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Photofocus Episode 82

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about selecting focus points:

Question One – Selecting a Focus Point

Ken Stevens St. John’s, Newfoundland asks: With my T2i I use the central point for focusing and will often lock focus on my subjects eyeball but then re-frame the shot so they are not smack dab in the middle. But, I’ve read that this is not a good technique because turning the camera even slightly will cause the focus point to end up being behind where I want. Is this correct? What do you do?

Scott: It could put it in front or behind. If you’re shooting at 1.8 or 1.4 then it might make a difference but if you’re shooting above f4, that is a large enough depth of field that I don’t think you’ll notice it.

Question Two – Sharpness Issues

Tom J from Belgium My pics are in focus but not really sharp. Could this be, because I bought the cheapest lens I could find to start out with or do I just need a lot more practice :)? FYI: I have a Nikon D90 and a Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G DX VR.

Scott: Without seeing your pictures I can’t say for sure. If they are in focus then they tend to be sharp. The kit lens won’t be the sharpest lens but it works well for most people. It’s possible that your depth of field might not be great enough. There could be camera or subject movement. I would work on technique. Put the camera on a tripod, shoot in plenty of light, shoot at f5.6 or great. Make sure you have a still subject and crank up your ISO to see if your images improve and then you’ll know it’s technique and not the lens.

Question Three – Selecting Photos to Edit or Delete

From Matt: How do you choose what photos to edit and what ones to skip or delete? I often find that I come back from a trip or a family visit with hundreds or thousands of photos. I delete the really bad ones in camera, but struggle picking what to edit when I get into Lightroom. When looking at 15 or so pictures of nearly the same thing, how do you pull the trigger on ‘the one’? Is Lightroom the way to go for this, or do you recommend something else like photomechanic?

Scott: I tend to shoot less these days which helps narrow it down. I don’t recommend deleting in camera- edit when you can see them on the monitor. While you’re busy chimping you may miss a shot. In terms of editing – Lightroom, Aperture, Photo Mechanic, etc are all good programs. I go through and look at them on the monitor and ‘X’ out the ones I don’t like. Then I start to group my images and then pick the best from the group. I continue to do this by continually refining until I get down to the images I want.

Question Four – Traveling with a DSLR

John in PA Looking for your thoughts on travel with my DSLR. In December we will be taking a family vacation to Disney World. My wife, our two daughters (4 and 7) and our three parents. I have a Canon 7D with the 28-135, 10-22 and 50mm 1.4. We also have a Canon A590 and Sony DSC-HX5, along with each having iPhone 4s. I enjoy using my DSLR way more than the P&Ss. What are your thoughts on the DSLR to Disney?

Scott: I would pair down and stick with a simple rig for Disney. I think the 28-135 and the 10-22 would be great. Disney can get picky about tripods so make sure if you bring one that it’s not in the way or obstructing anyone. If you’re there with you family, make sure the camera isn’t the star. Hand the camera to your wife and make sure she includes you in some shots as well.

Question Five – Water Damage on a Camera

Saemundur writes: I was shooting waterfalls in Iceland on a beautiful day and was planning on wading into the shallow creek to do a long exposure shot. Since it was getting warmer I decided to take off my sweater first so I put my camera on my rather small lightweight tripod but while I was taking my sweater off a strong gust of wind came rushing down the canyon and tipped my tripod over so the camera fell lens first into the water. I was able to react quickly so the camera was probably in the water for no more than 2 seconds. I did my best to dry off the water and was optimistic that everything was fine so I turned my camera on to see whether it still worked which it initially did but a few minutes later some of the buttons became inactive and there was condensation in the lens. I dried the camera in a warm area for the rest of the day and two days later I removed the battery, memory card and lens and put in a closed bag with silica packets for 3 days. The camera seems to work now but I am afraid that the accident might cause corrosion in the camera and that it might stop working someday in the future. Is there anything I can do about this now? Would I have been better off if the camera would have been swept away with the stream so that I could get a new one from the insurance company (I have an insurance that covers such losses)?

Scott: Once it hit the water you should have turned it off and put it in the bag with the silica and left it alone for a few days. If there are no electronics to engage, then there is nothing to fry once it hits the water. It’s possible that it will fail in the future sometime but if it works now then I would continue using it. Never ever walk away from your camera when it’s on a tripod – particularly near water.

Question Six – Considerations for Sharpness

Dusan Maletic, Babylon NY writes: When looking at my image in the process – what to pay attention to when considering sharpness? When looking at other peoples images (say, tack sharp birds and cars by certain jolly giant) – what to look for there to get the sharpening issue instinct right?

