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Photofocus Episode 71

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about netbooks vs. photo vaults

Question One – Epson Photo Vault vs. Netbook

I’m planning a trip abroad and want to limit the number of cards I take with me. Why should I buy an Epson P-7000 when a netbook would give me more storage at half the price and full internet functionality? Nick Van Zanten

Joe: I had a very bad experience with one of the early models of those photo vaults so what I do is bring a real laptop with me and a small Western Digital portable drive. I’ll transfer the images from my cards to the portable drive and organize them and then when I get back home I just have to hook it up to my desktop and copy them over.

Scott: I use the G-Drive Minis which are very strong and durable and I bring along my laptop. I bring two drives with me and backup on-site and then I always carry one of those drives with me. I bring enough cards so that I don’t have to worry about formatting them in the field. You can buy a 128 GB card these days for less that the price of one photo vault. I’ve never trusted them myself so I wouldn’t recommend them.

Question Two – Photographing Arches National Park

I will be going to the Arches National Park in the next couple of weeks. Any pointers as to good photo spots, gear, camera settings, things to avoid etc. Rafael Otoya from Puerto Limn, Costa Rica

Joe: I’m not a big landscape guy but I recommend shooting through the cliche and then keep going once you’ve captured it.

Scott: There is a great iTunes application for Arches National Park. In terms of pointers, avoid being afraid to shoot cliches. I was in Arches National Park a few years ago and one of the arches I photographed, which had been photographed a million times, collapsed last year so it can’t be shot again. One acronym I use is EDFAT – Entire, Details, Focal Length, Angle, and Time. This will give you the greatest variety.

Question Three – Pros and Cons of RGB

Scott, can Photofocus please address the pros and cons in this rgb debate? I’m an “advanced amateur” using a Nikon D7000 with various lenses, and primarily Lightroom 3. Dan Waun

Scott: There is no real debate. You should stick with Adobe RGB 1998.

Joe: The color gamut on the Adobe RGB is greater than sRGB so for me RGB is the obvious choice. You can always convert an Adobe RGB 1998 file to sRGB.

Question Four – Wide Angle Lens Recommendation for the 7D

On your pod cast you highly recommend the EF 14mm f2.8 Rectilinear lens. I have a 7d with a 1.6 sensor ratio (I’m sorry to say). I’m going to the Grand Escalate and will be stopping at Horseshoe Bend outside Page, AZ. Will this lens be able to capture, as an example, Horseshoe Bend on the 7d? If not, is there another wide angle or fish eye lens you would recommend me renting? Paul Phillips

Scott: The 14mm will work on the 7D with no problem. Canon also makes a great 15mm Fisheye lens too.

Joe: I like the distortion from the fisheye lens but you don’t want to use it on all your pictures. One of the simplest things he can do is just back up.

Question Five – Photography at Concerts

Ken Jancef writes: I shoot a Canon 50D. Want to shoot a concert, wondering what would be a good lens, and if I should use an external flash like a 430EX or 580EX. Also, I might not be able to use a flash at all, depending on the artist’s request, so how would that factor in the decision. I will be sitting in the 4th row, so I will be close.

Scott: The use of flash is generally frowned upon and it can actually disturb the mood so you want to try to capture that great lighting. If you can, try to get permission beforehand. Some artists are okay with photography and others will go crazy if you try to take their photograph.

Joe: You’d be better off with a fast image stabilized lens. Crank up the ISO but don’t use the extended range. A 28-135 would be a good lens to bring with you in this situation.

Question Six – Sharpness Problems

I have a Sigma 24-70mm 2.8 on my Canon 7D. I’m really pleased with most of the shots I get with this, however a proportion just aren’t that sharp. This isn’t a case of the camera focusing on the wrong part of the image and I’m not a ‘pixel peeper’ either. Is there a simple way to determine if the lens is at fault? Lee Churchill from Chippenham, Wiltshire, England

Joe: The easiest, classic way, is to photograph a brick wall at the lowest ISO. You can also photograph a newspaper.

Scott: The newspaper works well. 99% of the time when I investigate problems with focus it is usually operator error. Technique will impact focus.

Question Seven – Replacement for the Canon 7D

I still used a relic 6.3mp Rebel and want to upgrade. I am looking at the Canon 7D, but I don’t want to buy it one week and have it replaced by a newer/better model the next. As kind of an insider, do you happen to know when its cycle will be up? A tweet will work fine as an answer if you, in fact, know the answer. John

Scott: Nobody knows the answer to that question. The 7D is a great camera and if you want it I would go out and get it, use it, and enjoy it. Even if something new does come out tomorrow, it doesn’t mean that the 7D will be obsolete right away. Look how long you used your Rebel.

Joe: With what is happened in Japan, I think the cycles will slow down for a little while. I love the Rebel and shot a lot of great photographs with the 6.3 mp version. Don’t upgrade just because you feel like you have to. If you do upgrade, hang on to that Rebel and get it converted to shoot infrared capture.

