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The Audio on this show is sub-par – sorry – we’re still struggling with our mics. We will have a better mic next week.

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Photofocus Episode 88

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about focusing issues when photographing people with glasses:

Question One – Focusing Issues When Photographing People with Glasses

My question: I’m taking more and more portraits these days and running into difficulty focusing on the yes when the subject is wearing glasses. The glasses lenses interfere with my focus sometimes and I end up with out of focus eyes but the frames are sure sharp. I carry a couple sets of frames without lenses in them but some subject don’t like the particular styles I carry. Do you have any suggestions for focusing through the lens and on the eyes when subject is wearing glasses? Many thanks. Lyle Ball from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Tamara: Perhaps he’s shooting with too wide of an aperture or he’s shooting too close to the subject. Try stopping down to f4 or f5.6 and you should be okay.

Scott: It could be a back focusing issue but most likely it’s because he’s shooting at too wide of an aperture. You could also try manual focus.

Question Two – Photographing Through Tinted Glass

My daughter is in an adorable toddler ballet class. Parents are allowed to observe (and photograph) the class through a tinted window. The waiting area where we observe is brightly lit and the ballet studio is dim. Thus in addition to the class being in a low light studio & the window having a light-robbing tint, there are annoying reflections. Ideas? Polarizers? Can I use one of those rubber lens hoods to press up against the glass yet still have some play to angle the camera? While it may not help you with the “internationally beloved” I do live in Queens, NY, arguably the most multicultural neighborhood in the country. Adam Koplan

Tamara: It sounds like a situation where photographing your little girl isn’t going to be that easy so I would just relax, put the camera down and experience the moment and don’t get too caught up in trying to capture it with your camera.

Scott: You could get a rubber lens hood so you can press your lens up against the glass and cut down the reflections. Also wear back as that will also help. You could ask the instructor if you could come inside the studio for a few minutes to grab a few quick photographs and then I’d follow Tamara’s advice and just relax and enjoy the moment. You can always get her to dress up in her ballet outfit later and photograph her at home in front of a mirror where there will be better light.

Question Three – Insurance for Amateur Photographers

I’m an amateur photographer, and I travel quite a bit. I’m worried about loss, theft, damage as I travel. I know that the renter’s insurance I have only covers overt theft, and that there are photo specific insurance carriers. From what I’ve researched, I can’t tell who’s legit any suggestions? Jake McKee

Tamara: I have all of my gear insured but then again I am a working professional so I have business insurance. Most renter or home owner policies will not cover your gear.

Scott: There are some associations like NANPA that you could join as an amateur that would give you access to this type of insurance. If you are traveling with your gear, you want to make sure that the policy you get is an Inland Marine Policy which covers the replacement value of your camera as opposed to a rider which will just give you fair market value.

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Question Four – Photographing Volleyball

I have a quick question on sports pictures, (specifically Volleyball) when I shoot games I find it hard to find a good angle/place to shoot from. if I’m at ground level, I get weird lighting (from the walls) my favorite spot is on the stands just off center from the net…….however I miss a lot of action being there also. from your experience if you could stand anywhere at a volleyball game. where would it be? Nate Knudtson from Swanville MN.

Tamara: I don’t shoot a lot of this type of photography but if I did, I would try to get as high up in the stands as possible, near the centre of the court. You could also try hooking up a camera like a GoPro that is closer to the action and then trigger it remotely to get some neat shots and a different perspective.

Scott: When shooting sports, you’ll generally want to shoot with fast glass and a camera that is capable of shooting several frames per second.

Question Five – Recommendations for Photo Workshops & Safaris

Can you recommend a source for good photo workshops and/or photo safaris? I’d like to explore the outdoors/National Parks this coming year and would like to combine it with improving my photography. There are many ads and web sites offering workshops, tours, etc. They are varied in size and are run by one or two leaders. How do you know which is best – they all show great shots in advertising themselves. Any suggestions? Rich near Philadelphia

Scott: Find a teacher who’s work you really admire. Look at online reviews but I wouldn’t give them a ton of weight. Call them up and talk to them. The Arizona Highways Workshops are great and anything taught by the Great American Photography Workshops. Try to attend anything g that you find out that Bill Fortney is involved in. Scott Kelby is another great guy to watch for. Rocky Mountain School of Photography has a pretty good program. Chances are that if you haven’t heard of them you should do your research.

Question Six – Storage Needs When Traveling

My wife and I are going to be traveling on a long road promo tour for 6000+ miles. I am taking my 5D Mark II and will be covering both behind the scenes and roadside stops throughout the 8 week event. Q: Do you have any good suggestions for photo backup while on the road for long periods of time? The cloud is not really an option and no one will be home to receive hard drive shipments.

Tamara: I would go with those rugged LaCie drives and just carry a few of those in your suitcase. They don’t take up much room and you can store GB of photos on them.

Scott: Another option would be to setup an account at your local UPS store and get a box there so you can ship drives back home without having to worry about not having someone present at the other end to receive the package.

