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Photofocus Episode 40

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about digital rights management in music files for slideshows:

Question One – Using non-DRM Music in Slideshows

I’ve heard that the music in iTunes is drm-free. Does this mean you can add (film) music you bought in iTunes to your slideshows and put them on the web? Vincent from Belgium

Scott: You can probably figure out how to get that music into your slideshow and put it on the web but that would be illegal. You would need a license to use it in that fashion. Check out sites like Triple Scoop Music for great royalty free music to use in slideshows.

Question Two – Portable Audio Solutions

Doing more video and finding that I could use a portable solution to recording audio in the field with the plan to synch it with the video in post. What do you recommend as a good battery powered recorder/mike combination? Atlee Wong

Scott: I really like the Zoom H4N. Start your video with a hand clap so that you can match it up and sync it in post production.

Question Three – Suggestions for Great Family Photos

I have a part time business doing wedding and portrait photography. I find it easy to capture a bride and groom enjoying the moment with one another because its their special day together. But whats the secret for capturing a family with good expressions for a portrait session. I might be able to think of something funny for one or two photos and capture them having a good time. But how can I get good expressions over a period of a two hour photo session. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Brian Casey from Lynnwood, Washington.

Scott: Keep it organic. Get to know your subjects by taking time to interview them and that will help you find common ground. Jokes are good. One thing I’ll do is have people lick their lips – it make their lips look better and they tend to have a better smile. If there are kids involved, get the kids on your side and the rest will follow. Try getting down on their level and get them involved in the shoot. If mom is involved, get her on your side too. Expressions are important. Don’t worry about a perfect photograph – worry about one with great expression.

Question Four – Getting Started with a Photoblog

My name is David Szweduik and I am wondering if you could share some tips and/or resources about getting started with a photoblog? I have seen/heard your advice about building portfolios but nothing about the photoblog.

Scott: You have to decide what platform you want to have it on. To get started, I recommend setting up a site on To take it to the next level, you can register your own domain and map it to your WordPress blog. You will be somewhat limited with but I think it’s a small price to pay for rock solid service. The next thing is to decide how big to make your images. Then you just have to find a template that compliments your photography and put it up on the web. Keep it simple and don’t build a Flash site with music. Show only your very best work.

Question Five – External Monitors for a MacBook

Can I plug in an external monitor to the Macbook and what type of monitors will be perfect for processing photos correctly with out spending a lot of money. I hear that there are types of monitors which are best for editing photos correctly. Neville Black, Ottawa Ontario Canada

Scott: If you get a special monitor designed for editing photos, I’m afraid it will be expensive. I recommend the 24″ LED monitors from Apple which work fine for me.

Question Six – Tips for Focusing in Low Light

My camera / lens struggles to search out a focus point in lower light situations…lens is always trying to ‘hone in’ on subject , but due to poor light, I find it hard to get camera focused on subject. Button will not depress on my Canon 40d, I am assuming because of low light My flash is patiently awaiting me to focus so it can light up the image… can I do this without this happening. Paul in Chicago

Scott: Autofocus does rely on finding some contrast to work so some light is going to be needed. You can check to make sure that your AF-assist beam is enabled on your camera. Also try to get some ambient light into the scene to give your camera better chance of focusing on your subject.

Question Seven – Rewarding Photography Experiences

You have mentioned that you have tried your hand at different areas of photography. (NASCAR, wedding, birds, etc.) What other areas have you tried? I understand that everyone is different, but for you, in particular, has your journey into bird photography been the most personally rewarding? Any idea on what else you might try? Tom Li Mountain View, CA

Scott: I started as a motorsports photographer. Then I moved into portraiture which led me to have a wedding and portrait business. I tried doing fashion photography in New York and hated it. About 15 years ago I started concentrating on nature which morphed into my love for bird photography. I’m toying with the idea of doing some specialized portraiture and car photography.

Question Eight – Taking Better Photos at Family Events

I want to increase the quality of my family albums and let them contain nice looking images instead of just snapshots. What tips do you have to make good pictures at e.g. family events? Lars Larsson, Lerum, Sweden

Scott: Get people relaxed by not barking orders about family photo ops. Just make the camera part of the event. Let others take photos and just try to capture the action rather than trying to direct the photos. Also try focusing on faces and use a long lens. Look for simple backgrounds and nice light.Another tip is to gather everyone in a circle and shoot down on them from a ladder. It results in a more pleasing composition and is flattering for certain body types.

Question Nine – Lens Selection for a Hobbyist

John Fortune says: You get asked this all the time, but can you discuss how much a hobbyist with a Nikon D90 should stress over lens selection? I would like a wide angle lens Ive heard you say that glass makes all the difference and to get the fastest glass you can afford. So do I drop $1600 on the Nikkor 14mm to 24mm f/2.8 or am I going to be very happy with the new $800 Nikkor 10mm to 24mm DX 3.5 to 4.5? I will use this lens indoors and outdoors I am exploring the hobby not specializing at this point.

Scott: If you can afford it, my choice would be to go with the 14mm to 24mm f2.8. It’s better quality and is faster. If you can’t afford it then you’ll still be happy with the 10mm – 24mm but in the long run if you wind up wanting to buy the 14-24 after buying the 10-24, you’ll wind up spending more in total by starting with the cheaper lens. If you’re not using the lens that often, check out places like or and rent them.

Question Ten – Export Settings for JPEGS Used on Websites

Thomas Li asks: What kind of settings do you use when exporting jpegs for posting on the web?

Scott: I set my resolution to 72 PPI and I size them at no larger than 640 on the longest side. If asked to save with the color profile intact, do so. For JPEG compression, on a scale of 1-12 I normally go with an 8 or a 9.

Question Eleven – Logos on Prints

Thank you for providing the photofocus podcast. I listen to your show all of the time and have learned a lot! One thing I haven’t heard you talk about is placing a photographer’s logo on prints. I know you sign your limited edition canvas prints but what are your thoughts on signing or adding a logo to wedding or portrait photography prints that a client is purchasing? Some photographers have told me that this practice went out years ago except for the chain studios. Any advice would be appreciated. Brian Casey from the Emerald City

Scott: I only put my logo on things that are going on the web. I do sign my prints but I think putting a logo on prints is kind of dated. If the people have paid for the print, there is little likelihood that they are going to steal the print. I will also include my card in the box with the print and attach one to the back if I want people to know where the print came from.

Question Twelve – Micro 4/3rds Format

Wades writes: Scott what do you think about the Micro 4/3 format?

Scott: When they first came I out I was very critical of them. After having used them, I have changed my mind. They produce some of the best JPEGS that I’ve seen. They are compact and easy to use but they are expensive so you can spend less and get a full fledged DSLR.

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