Question Eight – Data Corruption from Airport Scanners

Have you heard of data on CF/SD cards being scrambled by airport scanning devices? I just wondered if this was something to worry about now days. Jay Gray, TN

Joe: Since I’m paranoid, I keep the cards in my camera as I’m less worried about the x-ray machines vs. the magnetic detectors. If you backup before you travel you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Scott: I’ve never heard of this being a problem. It’s a valid concern but I’ve never heard of any stories that make me worry about it

Question Nine – Ensuring Exclusivity of Limited Edition Prints

How do you ensure exclusivity to purchasers of your limited edition prints? Do you provide a certificate or is it actually written in a contract? Trevor Rideout from Newfoundland, Canada

Scott: Laws will vary from state to state so I would suggest contacting your lawyer for advice. I always provide a certificate of authenticity.

Joe: I used to run an art gallery and always gave out a certificate with each art piece.

Question Ten – Crop Sizes When Selling Prints

So if you have an image that you place on a website for sale, how do you handle the cropping? Do you make different versions of the image for a few of the standard print sizes? Do you just make one? Do you process the image with a specific crop size in mind? What approaches have you taken on this? -Scot Thomas Silverdale, WA

Scott: I’ve done all of the above but these days I don’t worry about frame sizes. My print is more important than any frame so I’ll print it how I think it will look best and let the frame people worry about. You can pay for a custom mat which is cheaper than a custom frame.

Joe: You can also mat it up to a standard size without any problems. A place like Michaels will cut you a mat to fit your print and then you can fit it into a standard size frame.

Question Eleven – Recognizing Good Lighting Without Chimping

I read your blog on only shooting in good light and difference in results are very evident. Could you talk about recognizing good and bad light without “chimping?”. I can see the results of my choices in the image, but would love to hear how you approach finding the light. Many thanks, Chris Wangard from Troy, IL

Joe: I use my eyeballs and look for light that I like.

Scott: There is no real secret here. You find the good light just by using your eyes. I illustrated this on a recent blog post about good light and bad light on an eagle that I photographed recently in Alaska.

Question Twelve – AF Points

Which AF point should I use? My camera has lots of different auto focus points. Is one better than the other? Dane Wilson Los Angeles

Joe: If I’m shooting portraits, I will put the focus point on the eyes and fire away. If I’m shooting outdoors I will typically turn on all the auto focus points.

Scott: It depends on what you’re shooting. For example, if you are shooting moving subjects it’s best to use the predictive focus. They way these things work is they will look for the closest biggest thing. In general, the center auto focus point is typically the best because it uses the cross point focusing.

Skip’s Summer School

Scott will be speaking at Skip’s Summer school this year alongside other great photographers like Kevin Kubota, Joy and Jules Bianchi, Jerry Ghionis, Bambi Cantrell, Vincent Laforet, and more. Head over to for more details and to register.

Question Thirteen – Advice for Photographing a Yacht Race

I’ll be attending a yacht race in July, and would appreciate any tips you can offer. The course is 1/2 mile, down and back again. I’d like to be able to pull good shots for the whole length, especially as they round both ends, though that may be wishful thinking! I’ll be shooting from the shore, broadside to the course, about 800-1000 feet from the closest point on the track, but won’t know exactly till I arrive. I’ll be shooting with a Nikon D7000, and will need to rent glass. I’ve never shot fast action, especially at this range, but the event is a week long so I’ll have lots of practice. Any general tips, or lens/accessory suggestions would be great! Thanks! Sean Sliney from Boston, MA

Joe: You’ll want to try and shoot from a boat if you can as it won’t be the same if you have to shoot it from the shore. See if there is an agency or group that you connect with that can get you closer to the action.

Scott: The place to shoot it will be from the boats. You might get some nice establishing shots of the boats getting prepared but the best yacht racing is shot from the boats. If you’re shooting from the shore you’ll want to use the longest lens that you can such as an 800mm lens. If you can hook up with a boat though, that would be the way to go.

Question Fourteen – Using Older Lenses with a DSLR

Are lenses of some years ago that were designed for 35mm SLR’s suitable for use with “full frame DSLR’s after all they seem to have the same image aspect ratio of 36 x 24 mm. Keith Killigrew from Worcestershire England

Joe: I see no problems with this. I used some old K-mount lenses with some Pentax dSLRs and they worked just fine but you do lose all of the automatic features.

Scott: If you don’t need the automation features, there is no reason why you can’t use those old lenses. The only exception is with the old zoom lenses which weren’t very good so stick with primes if you’re going to use older lenses. One thing I miss that was on those old lenses was the markings so you could easily calculate your hyperfocal distance. The newer modern lenses don’t have those markings.

Question Fifteen – Monopod vs. Tripod

When do you use a monopod as opposed to a tripod? Cathy Chang from Los Angeles

Joe: I use a monopod when I have to move around a lot and when it’s not convenient to setup a tripod and shoot. Also in conditions where there just isn’t room for a full tripod.

Scott: I use it for the same reasons. There are also some places where tripods are not allowed. If you are shooting with a big lens, you should consider using a monopod just to save your arms. One trick I use when shooting with a monopod is to put it down in my shoe for more stability.

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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