Question Seven – Redundant Cards When Shooting

I want to begin shooting weddings, but I have a serious concern about using my Canon 7D that only has one CF card slot. My worry is for that once-in-a-million chance of a CF card failure occurring during a wedding and losing those irreplaceable memories! I will have backup camera body/lenses/strobes, but what are my options for memory backup on the fly? Specifically, I was wondering if there exists an adapter that fits in a CF slot and allows writing to two SD or smaller cards.?.? Hopefully I won’t have to buy two 1D”x” bodies to keep my nerves from melting down during a bride’s wedding day… Shaun Mullins Dandridge, Tennessee

Tamara: There is no perfect solution. We had the same concerns in the film days. Just make sure you are backing your photos up right away after the shoot. If you have time, you could even back things up during the shoot. Having a 2nd photographer with you is another way to ensure that important moments aren’t missed due to camera failure.

Scott: Another option to explore is renting a body that has dual card slots for the days when you are shooting a wedding. There is still no guarantee as every man-made object has a mean time before failure.

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Question Eight – sRGB vs. Adobe RGB

Please explain the difference between sRGB and adobeRGB. What are the advantages and disadvantage of the two? What should I set my camera to? Sunny Wong from Hong Kong

Scott: These are color gamuts. Adobe RGB is a larger color gamut than sRGB. If you are printing yourself or require a wider color gamut then go with Adobe RGB. If you send your stuff out to a lab, then use sRGB.

Tamara: I always just shoot in sRGB and I don’t worry about it because the labs I use only print in sRGB.

Question Nine – Digital Noise

I run into constant digital noise problems in shadows and dark clothing. I use both a Canon 60D and a 30D (and very often with above camera flash). I know noise isn’t the end of the world (some of the best photos have noise in them), but digital noise doesn’t look as good as film grain. Can you suggest solutions? Thanks for your time & the great podcasts. Clifford Wolf from Chicago, Illinois

Tamara: There are several great plug-ins available that you can use to reduce noise. Lightroom also has a great noise reduction feature that works really well.

Scott: Another possibility is that Clifford is underexposing his images. Try to expose to the right and that will help with noise showing up in your shadows. Also, the newer cameras that are on the market today are better at handling noise than the 30D or 60D.

Question Ten – What is an EVF

What is an EVF and what is it used for? I see it as a feature on many new cameras. Clifford Compton from Los Angeles.

Tamara: EVF stands for Electronic View Finder and it is the digital equivalent of an optical view finder.

Scott: For a long time, many of the point and shoot style cameras did not have a view finder. You had to rely on the LCD screen. Now, many of the new Micro 4/3 style cameras are coming out with an Electronic View Finder in them so you can look through the view finder to compose your image. Some cameras like the Fuji X100 can also display settings information in the viewfinder that is overlaid on the image.

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Question Eleven – Responding to Requests to Work for Free

In your experience, what is the most polite way to respond when someone asks you to shoot for free? Recently I’ve had a large number of friends and acquaintances asking me to shoot their event, band, etc. I am flattered and appreciate them thinking of me. At the same time, I love to shoot, but simply can’t justify the travel, time to shoot, post process, and post online. I’m looking for that magical response that will not burn bridges for future opportunities, at the same time remain polite and friendly. Thank you Scott! Shaun Nelson

Tamara: Everything you say yes to means you are going to say no to something else that matters to you. Start with the inner dialogue that there is no question in your mind that you can give your work away for free. I would say something like I would love to do a shoot for you but I really have to manage my time and resources. If you’re interested, I can do a shoot for you and we can make it all official and that way I can put a lot of time and effort and focus into it for you – and here are my prices.

Scott: Opportunity cost is a big deal. I use Feel, Felt, Found which is an objective killer from Zig Zigler. Show empathy, and then explain why, in a non-defensive way, why you can’t work for free.

Question Twelve – Third Party Plug-Ins

Is there any advantage to running third party plugins in Photoshop v. Aperture v. Lightroom? Is it worth buying the plug in for all three if you have all three? Sally Nelson from Ithaca New York

Tamara: I work with Lightroom and Photoshop and use lots of plug-ins but it all depends on when you use it, what it’s for, etc. Many times, if you are moving from one piece of software to another, some companies will offer you a deal if you are moving from another application.

Scott: Typically, unless they state there is a difference, almost all plug-ins work the same. The only reason for buying all three would be if there are some great bundle. It can also be convenient to own all three. There are also some great stand-alone plug-ins.

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Question Thirteen – Competing Focal Points

I have a composition question – if you have a strong subject and a strong visual focal point, does it matter that there are competing focal points? Ed Waters, San Francisco

Tamara: I like to keep my images simply with a strong visual focal point. I think it depends on your visual style. I’m a people photographer so I don’t like a lot of competing focal points. Another photographer with a different style might not agree.

Question Fourteen – Portrait Camera

Is there such a thing as a “portrait camera?” Are some cameras better for portraits than others? Jack Barrett, Philly

Tamara: I don’t think there is really a portrait camera per se. For me, it is all about the lens and there are some lenses which are preferred for portraits over others.

Scott: Like Tamara, I would say the lens is more important than the camera. You can take good portraits with just about any camera if you know how to work it. Lens choice, lighting, posing, selecting a pleasing background, etc are all important factors that go into making a great portrait.

Question Fifteen – Recommendations for Photography Conferences

When you set up a studio, is it possible to start with just one light? I am not sure I can afford more at this time. Betty Hill, Miami Beach, Fl

Tamara: Absolutely you can start with just one light. If you know how to work with natural light and reflectors, you can do a lot with a single light. You can also pick up a couple of speedlites and an umbrella as an inexpensive way to get started.

Scott: If you can afford one big light, you might not ever need another light. I have one giant light I call Momar which I use the majority of the time.

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.

Tamara Lackey is at or

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