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Photofocus Episode 66

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about how to properly hold a dSLR:

Question One – How to Hold a dSLR

Allen Addison from Los Angeles, CA asks: Is there a right way and a wrong way to hold a DSLR? I’ve seen Joe McNally talk about this and would like to know your take on it.

Joe: I think the answer depends on whether you are a right-handed or left-handed person. I really like the battery grips for when you’re shooting vertical. Go to you’ll see a photo of me holding a digital Rebel without a battery grip and you’ll notice my arm is sticking up and looks rather uncomfortable. With the grip I find that I can hold the camera against my eye and pull my elbow into my body and get a hold on the camera making it more stable.

Scott: For me I start from the ground up and look at my stance. I keep my feet about shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. I agree with your comment about pulling in the elbow to the body. I see a lot of rookie photographers who have their arms out from their body and they just aren’t very stable like that. Tuck those elbows into your sides and you’ll be more stable.

Question Two – Lens Recommendation for Photographing the Grand Canyon

I’m planning a trip to the Grand Canyon and hope to see the Horseshoe Bend and the Antelope Canyon. What lens (focal length) would you recommend, my camera has a crop factor of 1.6. Henrik from Nrnberg, Germany

Scott: It depends on what you want to shoot but my recommendation would be to get the widest lens you can possibly get. With the 1.6 crop factor I would suggest a 10mm lens. A 14mm rectilinear lens would also be a great choice. If you’re going to go to Antelope Canyon, you can use a slightly longer lens there but keep in mind that the environment will be very dusty so I’d recommend getting a rain cover.

Joe: I would also recommend a wide lens like the Tamron 10-24.

Question Three – Thoughts on Upgrading to the 50mm 1.4

I am currently using a Nikon 50mm 1.8. Do you think its worth the money to upgrade 1.4, not for the DoF, but for quality of glass? Johnny of Nashville

Joe: I think it depends on the photos you make. If you shoot in low-light all the time then it’s probably worth it.

Scott: I shoot both Canon and Nikon and have the Canon 50mm 1.2 which is a heavy piece of glass which I wouldn’t normally use in the field. One reason to upgrade is because the sweet spot on the 1.4 lens is going to be closer to wide open than it will be on the 1.8. Most lenses you buy are not as sharp when they are wide open but that sweet spot moves closer to wide open the faster the glass. If you have the money, I would buy the fastest glass you can afford.

Question Four – Tips for Organizing Photographs

My problem is organizing my photos so I can edit them with the intentions of either printing them myself (smaller sizes) or sending them out (larger sizes) to be printed. I am afraid I’m going to get to a point where I don’t shoot as often because of the overwhelming amount of picture files I will have. Could you give me some starting points that might get me on the road to dealing with all these files. Frank Sammut from Sarnia, ON Canada

Joe: If you are organized you should be able to handle this. Create folders that have descriptive names and perhaps sub folders for images that you have processed. I like to use Bridge but I know lots of people who use Lightroom or Aperture. Before I do an edit, I will save the entire shoot to a disk to save it and then I’ll toss them off my hard disk.

Scott: The best thing to ask yourself is do I need to shoot 4000 frames of the same image. When I bring my images in I get brutal and filter out the ones I know I can’t sell or use. I then use a rating system of 4 or 5 stars to select the ones I want to work. Keep it simple and use keywords but don’t use more than 3 or 4 keywords on a photograph.

Question Five – What it Takes to Be a Photographer

Scott: For me it’s simple. If you have a camera and you care about what comes out of it then you’re a photographer.

Joe: If you are committed to your craft and want to be more than just the guy taking a picture, then I consider you a photographer.

Question Six – Portraits with a Macro Lens

I’ve heard people saying that they take portraits with a 105mm macro. In terms of portraiture what is the difference between the 105 macro lens and the normal 105? Both have VR (IS) and both are f2.8 but the macro is cheaper. Gordon Burns from London, England

Scott: The difference is the close focusing difference on the Macro is greater. I’m surprised that the Micro lens is cheaper than the Macro. I think it’s nice to have one lens that can do double duty so I’d go with the Macro.

Joe: I really like the 100mm Macro because it lets you get farther from your subject and still fill the frame. As a portrait lens, you have to be careful when using the Macro lens as it will be quite sharp.

Photofocus is brought to you by 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 Seven – Compensating for the Crop Factor

I shoot with a cropped sensor camera (Canon 20D). What should I do to compensate for the cropped sensor in terms of wide angle as well as telephoto? And why do the camera gear snobs, make fun of my cropped sensor camera? I get great images from it and I love to shoot with it, so I ignore them, but should I move up to full size sensor? Dave Van from West Long Beach, CA

Scott: Don’t let anyone bully you into buying another camera. Anything you bought in the last 5 years is going to be way better than anything available 5 years ago. The famous photographer Ernst Haas made some amazing images with way less gear than even a 20D so don’t worry about having to upgrade when the camera club guys make fun of what you’re shooting with.

