts on the subject would be great.

Scott: I’ve seen prices out there from $1000 – $10,000 per finished minute. The key thing is to find out all of your costs, add a market and quote accordingly. If you find you’re getting every job you quote you’re probably too low. If you aren’t getting any jobs then you may be too high.

Question Five – Touch Screens on DSLRs

Neil Bernstein from Potomac, MD writes: Do you think we’ll see touch screens on the backs of DSLRs? When? How long will this feature take to reach entry-level DSLRs?

Scott: There are cameras on the market with touch screens already and I suspect we’ll start to see more. In some ways a touch screen might not make sense when you have your eye up to the eyepiece. Looking away to operate a touch screen might mean you’ll miss the shot. What interests me more is that there really is no longer a technical reason why a camera has to look like a camera these days and I think in the future we might see different form factors.

Question Six – Purpose of Umbrellas

Ryan Harman asks: What are umbrellas used for in photography? Do they diffuse or make the light more harsh? And where do you buy them?

Scott: Umbrellas are used primarily to control light and are normally used with flash. They help modify, shape and direct the light. You can use it to make the light harsh and you can use it to diffuse the light. It’s all based on how you use it, the shape, the size, etc. You can use the umbrella to reflect light back into the surface but when you use it the light is going to go everywhere. The way to control that is to use the umbrella as a shoot-through umbrella. Then they act more like soft boxes and you get softer light. You can buy these at most camera stores and online and they are anywhere from $15 – $30 dollars.

Question Seven – Album Design

Austin from Little Rock, Arkansas writes: I’m a young photographer with a wedding business picking up, many of whom want albums. What is the best method for album design? As in should I design them in Photoshop page by page or is there something more efficient. I print with WHCC and have Photoshop and Lightroom (but if other software is better, the need justifies the expense, I just don’t know what to look for).

Scott: There is no wrong or right way. You can design it page by page in Photoshop. If you use Aperture you can create books right from that program. There are also lots of great templates out there like the ones from Kevin Kubota. I tend to personally like the ones that plug in to Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture.

Question Eight – Working with Low Apertures

Israel Avendano from Seattle asks: I take most of my pictures in low light music venues. Any tips on how I can use low apertures (1.4-3.2) and still get the full frame in focus? I try to take group pictures but many times end up with only one person in sharp focus. I have a Nikon D90 with a Nikon 50mm Prime 1.4G

Scott: Photography is all about compromise. When working with large apertures like f1.4, you have a very shallow depth of field so unless your subjects are all lined up on the same plane then some will be out of focus. You have to make the decision on what will be in focus or try adding light to the scene so you can shoot at a smaller aperture. One thing you could try is to shoot each person individually keeping them in focus and then cut and past them into a multiple exposure shot.

Question Nine – Advice on Converting to DNG

Brycia from Maryland wrote to us to ask: Do you recommend converting RAW images to DNG upon import, or do you save your files as the original .NEF? Does the DNG file maintain 100% of the quality of the .NEF? I heard that converting to .DNG saves about 20% of the disk space, so that makes it appealing to me but I wondered if there is a data loss?

Scott: I convert all my photos to DNG for a couple of reasons. One is that they do take up less files space but the other advantage is that you don’t have to deal with those pesky XMP sidecar files. Some Capture NX users have told me that there are some additional options that you’ll get when working with an NEF file.

Question Ten – Budget Monitors

Jesse B writes: I’m an avid regular listener and I haven’t heard you guys address this question yet. I want to get an external monitor for my laptop (MacBook Pro) and I’m wondering if there are certain features that I should look for specifically as an amateur photographer and Photoshop user. I am leaning towards getting a budget priced monitor in the 22-24″ range but I wonder if it’s worth the hundreds extra for monitors that use higher end technology?

Scott: The age old rule applies. You get what you pay for. If you’re not a commercial photographer and having exact color isn’t a requirement for you then you could get away with a budget monitor. The higher end monitors will profile better and be more color accurate but as an amateur if you can find a great monitor in that range then go for it. Try to stick with the name brands.

Question Eleven – Graphics Card Considerations

Tor Jensen asks: Planning to buy a new PC. What should I consider with regard to graphics card, monitor and photography? I have heard/seen many reviews of monitor calibration tools, but they NEVER say anything about graphics cards or monitors.

Scott: We touched on the monitor question early so I’ll focus on the PC and graphics card. Moving forward the graphics card will be more and more important so I would recommend getting the best graphics card you can afford. Also try to get as much RAM as you can afford as well. Fast hard disks can really help the process as well and having more than one disk helps too.

Question Twelve – Portfolios and Blogs

Ben in Seattle writes: For someone that doesn’t have a strong Internet presence. Is it wise to have an online portfolio with a link to your blog or just get two domains and keep them apart. I plan on only presenting my best work in the portfolio but some blog entries aren’t as good. Best to keep them apart?

