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Photofocus Episode 49

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about photographing golfers:

Question One – Tips for Photographing Golfers

Any tips on perspectives, settings, gear choices or anything else to avoid getting some ugly boring images when photographing golfers? Nick Portland, Oregon

Joe: There are three scenarios that I can think of. Photographing foursomes. Make sure you use flash to fill in the shadows on the faces because all of them will be wearing hats. Think about what size prints they are giving away to the golfers and that will drive your framing. The second scenario will be beauty shots of golfers on the golf course. The third one would be shooting from the gallery with a 70-200mm lens with IS.

Scott: Shoot wide open if you want to make the crowd go away and use a very long lens to compress the distance for a more dramatic shot.

Question Two – Lens Calibration and Sharing Lenses

My question is about lens calibration. I shoot with a Canon 5D (original) and have the following lenses: 24-70 L, 35 L, 85 1.8, 50 1.4. My primary lenses are the 24-70 and the 35. I have a close friend/fellow photographer who I sometimes lend these 2 lenses to. I’m struggling overall with decreased sharpness and/or completely soft images (ie. no focal point whatsoever) and I’ve noticed that the 2 L lenses used to be very reliable and are less and less so. I’m going through all the variables to try to fix this sharpness/focusing problem (sending all gear into Canon next week). But one question I’ve wondered about is whether sharing lenses can do anything to throw off the calibration of a lens. Do you know if this is possible or I am just being paranoid? Annie

Scott: I’m not a technician but here is my take. If you calibrate the lens for your camera and then lend it out and it comes back calibrated differently, then my thought is that maybe they calibrated the lens to work with their camera. I think it’s something that is driven by the body more so than the lens so I would doubt that. We will update the show notes if we find out any differently.

Joe: The only advice would be to not lend out your lenses in general.

Question Three – Options for Online Photo Sharing

I have finally decided to share some of my photos online for friends and others photographers. but what’s the best way to go? Should I use say a Flickr type service or host my own web site through a template type service. What are pros and cons? Mike G from Vancouver BC

Joe: Put your toes in the water and do it gradually. Try out Flickr and see how it goes. It’s free. Then you can move up to a blog like WordPress to talk about your photos and then move onto creating your own web site

Scott: Flickr is a good option to start with but the cons are that they are somewhat restrictive when it comes to commercial opportunities and they are sometimes passive aggressive when it comes to allowing certain photos or taking down accounts. You do have to live by their rules. A better way to go is to get a free blog and then use that to display your photographs. I try to keep them small which reduces the likelihood that someone will steal them. I would also recommend using a watermark on the image.

Question Four – Tips for Shooting Children with Drool

I have a 1 year old and am of course interested in capturing every moment I can of her. Depending on what she is doing, I may not have a chance to have the ideal lighting situation to capture “the moment”. Given that, I typically have my D90 ready to go with my SB900. More often than not, the shots I’m getting have some sort of baby drool element to them. My question is, is there a way to eliminate/lessen the brightness of the baby drool (I’m assuming caused by the flash)? Kevin Santa Cruz, CA

Joe: If you get any kind of liquid with reflections, you can check out for a variety of devices to soften the light. The Stofen diffuser is another thing you can try.

Scott: I’m going to recommend my friends at Expo Imaging and their new product the Rogue flash bender. Also, try getting closer to the baby as the closer you get, the less you’ll see that specularity show up. The other thing you can do is to put a piece of white cardboard behind you and then turn the SB900 around and bounce the flash into the white cardboard.

Question Five – Advice on Print Finishes

I want your opinion on print finishes (glossy/matte/lustre/etc). I’ve always preferred the look of matte finish on my prints; however, I’m wondering if a glossy finish might “pop” more for a print that is going to be framed behind glass? What do you prefer? Perhaps one type of finish is better for a certain application such as matte finish on wallet prints for high school seniors? Rick Koetter

Scott: I think you are on the right track. It’s all about the subject matter and personal taste.

Joe: I think it all comes down to personal preference but you are right in that certain subjects and types of photos look better on matte or glossy paper. I’ve recently done some metallic prints and prints on canvas and I like those too. For my car photography I want the shiniest, glossy prints I can get.

Question Six – Cleaning up Noisy Images

As a part time wedding photographer using the income to fund my love of all things Nikon and big glass I was confronted with a BIG problem recently. The wedding I was booked for was in the crypt of a 16th century church and it was very very dark. No flash allowed so had to rely on Nikon D700 ISO 6400 fully open and slow shutter speed. Managed to get grainy images which I would like to clean up -what route would you recommend – Photoshop or a bespoke software package plus any other options you can think of. Your suggestions would be much appreciated as always. Keep up the great work. Coventry Bob in the UK

Joe: There are a few great programs out there including Imagenomic Noiseware Professional and Nik Dfine. There is also Noise Ninja.

Scott: Noise out of the box on a D700 is pretty good so often it comes down to proper exposure. Often times those shooting at high ISOs, often under expose and that’s where they often get their butts kicked. Photoshop CS5 also has pretty good noise control so you might want to check that out.

Question Seven – Recommendations for Watermarking Software

I’m an amateur wanting to go professional in the near future so I am looking for photo protection and was wondering what watermark software you recommend. I noticed on your photofocus blog your copyright is not even on some of the photos but under it. I just wanted some advice on this from you, I really appreciate everything on your site, most informative! V. Bergstrom

Scott: I just use the watermark feature in Aperture but I make sure to size my images at 500 pixels on the longest edge at 72 PPI so even if someone does steal them, they won’t be able to do much with them. You can also check out Image Rights.

