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Photofocus Episode 93

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about wedding photography:

Question One – Exposing for the Dress or Face

Wedding photo question – Which is more important, holding detail in a bride’s dress or getting a good exposure on her face? Elliot Blake, New York

Scott: It is always most important to get the face exposed properly. There are always lots of techniques to balance those two things like using reflectors, fill flash, etc.

Question Two – 70mm on Different Lenses

Is the image at the 70mm setting different on Canon’s 24-70mm, 70-200 or on the 24-105? If so, why? Angela, Montreal

Scott: 70mm is the same on all of those lenses. 24-70 and 70-200 are a pretty standard pairing for most professional photographers.

Question Three – Photography Projects

What’s your thoughts on photo projects and how do you go about getting started? I’m about 12 months into photography and want to start a project to train my creative muscles and improve my camera skills. Problem is when I try to think too hard my brain hurts. Mark Lancashire, England

Scott: Pick something that you’re passionate about and then try to stick with it. Learn to see it from all different angles. The best projects start in the heart. You can also try to shoot things that you think are important or that you think your audience will think is important.

Question Four – Question About Macro Lenses

I’ve been wanting to buy a prime lens for macro photography. It would be nice if it were good for portraits also. I have a Canon 7d with a 1.6 frame factor. I’ve been looking at the Canon 100mm f/2.8. I’m concerned that the 1.6 factor of the 7d will shoot like a 160mm with the 100mm lens. It seems I would need to be too far from the subject both in macro and portrait work. Do you think I should get a 65mm macro instead? Paul Chevy Chase, Maryland

Scott: I tend to like a little longer lens to shoot portraits with. I have used the 100mm on a 7D and I like it. In Macro photography, it’s very hard to use a 65mm macro lens to get enough distance between you and your subject. Most people who do macro work prefer a longer lens.

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Question Five – Shooting Anxiety

When I considered myself an amateur, I didn’t have any problems. Now, after a couple years considering myself a professional, I start to get worked up before a shoot. I don’t know what to call it other than anxiety. Do you know of other photographers that do this and how they might have managed dealing with it or, preferably, got over it? B. Allan Stewart

Scott: There is more pressure and you do have to deliver. I wouldn’t worry about it or get worked up about it. Applaud yourself for being aware of the stepped up responsibility and move on. Just put in hard work, practice, and try. Repeat what you do and stick to things that you do know when you’re on a paid shoot. Don’t break out a new camera or a new lighting technique on a job – save that for practice sessions.

Question Six – Choosing When to Photograph a Moment

Where is the limit of not photographing certain moments or things in life for the sake of telling the story and showing emotion? There are certain moments in life that some feel wouldn’t be appropriate to photograph and tell the story, while others may think it’s important to document and share this story and emotions. What are your specific thoughts? Dane Wallace Albany, OR

Scott: I think it has to do with what your role is. If you’re a photojournalist, then you should photograph it. If you’re just a hobbyist and not being looked upon to document the event then you can apply your judgement.

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Question Seven – Situations to Use Hilite Tone Priority

Many dSLRs now have settings that increase dynamic range for highlights (Canon Highlight Tone Priority) or optimize high contrast images (Nikon Active D-Lighting), etc. Other than the wedding dress in a dark room example provided in the camera manuals, can you give us situations where this feature is helpful? How do I recognize a situation when it should be used? Thanks — David Harris Birmingham, Alabama

Scott: It’s a situation where you want to make sure that you hold the hilites. This could be something like a waterfall picture. Perhaps you’re trying to hold the specular hilites in a car shot. Unless it involves a human being or something that is moving, try using HDR and tone mapping. I’ve tried it and haven’t found great results with it.

Question Eight – Depth of Field Issue

I film weddings with a Canon T2i and often use a Canon 50mm, F/1.4. It lets a lot of light in wide open, but the DoF is so narrow, I’m lucky to get both of the brides eyes in focus! Am I doing something wrong or do I need to upgrade to a full frame camera and use a wider F-stop? Jeff Wilcox Lake Stevens, WA

Scott: Buying another camera or lens is not the answer. The depth of field will be wafer thin so it’s just a matter of practice. In low light where you don’t have a lot of contrast, it will be harder to see where you are focused. Auto focus will try to find the closest thing to the camera unless you move that point to the eye. You can manually move the auto focus point over the eye and that should improve focusing. You can also step down to f1.8 or f2.0. The background will still be nice and creamy and you’ll have a greater depth of field to work with.

Question Nine – Focusing

As my composition skills get better I am realizing that it is often nice to include things like some close up pine trees when you photograph a distant mountain vista, maybe framing a distant peak between 2 trees or something like that. The question I have is what is the best way to handle the focus of that type of an image? Is it best to attempt the hyperfocal setting on the lens or take 2 images, one with the close object in focus and one with the distant object in focus and combine them in Photoshop? Or are there other ways to go with this? I guess maybe it depends a lot on if one of the subjects is more important to the composition or if they are equally important. -Scot Thomas Silverdale, WA

Scott: There are many ways you can handle this. CS5 has a new feature that lets you merge different photos with different focus. For your specific example,unless those trees are really spectacular, I’m going to let them go soft and focus on the mountain. Hyperfocal distance would be the way to go but it’s hard to do with today’s cameras. Pick the one that’s most important to you.

Question Ten – Printing Photo Greeting Cards

Is it possible to make your own photo greeting cards on inkjet paper and if so can you match the quality of a professionally-printed card? Jack Potts San Francisco, CA

Scott: It is possible. I’m using some paper from Red River paper that I really love and I think it stands up against the professional printers.

Question Eleven – Backpack vs. Shoulder Bag

I am debating between two camera bags. One is a backpack style bag and the other an over the shoulder bag. Can you talk about the pros and cons of each? Thanks. Sharon Carns Chicago IL

Scott: Backpack style bags are great if you’re doing a lot of moving around. The disadvantage is that it can be harder to get to the gear. An over the shoulder bag is easier to work out of but not great if you are doing a lot of moving around.

Question Twelve – Conversations with Your Subjects

I was wondering if you have any tips for talking to a model during a shoot? How do you stay chatty and help them feel relaxed without resorting to talking shop to them? (I’m pretty sure the model doesn’t care about the finer details of photography – she just wants to have a good time and have some great photos taken of her!) Matt

Scott: Just treat them like a human being. Find out what they are interested in and see if you can get on common ground with them. I ask open ended questions and I try to get them talking. Give them a lot of positive reinforcement.

Question Thirteen – Bubble Levels

I see bubble levels for sale in many camera stores. I know this may sound stupid but why? Dave Hamilton Toronto Canada

Scott: Certain kinds of photography require that you keep the horizons level so having a bubble level helps you keep your camera lined up equally.

Question Fourteen – Video Trend

Do you think the trend in merging video and still photography is a fad, or do you think it will continue to grow. Allen Davidson, Philly PA

Scott: I think it will continue to grow. We’ve surveyed people and the interest level seems to be growing. The buyers are driving this rise in popularity. Video is a team sport so you’ll need people to help with it.

Question Fifteen – Getting the Flash Off the Camera

I’ve heard you say over and over to get the flash off the camera. I am new at using flash, can you tell me why? Alex Issenberg New York City

Scott: The reason you want to get the flash off the camera is because it’s more flattering. You avoid red eye and you get something more than just flat lighting. If you take it off the camera using something like a synch cord or a remote trigger, now you can control the angle and create modeling where there is a difference between the shadows and hilites. The collision of light and shadow creates the story.

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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