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Photofocus Episode 9

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we are starting off with a question about copyright information.

Question One – Copyright Information

Magical on Twitter asks Should I add copyright info to my select shots before uping to flickr? or just use their copyright info?

Scott: You want to put all the copyright info into the image as soon as you can but you also want to register your copyright with the Library of Congress to give it some teeth. If you don’t care about people using your photographs then you don’t have to worry about it. All the copyright symbol is is a notice.

Question Two – Omnibounce vs. Lightsphere

marvinpidoon Twitter writes: I’m thinking of buying an Omnibounce or Lightsphere or flip-it? Any suggestions? What are the pros and cons of each if there are?

Rick: I have every flash diffuser known to man. What you want to think about is the size. The bigger the diffuser the softer the light but the bigger it is then the bulkier it’s going to be. Some diffusers even let you put in some colored gels. Remember that with whatever you get, you need to get the darn flash off the camera.

Scott: When it comes to these things, I’m not so sure that I want to spend $50 on a piece of tupperware. I really like the Lumiquest and the HonL diffusers because they fold up which makes them easier to move around. The larger diffusers will give you softer light.

Rick: Adorama sells an item called a Strobosock that looks like a large chefs hat that you can put over your flash.

Question ThreeTraveling with Battery Packs

RKCovington on Twitter writes: When on a trip and taking multiple cameras, do you take the battery pack out of the back-up & only use it when needed?

Scott: I leave the backup battery pack on all my cameras and I also bring extra batteries particularly if I am going somewhere where it can get cold because that will decrease the life of the batteries.

Rick: Same thing. I never want to take my cameras out on a shoot only to arrive at my destination and find that I don’t have a battery with me.

Scott: Also make sure that you have all your gear ready before you leave. Set all your buttons to how you normally shoot. Charge your batteries, make sure your cards are ready, etc. You don’t want to head out to a shoot and find that you’ve forgotten something or waste valuable shooting time messing with your gear.

Rick: I also recommend going with the manufacturer’s batteries rather than a 3rd party brand. I’ve heard of stories of 3rd party batteries exploding. Also when batteries get low they get warmer and if they are close to the sensor I’ve heard they can actually affect the color.

Question Four – Naming Photos

AharonD on Twitter asks: Naming photos, How important is it to give your photos a name?

Rick: I don’t name my photos unless I’m selling a print. However, a good exercise to try is writing a caption for your photo. If you can’t come up with a caption for a photo perhaps that tells you something about the image.

Scott: I only name the photos that are going out as gallery prints. The rest are just named to match the job that I’m working on.

Question Five – Manfrotto vs. Arca-Swiss

donert on Twitter writes: I have the Manfrotto quick release system on my cameras and tri/monopods. Is Arca-swiss better? How?

Scott: I believe that the Arca-Swiss brand isn’t necessarily better but they did invent the toungue and groove system that many others are using. If you are worried about the camera twisting off the mount system then you would want to go with the Arca-Swiss style. I’ve seen that happen numerous times with the Manfrotto quick release systems. If you use a lens plate that is specifically molded for your camera body and lens, then it cannot twist off the mount. If you get an L plate you can put it in the mount horizontally and vertically with the exact same centre point on the lens. I like the Arca-Swiss system because it’s more sturdy and you can put it in the horizontal and vertical. The downside of the Arca-Swiss system is that it is more expensive.

Rick: Also the longer the lens the more important it becomes to get a system that is very sturdy and supportive.

Question Six – Point & Shoot Recommendations

ghataks on Twitter asks: What is your recommendation for a p&s camera for the days that a DSLR is just too much to carry ? Should have RAW, fast lens and big sensor.

Rick: I like the Canon G10 and before that the G9. I’m working on a book called confessions of a Compact Camera User. I love my DSLR but there is a lot that the compact cameras can do. The most important thing to think about is the lens. I recommend shooting RAW but also the image processing is just as important.

Scott: I use the Panasonic LX3 however, I use Aperture and it is still not able to open or handle the RAW file format that comes out of the LX3. For that reason, I would recommend Rick’s old camera – the Canon G9. The LX3 has the widest angle lens on any of the P&S cameras but you do have to buy an add-on viewfinder. The Nikon P6000 is a nice choice if you like geo-tagging because it’s built into the P6000.

Question Seven – Learning Studio Lighting

ramoncarcases on Twitter asks: To learn studio lighting, is it useful to start with video lights then move to strobes or are they different animals?

Rick: Start with one light in a softbox and a constant light source like a Spiderlight. Once you learn how to see the light, you can use your camera strobes with softboxes. Try to keep it simple. Start with one light and a relector and then build up from there.

I don’t think it matters if you start with a hot light or a strobe. The disadvantage of hot lights is that strobes can freeze the action for you. I have both and use both but I find myself using strobes more often. Start with one light and master that before adding more lights into the mix.

Question Eight – Photography from a Helicopter

JDaniel Bodenstein from South Florida writes to us via email: I am planning to do a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, what lens would you recommend I use taking into consideration the movement of the helicopter and the potential for shooting through a window?

Rick: If he is a Canon shooter, I recommend the Canon 17-40 IS lens. Don’t touch the window and use a fast shutter speed – at least a 500th of a second. Watch the horizon line and use a polarizing filter to reduce the reflection on the window.

Scott: I like the 70-200mm focal length. VR on a Nikon or IS on a Canon. Try to pick a high shutter speed and be careful of that horizon line.

Rick: I have one more tip. Everyone is going to want the best possible shot so make sure you get there early to get the best possible seat.

Question Nine – Posing Resources

Kyle Taylor emailed us to say: I just started shooting off camera flash and I’m having problems posing the model/models. I have a 6 man band shoot coming up and I am stumped on how to pose them or what looks good. Are their any books or web sites to check out that might help me out?

