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Photofocus Episode 78

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about panoramic film cameras

Question One – Panoramic Film Cameras vs. Digital

Sam Romney from Washington DC writes I used to use a dedicated panoramic film camera to make my panos, but now it seems like everyone uses digital cameras and stitches – in your opinion are these pictures as good as the ones from panoramic film cameras?

Rich: Is it better – that’s a subjective term. I think the technical side of things when working with film will become more difficult even though there is beauty to film. I think that digital provides greater confidence in your shooting and the ability to do things like HDR.

Scott: I used to use the Hassleblad X-Pan but that today it’s not as good. You’re limited to the resolution of that one piece of film. In digital you can shoot digital 35mm pictures x80 and get a lot more information. There are also the hassles and difficulties with getting film processed and printing.

Question Two – Ariel Photography

Kent Ross from Tampa, FL write I recently had the opportunity to shoot some real estate shots from a small plane. While the shots were satisfactory for our publication purposes, almost all suffered from a slight blur in the details. I shot with a D700, Tamron 28-300 lens with VC turned on, most shots aperture priority f11 1/500 and faster. Shooting error or just the nature of shooting from something moving in 3d space with wind, engine vibration etc.?

Rich: I have shot video but not stills from a moving platform. One thing to look at is to see if you have a 2nd position switch on your VR setting as some VR lenses have different settings depending on whether you’re photographing moving subjects or not.

Scott: I’m not familiar with the quality of VC on Tamron lenses so I don’t know how it compares to Canon, Nikon, or Sigma. As for shutter speed, I tend to think that 1/1000 is the shutter speed I try to stay above when shooting from a moving vehicle. Also, you want to minimize the contact you have with the moving vehicle as that vibration will transfer through your body to the camera.

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Question Three – Transporting Hard Drives

Todd Peperkorn writes: I will be moving to Northern California from the midwest in a few weeks, and I am wondering about best practice for shipping hard drives. I have years and years of pictures on my Drobo as well as individual drives, too many to transport myself. What is the best way to ship hard drives?

Rich: We ship a lot of large video files. If you are shipping your Drobo, I would power it right down, take the drives out and label them and then put them back in their original packaging or hard drive cases. You can also backup stuff to DLT and Blue Ray disks. Don’t ship everything using the same method. If you’re using a moving truck I would ship a 2nd copy via UPS or FedEx or some other method in case something happens to the moving truck.

Scott: I use Porter or Pelican cases with foam inserts for the drives. I put them in anti-static boxes which I then put in the case with at least 2 inches of foam around them. Don’t ship any drives until you’ve made a backup and have it in separate locations.

Question Four – Cell Phone Cameras Replacing dSLRs

Juan Gomez, San Juan PR writes: Do you ever see a day where cell phone cams will replace the need for DSLRs?

Scott: I think we may see a time where they might replace consumer point and shoot cameras but maybe in 25 years from now what we know as a camera today won’t exist.

Rich: I also think we will reach a time when they replace P&S cameras. I don’t think for a true pro they will replace dSLRs anytime soon but they will continue to advance.

Question Five – Posting Photographs Similar to Another Photographers’

Superfan Adam Schellenberg from Vancouver, Canada writes: I recently shot a wedding wherein I took some photos very similar to a photographer I follow online. I wouldn’t say they are exact, but the shots do look very similar. Is this ethical? Should I ask the other photographer for permission before posting the shots online? Should I give inspiration credit to the other photographer?

Scott: You have to develop your own ethics – we can’t help you there. However, you often copy people subconsciously but unless you are copying this other photographer shot for shot, I don’t see a problem there.

Rich: With the Internet, the act of creation is pretty small. I think it would be a different story if you studied under another photographer and then went out and copied their work and stole their clients – that would not be considered ethical.

Question Six – Lenses or Camera Bodies – Where to Invest?

Alexander Cruz writes: I am just starting my career as a photographer, should I invest in lenses or camera bodies first?

Rich: I have found myself going through a new camera body every 2-3 years. I have lenses that are probably 30 years old so my recommendation would be to invest in good glass.

Scott: I think you’re more likely to keep glass so investing in good glass is my pick. I have just started playing with the Leica M9 and the Leica 35mm lens and there is just something magical about that piece of glass.

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Question Seven – Filters for Beach Photography

Chris Parrish from Richmond, VA writes: We will be visiting Nags Head beach in the upcoming few weeks and wanted some advise on what filters you feel would be essential for beach photography (shooting both children and landscape).

Scott: I’d start with a polarizer and end with a neutral density filter.

