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Photofocus Episode 41

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about projectors:

Question One – Projectors for Photographers

I can’t find very much in the way of independent information about which kind/type/brand of projector is best for photographs. I assume that you see a fair about of this equipment in your travels and teaching. Can you point me in the right direction to educate myself or can you make recommendations about what to look for in a projector for our club? Carl Shortt Oklahoma City, Ok.

Syl: I recently purchased the Epson Powerlite 1730 W series. It’s small, lightweight and produces an excellent image.

Scott: I was going to recommend the same one. The Epson’s just work and they are not that expensive. You can pick one up for around $1000.

Question Two – Color Settings with a Calibrated Monitor

When using a calibrated monitor, what color settings in PS should I use, Adobe RGB 1998, Photo Pro or profile created by the X-Rite T1 display 2? Michael

Syl: I’m still working in CS4. My settings are set to use the Pro Photo color space because it’s a larger color space and I’m future proofing by doing so. Visit Syl’s web site for an article on Color Management.

Scott: I normally work in Adobe RGB 1998 because that is what the majority of devices support. Color management is like the postmaster or a referee. It acts as the go-between to match what your seeing on your monitor to your printer, papers, and inks.

Question Three – Star Photography

Larry Borreson writes: I’m traveling to New Mexico in July and want to take some star pics. I am concerned about noise. Any suggestions?

Scott: Almost all dSLR cameras come with an exposure noise reduction mode so if you’re going to use long exposures, you’ll want to turn that on. It will reduce the noise. However, I suggest turning up the noise to around 800 which will reduce the length of time the shutter will be open which will in turn reduce the noise.

Syl: I can give a few tips for anyone going to Santa Fe. The first is to go to the Photo Eye Gallery which is a great bookstore for photographers. The second is to visit the Santa Fe Photography Workshops.

Question Four – Flash Suggestions

Bush Williams writes: I recently got a T1i and a Sigma 18-250 lens and am wondering if you guys would make an external flash recommendation. The $500.00 price range of the Canon 580ex II is acceptable. From my own research it seems to be a flash I can grow in to with the new T1i but I am looking for some reinforcement or suggestions from someone other than a camera salesman at my local shop.

Syl: The good news is that prices on Speedlites are coming down. The 580 EX II is going to be a fabulous tool and I would recommend picking up a 24ft E-TTL cord which will allow to get your speedlite off your camera and this will let you create interesting shadows. The ETTL cord maintains the full communication between the camera and the speedlite.

Scott: I shoot mostly Nikon but I do have a complete Canon setup which includes the 580 EX II.

Question Five – Ink Jet Printers vs. Commercial Printers

Brad asks: Which type of printer will produce better looking prints: ink jet printers or commercial printers (Costco, WHCC, Mpix etc.). I understand fine art rags and canvas are definitely ink jet, but what about glossy or matte finish prints that I would typically have printed via online or my local Costco? Will I get a better print if I go with an ink jet printer?

Scott: My opinion is that you’ll probably get a better print with a $400 printer than you will at Costco but not from places like WHCC or Mpix.

Syl: I outsource almost all of my printing. If you are in a rush and need some quick cheap prints, most Costcos do have ICC profiles which you can load up and make prints.

Question Six – Infrared Photography

RobertMurch writes: I want to get into infrared photography but It don’t have a spare camera I can modify to shoot IR. Can I get similar quality with an IR filter? Is using a Photoshop filter a good option?

Scott: My opinion is that you can get similar results. I really like Nik Software’s Silver Effex Pro. You will lose one things – seeing in infrared while you’re shooting is important.

Syl: I fall back to my stance that I’m a photographer and not a retoucher so if you’re doing it in post it’s really not the magic. You could pick up a 20D for $150 – $200 off eBay and have Lifepixel convert it to an infrared camera.

Question Seven – Sensor Cleaning

I am using the Visible Dust product to clean my sensor and it seems to do OK. So, which is it? What do they do besides clean the sensor when you send your camera in for a yearly check-up? Who do you send it to? The company or an authorized repair shop? Hope you can clear this up. Jim Rudolph

Scott: Sending it in for a checkup involves more than just cleaning the sensor. The factory will clean more than the sensor. They will lube things you can’t get to.

Syl: Canon, has two service centers in the US. One in the west coast and one in the East coast. I am a member of Canon Professional Services so I get expedited repair, etc.

Question Eight – Sensors vs. Optics

It seems sensors are advancing at a faster pace than optics ? Is there going to come a time when lenses will not perform well enough to resolve all the details a sensor supports, what is the current state of this? Denis Cote from Reno, NV

Syl: If you’re willing to spend the money, there will always be glass that will outperform these sensors. I think it’s easier for camera manufacturers to come out with new electronics than it is to grind new glass and come out with new coatings. In the Canon world, if you’re buying the L glass then you don’t have to worry about the lens not being up to the standards of the sensor. If you’re buying cheaper glass then it might be an issue.

