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Photofocus Episode 90

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about red eye:

Question One – Red Eye

I know this is a basic question but I still have trouble with it. How do I stop or remove red eye? Ann Hillenbrand, London UK

Scott: Red eye is caused when the camera flash is close to the lens. The solution is to get the flash off the camera. Try bouncing the flash or use wireless or radio triggers to get the flash off the camera. The good news is that if you do have some images with red eye, many of the photo editing applications on the market have tools that let you quickly remove red-eye.

Question Two – Photomerge

I heard someone talking about “photomerge.” What is that exactly? David Spear, New York, NY

Scott: This term is normally used to describe a process in photo editing software such as Photoshop where you are merging two or more photographs together to build a panorama.

Question Three – Signing Photographs for Unknown Clients

I will be donating some of my photographs for an auction gala, and I do not know who will be the owner. Do you sign your photographs if you do not know who the client will be? If so, what kind of pen/pencil and where do you sign? John Pavlish Seattle, WA

Scott: I do sign all my photographs that will be sold at auction or anywhere else. I use an art pen that prints in silver, gold, or black ink. You should be able to get these at any art store. Pick a signature and stick with it.

Question Four – “Rights Grab” Contracts to Photograph Concerts

Would love to hear your thoughts on the current trend in the music photography world were artists and management make photographers sign what are known as “rights grab” contracts prior to shooting. These contracts are often given at the last minute prior to the show starting and many photographers are signing away their actual ownership and full exclusive copyright use of the images to the band/management. Do you feel this is hurting the industry? Or just a common path the industry is following? Many photographers (myself included) are refusing to sign these contracts and thus not providing media coverage to these bands, but there is always the “uncle bob” with a dSLR who is willing to sign away his soul to be allowed to shoot for 3 songs. Pierre Bourgault Montreal, Canada

Scott: If the photographer is agreeing to it willingly, then it’s not really a true rights grab. I don’t agree with this practice but these days if you want to photograph any major events such as concerts or sports, you’ll find similar things. It’s obviously hurting the industry but there isn’t a chance that it will stop because for every 100 photographers who will say, there are thousands of others who will do it for the sake of being able to say they photographed somebody famous.

Question Five – Focusing Screens

I have a difficult time using manual focus due to poor eyesight. I happen to run across prism focus screen replacements for a dslr. (KatzEye focusing screen.) Have you ever used these or in your opinion would they be helpful/worth the cost/risk? Chris Nelson

Scott: I have used them in the old days but these days there are other methods for checking focus. Most cameras allow you to focus in to check for sharpness. People will also shoot tethered and view the images on a monitor. I have changed them out but be aware that it could void a warranty. I didn’t find them all that helpful.

Question Six – Lens Hoods

I have always understood lens hoods to be to keep the glare of the sun away from the lens. But frequently I see people with their lens hoods on their cameras all the time – indoors, at night, etc. Do they know something I dont? Dave Hook

Scott: The lens hood is a very effective protection device for your front element. While the best use of the lens hood is to control lens flare during the day, any light source can cause diffraction so the lens hood is useful in just about all situations. The only time I take mine off is when I’m shooting through glass so I can put the lens right up against the glass.

Question Seven – Crop Factors on DX Lenses

I’m a little confused concerning the crop factor on my D7000. I have all FX lenses and I know to multiply their focal lengths by 1.5 to get the effective focal length (ie, my 28-300mm = 42-450mm). Does the same apply to a DX lens (I think it does)? Thank you for all you give. Ken Porter Charlottesville, VA

Scott: I’m not sure I quite understand your question but what I can say is that a camera like a D7000 has a crop factor so there is an effective focal length due to the size of the sensor.

Question Eight – Changing Lenses in the Field

When you go out in a trip, will you be changing lenses in the field as different situations arrive, or do you plan your photos based on the lens mounted. I know you have more than one camera, but how do you do typically do?. Carlos Santoni PR

Scott: I generally try to keep one lens on one body and carry multiple bodies with me. That way there is less chance of dust getting inside. If I’m on a job I’ll change lenses but if I’m just going out for myself, I will usually pick a focal length and challenge myself to shoot with just that lens. If you are changing lenses make sure you turn the camera off and point it down if you are changing your lenses.

Question Nine – Contact Sheets

My dad is an old film shooter and used to make contact sheets of his photos. I think I know what these are but why make them? How do I make them? Elliot Hernandez Mexico City, Mexico

Scott: Back when we shot film, we would lay the negatives out on a piece of photographic paper and photograph it. This would result in an 8×10 that had all the images we shot. We would look at those to do our editing. Now it’s very easy, programs like Aperture have that built-in or you can get an add-in to print them.

Question Ten – Layers

I am new to Photoshop. Can you explain the concept of layers to me and why I might want to use them? Tom Johnson LA, CA

Scott: Imagine you had a piece of paper that you photocopied and lay it on top of the other. It’s something that goes on top of the other. You can use it to position things around. You can use layers to do blending, you can merge layers, you can erase a layer using a mask. If you haven’t tried them, start with the basics and experiment with them. If you screw them up, you can just delete them.

Question Eleven – Copyrighting Images

How do I copyright my photographs? Andy Clay, Oklahoma City, OK

Scott: Consult with a lawyer if you’re not sure about this. You can read title 17 of the United States code. I think what you’re asking is how you register your copyright which is required if you want to sue for damages. Go to the Library of Congress website, fill out a form, and upload your picture. There are also companies that will help you with this. One that I’m involved with is called Image Rights.

Question Twelve – Shutter Speed for Freezing Race Cars

When you photograph race cars, how fast does the shutter speed need to be to freeze the action? Chris Park Soul South Korea

Scott: It will depend. Depends on how fast they are going. The faster they are going, the faster the shutter speed will need to be. About 1/1000 is pretty good for Indy cars. Nascar cars might be good at 1/750. If it’s too frozen then it will look like it was parked so I always like a bit of movement in the wheels. Try panning when shooting race cars.

Question Thirteen – Weather in Bosque del Apache

I am planning a trip to Bosque del Apache to try to shoot birds like you do. What’s the weather typically like and what weather-related issues do I need to watch out for? Ralph Nitz Berlin, Germany

Scott: It can be very cold there. Bring super heavy boots and wear underwear that can keep you warm. I’ve been there when it’s nice too but be prepared for colder weather. Keep your batteries close to your body to protect them from the cold.

Question Fourteen – Boring Photographs on Flickr

I’ve noticed that I find many pictures on Flickr to be boring. They all seem to be taken from the same height or position. Is it just me? Dane Bush Seattle, WA

Scott: It’s not just Flickr, it’s everywhere. Most photos will be taken at the same height as the average person. Try getting down low or up high to get a different perspective.

Question Fifteen – Adding Depth to a Scene

How do I ad depth to a scene? I want to make my pictures look more realistic. Seth Smith, SLC, Utah

Scott: Introduce different elements in the photograph of different sizes and different locations to create a sense of scale. Ansel Adams was the master of this using a wide angle lens to photograph rocks in front of a mountain. Try to have layers to your photograph.

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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