Joe: What he means by the crop factor is that there is a magnification happening. Back in the day, the holy grail of cameras was the full-frame sensor. It wasn’t until recently that full-frame cameras were available and they are more expensive. Basically what you are losing is the angle of view based on the crop factor. One way to solve this is just by stepping backwards. Look for wider angle lenses than you think you’ll need and keep the multiplication factor in mind when you’re shopping for lenses. I shot with the 20D for a long time and made a lot of great pictures with that camera.

Question Eight – Color Management Tips When Outsourcing Printing

What is the best way to manage your color management and sharpening workflow if you send your images to an online photo lab for printing, such as Snapfish or Shutterfly, instead of printing your photos yourself? In other words, how do you calibrate your monitor to see what your prints will look like when you don’t own or operate the printers that will be making the prints? Marc Konowitz from Staten Island, New York

Scott: As long as you are working in a color space that they approve and you are working with a color calibrated monitor, you will be surprised at the quality you will get from various print houses. Get a color calibration device such as a Color Munki or other device.

Joe: Most of these printers will use sRGB so as long as you’re shooting into sRGB or converting to sRGB then you should be happy with the results. One thing you can do is to send in some B&W prints and if then you can tell if they are coming back with any kind of a color cast.

Question Nine – Lens Protection

Do I need to worry about keeping my lenses in the little pouches that came with them? Are they alright simply being stored in my protective camera bag? Tom Parsons from Chicago

Joe: Very few lenses come with a pouch anymore unless you’re spending a lot of money on the. I tend to keep them in the pouches with the exception of the Canon ones because they have large bases and take up space.

Scott: I think the Canon ones are too big so I don’t use them either. I learned a trick from Artie Morris who buys stocking caps from WalMart when they go one sale and then he has one cap for every lens in his bag.

Question Ten – Subjects for Infrared Photography

Considering buying a used digital body to have it modified for Infrared Photography. I understand that Landscape is a prime subject for this. Beside Landscape, what are other subjects worth considering? Portrait?, Cityscape?, Night Cities Streets?, Macro? Would like this investment to be worthwhile you know! Spriter

Joe: Check out a post I did on Photofocus about this exact topic. You can also check out my book called “The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography“. I think just about anything makes a good subject for infrared photography and lately I’ve been experimenting with HDR infrared photography. Infrared can transform something that you would normally just walk by into something different. A great vendor who can convert your camera for this purpose is called LifePixel.

Scott: I think any subject is great for infrared photography with the exception of portraits with their eyes open.

Question Eleven – Tips for Eliminating Double-Chins

I will need to photograph a bride in April. Wondering if you have some tips on reducing the double chin and posing the bride in more pleasing poses? Yiow Chuang

Scott: This is a common problem. Try getting high and shoot down on your subject. It’s a flattering angle and reduces those double-chins. If you can’t get high, get the bride to get down low by sitting on a chair or down on the ground. For pleasing poses, just have her cross one leg in front of the other while she is standing.

Joe: The liquify tool in Photoshop is useful in these situations for reducing double chins.

Question Twelve – Lowering a Tripod – Okay to Cut Down the Centre Post?

I am having trouble getting my tripod low enough to the ground for landscape shots. Can I just cut away the center post? Ellis Anderson, Indianapolis, IN

Scott: Yes you can and I do that all the time but the next time you buy a tripod, look for one that does not have the center post or for one that allows you to remove the center post.

Joe: A lot of the tripods also have little clips that let you spread the legs out pretty far which can allow you to get low to the ground. There are also options on the market that have stubby posts. You could also use things like bean bags or other items to put the lens on the ground. The Pod is also a great accessory.

Question Thirteen – Favorite Photography Magazines, Blogs, & Websites

What are some of your favorite photo magazine, online blogs or websites? Edward Allison San Diego, CA.

Joe: My favorite magazine is Shutterbug and my favorite blog is Photofocus. I also love Twitter to find information. I also write for which is a great website with a lot of great contributors.

Scott: Just search for #photography on Twitter and you’ll find all kinds of great stuff. I also read Scott Kelby’s blog everyday along with I also subscribe to Shutterbug magazine. I occasionally read Outdoor Photographer and I visit the Luminous Landscape website from time to time. Another great source is is a great photography aggregation site.

Question Fourteen – Camera Brands

I note that you don’t often talk about brands such as Sony or Pentax – Nikon and Canon seem to get all the coverage. Are their cameras that much better? Tex Hansen from Dallas

Scott: Nikon and Canon have 94% of the dSLR market so in running the show and site we have to serve the broadest market. We have covered some of the Panasonic and Olympus gear on our site. The Sony PR firm doesn’t seem to value the online world and they are one of the hardest PR firms to work with so we haven’t covered them much. We will also start covering more medium format cameras starting next month.

Joe: I’ve had the same experience with Sony when it comes to getting cameras for review.

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.

Joe Farace is at

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