Scott: I’m a strong believer in keeping your marketing messages clear and if you serve multiple markets you should try to separate them. I like to keep my choices simple. I break apart all my sites. I have one site as a blog, one as a portfolio and one as a stock site. Your portfolio should only have your very best photos.

Question Thirteen – Signatures on Prints

Tom Weightman Just a quick question – when I get my prints framed, they are usually sealed at the back. This means I can’t get to the mount to sign it, however. When you get your prints framed, do you usually sign the prints/ mount? I have thought of getting my signature printed on the print itself, but am not sure how this would look.

Scott: There are a couple of ways you can handle this. I sell mostly canvas gallery wraps these days so signing them isn’t an issue. When I do sign prints or canvases I always sign in the bottom right hand corner. When it comes to the framed stuff, the way I used to do it was I pre-signed a bunch of mats that I gave to my framer. There is no wrong or right way to do it. As long as you can identify who made the print and if it’s a limited edition print then you’ll need to include the number in the sequence.

Question Fourteen – Defocus Control Lenses

Davis from Texas writes: Recently I ran across these Defocus Control lenses that allow you to adjust the bokeh behind or in front of the focused subject. This is something I’m very interested in obtaining in my portrait work. I am getting pretty good results from my current range of lenses as they all open up to at least 2.8f but would love it if I had a lens that really took that beautiful bokeh to the extreme. I’m specifically looking at getting the Nikkor 105mm f2 AF-D DC lens. Is this defocus control make a substantial difference? Have any of y’all ever used them? Obviously I’ll rent before I buy but I would like to get your opinions before I dedicate a weekend to playing with one of these.

Scott: Definitely rent one and try it first before you commit to buying one. My personal opinion is that they are a little gimmicky.

Question Fifteen – Flash Brackets

Tim Parker asks: I have been shooting now since last July with my Nikon D60. I bought a SB-600 a couple months ago and think I need to get a frame to get the Flash off the camera. I have found myself taking some shots were I have the light angled up towards the ceiling and as soon as I change the camera to portrait the flash is now bouncing off the wall or whatever is to my left. I would like one that allows me to move the camera so that the flash will stay on the people/object that I am shooting. Thanks in Advance!

Scott: There are all types of frames out on the market. I personally don’t use a lot of this stuff as I find it adds weight and often they are more complicated to setup than they are worth. Stroboframe is a company that used to make these type of frames. Another great option is to get a rolling light stand and long cord and wheel that around.

Question Sixteen – Need for an External Card Reader

Thomas Beck from Fayetteville, AR writes: Some Macbook Pros come with SD card readers built-in. As I shoot with a camera that uses SD, a Pentax K20D, do I still need an external card reader? How do they compare?

Scott: You don’t need another card reader as the one built-in to the MacBook Pro will work just fine. The only situation where you might consider buying an external one is to have it as a backup in case something goes wrong with the one in your computer but that’s just me being a paranoid professional who wouldn’t want to be in a situation where I missed the shot for a client because my gear failed and I couldn’t dump my cards.

Question Seventeen – Continuous Lighting

Mark King from Columbus OH asks: Do you ever use continuous lighting in studio? If so, can you point me in the right direction for some good quality lighting?

Scott: Funny you should ask as I’m just getting into using continuous lighting. With flash you can stop the action and you typically get more light. With continuous light you see what the shot is going to look like. Westcott makes some really nice continuous lighting. There are a lot of options out there but if you can afford them, LED lights are the way to go.

Question Eighteen – Importance of Different Perspectives

Tom Ulane from Toronto says: How important is it to shoot a subject from different perspectives? Sometimes I am in too big a hurry to shoot from more than one perspective.

Scott: Shooting from different perspectives is very important but ultimately it comes down to the kind of work that you’re doing. As a wedding photographer it was very important to shoot a bunch of different perspectives of each scene to tell the story and to help fill up pages in albums. If you’re just shooting casual portraits or snapshots then it might not be as important.

Question Nineteen – Tips for Product Photography

Seth Reed asks: Do you have just one or two simple tips that would help me improve my product photography? I photograph small objects like rings and watches.

Scott: Get a light tent. Westcott and Lite Panels make good ones. That will solve problems with specularity. Try lighting from back to front. That is a dramatic approach. Don’t be afraid to use gels to create mood and color.

Question Twenty – Lenses for Architectural Photography

Jane Thompson Cortez wrote to us to ask: What sort of lenses do you suggest for architectural photography?

Scott: You’ll want to get wide lenses which are rectilinear corrected lenses so they don’t distort. Another option is to get a Tilt-Shift lens. Also think about HDR as it’s become very powerful in this type of photography.

The Blog

Wrap Up

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Show notes by Bruce Clarke