Scott: In terms of considering sharpness, it doesn’t hurt to have good glass. If you have good technique and good light then you’ll have good sharpness. Having a tripod always helps. Using the right aperture is also important. Lenses tend to be better at their sweet spot which is usually somewhere between 1 or 2 stops down from where they are the widest. Shoot with high ISOs and high shutter speeds and try to get your subject not to move. Also shooting a lot really helps.

Question Seven – Tripod Recommendations

Kevin Osterman writes: I am looking to buy a tripod for shooting landscapes and occasionally portraits. Can you answer some questions about design considerations to think about when shopping? I am an advanced hobbyist not a professional. 3 sections vs. 4 (I was looking for something compact to travel with but concerned about additional flex with 4 section design) twist lock vs. thumb locks – does one provide a better grip to prevent the leg from sliding down?

Scott: If you get four legs it will be easy for travel but it won’t be as stable. Twist vs. thumb locks don’t make too much of a difference but it depends on who is making them. You also want the heaviest tripod you can afford and carry. The heavier it is, the better it will do at stabilizing the shot.

Question Eight – Camera Color Preference

Allen Lewis New York asks Is there any reason to prefer one camera color over another – black v. grey for instance?

Scott: Generally, I’m more interested in what kind of image a camera produces rather than what color it is. If you want to be more stealthy, then a black camera might be less conspicuous. All things being equal I tend to go for the black cameras but it’s not a big deal.

Question Nine – Post Shoot Workflow

Michael Fey Syracuse, NY I have a question about your post-shoot workflow. When I set my mind to capturing a photo I normally take many shots with many different compositions. When I get back to my computer I work through all the shots until I find the one that I feel best represents what I intended to capture and then delete the rest. Do you keep all your shots and flag a few as favorites or do you have a similar process for getting to the one true shot?

Scott: I keep all my shots because hard drive space is dirt cheap. I excise it from my view and then I’ll go back and review them several times. I think you can spend way too much time in post. I have a rule where we spend 2 minutes or less on each image.

Question Ten – Viewing Images on an LCD Screen on Sunny Day

Scot Thomas Silverdale, WA Just got a P&S cam. I noticed on the new point and shoot, and on all point and shoots that I looked at, there was no view finder. The first time I used this new point and shoot was in the sunny high desert of central Oregon. So ok, how do you see the screen on a super bright, sunny day? It should be just fine indoors or when it is overcast, but the sunny desert?

Scott: There are some P&S that do have a viewfinder. You can get a Zacuto Z-Finder which you can affix to the LCD. You can also buy anti glare pads which you can put on the screens.

Question Eleven – Posting Images on Google+

Frank Henderson, Las Vegas I noticed that you said you wouldn’t be posting images on Google + It seemed to cause quite a stir. Although I can’t imagine why anyone else would care whether or not you post images on Google + could you address this on the podcast? It might be easier for me to understand if I hear it from you.

Scott: I just said that I wouldn’t post them on Google+ because they could affect me as a professional photographer. I never brought up copyright but what they do is demand a very open license to any images you post so that removes the ability to sell an exclusive license to an image if it’s posted online. It’s a very fine point which won’t impact most people. I get paid 10x to sell exclusive licenses and my lawyer tells me that it might impact me so I’ve chosen not to post images on Google+.

Question Twelve – Online Photo Books

Barb Cowart Miami, FL I want to make photo books online but I want to control the text and layout. Can you suggest an easy way to do it and still get professional results.

Scott: I’m sure there are many ways to do. I use Aperture 3.02 to make photo books. You can type text and use any number of templates. The printing service is fast and very affordable. If you don’t have Aperture, there are other solutions out there like Blurb.

Question Thirteen – Ink Cartridges

Ben Chandler from Albq NM writes: I just bought an Epson photo printer. I noticed that the ink is rather expensive and that cheaper inks are available from third parties. Do I need to spend the extra money for the manufacturer’s inks?

Scott: Yes you do. Some of the manufacturers have the print head in the ink cartridge. The Epson photo printer profiles are based on Epson inks so if you’re using somebody elses’ inks then you may run into issues. I reviewed several 3rd party inks and had problems with them clogging, etc.

Question Fourteen – Noise in the Blue Channel

Gary duBoise Montreal writes: I have heard that the blue channel in an RGB picture tends to have the most noise. If this is true can you simply reduce noise in the Blue channel and get good results?

Scott: It is true. You can switch to your blue channel and and apply your noise reduction to the blue channel only.

Question Fifteen – Shooting Through Fences

Michael Sims from Washington DC writes: I’m going to shoot through fences at several zoos this summer. Any tips?

Scott: Get close to the fence and touch it with the lens if you can. If you have it right in front of the lens, most have a minimum focusing distance such that the fence won’t even show up in the photo.

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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