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Photofocus Episode 32

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about color fringing on less expensive lenses.

Question One – Color Fringing on Less Expensive Lenses

Tom Thomas writes: I find that my less expensive lenses give me photos with color fringing. Is this normal?

Scott: Yes, generally will see this color fringing on less expensive lenses. It’s not the end of the world as you can correct some of these issues in post.

Ara: Yes, I use the hue and saturation channels to pull that down around the edges, particularly if it’s a blue fringe.

Question Two – Focus Issues

Brian Casey writes: I have problems with getting shots in focus while shooting in low lit evening weddings inside some churches. I use a Nikon D700 and SB-800 flash unit but it sometimes has problems tracking the people coming down the aisle during the ceremony despite my focus spot being on their face and my camera set to continuous-servo focus mode. Do you have any settings recommendations or techniques that could help me get all my shots in focus?

Scott: That’s a simple one – you need more light. When it’s low light and you have just one flash in a large area like a church, there isn’t enough light to freeze the action. Auto focus relies on contrast to focus and in low-light it can’t find that contrast and winds up hunting and hunting. Check out Joe McNally and Syl Arena’s sites for more information on working with multiple flashes.

Question Three – Guidelines for Cropping Portraits

Erik from The Netherlands asks: In advertising a lot of pictures have the top of the face cropped out to give more attention to the face. I was wondering if you can give some general guidelines for cropping pictures of people, what to leave in and what to leave out.

Ara: I’m not a big fan of cropping into the head. I think the face as a whole tells the story.

Scott: I’m not a big fan either but here are some general rules. If you’re going to crop a limb, try to do a clean break between the wrist and the elbow or the elbow and the shoulder. Let people know that there is supposed to be a crop. Plan to leave some headroom when you’re framing your image in camera.

Question Four – Focus Points

Bob Conroy writes: Is it a true general rule that lens focus characteristics have approximately 1/3 distance closer to camera and two thirds distance behind the focal point of selected point of focus? Was that clear?

Scott: Bob is trying to talk about hyper focal distance. What do you do if you’re shooting a landscape and you want a foreground object to be in focus and something in the background to also be in focus? If you focus about a 3rd of the way into the scene and work with a fairly small aperture then everything from a 3rd of the way to infinitely should be in focus.

Ara: I run into this a lot when I shoot waterfalls. I make sure that I set my aperture at around f11 and focus on a rock in the foreground.

Question Five – Lighting Interiors

Stuart Bridge from Perth, Western Australia asks: I will be selling my home later in the year and want to save on photography costs by taking the interior and exterior shots myself. I know that exterior shots are best taken in the golden hours, but what about interior shots? How can I replicate the photos that I see in interior design magazines where the light looks so soft and natural? I have a Canon 450D (Rebel XSi) with an 18-55mm kit lens, and a 580EXII. What other gear might I need?

Scott: I would recommend shooting HDR. Shoot multiple exposures and then tone map them together so you get the sky coming in and looking natural while having enough light to light the objects in the room.

Question Six – Non-Name Brand Camera Batteries

Bryan Rowland asks: What is your take on non-name brand camera batteries? I know you generally have the ‘you get what you pay for’ mantra. Have you had any ‘real world’ horror stories using them?

Ara: I’ve used a lot of them over the years and I’ve had really good luck for them. I look for ones on Amazon with high ratings and have had pretty good luck with most of them.

Scott: I’m not that brave so I just buy the name brand batteries. If it’s sold by a reputable store, then it might be okay.

Question Seven – RAW File Formats with Lightroom

Matt Zambelli writes: I ran into a problem when I tried loading my first T2i photos into Lightroom: Adobe Camera RAW does not support the .cr2 files that come off the T2i. Is this typical for brand new cameras? DPP that came with the T2i is a little lacking (maybe i’m a little spoiled from Lightroom). Is there a way to convert these .cr2 files into something i can manipulate with Lightroom and Photoshop?

Ara: It has happened on every camera I have ever had.

Scott: You are a victim of the the AITB (arrows in the but) syndrome. When you’re the first person down the path you get shot by the arrows. When you’re a pioneer and buying the latest and the greatest, often, the software companies need time to catch up and release updates that will allow these proprietary file formats to work with programs like Aperture and Lightroom. The Panasonic LX 3 is a great example of how long this process can take. If you don’t want to have the problem, then avoid being an early adopter.

