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Photofocus Episode 70

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a listener looking for some guidance on photographing a beach wedding:

Question One – Photographing a Beach Wedding

I am going to be photographing my first beach wedding in Mexico in June. I recently found out the wedding is going to be at 2PM on the beach, so I am anticipating harsh mid-day sun. Because I don’t want to shoot with tiny apertures the whole time, would you recommend a ND filter? I am not sure my lowest ISO settings and 1/4000 shutter speed will be enough. I will be shooting with my D90 and a variety of lenses, including the 70-200 2.8 VR. I have no experience with ND filters so any advice is appreciated. Thank you. Joe Hillary, Fargo, ND

Scott: A 2 stop ND filter should fit the bill for what you need to do. I really like the Singh Ray Vari ND filter which ranges between 1-7 stops however it is expensive. I would recommend buying a good quality ND filter and avoid the cheap plastic ones.

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Question Two – Photographing in 16:9 Ratio

My camera shoots in the standard 3:2 size, but there’s also a 16:9 option. Is 16:9 photo size ever used in (professional) photography, and if so when? What use does it have. Egon from the Netherlands.

Scott: 16:9 is used in a lot of photography and for broadcast so it really depends upon what your client wants. I think it’s also a matter of taste. Too often we are slaves to frame sizes or albums and I don’t think that is right. I worry more about my photograph than the size of the frame.

Question Three – Proper Way to Store Lenses

I am curious if there is a proper way to store lenses. Should you stand them glass up? Glass down? On their side? Does it matter? Steve Porter

Scott: I don’t think there is a proper way to store lenses. I see them as tools and I don’t try to keep museum pieces. I store them in plastic bins and I don’t pay too much attention to how they sit in the bins. If I did have a preference, I would probably lean towards storing them on their sides because if you store them standing up there might be a greater likelihood of them getting knocked over.

Question Four – Keeping Track of People in Photographs

You have stated several times that when people want a copy of there picture, you always send them one. My question is – After being on the road for a few days and 1000+ shots later. How do keep track of what picture to send to each person. Or what release go to each picture?? Jim Wells

Scott: I have just one standard release. It used to be hard but lots of cameras today have the ability to record a voice memo so I will use that to create a note and reference their name or the model release number. Then it’s tied to the file so I can access it later. If you don’t have that feature on your camera, just write down the file number on a piece of paper or make an audio note using your iPhone for example.

Question Five – D3x vs. Mamiya

I have heard you speaking a bit about medium format digital cameras Have you tried and compare to the D3x before you bought your Mamiya? What’s your opinion? Scott Frye, Edmond, OK.

Scott: I have shot a D3x and it’s a great camera but it’s nowhere near the quality of any medium format Mamiya. Although the D3x has lots of megapixels, they are still crammed onto a 35mm size sensor. The bigger the sensor, the better the dynamic range and the better the image quality. If you compare images shot with both cameras, there will be much greater detail in the shadows and hilites in the shots from the medium format camera compared with the D3x. Medium format also makes you slow down and be more contemplative when shooting.

Question Six – Using ND Filters

I want to step up my landscape and seascape sunset/sunrise photography. What the easiest way to use ND filters- Rectangular filters, hand held vs filter holders? – Or screw in filters such as the Vari ND by $inghRay? Would this work on a superwide 10-22 mm lens without causing too much distortion? Erno from Folsom, CA

Scott: You won’t get distortion – you’ll get vignetting. If you’re using the 10-22mm I would recommend using a filter holder for an over-sized lens so you make sure that there won’t be any vignetting. I like the Vari ND filter because you dial it in to where you want it.

Question Seven – Clumsy Photographer

Big hands….big problem from Robert Murch. I have big clumsy hands. I worry about dropping my camera when I pull it out of it’s bag. I could leave my camera strap on but it screams out “please mug me” when shooting in the city.

Scott: You have to make compromises sometimes. I always have my camera strap on and keep one hand on the camera and haven’t had any problems. I’m not sure where it is that you are going that is so dangerous so you may want to shoot in a safer area.