Joe: I don’t worry about it too much and generally don’t watermark my images. I just keep my file size small when I post them online.

Question Eight – Tips for Sharp Dance Photos

I recently started to do ballroom/latin dance and dance competition photography for a local dance studio, and I want to continue to improve it. I’m finding that the dance floor isn’t always consistently nor well lit. Combine that with relative fast movement of dance, I’m finding the photos aren’t as crisp as I would like them to be. Is there a way to improve the photos without buying an expensive fast lens? Sam, Toronto ON

Joe: One thing he doesn’t mention is whether he is allowed to use flash. You could do a lot of creative things with flash. However if you freeze them too much they will look like they are standing still.

Scott: Photography will always be about compromise. In low light, you’re either going to have to use a flash or get a fast lens. Multiple flashes could also be used to create some dramatic images. Look into renting lenses or flashes as an option to having to buy photos.

Question Nine – Suggestions for Video Rigs

I am now starting to explore the possibilities of the Canon 7D with video, and I am looking for solutions to move the camera around recording video, while keeping it stable enough to avoid the “jerky jerkies”. I am sure you know of stabilizers that are out there, is there one that won’t break the bank? Shane

Joe: One that I like that won’t break the bank is the Habbycam SD Camera Brace.

Scott: I use the stuff from Zacuto and Red Rock Micro but their stuff is a bit more expensive but well worth it. Another less expensive option is the Opteka X Grip. Manfrotto also makes the 585 Moto Steady which is under a $100.

Question Ten – Tips for Wildlife Shooting

When capturing wildlife outside in their natural environments – what deodorant do you use? Do you go “au natural” ; as wildlife would be able to smell any of the heavy perfumed deodorants or “aud de colognes” I know you would try and keep down wind – but I’ve always wanted to ask a professional photographer this :-) as I only shoot with a 300m lens – any advantage on getting closer would help. Phil

Scott: Most of the time, it doesn’t matter what you do. They’ll smell you before you know they are even there. If you are photographing baby animals, they are attracted to sweet smells and might be attracted to you which means mom might not be too far behind so I normally go au naturale and avoid any fragrances.

Question Eleven – Suggestions for Neck & Hand Straps

For example, what type of neck and hand straps do you personally use and find most effective, etc. Wesley W. Tokyo, Japan

Joe: I really like the Lowepro neck strap although I’m not sure if they still make it even more.

Scott: My favorite neck strap is the Kata Reflex E.

Question Twelve – Tips for Photographing Hummingbirds

hat is the best way to photograph hummingbirds? I have a Nikon D80 with an 18-105mm (f/3.5-5.6G) VR lens and a Nikon 35mm 1.8G lens. Should I try to figure what depth of field I want, set my manual focus, set my camera on aperture priority and shoot anything that comes into that range? Should I use continuous focus and try to follow the birds and get the shots when they are hovering? Should I set my camera up on a tripod and use a remove shutter release to try to get the pictures? Stewart King Pompey, NY (Near Syracuse)

Scott: Hummingbirds love bright colors and in particular red. I would set out red bird feeder and and perch nearby. Also try to get a simple background behind the feeder. You are also going to need several flashes to really freeze them.

Question Thirteen – GPS in DSLRs

I notice that Nikon has a point and shoot camera, the P6000, which has built-in GPS. In your opinion, will Nikon and Cannon include GPS in their DSLRs in the near future. It would be a great feature for landscape photographers. Larry Arrington

Joe: I think they’ll eventually all have it. If they included it I wouldn’t mind it but it’s not a make it or break it feature for me.

Scott: I think it was all the rage last year but I think this year it’s all about having HDR built-in. I think they’ll keep the GPS as a separate unit like they do on the Nikon side so they can keep it as a new revenue stream.

Question Fourteen – Best Lens for Photographing Motor Sports

I am attending the annual September race at the new Hampshire Motor Speedway, and I wanted to rent a telephoto lens for the occasion, but wasn’t sure what would be the best lens for the job. My seats are about 8 rows up from the track, so I am pretty close, but I also have pre-race pit passes. So with that information, what do you think the best lens would be? Ken Jancef

Joe: If you’re eight rows back, you’re not as close as you think. If you’re going into the pits, you’ll want a nice wide lens like a 16-35. I would recommend two cameras – one with a wide lens and one longer lens. For a longer lens, I like the 100-400mm lens and then you can throw a 1.4 tele-extender in your pocket.

Scott: I would recommend an 800mm lens but if you don’t have press credentials then you won’t have anywhere to park that lens where it won’t bother anyone. If you have the Canon, you could also look at the Canon 400mm f4. I like to work super wide in the pits with a fisheye lens. I also like the 85mm 1.4 for tight portraits of the drivers in their cars.

Question Fifteen – Sharpening Tips

My goal is to do as much in Aperture as possible and only round trip to CS5 when absolutely necessary. I have learned to do sharpening but would like to ask you for any sharpening tips that you might have. Specifically what is the best way to determine when and how much sharpening is needed? Edge sharpening versus sharpening?

Scott: In aperture, you want to use Edge sharpening. We never use the regular sharpening because it sucks. I always sharpen for output. I will also use the high pass method for sharpening or Nik Software Sharpener Pro.

Joe: I try to get the photos as sharp as possible but when I need extra sharpness I use Photo Kit Capture sharpener.

Wrap Up

We want themes and questions from you. Be sure to visit the blog at for articles, how-to’s, videos and more. Email us at [email protected] follow us on Twitter. Don’t just take pictures – make pictures.

Joe Farace is at

Show notes by Bruce Clarke