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Photofocus Episode 63

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about beauty dishes:

Question One – What is a Beauty Dish

What is a beauty dish and how do you use it? Missey Cunningham from New York, New York

Scott K: It’s another attachment that you put in front of your studio stobe. It’s something between a bare bulb and a softbox that give you very nice light. The strobe fires into a little tiny dish which then reflects back into a larger disc and then the light comes back at your subject. You want to use it on people with very nice skin or with guys who don’t worry so much about their complexion. You can also buy a sock that will fit over the beauty dish and softens the light which is particularly pleasing when photographing women. The light itself is generally positioned above the subject at about a 45 degree angle. You seem them used often in beauty shots – for example an ad for Oil of Olay.

Question Two – Problem with Color Calibration

I have recently calibrated my monitor (iMac) & printer (Epson R2400) with a Colourmunki. The prints still print dark in both Aperture and Photoshop. I find by increasing the brightness in the Aperture print module by up to 50%, I get a good print that I am happy with. What am I doing wrong that I need to do this? Ron Compson from Essex United Kingdom

Scott K: This is a very common problem. Today’s screens are so bright that rarely do I find someone willing to work at a brightness level that will match your prints so quite often the reason they come out so dark is because the monitor is cranked up so bright. So what Ron is doing is actually what you often do have to do. In the days of film we used to do test prints all the time so don’t be afraid to do a small test print. If you really want your prints to match your screen, make a test print.

Question Three – Weather Sealed Lenses

Do I need to use a filter on a weather sealed lens if I will be in “extreme” environments, such as mountaineering in the Rockies? Do I get any benefit using a UV filter on a non-weather sealed lens like the Canon 35L? Joshua Segraves from Bella Vista, AR

Scott K: I use a UV filter to protect my lenses from getting scratched but I don’t often work in extreme conditions.

Scott B: I don’t believe in the UV filter. I don’t see the point in putting a cheap piece of glass over the front of your lens. The front element is normally the cheapest thing to replace if it does happen to get scratched. If you have a weathered sealed lens, then you don’t need a weather-sealed lens. Even if it is weather sealed, they are still not meant to sit out in a downpour for an hour. I shoot often in Alaska where it rains a lot but I don’t usually worry about lens filters.

Question Four – Fundamental Concepts of Portrait Photography

I love portraits. I want to start taking good portraits. What are the fundamental concepts of portrait photography? Brian McCaffrey Hampton, Va

Scott B: Get to know the people and tell their story. I think communication is key to pulling out their true emotion and photographing them when they are just themselves. I try to find common ground and then I try make a photograph that mirrors their mood.

Scott K: In terms of composition, I try to get in really tight and not leave much in the way of head room. Environmental portraiture is where you try to capture the subject in their environment which helps tell the story. You can use a wide angle lens for this type of work to really show the person in their surroundings. Try to shoot interesting looking people and shoot at a wide open f-stop (e.g. 2.8). That will blur the background and seperate your subject from the background.

Question Five – Increased ISO Leads to Decreased Buffer Rate

Derek Griggs from Maple Grove, MN writes: I noticed on my Nikon D90 if I crank up my ISO 800 and above it lowers my buffer from 9 frames to 5. Why is this?

Scott K: I think JPEG images are compressed according to what’s in the photograph. When you crank up a camera to ISO 800 and higher, you’re adding a lot of artifacts to the image which incrases the files sizes that need to be compressed so that could be what is affecting the buffer. If you’re shooting in RAW, you’ll get less frames in the buffer.

Scott B: If it says it in the manual, I wouldn’t get to worried about it – it’s probably normal behaviour.

Question Six – DSLRs Without Video

My question is this, are there any new Canon cameras out there that do NOT have video facility? I do not use video and object to paying for it in the package price. I have been looking to upgrade to a Canon 60D but this video thing is really bugging me. Keith Killigrew

Scott B: Video has proven to be quite popular with the majority of people so I would say the answer is no and will continue to be know as long as it’s popular with people. I don’t think it hurts to have it on there and honestly I think the prices have continued to drop so you’re actually paying less for a camera today with more features than you were just a few years ago.

Sponsor – MacGroup

This month the Mac Group is offering some great specials on PocketWizards. Head on over to and click on the banner with Joe McNally to learn more about the Pocket Wizard system.

Question Seven – Hanging and Lighting Prints

I am trying more and more to print my work. I recently got back from my honeymoon in Paris; and as a gift for my wife got a canvas made of one of the images from the trip. What are the best practices when it comes to hanging and lighting work for display. Is there a difference to lighting and hanging matted prints behind glass verses canvas prints or even other mediums. Are their special kinds of light bulbs to use in a room? Nick Nieto (Knee-A-Toe) Portland, Oregon

Scott K: I don’t have special lighting like a museum so I don’t worry about it too much. I do a lot of framed prints and I never use non-glare glass. I hate the way non-glare glass makes my photographs look.

Scott B: Isolating the print is a good idea. If you can invest in daylight balanced lighting, then you’ll get great results. I actually don’t like any glass in front of my prints.

Question Eight – Recommendation for a Polarizing Filter

Scott, I’ve listened to your recommendations for polarizing filters and I’m excited to try one, but when I go out to retailer’s websites, there are an overwhelming number of options, and the differences between them are unclear to me. Any chance you can recommend one best option in the 77mm or 82mm size and $150-$200 price range? A model number would be greatly appreciated. Just looking at Schneider and B+W on B&H yields hundreds of results. Stephen Skoutas

Scott K: I actually use a polarizer that Moose Peterson & Hoya makes and then I use a step down ring for smaller lenses.