Question Eight – Photographing in Antelope Canyon

Jim Spaulding writes: I’ll be heading to Antelope Canyon in April. Other than a rain cover for my camera (Canon 30D) what other equipment or advice do you have. Such as F-stop, exposure time, etc

Scott: Without being there I can’t comment on things like f-stop and shutter speed because I have no way of know what the light is going to be like. You will definitely have more light if you go at noon than you will at 3:00 in the afternoon. Try to set an f-stop between f5.6 – 8.0 and adjust based on the light. If you want everything to be in focus then shoot at f16. You will typically have to use a bulb exposure if you’re going to the lower canyon and will need to do some 50 second exposures. Try to think in terms of creating visual icons out of what you see. I’d work with a range of lenses, make sure you have plenty of water. If you’re going to the upper canyon, get there early as there are often lots of tourists who will get in your photos.

Question Nine – RAM Upgrade for Aperture

Mike Hodos asks I am an Aperture user and thinking of upgrading my RAM. What sort of payoff do you see me getting from an increase in RAM of 50%?

Scott: RAM is always going to help you so you can never have too much. With the recent tragedy in Japan, RAM prices will be going up by the day so if you’re thinking of buying more RAM I would do it sooner rather than later. A fast hard drive, fast GPU and lots of RAM will help with most photo applications.

Question Ten – Using Silver Refelctors

What’s the best way to use silver reflector without making my brides go blind. The white side won’t kick enough light at the distance I have my reflector usually and using the silver side, while gives me good light often blinds my subjects even when off to the side of the face. Pete Leong an Australian photographer in Japan.

Scott: Instruct your brides to look at the camera and not at the reflector. Learn to feather the reflector meaning that you don’t have to punch it right at the face to make it work.

Question Eleven – Learning Lightroom

I’m a keen amateur photographer always looking to get it right “in the box.” I shoot RAW because I realise it is not always possible to reach perfection and shoot JPEG. I have bought Lightroom to help streamline the post-processing art, but am overwhelmed. What would you recommend as the best source of learning for this program? Or would you recommend a switch to Aperture, in which case, the same question applies? Peter Flindell Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Scott: I would not recommend switching if you already have Lightroom but if you haven’t bought one or the other yet, then you can download both Aperture and Lightroom and try them for free to get a better feeling for which one is best for you. In terms of Lightroom, there are a ton of great resources out there. Kevin Kubota is a Lightroom wizard and has a great DVD on how to use it from a portrait and wedding photography perspective. Scott Kelby and Kelby Training is another great resource to learn about Lightroom.

Question Twelve – Focus Bracketing

What is Focus Bracketing and when do you use it? Gervin from Philippines

Scott: Think of it as HDR for focus. Lets say you need to get every single thing in focus, you can take a series of photos with different focus, and then just as you would combine the images to make an HDR photograph, you can combine the different images in Photoshop and the software will figure out how to put it together so everything is in focus.

Question Thirteen – Question about Nik Software Plugins

I use Aperture 3 for 95% of my work, and Photoshop CS5 for the rest. I have been trying the Nik Software products and I am going to buy some or maybe all of them. Should I buy the ‘Aperture Only’ version, or the much more expensive version that also works with Photoshop (and Lightroom). I realise that the Photoshop version gives you more flexibility as it uses layers, but is it worth the extra cost? Thanks Terry Prior Hertfordshire, UK.

Scott: It’s just a judgement call, but if you do 95% of your work in Aperture, then I would stick with just the Aperture 3 version to save money. The good news is that you can try it for free for 30 days and if you find yourself using it a lot in Photoshop then you can buy the full version.

Question Fourteen – Using Custom Functions

I am ready to evolve my knowledge of the camera and explore the mysterious depths of “custom functions.” Do you have suggestions or tips on using custom function or resources that would be ideal for experimentation. Lee in Portland, OR

Scott: Read the manual. Every manual comes with a slew of custom function descriptions. I use many custom functions such as the mirror lock up. You can change how the autofocus points work, how the dials work, etc.

Question Fifteen – What is a Slider

Tom asks: What is a slider and why would I want one?

Scott: A slider is a system that allows you to mount a video camera on a pair of rails so you can move it side to side. If you are shooting video with a dSLR, you have to capture motion. I use a slider from Cinevate which is very lightweight and very sturdy.

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.

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