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Photofocus Episode 91

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ( or

This week we kick things off with a question about color issues when photographing mountains in Alaska:

Question One - Blue Mountains

I know you have been to Homer, Alaska so it seems like whenever I get pictures of the mountains across the Bay, they look too blue. I use a polarizer filter and can always correct things later in Lightroom. But how do I get rid of so much blueness in the shot itself. The less I have to edit, the better. I have been adjusting WB as well . . . but not sure. Gary Harris Alaska

Scott: Likely you've not been properly adjusting the White Balance. What are you using to establish your custom white balance and where is it located? If you are using a card near the camera to set it, chances are the light that is hitting the mountains far away is very different. Set a color temperature that matches the degree Kelvin that you get in post and that might solve the problem. The reason they are so blue is because they are reflecting the sky. It's easy to fix in post.

Question Two - Maximizing Frames Per Second

How do I get the most frames per second out of my camera? I am trying to capture action and want the best chance I can get at making the shot. Kim Chance Brooklyn New York

Scott: If action is the most important thing, then shoot jpeg. That will give you the most frames per second and the biggest buffer you can get. If you're just outputting for the web, make it a small jpeg. Use continuous auto-focus and experiment with the various settings available. Use a UDMA card assuming that your camera supports it.

Question Three - Getting the Most Out of Workshops

I love attending photo workshops and learned a lot from them. In November I'll be attending my first portraiture workshop. What kind of advice would you and/or your guest host give me to get the most out of this experience? Any thoughts on considerations beforehand? And I am not talking about gear. Just thoughts and ideas from an artists perspective. Rene Gruenkorn

Scott: Make sure you read your manual and be familiar with your gear because the chances of your instructor knowing your gear might not be great. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Listen and do what the instructor is telling you. Be assertive and don't let other students who think they know more than the instructor ruin the experience.

Question Four - Registering Images for International Listeners

You have mentioned several times on the show that we should register our images with the library of congress. I come from, and live in, Norway, I don't expect you to know our local laws etc. Do you need to register your photos in every country in the world? Or will registering it in the US protect you worldwide? Roar Engen

Scott: Can't give you legal advice but the US Copyright act has been adopted by treaty in many countries around the world. I only register my images in the US. It's probably not helpful in places like China and the old Soviet block. Contact your attorney for more details.

Question Five - Cropping 3x2 Images

My camera shoots a 3x2 image... So I frame my shot for a 3x2 image when I take it... But I have found as I print them that I rarely ever use a 3x2 print! 5x7, 8.5x11, 11x14, 13x19 These are all common paper sizes... None are 3x2... Only the small 4x6 matches the ratio of my original image. So in the end I almost always forced to crop my image to fit these paper sizes. And almost always I have to lose a little something something I liked in the original shot. So what is the solution? Do you shoot already knowing your eventual print size? Do you custom frame nearly every time? What about these people who say they 'never crop'? Seems impossible to me.. Ken Blacksburg, VA

Scott: Ignore those people that say never crop. I crop all the time. I don't worry about frame sizes. I tend to do a lot of work on canvas which don't need frames. You can also get a custom mat at the next size up in a standard frame.

Question Six - Backup Solutions

I use Time Machine to backup my entire system to an external drive. I also use Aperture's vault to back-up my Aperture libraries to a different external hard drive and by doing so , I have my photos saved in two places besides the main system. This seems to work for me but I'm curious if there is a better way. With that in mind, my question to you is: What is your backup routine? What backup software do you use and/or recommend and what kind of hardware setup do you have? Dan Fenn Coxsackie, NY

Scott: Currently my main drives are Weibetech drives in enclosures. My backup goes to another Weibetech device which is where I store my Aperture vaults. I take those drives out and take the other one home. I am about to buy the Promise Drives which use the new Thunderbolt connection and that will be used as my main drives and then I'll backup to the Weibetech array. Make sure you have at least two backups and at least one in another location. I use Time Machine only to backup my baseline computer stuff.

Question Seven - Buying Lenses from Nextag

I'm about to buy the Nikon 70-200 F2.8. I see it at most retailers for roughly $2000, but Nextag shows it at roughly $1400. It LOOKS legit, but... Can I trust this? Any advice? Sean Boston MA

Scott: If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. You've probably run into one of those stores in Brooklyn. I say stick with the big providers like Adorama, B+H, Sammy's Camera, etc. There is a place called which can tell you how they come up.

