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Photofocus Episode 80

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about non-typical things to photograph in Las Vegas:

Question One – What to Photograph in Las Vegas

I’ll be in Las Vegas in late July for a friends bachelor party. With nothing planned during the day I was wondering if you had any spots you would recommend for non typical (something other than casinos) day time shooting in or around the city. Patrick Edgett from Riverside, CA

Scott: Very popular is the ghost town of Nelson Nevada. Another place to consider is Red Rocks which is a State Park. Downtown Vegas during the day would be great for street photography. Springs Reserve is another great spot and if you’re into bird photography check out Henderson.

Question Two – ND Filters

Trying to get some answers about ND filters. I want to use them for landscape, portrait, still and video (and for all imaginable purposes) Came across one of your podcasts talking about Singh-Ray Vari ND. Here my question: What should be my best all around bet: want to avoid vignetting if possible , great deal of confusion about the pro/cons of step-up from 77 to 82mm vs lens hood end vignetting , thin mount offer by the company vs regular 14.7 mm, hand hold square filter for quick usage…etc Dany

Scott: You’re always best off if you can buy the filter that fits your largest lens and then buy step down rings.

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Question Three – Effects of Vibration When Transporting Camera Gear

I heard you mention you like motorcycles as do I (namely Harley Davidson). However within the last 2 years I have also developed a passion for photography. My concern is, as you know, Harleys are by their nature and design loud and vibrate a lot and I am concerned that if I put my new toy, my Nikon D7000, in the leather saddle bags even wrapped and protected, that the vibration will damage the sensitive electronic components. Your thoughts please. Jay Cosgrove

Scott: I’ve used motorcycles for transportation for a good portion of my life and I’ve transported cameras in them. I probably wouldn’t do it if I was going for a long cross country drive. I find that a backpack works much better but if you have it wrapped and stored in soft sided saddle bags you should be okay.

Question Four – Full Frame Sensors

I heard someone asking about full frame sensors. I don’t know what that means and what the difference is with other sensors. Could you explain it for me? Gerardo Palermo from Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Scott: Full frame sensors replicate the same effective film size that we used to have in the film days. They do not have what is known as a crop factor. Most dSLRs and point and shoots have cropped sensors until you get into the more expensive bodies. Don’t worry about it too much as it doesn’t matter that much.

Question Five – Protecting Camera Gear from the Sun

I try to keep my camera with me at all times. However, there are times when I must leave it in my vehicle. Summers in Georgia can get very hot (especially inside an automobile). How can I protect my camera from the extreme heat? Thanks! Todd Middlebrooks from Carrollton, Georgia

Scott: I always bring my camera with me everywhere. If you can’t, one trick I used to use was to put my camera in a cooler. Leaving your camera in your car does increase the chance of theft.

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Question Six – LED Flashlights for Photography

Robert Murch I’ve heard some people use L.E.D. video lighting for portrait photography. Do you think a powerful L.E.D. flashlight would work as a cheaper more portable alternative? I could use gels to correct the white balance.

Scott: I don’t see why not but be careful not to overpower your subject. Flashlights can be quite concentrated. A lot of video light is used to assist with autofocus in dark situations. I’ve used some Coleman LED camping lanterns to light an entire set.

Question Seven – Fast Glass

I need some clarification. Maybe it’s pretty straight forward but I have a question about what you mean when you use the term, fast glass. I am assuming that the lower the f stop the faster the glass. Am I correct? Like f2.8 is a fast glass. Joyce Becker from Windsor, Colorado

Scott: You have it pretty much correct. The lower the f-stop number, the wider the aperture. If you’re working with fast glass you’re typically in the f1.2 to f2.0 range. If you’re working in low light you can open up your aperture and avoid having to bump up your ISO. The other advantage of fast glass is that it moves the sweet spot of the lens closer to wide open. The trade-off is that fast glass is also more expensive.

Question Eight – Will Medium RAW Equal Less Noise?

I’ve had explained to me how my Canon 7D might not do as well as some other cameras with noise at high ISO’s because Canon chose to go with more megapixels on a smaller APS-C sensor. Given that, if I need to shoot in low light, would it not make sense to switch to the Raw Medium setting with the 7D which would cut the number of megapixels in half and reduce the noise? Or would it only use half the sensor? Sean Staples from Houston, Texas

Scott: I’m sure it uses the whole sensor but I don’t believe that it will cut noise. I have tested the 7D and it performs very well in low light situations so I wouldn’t be too concerned with pixel peeping.

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Question Nine – Pocket Wizards Basic Setup

I’m looking into buying the Pocket Wizards (for Canon) but I’m not really sure what to buy for a basic setup. There are transceivers, transmitters, etc… Would be great if you could explain that right before or after the . in the podcast. OLa from Sweden

Scott: A transceiver is both a transmitter and a receiver so that’s what you want to go with.

Question Ten – Getting Better Family Photos

I struggle when tasked with taking planned family group photos (4+ people) on the 1-2 occasions each year that we are able to visit. I typically have to shoot indoors in houses due to age/health of some folks. My family is stiff and unsmiling generally, and it always seems we have some people sitting on a couch with others behind. Make everyone stand? Create my own backdrop (i.e. cover up the white walls)? Some way to light the scene better? I want to get better results than a snapshot look. Allen Evans from Niskayuna, NY

Scott: Hopefully there is a high ceiling in the place you are shooting. Then I want you to get on a ladder and shoot down on the group and have them look up at you.

Question Eleven – Selecting Photographs for a Portfolio

I finding it very hard to decide what my best photos for my new website are there any tips so I can narrow my options down? Ian Heyworth from Kent

Scott: I would try to show your images to a lot of people and see if you can find some consensus among the group with regards to which images they like. Make sure you show what you want to sell.

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Question Twelve – Focusing Differences Between Cameras

Why do some cameras autofocus better than others? Amy Henson from Los Angeles

Scott: There can be a lot reasons. Money is often one thing. The more expensive cameras tend to focus faster because they have more focusing points. Some cameras are attached to some lenses which are brighter and faster than others. It also depends on the technology in the camera.

Question Thirteen – Square vs. Rectangle

I know it is probably more a matter of preference, but do you think the square format sells best in the art print area than the rectangle format? Steph Sullins

Scott: I think it is a matter of preference. I think it depends on the genre, the outlet, etc. Use the square format based upon what you like better.

Question Fourteen – Canon vs. Nikon

I recently bought a Canon camera and a bunch of people on Facebook nearly mobbed up on me because I didn’t buy a Nikon. What gives? Tom Edwards, Miami Fla

Scott: People seem to have low self esteem these days. We see this with cars, computers, etc and people feel threatened that they made the wrong decision. All that matters is photography.

Question Fifteen – Auto ISO

What do you think of Auto ISO? Can pros make use of it? Daniel Smith, Boston

Scott: I think it can definitely be used. I generally don’t use auto anything but I will use the Auto ISO but you need to set a maximum ISO. I use this feature often when photographing birds as they move between shadow and sunlight.

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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