Sccot: I like the B+W MRC 77mm polarizing filter. They are around $150 – $300. I’ve also had good luck with Hoya filters.

CLIQ World 2011

Mark your calendars and plan on attending Cliq World 2011 (formerly PMA). We’ll be doing a live Photofocus at Cliq World which runs from September 6th – 11th in Las Vegas. It’s the first time it’s open to the public and it promises to be the largest photographic tradeshow in North America. Visit for more details.

Question Nine – Getting Inspiration in the Winter Months

Hey Scott, wondering if you had any suggestions on getting inspiration in the winter months. I live in Vancouver BC and when I’m not in the office the environment is very…. grey. I don’t have a studio setup at home to create my own light, so I was wondering if you had ideas on keeping going photographically during the drab months of the year. Alan

Scott K: Shoot indoors if you can’t go outdoors. You can setup a studio indoor very inexpensively these days. It’s a great time of year to work on lighting so that when summer does come back around, you have a new tool in your arsenal.

Scott B: Macro photography is a great thing to do in the winter months. If you live in a place that’s grey and not raining, those clouds can produce some nice diffuse lighting so head out and make some nice portraits.

Question Ten – Portable Hard Drives

What about the portable hard drives such as the Seagate Expansion or Toshiba Canvio? 500 GB. USB 2.0 connection. 5400rpm. Much more affordable than something like Drobo but, are there issues with these type units that make them undesirable for long term file storage? Norm Stone Mackinaw, Illinois

Scott B: You get what you pay for, particularly when it comes to hard drives. I think this is one thing you don’t want to cheap out on. 5400 rpm drives are fine for storage but not as a working drive. I’ve switched to the Wibetech system as my backup system.

Scott K: Storage is so cheap these days so you don’t want to cheap out on hard drives. At a minimum you need two hard drives. If you don’t routinely boot those drives and spin them up, you’ll go to boot them up one day and they’ll just be gone. Then you’ll spend a lot of money to restore those drives and get them working again. You’re better off to go with something like a Drobo which might be a bit more expensive up front but will save you in the long run.

Question Eleven – Cleaning Your Sensor

I try hard to keep my sensor clean, but some dust always seems to get welded to it. (Currently use the Canon 7D) Do you DYI cleaning, and if so, by what method? Or do you leave it to a professional? Jackie Schuknecht from Toronto, Canada

Scott B: I do my own cleaning. Everytime I’ve sent them out they seem to come back dirtier than when they left. I also use a Lens Pen to clean my sensor after I get all the graphite out of it.

Scott K: We have a video up on Kelby Training on how to clean your sensor by Laurie Excell.

Question Twelve – Glass or Body?

When picking a camera – should you spend the lion’s share of your budget on the body or glass? Sam Siddawi from Auckland, New Zealand

Scott K: Glass. The bodies coming out today are all great but great glass takes it up a notch.

Scott B: Glass. It doesn’t go out of style. Camera bodies change about every 18 months or so but lenses don’t change as often. If you ever need a better body, you can always rent it. The only caveat, would be when you get into speciality situations where you really need a speciality body.

Question Thirteen – Sensor Size and Depth of Field

Does sensor size have an effect on depth of field? Assuming we are using the same f-stop and lens. Israel Flores from Mexico City, Mexico.

Scott B: Yes it does but don’t ask me for all the science behind it :)

Question Fourteen – Aperture Library Sizes

Does one have to worry about one’s Aperture Library getting too large or would I be better off either putting everything in one library or creating libraries by topic but ones that span multiple years compared to the way I am currently doing it? One concern I have with using ONE Library is a performance hit. What is your recommendation? William H. Booz

Scott B: Yes there is a performance hit on one big library. I think we can take Aperture out of the equation and talk about Lightroom as well since they are similar programs. If you get a massive catalog, you’ll be asking for slower peformance. My friend Kevin Kubota creates a seperate catalog for every wedding he shoots. If it were me, I would break your Aperture library into more manageable chunks.

Scott K: You can now comfortably run an image library in Lightroom with around 75,000 images without any problems but I believe in breaking libraries the libraries up into more manageable ones as well. I actually use Aperture to make my books and for my slideshows.

Question Fifteen – Large Screen Monitors for Photography

I was wondering if you could do a piece on quality large screen monitors that lend themselves to photography. I just saw the new LG 27″ LED ($450 range) at Fry’s and am hoping Samsung will come out with a similar one soon. I just don’t know what specifics I should be looking for and if I need to upgrade the video card too. Maybe these two are not what I should be looking at. I really don’t know because I’m not sure if it matters. Greg Harlow Newport, OR

Scott K: We use Apple and Dell monitors at our office. If you are willing to spend the money on a full RGB calibrated monitor, you’re talking about spending thousands of dollars and I know very few people willing to do that. I’m not as picky as I should be but I think Apple’s monitors look great. I have a glossy screen at home but I didn’t like it on my laptop so I went with a matte screen for my laptop because I’m always changing the screen position.

Scott B: I really like the new Apple LED monitors and they are not as expensive as they used to be. I know that Samsung also makes some great monitors. I’d look for a nice bright monitor. I think you’ll get an okay monitor for $450 but you’ll get a better result if you spend a bit more and get into the $900 range. You also have to decide if you like the glossy screen or not.

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.

Scott Kelby is at

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