Scott: In the case of full-frame sensor cameras, there are some situations where some lenses don’t resolve enough to match up with the ability of the full frame sensors but that wouldn’t apply to the L-series of lenses. I think there may reach a time when the sensors will outperform lenses but I think in the long run, the camera manufacturers make more off the lenses.

Question Nine – Photographing Abstract Concepts

My question is this: how do you take photos for abstract concepts like pensions? What do you take photos of? Whats your thinking process? If I worked for a bus company I could take photos of buses. How do I take photos of pensions? I don’t really want to take corny photos of seniors surfing and mountain climbing.

Syl: It’s a challenging subject for sure. I’d have to give that one some thought.

Scott: Pensions happen later in life so I might photograph seniors walking on the beach. Think about who is the audience, who is the subject, and what is the story you want to tell. What are the beliefs, feelings and desires of the people the photographs are aimed at.

Question Ten – Tips for Shooting High Performance Boats

Mike Lippeth writes: I have an opportunity to shoot high performance boats on Lake Michigan aboard a helicopter. The boats will be moving at high speeds. I have a 24-70 2.8L and a 70-200 2.8 IS USM glass in my bag. I’m thinking the long lens with a polarizer. Any tips or recommendations I would greatly appreciate them!

Scott: Don’t touch any more of the helicopter than you have to. Sit at the front of the seat. The less you touch the helicopter, the less the vibrations from the helicopter will be transferred to you and your camera. You’ll want to work at fast shutter speeds. The polarizer will cut down reflections but if it’s a cloudy day don’t bother with one as you’ll lose a few stops with one on. When shooting boats, try to capture something next to the boat like a wake or it will look like it’s parked in the water.

Syl: Johnathan Atkinson has a web site called which has a great resource called the Helo-Plan. Also think about renting a Kenyan Gyro which helps with the stability of your camera.

Question Eleven – Recommend Workflows When Using Plug-ins With Lightroom

I use Adobe Lightroom and plug-ins such as Niks Sliver Efex, Viveza 2 and Noiseware for most of my post processing work. Since these plug-ins do not save to a RAW but either TIFFs or JPG, is there a logical order to working with LR, Niks plug-ins and NoiseWare to minimize data loss and produce the highest quality post processed image? For examples, I currently do this: Make all my LR adjustments, than use Viveza 2 to make tone corrections and save to a TIFF and if necessary, use NoiseWare to remove noise and save again as TIFF. Finally, I use LR export and save it as JPG for Web posting or sending it to a print lab. What are you thoughts on this? Don, From North Easton, MA

Syl: I try to keep my workflow simple so I don’t use any plugins.

Scott: My opinion is that plugins should be used dead last. I do all my adjustments first and then use the plug-ins.

Question Twelve – Managing RAW Files

I have a question regarding managing raw and processed images. I shoot RAW and then import into Lightroom where I make my adjustments, then export to jpg to share and upload either to the web or to sell as stock. Once the Image has been processed is there any value in keeping the RAW file especially if the image has also gone into PS for extra editing. Thanks Dave Riganelli

Syl: I have every RAW captured that I’ve ever shot. I have gone back and reinterpreted images with either better software or things I’ve learned.

Scott: Unless it’s a photograph that’s truly unsalvageable, then I keep everything. Hard drives are so cheap these days. Throwing out RAW files will be like throwing out your digital negatives.

Question Thirteen – Settings for Shooting Video with a dSLR

Can you please tell us your standard settings (ISO, aperture, shutter speed etc) for shooting video on Canon 5D MarkII? (I know there is lot more to it than these numbers and you have many gadgets that you use and other cameras like 7D, but I just want to be ‘piffy’ and to the point) Kirit Vora MD Bloomfield Hills MI

Syl: My shutter speed will be 2x my frame rate. This is so you get that smooth transition from frame to frame. With wide apertures and slow shutter speeds then you need to set your camera to the lowest possible ISO. In some cases that might not be enough so then you have to put on an ND filter. Another tricky thing when shooting wide open is that you have a very thing depth of field to work with. I’ve been heading to which is an online depth of field calculator.

Scott: If you don’t follow that rule of 2x the frame rate, you’ll get that stuttering effect. As for apertures, both Syl and I like these smooth backgrounds so that means shooting wide open. To deal with the DOF issue, I have a Marshall LCD 70 XP HDMI field monitor. This has false peeking which helps you make sure you are in focus. Also check out the VariND filter from Singh-Ray.

Question Fourteen – Beauty Photography

Fred asks: What is beauty photography?

Syl: I think in the context of this question, I think it’s about taking photographs of people and making people look like they want to be which means making them look like plastic dolls. The best way to make beauty lighting, is to put one light above them and another light below them which is called clamshell lighting which reduces wrinkles.

Scott: I call it the Maxim magazine look where people are born without skin pores. It’s generally regarded as something short of true fashion photography. Some people like it and some people don’t. On the positive side, for those who might low self-esteem, then it can make them feel better about themselves.

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.

Syl Arena is at

Show notes by Bruce Clarke