Rick: Watch the shadows. Try to position them so that you can see everyone and that noone’s shadow is covering another person unless you are going for that dramatic side lighting where faces are hidden in the shadows. Try bouncing the flash or using a diffuser.

Scott: If you have one flash, get a shoot through umbrella, a bracket and a stand and put it above the camera. Try to get 7-10 feet taller and shoot down on them. Then you don’t have to worry about who is taller, shorter, fatter, skinnier, etc.

Question Ten – Using Flash in a Mild Way

Jess Durn from Spain writes: I have to shoot concerts in extremely low light conditions. ISO 1600 @ f/2.8 will not give me more than 1/50th of a second in terms of shutter speed, which is insufficient for the very nice Canon 135mm f/2L that I use. Contrary to usual custom in concerts, I am allowed to use flash but I feel that it “kills” the atmosphere created by the stage lighting. Is there any way to use flash in a very mild way that allows me to produce usable photos that retain the concert atmosphere?

Rick: Gel the flash. Jeff Lynch photography just sent me a dozen different gels that fit right over the flash head. Also try dialing down the flash and use a combination of the flash and ambient light.

Scott: Look at the lighting on the stage and then try to color balance. Make sure you are not using the flash as your main light.

Rick: You can also experiment with lighting effects in Photoshop.

Question Eleven – Lightroom vs. Adobe Camera RAW

Charles Berg asks: In terms of editing pics, I do mostly Adobe Camera RAW (in CS4) and some PhotoShop. Am I missing anything photo editing-wise (not file management-wise) by not using Lightroom? Are ACR and Lightroom pretty much the same for photo procesding? Or does one have features the other doesn’t?

Scott: There is a slight difference in LR vs. ACR but in general you have the same capability.

Rick: I use Adobe camera RAW quite a bit but you still need Photoshop for most things.

Scott: Based on the narrow construct of your question, as far as Lightroom goes, you aren’t really missing out on anything that you can’t get with ACR.

Question Twelve – High End P&S vs. a DSLR

Sandra Romanelli writes in via email to say: First off, I love the podcast. As a newbie to photography I find it very informative and I think the format is wonderful. I’ve always loved taking pictures but was always stuck with hand me downs that were usually compact point & shoot. When I was finally able to make a purchase of my own, my budget was nowhere in the DSLR range. My requirements were that it had to be a canon and it had to be new. With that said my recent purchase was a Canon PowerShot G10. I’m still learning how to use the camera and trying to wrap my head around all this shutter speed, lighting and aperture stuff. Basically I would like to hear more about this type of camera and the differences between a high end point and shoot and DSLR’s

Scott: There is no difference. Aperture is aperture on any camera. Shutter speed is shutter speed. You want to control the exposure using the ISO, the aperture and the shutter speed. Compact P&S cameras don’t have as many choices when it comes to aperture compared with a DSLR. The G10 for example will only go to f8.

Rick: The range on the P&S is f2.8 to f8 so you have less creative options but on a smaller sensor camera you normally wouldn’t have to go up to the higher apertures such as f22.

Scott: Most of us will shoot on Aperture priority. All you need to worry about is deciding which area of the photo you want to be in focus. Once you’ve mastered that, try shooting in full manual mode where you control both the aperture and the shutter speed.

Question Thirteen – Focusing Issue Photographing Birds

Nick Grisafe asks:I am shooting a Canon 5D Mark II with a 1.4 extender and a Canon 100 to 400 Zoom F 4.5-5.6 lens. I enjoy bird photography but my lens will not autofocus when I use the extender. When I upgraded from the Canon 40D to the 5D Mark II I thought this problem would be solved but it wasn’t. Using manual focus makes photographing birds an exceptional challenge becuase of the movement. Do you have any suggestions on solving this problem with the autofocus or do you have any focusing suggestions when photographing birds.

Rick: He needs the 1D Mark II to support the autofocus with the extender.

Scott: The basic cause of the issue is that you can’t get the aperture open far enough to get the autofocus to work. Manual focusing with birds can be done. If there is one place on a standard flight path you can figure out, that is where the focus is. To really get the tele-extender to work you may want to think about renting a faster lens or a better body.

Rick: Once you do get a camera that allows you to use the tele-extender, make sure you set it to the AI Servo mode rather than the one-shot mode.

Question Fourteen – Straight Horizon Lines

Willem Redelijkheid writes: I own a Nikon D300, which I primarily use in a normal landscape mode (camera level/horizontal). When I take a photo in portrait mode the horizon is almost never straight, even though it looked fine to me when looking through the viewfinder. The deviation is often a couple of degrees, and always tilted to the same side. This can be solved most of the time in post-processing, but not every time. The rotating of the camera and therefor holding it differently seems to be the major contribution to this. My guess is that a camera grip will solve this for me, but this will introduce additional weight to the camera. Do you have any (alternative) suggestions on this annoying issue? B.t.w. I use the ‘gridlines’ in the viewfinder.

Scott: Use a good old bubble level.

Rick: You could have the best bubble level and it could still be crooked. There can be some wide angle lenses where you get distortion on the edges. You have to use the transform tool and play around with the edges. It could be the lens.

The Blog

Just a reminder that you can visit the blog at for the show notes and plenty of other photography related articles. Please email us your questions at [email protected] or you can follow us on Twitter and leave questions with the hashtag #photoqa. If you can tell us where you’re from and how to pronounce your name that would be great too. Also be sure to check out Rick’s site devoted to plug-ins at

Wrap Up

We want themes and questions from you. Be sure to visit the blog at for articles, how-to’s, videos and more. You can also subscribe to the blog on a Kindle. Email us at [email protected] follow us on Twitter. Don’t just take pictures – make pictures.

Show notes by Bruce Clarke