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Photofocus Episode 50

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

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

Question One – Photographing for Charity

Here is my question I want to take senior portraits for kids who can not afford a senior portrait. I just need some help in where to start, how to organize a group of people willing to help out. It is for charity. Renee St. Clair Flower Mound, Texas

Kevin: We’ve been doing this for about 10 years and we call it Portraits in the Park. Contact your local photographers and let them know what you are doing. Also send out a letter to local caterers, coffee shops, etc to see if they would be willing to donate coffee, snacks, etc. Once you start putting the word out you’ll find people will start to come out of the woodwork to help. We have form letters that we’ve sent out that we’d be happy to share with you. Just e-mail me at [email protected].

Question Two – Working with Color Profiles

I hate to ask this question for the 479th time, but I’m still confused about the application of color profiles when using an outside print service like WHCC. Color me confused. Frank Walsh Bethlehem, PA

Answer from WHCC: We convert to a customized profile that we have created for all of our different printing devices. Our clients simply send us files that are tagged with whatever color space they choose to work in. Our system recognizes their respective color space and converts accordingly. A properly calibrated monitor, a tagged file and they get back what they see. We provide profiles on our site that can be used for “soft proofing” purposes only, so they can check a file ahead of time if they so choose.

Scott: Make sure you tag your image.

Question Three – 3rd Party Lenses on Full Frame Cameras

Do 3rd party lenses, designed for “digital” cameras also work on full frame digital cameras? I am shopping for a wide-angle lens that can work on both APS-C and 35mm sensor cameras, to be wide enough for the smaller camera, but not vignette significant on a full frame camera. John Pavlish Seattle, WA

Kevin: Unfortunately if you want one for both you’ll need to buy the one that is designed for the full frame sensor and then it will work fine on the smaller one but not the other way around (at least not without significant vignetting).

Scott: It has nothing to do with it being a 3rd party lens or not but it has to do with the concept of the circle of confusion. You can take full frame lenses down to crop sensor bodies but not the other way around.

Question Four – Help for a Pixel Peeper

Help me I’m becoming a pixel peeper! I’m fortunate to own Photoshop, and the NIK suite of software. Unfortunately, when it comes to certain development steps, noise reduction in particular, I tend to swing the slider controls back and forth in wide swings just to see the difference it will make. The problem arises while I decrease the degree of the adjustments as I zero in on the desired effect, without realizing it, I find my nose is about three inches from the screen, and I have donned my 2x drug store reading glasses (I’m getting old) as I strain to extract the n’th degree of noise reduction with the least degradation of the image. Do you have any advice on doing the digital darkroom thing without becoming an insane pixel peeper? Paul Bilodeau Saint Johnsbury, VT

Scott: Biggest thing to do is just relax and not get too worked up about it. Just get it to where it looks good at print size. Try to view your adjustments at the size you are going to print at.

Kevin: People do obsess about things like noise that you won’t actually see in your print so try to relax. I use Lightroom to do my noise reduction so it’s okay to make a preset for an ISO range and then just apply it to those photos in that range and don’t worry so much about playing around with the sliders on each image.

Question Five – Advice on Photo Quoting Software

Just wondering your opinion on photo quoting software for commercial use. Any thoughts on this, photo quote, hindsite, others. Thanks. Drew

Kevin: I used to shoot more commercial photography many years ago and I used many printed resources which gave me a great range as far as what to expect on different types of jobs.

Scott: Back in the day I did use Hindsite but I found that the ASMP and APA both have great information on their sites about pricing photography for commercial purposes. The problem with quoting software is that it often doesn’t keep up with changing market conditions and these days the market seems to be changing daily.

Question Six – Heads for Monopods

I hear you talk a lot about monopods for stabilization. What I have not heard you mention is what type of head you use on those. As I currently got myself a 70-200 on a Canon crop-sensor body, I need all the stabilization I can get :) I have a cheapo-monopod with a tilt-type head, and I find it limits me quite a lot in how I want to position the camera – for instance to get the horizon straight. I’m just wondering if my technique is off, or if I will get a better result by using a ball-head on the monopod? Tormod in Stockholm, Sweden

Kevin: I sometimes use a monopod at weddings and I have a Bogen monopod and a Velbon head that I use.

Scott: I use a monopod with the Induro BH series of ball heads. I like the Arca-Swiss style of ball heads and any of them can screw on to a monopod. In general, the beefier the lens, the beefier the ball head you will need.

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Question Seven – Sharpening on Export from Lightroom

I have recently started using Lightroom as part of my work flow. When preparing files for output in Photoshop I always did my output sharpening at the very end and based on the size of the print to be made. I have heard that Lightroom does an excellent job at sharpening photos but I am not sure how you control the amount of sharpening is applied to the photos on export. Do you export the image from lightroom and then do the final sizing and sharpening in Photoshop or do you let lightroom handle the final sizing and sharpening? Mark Miller

Kevin: Use the default sharpening in Lightroom which is a nice pre sharpening. Then export to Photoshop and use your sharpening actions which generally give you more control. If you want something that is quicker, setup different sharpening presets based upon output size and then apply those before you export. Then after you export you can undo the presets so you can sharpen them again if you export to a different size. The last option is to apply sharpening during the export process but you are limited to just three options including screen, matte and glossy paper.