Question Eight – Selling Photos Taken at Sporting Events

Kyle Baker from Toronto, Ontario, Canada asks: I just had a question regarding the rights of a photographer to sell images taken at a sporting event. I know a lot of athletes are very careful with the use of their image, especially when money is involved, but how do sporting photographers deal with this? If I am taking pictures at an NHL game and get a great picture of Sydney Crosby in action and want to sell it to a magazine, do I have to get Crosby to sign a release before I do? Or is there some form of agreement between the photographer, venue, and athlete that negates the need for an individual release? What about pictures of the crowd? Would this generally apply to photography at most private venues?

Scott: For editorial you don’t need a model release. If you want to sell it for commercial use then you’ll need a model release. When it comes to the big sports leagues like the NBA, NHL, NFL, etc, in order to get a press pass you have to sign a release that says that they control the rights to the photos.

Question Nine – Gray Market Gear vs. Regular Equipment

Jay Gray from TN writes: What is the difference in “gray market” gear (lenses in particular) and regular equipment.

Ara: I’ve often wondered about this myself.

Scott: It has to do with warranty. Gray market means that the item has not been cleared for sale in the US in terms of warranty. That means you can’t send it in for service.

Question Ten – Instructive Mistakes

Mike McPhaden from Toronto, Canada wrote to us to ask: I’m new to photography and just like every other area of my life, I’ve found that I learn a lot by making mistakes. The bigger the mistake, the more memorable the lesson. What have been your most instructive screw ups?

Ara: One of my greatest mistakes is rushing. I need to slow down and take time to check everything and soak it in before I start. Often I get wrapped up in the excitement of shooting and forget the basics. I think making assumptions that I know more about my gear than it will actually do.

Scott: A lot of my biggest mistakes were when I was younger and I would leave the scene too early. I would pack up my stuff and be heading down the road only to find amazing light and colors in the clouds. Now I stay later than anybody. I’d love to hear your screw ups. Email me at [email protected] with your biggest screw ups.

Question Eleven – Slowing Down Waterfalls on Sunny Days

Tim Terry from Maine asks: What should I use to slow down waterfalls on a sunny days?

Ara: I use a polarizer which takes the glare off the water and cuts down the light by a couple of stops. I also like to use a neutral density filters. I love them so much that I have 3, 6, and a 9 stop ND filters in my bag. ND filters are like sunglasses for your lens.

Scott: An ND filter is especially useful if you’re shooting video.

Question Twelve – Photomerge for Panos

Wayne Edmonds from Tampa would like to know: Is Photomerge still the best way to stitch a pano image?

Ara: I use Photomerge and think it’s a great product.

Scott: When it first came out it wasn’t that good but now it’s the main program I use for panos.

Question Thirteen – Advice for Young Photographers

Thomas Emmerich asked what sort of things should a 10 year old just getting started in photography learn?

Ara: I would show them the camera and ask them what they enjoy taking pictures of.

Scott: I wouldn’t bother to start by learning the technical stuff – I would start with vision. Eventually I can teach a monkey how to figure out how to press a shutter. What I can’t teach is vision. I would set the camera up on automatic and get them to tell a story. Then you can explain all the technical stuff later.

Question Fourteen – Blurry Images using Flash

David Benjamin asks: When I shoot in ETTL mode, sometimes the images are blurry. Is there enough flash to freeze the subject?

Scott: It has to do with that ambient light again. What we are trying to do is balance the light with the ambient light. I want both the subject and the background to match. I don’t want the subject or the background to be brighter than the other. When these ETTL images are blurry, then there is not enough shutter speed because the ambient light is just not there. Another way to deal with this is to tell the subject not to move.

Question Fifteen – Building a Portfolio

Wayne Lee asks: How do I go about building my portfolio ? How many images, what format, what size?

Ara: It’s a challenging part of starting up. I stuck with about 20 images but it can be a low as 5. I choose them to be 8×10 to show off live and at least 600 pixels for online sharing.

Scott: What I would add to that, is that you only want to pick your very very very very very very best photos. You have to be brutal in the editing process. I only want to see your very best work.

The Blog

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.

Ara Roselani is at or

Show notes by Bruce Clarke