Rich: I’d agree with your selections. If you are limited with the filters you might want to take a clear filter.

Question Eight – Video Camcorders vs. dSLRs

Kate Jones from London writes: Are higher end camcorders going to replace the Canon 5D MK II and other video capable DSLRs as the choice for video? I don’t want to invest in the wrong technology.

Scott: I’ve messed around with some of the new camcorders on the market and I’m starting to prefer that solution. I find that by the time you spend the money to outfit a 5D Mark II to shoot video, you could have bought a full video camera. I use them when I want that creamy bokeh and movie look.

Rich: It depends on what you want to do and what your goals are. I have access to all kinds of cameras and there are times when I shoot with an DSLR. The thing I love about shooting on a dSLR is the large sensor size which gives you a great depth of field and amazing low light capabilities. You also have the vast selection of lenses but they are not the easiest to work with. If you’re interested in this stuff, you should check out our book – From Still to Motion.

Question Nine – Color Calibration for the Web

Paul Thomas writes: I have recently put up a website to (hopefully) attract potential clients. I edit all my pictures on an iMac that has been calibrated and I’m quite happy with the prints I get from it. However, when I look at some of my pictures online, on various computers around the office or at other people’s houses, some of my colours look way over saturated and not what I originally intended. What’s the best way to deal with this? Is there a middle balance you try to strike when putting photos on the web? Do you do separate edits for print and web?

Scott: This is one of the reasons why I don’t spend too much time worrying about putting up all my best stuff on the web because I know it will look like crap on somebody’s computer.

Rich: Since you can adjust things like brightness so easily, it’s so easy to make changes and people twiddle with their monitors. The manufacturer’s keep bumping up the saturation on these monitors but you really can’t control this. It’s just like video or music – you can’t control what someone else does with your material on the other end.

Question Ten – Video Stablization with a Monopod

Nick Kallis writes: I am videoing my friends sons wedding on my 7D July 9th. I am comfortable doing this as I shot one last year also. This year I want to stabilize my 7D while videoing the reception ( I will use a tripod during the ceremony). Would using a monopod with a good fluid head act as enough of a stabilizer for videoing the wedding? I have a Manfrotto 679B and was thinking of attaching a fluid head to allow for even panning.

Rich: Is a monopod better than hand-holding? Absolutely but it’s really designed to hold the camera stationary and not for panning or tilting. If you watch a lot of films, they are a series of cuts so you want to think about moving your camera to different positions rather than zooming, tilting, and panning. Check out a book called The Visual Story by Bruce Block.

Question Eleven – CF Cards as Backup

Neal Lippman from West Hartford, CT writes: You talked about your “backup strategy” in the field having changed to just bringing sufficient CF cards for the entire shoot. a) Do you copy, using your computer, the contents of one CF card to another so that you have two copies in the field, or do you rely on the single CF card that you have shot on for the duration?

Scott: If it’s an important shoot, I have cameras with multiple card slots and will write to them simultaneously so I have two copies as I’m shooting. If it’s a less important shoot I will just shoot on the cards, throw them into my card wallet and back them up when I get back to the studio. I just bring large cards with me so I don’t ever have to dump them while I’m out in the field.

Rich: Most of the time I trust myself to leave with my cards. I have two card wallets and keep the right cards in my right pocket and the cards to be left alone in my left pocket.

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Question Twelve – Masters to Study

Jim Kirchner from Lancaster, PA writes: You rightly advise in one of your recent posts on portraits to study the masters. In your opinion, who are the masters I should be studying?

Scott: I would take a look at the work of some current masters like Bambi Cantrell & Jerry Ghionis. Past masters include people like Imagene Cunningham. Others like Annie Lebovitz, Sally Mann, Bresson, etc are great to look at. Try to pick photographers who are established.

Rich: I’m terrible at this but I find myself going back to a lot of B&W photography and looking at composition. I will also flip through old copies of National Geographic, Time and Life because I’m drawn to Photojournalism.

Question Thirteen – Websites for Photographic Inspiration

Paul Bilodeau from St. Johnsbury, VT writes: You’ve mentioned many times about looking at lots of photos. Can you provide links to some likely websites? Would some of the stock photo sites like qualify? I can’t afford to buy a bunch of expensive coffee table books and magazine subscriptions.

Scott: If you want to be a stock photographer then iStock photo would be a good place to look. Consider the type of photography that you want to do and look at published photos of the same genre. The library is a great place to find books and magazines that you don’t have to pay for.

Rich: Check out digital subscriptions as they are often much cheaper. Also, if Paul has a business then these book purchases should be tax deductible.

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.

Rich Harrington is at

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