Question Eight – Deciding When to Expose for Shadows or Highlights

I’ve heard experts say expose for the highlights or shadows in a particular scene. But how you do that and in which situation to expose for the highlight and vice versa. R. Gurung New York

Scott: You pick the thing that’s important to you. If there are details in the shadows that you think are critical then you expose for the shadows. If there are details in the highlights then you have to expose for those. Back in the film days you had to choose one or the other. Now you can cheat a little bit because of the recovery sliders. Overexposing is probably the worst thing you can do because you can’t get that data back. Look at your histogram which will give you a general idea of where you are at. In the worst of scenarios you could try to do HDR and tone map.

Kevin: Make sure you are shooting RAW as you’ll have more data to recover.

Question Nine – Tips for Shooting Wide Open

You often recommend that people should buy the fastest glass that you can afford. I recently bought the Canon 85mm f1.2 L lens as I am interested in exploring event photography and will often find myself in low light situations. I’ve discovered that shooting wide open, with a narrow depth of field, can be quite tricky and something I have not yet been able to properly master. Can you offer any tips on shooting wide open in order to get the best results. Rich, London, England.

Scott: Yes, be careful. It’s a razor thin depth of field when shooting wide open. Choosing your focus point will depend on the camera. The more recent cameras like the 7D have cross-hair sensor types so you could use the outer points but on bodies like the 5D Mark II you should use the centre focus point. If you’re shooting portraits, you should focus on the eyes.

Kevin: I love to shoot wide open. I have the Nikon version at a 1.4 and there is no simple answer. The best thing to do is practice. I often shoot three images in a row moving just slightly and I often find that with that technique one of the images is dead on and the other two might be a little soft. Try using the centre focus point which is generally the most accurate.

Question Ten – Bouncing Built-in Flash

I have heard a lot on your podcast to remove your flash off the camera. My question is what do you do if you have a built in flash that is on the camera? Do you have any suggestions for bouncing the flash that’s built on the camera? John Pavlish Seattle, WA

Scott: Try to find a light modifier that will bounce that light away but there isn’t too much you can do. I would suggest renting or buying an off camera flash.

Kevin: I would suggest investing in an off camera flash from your camera manufacturer. With a lot of the external flashes, you can use the built-in flash on your camera to control the off-camera flash via a wireless ETTL system.

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Question Eleven – Best Subjects for Monochrome Photos

Do you have any tips for which subjects/colours make the best monochrome photos? I have been trying monochrome on and off, but find that even after twiddling with settings the photos lack the punch that I see in other peoples shots. Kerry in Wales UK

Kevin: I’m curious how Kerry is trying to do monochrome. I wouldn’t recommend doing it in camera but Lightroom, Photoshop, and Aperture all have controls that let you selectively lighten or darken the tone of a particular color so you should be able to get beautiful black and white photographs. I think a lot of contrast makes for great black and white images.

Scott: I think contrast is the key to good monochrome photographs. If the photos lack the punch that usually means contrast. You should check out the Nik Silver Effex Pro for creating great B&W images. If you know how to use curves, simply increase the brightest brights by 10% and make the blackest blacks deeper by 10% and you’ll get more punch in your B&W images also.

Question Twelve – Speed Differences Between SDHC and CF Cards

My wife and I are soon to be upgrading from our Nikon D60 to a D300s. We noticed that the D300s has dual card slots for CF and SD(HC) cards. Is there a noticeable difference in speed between the card types that would make it beneficial for us to purchase CF cards for the new camera, or would our current supply of SDHC cards be fast enough. We’ve noticed that on the D60, the buffer fills up pretty fast and writes to the cards slower than we’d like, especially when shooting in RAW. Brian Mills Raytown, MO

Kevin: I say use what you have. I use both and the SDHC cards seem to work fine. You can get faster CF cards if you want to invest in the more expensive ones. If your SDHC are older (i.e. Class 4) then you might notice a speed difference but by upgrading to the D300s you’ll notice a large speed increase over the D60.

Scott: I think it tends to be more about the camera than the cards these days but I use the UDMA CF cards which are the fastest cards on the market but you have to pay a very high price.

Question Thirteen – Tips for Shooting in Dark Situations

When shooting in dark situations, is it better to up the ISO on the camera, or to increase the exposure/brightness in post processing? I have a Canon EOS 450D, and at ISO1600, it produces pretty average shots. Kayzar, from Melbourne, Australia

Scott: I’m always a fan of cranking the ISO as high as you can go because you’ll have more data to work with. If you start to work with it more in post then you’ll notice image degradation.

Kevin: If you underexpose and have to open it up later on then you’re going to lose contrast and clarity and introduce banding and other issues so I would recommend cranking up the ISO as high as you can go and then use a bit of noise reduction to minimize the noise.

Question Fourteen – Print Services in the UK and When to Use Exposure Compensation

First, are you aware of any trust worthy printing services in the UK, and second, I’m starting to use fully manual control on my camera, I have yet to come across a scenario where I would use exposure compensation, so far just adjusting the shutter speed or aperture has sufficed, could you please give one or two examples of when I would have to go to exposure compensation. Dean from the UK

Kevin: I don’t know if a printing service in the UK but WHCC is servicing customers in the UK so you could always check them out. As for manual control, there really isn’t an advantage to using exposure compensation because you are already controlling both the aperture and shutter speed. Exposure compensation is more useful when you are shooting in Av or TV priority.

Scott: I think you said it right Kevin. Check out WHCC and see what they can do for you. If our audience know of any, feel free to e-mail us at [email protected] and we’ll try to post it up on the site.

UPDATE: We’ve received some feedback from our UK listeners and several pointed us to:

Wrap Up

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

Kevin Kubota is at or

Show notes by Bruce Clarke


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