Question Eight - Embedded Photos on 500px

On they show a button on the bottom of every page that displays a photographer's photo called EMBED. It contains the code to embed the photograph in another site. If you do so it also include the acknowledgement to the photographer. The Canadian copyright law in lay terms (off their site) "Your photos may appear in iPhone, iPad, Android and other apps, ours and third-party, but they will be bound by our terms of use and will be required to use proper attribution, required by the Canadian Law". Is this EMBED capability the "bait of death"? If Canada sees it as OK based on their terms of service does that fly here in the States? I think asking the photographer about this is in order and 500px needs to state it. Tom Shay up here in Northern Maine.

Scott: Yes, if you're in the US and you accept their terms of service then you are bound by what they do. I do not use 500px because I wasn't comfortable with some of their terms of service. If you earn money with your images then I would be careful with where you decide to put your images.

Question Nine - Stacking ND Filters

I've recently experimented with a (couple of) Cokin P ND-filters to allow for longer exposures. The images, however, turn out darker, with a gray cast on them. I would not expect that from a NEUTRAL density filter. So, Am I doing something wrong and/or what should I do to get them right in camera? Adjusting the white balance is a possibility I know of, but is there something else? The filters I use are are the numbers 152 (ND2), 153 (ND4) and 154 (ND8) and I sometimes stack them. Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Scott: Cokin's filters are plastic and they have a color cast. You need optical glass like those from B+W or Singh Ray. The proximity of the filter to the lens can also fool the meter.

Question Ten - Focusing for Self Portraits

I was trying to make a self-portrait but didn't know how to set up my focus. I have a cable release but not long enough, and apparently with the self-timer the focus will be fixed when I press the button and will not refocus, even in Continuous Auto Focus or face recognition. How would you do it? My camera is a Panasonic GH2, which is not a pro camera but should have similar functionality to DSLRs like the 60D or D5100. Jorge from Madrid, Spain

Scott: Use manual focus to focus in the spot where you're going to stand and then use the self timer. A poor man's self-portrait can also be made in the mirror.

Question Eleven - Professional Quality Images from Micro 4/3 Cameras

I noticed you talking about micro 4/3 cameras lately. Do you think they are capable of delivering professional quality images? Herman Alexander Jacksonville, FL

Scott: I absolutely do. I'm using the Olympus EP3 which I used at a recent SmugMug meet up and I got some great photographs. It's small and lightweight and the results are pretty stunning but they are not cheap.

Question Twelve - Frequency of Color Calibration

I have a question about the frequency of color calibration. I did color calibration of my displays with Spyder (I assume Color Munki should be the same), but I wonder why this software need frequent re-calibration. What is the cause of the re-calibration, and how long the best interval should be for a re-calibration? Yue Dong from Beijing, China

Scott: This depends on the kind of monitor you have. If you have an old CRT monitor, you have to re-calibrate constantly. Each one of those pixels is dying from the day they were born. If you have an LED monitor, then once a year is enough. If you have an LCD monitor then you should do it every six months or so.

Question Thirteen - Setting White Balance

I have tried working with raw files, taking pictures of a white subject for white reference during editing, but I still can not get whites as whites. How do assure white to be white? Carlos, PR

Scott: It could be a function of color temperature. Make sure you are using the color temperature tool in the post processing application you are using. In Aperture, I like to use the eyedropper to touch something in the scene that is supposed to be white and then Aperture adjusts all the color in the scene so that it's white. In addition to that, there are post-processing tools that you can get that will help remove color cast.

Question Fourteen - Windows vs. Mac

This may be an old question but is a Windows machine better or worse than a Mac machine from a photographer's perspective? Craig Hilton, Toronto, Canada

Scott: In the old days, there was no contest - Macs were the preferred tools for creatives. Today, Windows has improved greatly, particularly at managing profiles. That said, I'm a Mac guy and have worked with them forever. What are the people around you using? Get what they get so they can help you. If you have a Mac, you can also run Windows on it.You might save a few dollars if you decide to go with a PC.

Question Fifteen - Adding Depth to a Scene

I've noticed that there are more male speakers and teachers in the photo world than female speakers and teachers. Am I reading something into this that's not there by wondering if sexism is at play? Ana Michaels San Francisco, CA

Scott: I don't think about people I invite to conferences from the perspective of whether they are male or female. I invite them based on whether they are good photographers and good teachers. Our industry has been more male dominated in the past but that is changing and in the portrait and wedding world I would say it's about a 50/50. I have seen many great female photographers speak at conferences including Jules and Joy Bianchi, Tamara Lackey, etc.

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.

Show notes by Edmonton Wedding Photographers Bruce Clarke at or