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Special guest Scott Kelby

Photofocus Episode 39

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about the latest features in Photoshop CS5

Question One – New Features of Photoshop CS5

RJ Fuentes from Miami writes: Can you tell me about some of the new features in the latest version of Photoshop and is the upgrade worth it for photographers in your opinion?

Scott K: In CS4 there wasn’t a compelling reason for photographer’s to upgrade. There were many plug-ins people were buying to supplement Photoshop. CS5 has a ton of new features for photographers including improved HDR including built-in ghosting, noise reduction at the RAW level, automated lens correction, content-aware fill (works great for panos), selection masks, and more. Best upgrade of Photoshop since CS.

Question Two – Photographing in Night Clubs

Kyle Merriman (in Taiwan) asks: I’ve recently delved into “night club” shooting. I’ve seen a lot of photographers online with incredible shots with great depth and lighting (especially the lasers). Any tips?

Scott K: For nightclub or concert shooting, try to equate it with landscape photography. In landscape photography, you get up early and wait for hours and sometimes you’ll have amazing light and other times you won’t. Nightclubs and concerts are the same. If you have great lighting you’ll get great shots all over the place. Just don’t let your flash fire and you’ll catch great lighting effects. What will help you the most is to bump up your ISO and shoot with a slower shutter speed to capture the movement of the crowd, etc.

Scott: Don’t be afraid of those lights. Let them be whatever color they are and work with it.

Question Three – Shooting on a Beach – Tips for Protecting Your Gear

Anglea from Montreal writes: My husband and I are shooting a wedding in La Romana in June. I’m concerned about sand and heat damaging our 5d Mark II and 24-70mm lens. What measures can I take to ensure that we don’t destroy our camera and lens? We’ll obviously be shooting on the beach. If it makes a difference, we’ll be shooting video.

Scott B: I use a very high tech system – I buy one gallon plastic bags to put my lenses in. Also, don’t leave anything in the trunk.

Scott K: Shower caps from hotel rooms work great. Optech makes a great sleeve for only $3.90.

Question Four – Licensing Issues with H.264 Video

Glenn Eisen asks: Have you read much about the licensing issues with H.264 video? Seems like the subject has been popping up around the web.

Scott B: The current state of the law, unless you’re getting paid for this stuff – just relax. If you are a pro you may eventually have to pay. It’s intended for the big manufacturer’s. Let’s say you make a DVD of a wedding, you may be liable for around .02 per disk so it’s not a big deal.

Question Five – Filters & Adjustment Rings

John Hayes from Franklin, TN writes: Scott, this may be a silly question, but with a variety of different filter size lenses, do you recommend 1 polarizer and adjustment rings or separate filters for each size lens?

Scott B: Depends on your budget but generally step down rings work fine. Just buy the biggest one you can and then buy step down rings.

Question Six – Physical Portfolios

Rhett Gibson wants to know what sort of advice we have regarding physical portfolios.

Scott K: Most photo editors look for stuff online and most people who come to Photoshop World or workshops for portfolio reviews bring them on screen so my advice would be to make a great online, digital portfolio and not worry about creating a physical portfolio.

Scott B: I agree, for the most part online portfolios are the way to go. Another great option today is to use the iPad as a portfolio.

Question Seven – Exposure Compensation vs. Neutral Density Filters

Martin John from Mexico City wrote to us as [email protected] to ask: I don’t understand the difference between reducing light w/ negative exposure compensation vs. using a neutral density filter. What’s the difference in light reduction (other than one on the front end of the lens and the other on the back end? What/when are typical uses/applications for each?

Scott: When you reduce the light with an ND filter, you’re going to be able to perverse your relationship with depth of field, shutter speed, etc. When you use exposure compensation, you’re going to be changing those somewhat. You want to use exposure compensation when you don’t care about preserving those relationships. You’ll use an ND filter when there is so much light that even using exposure compensation isn’t enough. When I shoot video you have to fix your shutter speed at a 50th, 60th or 125th of a second. If my slowest shutter speed is a 50th of a second and I want that nice creamy background, you have to use an ND filter to cut the light. The Vari ND filter from Singh Ray is a great ND filter.

Scott K: I think of exposure compensation in the camera as me telling the camera that it’s right or wrong and compensating for it’s mistake. ND filters are a totally different thing. For example, they would allow me to shoot a waterfall in the middle of the day at f2 and use a slow enough shutter speed to get that nice smooth silky look.

Question Eight – Video Limit on the Canon 7D

Jim Williams from Palestine, TX asks: Is it true that the Canon 7D will only shoot 16 minutes of HD video at a time?

Scott: No, it will only shoot 12 minutes at a time.

Question Nine – Tips for Race Photography

Sue from Indianapolis writes: I am lucky enough to be going to the Indy 500 in a few weeks. Thanks to family connections, I managed to get a pit pass. Any tips for race photography?

Scott K: You have to make 2 choices when shooting Indy cars. One challenge is that the cars are fast and you’ll be shooting during the day so if you shoot with a really fast shutter speed, you’ll freeze everything, including the tires and the cars will look like they are parked. Trick number one is to position yourself so that you can shoot the cars coming at you or away from you and not from the side. I would also shoot in wide open in Av mode and that will put your shutter speed up high and the background out of focus. If you’re shooting them from the side, you have to find out what setting will give you sharp cars and spinning wheels. Probably around 1/125th of a second and you’ll pan along with it. You’re going to get a bunch of photos out of focus when you shoot like this but you only need one in focus. The most important thing to be in focus should be the driver’s helmet. A pit pass means that you can go into the pits until the race starts. If you can, try to get a hot pit pass which allows you to be there while the race is on. If possible, try to get an over the wall hot pit pass which lets you climb over the wall during warm ups. Also, try getting close ups of the cars and drivers which is something people don’t normally see. Go to and rent some long glass.

Scott B: I would suggest shooting JPEGS in this instance to get the highest burst rate from your camera and speed up your post processing as you’ll be shooting a lot when using that panning technique. Also, when you’re in the pits, try getting down on the ground. Also try shooting with a fisheye or really wide lens to get some unique perspectives. You can also check out to rent some long glass.

Question Ten – Digital Ice

Chip wants to know what Digital Ice is.

Scott B: Digital Ice is a program that comes with a lot of scanners to remove noise and dust. It can be quite aggressive at times so you may have to baby sit it a bit.

Question Eleven – Camera Straps

Phil Jacobs in Lexington, KY wants to know if it matters what camera strap he uses.

Scott K: The Up Strap is a great strap which cannot come off your shoulder. The other one to have is the R-Strap from Black Rapid.

Scott B: I like the Black Rapid strap but don’t buy an older used model. I like the Kata Reflex E strap.

Question Twelve – Medium Format vs 35mm dSLR

Tammy Johnson from New York City would like to know: What are the advantages/disadvantages of using medium format v. 35mm DSLR?

Scott K: Right now I’m looking at the Leaf Digital backs. The one advantage of 35mm is that it’s less expensive than medium format. Medium format is a very expensive proposition. 35mm have a large choice of accessories and are more rugged but the medium formats have a different look.

Scott B: Medium format will have more detail and a greater dynamic range. They are quite a bit more noisy so it’s the post processing software that you have to rely on. The H4D-40 from Hassleblad would be my pick but it’s around $20,000. The sleeper in this list is the Pentax 645D. The one thing that’s the same between these cameras is that they all use the same Kodak sensor. Lenses are also very expensive when you get into medium format.

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.

Scott Kelby is at or

Show notes by Bruce Clarke